3 Ways to Make Your Subscription Service’s iOS App a Must-Download

By Allison Sall
February 11, 2022

With a subscription service, your customer’s interactions with your product last longer than a single conversion point. So ideally, your customers are in it with you for the long haul. But with great power comes great responsibility — to keep them loving your subscription service, telling their friends, and being a long-time loyal subscriber.

When you add a native app to the mix, you create an opportunity to engage with your customers over a more extended period of time. Sure, you can make managing their account easier, but you can also give your customers a richer experience that adds unbeatable value to their subscription. Here’s how.

Give Your Customers a Smarter, Faster, More Intuitive Experience on Your App

Customers download apps with assumptions about how well they should work. For example, they expect apps to be faster, more reliable, and have a better user experience than mobile web; these elements have become the norm.

To make the investment in creating your app worthwhile (and it is an investment) you have to make sure you’re not only delivering on your customer’s expectations on speed, reliability, and usability — but exceeding them. 

Let’s cover the basics. 

  1. Save their spot. We’ve gotten so used to apps saving our spots that it’s a hassle if you experience anything different, right? Native apps benefit from of incorporating “saved state” or opening an app right where you left off. Super helpful when you’re at the grocery store and need to quickly pull up the recipe you’re stocking up for.
  2. Use push notifications wisely. Send relevant reminders about when their next subscription box will ship, when it arrives, and how to use it. Making your notifications contextual and pertinent to your customer’s needs and interests is critical. App users are typically your most loyal customers. So, on top of timely information like order status, consider using push notifications to encourage engagement with deals, limited offers or app-only product releases.
  3. Leverage the device’s built-in capabilities. One of the great benefits of designing an app is leveraging functionality on the phone. You can go beyond what the web experience offers by integrating geo-location, camera functionality, or even connecting to existing APIs like Apple’s HealthKit.

These three elements are what’s expected as part of a modern, quality app experience. But sometimes, it’s the more obvious details that we forget to include. Bottom line: Hit these table stakes.

Create Features Inspired By What Customers Already Love About Your Subscription Service

Your app is an extension of your brand and customer experience. Your brand and customer experience are why your customers love you. Therefore, what you offer your super-engaged customers in your app needs to build on what they love about you.

To know what they love about you, you must learn more about them. So do some research.

  • Why do they choose you over your competitors?
  • Where do they find value in your subscription service?
  • What are the pain points they need you to solve?

Take these inputs and build features around them.

For instance, if you know your customers’ value community, consider a feature that connects subscribers based on interests or geo-location. Maybe your customers need some inspiration to stay engaged and connected when they get their box. You might consider features that show how other customers creatively use your product.

When we designed the first Blue Apron app, we learned from our research that some customers saved their physical recipe cards for future meals. So we thought, how great would it be to take the physical saving of recipe cards and make it digital? Give customers a chance to make a personal, virtual recipe book that they can add notes to, search, and share with friends.

Likewise, many Blue Apron customers took pictures of their finished meals and proudly shared them on social media with the Blue Apron hashtag. We incorporated a feature that lets customers enhance pictures of their dishes with certain effects like adding steam or stickers, with an option to share directly to social media.

Whatever you decide to do should be an element that adds to the existing user experience — something that uniquely engages your customers based on their needs. You want to give them multiple reasons to love and interact with you.

A Stellar Subscription App Experience Starts and Ends With Relevancy

Customers who download your app are most likely your most loyal subscribers. Downloading an app indicates that a customer wants to be more deeply engaged in their experience with your product. Your job? Make them feel seen. In other words: Focus on personalization and relevancy.

It’s not enough to let customers create a clever username and upload a profile picture. You must get to know them well enough to present them with an experience that’s tailored to them every time they open your app. An excellent place to start is to observe how your customers interact with your web experience. Through UX research, you can find out:

  • Can you learn their motivations for using your subscription?
  • Do different motivations impact how they shop? 
  • How often do they return to the web experience, and why?
  • How do they describe your service to friends and family?
  • What are their specific interests that impact how your subscription fits into their lifestyle?
  • Finally, how do they manage their subscription? 

After you get to know your customers, use your insights to tailor your app features to their motivations for using your subscription. For example, if your customers are health-conscious eaters who track what they eat, maybe you design a feature that allows them to scan packaged food barcodes to upload nutritional information. It’s also beneficial to know your customer’s preferences, like being vegan, so you don’t send them recipes they can’t eat.

And therein lies the key to making personalization effective: Relevancy. When you use what you know about a customer’s preferences, you can create meaningful interactions. Relevancy can be the difference between useful, timely push notifications and spam. 

Value-packed or not, designing an app is tough. Not only do you have to understand how it fits into your overall digital product strategy, but you also have to design and build an exceptional user experience if you expect your customers to use it.

It’s a significant investment that can considerably impact your customer base. So, if you don’t know where to start with your subscription service’s app design or are interested in uncovering your users’ niche needs, we’ve done it all before. And we’re here to help.