What’s new in Apphud: MRR/ARR Movement Charts, Experiments Improvements, Unity SDK ReleaseLet’s see
Why Apphud?PricingContact
April 24, 2020
13 min read

4 hacks on launching Facebook ads for iOS apps with subscriptions

Here we will discuss tricks, that may increase trials conversion, reduce churn and maximize ROI of your Facebook ads. Let's dive into it.

4 hacks on launching Facebook ads for iOS apps with subscriptions

Running Facebook ads is a good way to get tons of iOS app installs at a reasonable price. Advertisers and iOS app developers love the Facebook Ads platform because of its flexibility and low cost-per-install (CPI) rates. But if your iOS app contains subscriptions, setting up a Facebook ads campaign isn't a straightforward task. There are many nuances you should pay attention to while setting up a Facebook ad campaign targeted to iOS app growth. Here we will discuss tricks, that may increase trials conversion, reduce churn and maximize the ROI of your Facebook ads. Let's dive into it.

1. Optimize Facebook Ads by Subscribe and StartTrial iOS app events

When configuring ads on Facebook you may notice the Optimization & Delivery section at the bottom of Ad Set settings:

Optimization & Delivery sectionOptimization & Delivery section

Optimization for ad delivery settings on Facebook Ads

Even though these settings are at the very bottom of a screen, they directly influence your future spending and ROI. Here you set the criteria according to which Facebook will try to optimize ad delivery. In other words, Facebook will show ads for those people who most likely perform a certain event. Here you can choose between App Installs, Link Clicks, App Events, and Value. In most cases, if you earn money on iOS subscriptions, you should select the "App Events" option. But what app event Facebook ads should be optimized for? The first choice we recommend is Facebook build-in Subscribe event. This event usually occurs when a user is being charged for a subscription. The second option is the StartTrial event, which occurs when a user starts a trial.

But what is the pitfall?

The problem is, that by default, Facebook poorly tracks the Subscribe events. Let us explain. After you integrate Facebook SDK into your iOS app, it will send the Subscribe event when a user starts a subscription without a trial. But Facebook will not send the Subscribe event when the subscription renews or the trial converts to a regular subscription. Usually, an iOS subscription renews silently when the app is not launched (or the app may even removed from the iPhone). Thus, Facebook can't detect the moment of renewal and track this event. The same situation is with subscriptions with trials. Facebook just doesn't know when a trial is being converted to a regular subscription and can't create the Subscribe event.

So what's the solution? The first option is to build its server-side logic to track subscriptions and send appropriate events to Facebook when the subscription renews, trial converts, etc. But it will take plenty of effort and many development hours. Or you can use a ready solution, like Apphud, to track subscriptions and send events to third-party integrations, including Facebook, in a few minutes. Apphud supports 29 events, including trial conversions, renewals, refunds, and billing issues, that could be sent to Facebook to optimize your ad campaigns.

In sum, we highly recommend you to try launching Facebook ad campaigns optimized by the Subscribe or StartTrial events. You will be surprised by increased ROI and reduced ad spending.

2. Target the most valuable audience of your iOS app

Do you know the portrait of the most valuable user? Who more frequently starts trial and better converts to paying customers: men or women, teenagers or adults? What's their occupation? Why did they install the app? These are key questions to optimize Facebook ad campaigns and start testing new ad audiences.

The best way to find answers, obviously, is to ask your customers. At Apphud we recommend asking at least for gender and age when a user activates a free trial. These are the examples of simple polls you may show to the user after trial activation:

Gender and age of a user on a free trialGender and age of a user on a free trial

Ask customers for their gender and age when they start trial using Apphud.

You may build similar polls and schedule their presentation after trial activation directly on Apphud. There you can set up them with no coding required using Visual Editor. Polls are a great way to determine your paying audience and launch more effective Facebook ad marketing campaigns targeted to such users.

3. Use Facebook Ads Lookalike audiences

Lookalike audiences are an incredibly effective way to run ads on Facebook. In a nutshell, you tell Facebook which customers you want to acquire and Facebook will start showing ads to those people, who are most similar to the target audience. This can be done either by uploading a CSV file, containing a list of initial audience to Facebook, or by defining a target event that the most valuable customers perform.

How to set up a Facebook Lookalike audience

Let's dive into Facebook settings and learn how to set up a Lookalike audience based on the Subscribe event. As a reminder, the Subscribe event is usually created when a user converts from trial to regular subscription, purchases a subscription without a trial or renews a subscription. Of course, you should make sure, you send subscription events to Facebook using Apphud or by yourself. We previously already talk about it.

1. Open Facebook Audiences Tool and select your Facebook Ads account in the dropdown in the top left corner.

2. Select Create Audience -> New Lookalike audience:

Create new Lookalike audienceCreate new Lookalike audience

3. Click Create New Source -> Custom Audience:

Create Custom AudienceCreate Custom Audience

4. Select App Activity:

App ActivityApp Activity

5. Select your app and the Subscribe event. You may optionally choose a date range to include only users who made a purchase recently.

Select your app and the Subscribe eventSelect your app and the Subscribe event

6. If you use Apphud to send events to Facebook, you may also define event parameters to target audience more precisely. For example, you may create an audience only from those people, who purchased a certain in-app product or spent more than a certain amount of money.

Define event parameters to target audienceDefine event parameters to target audience

Select events parameters for detailed targeting.

7. Name your audience and save.

8. Select a location of people of your future audience and define audience size. Audience size ranges from 1% to 10%, where 1% is closed to the target audience. According to our experience, "1%" shows a better conversion rate but has a higher CPI.

Select audience location and audience sizeSelect audience location and audience size

Set audience location and select audience size.

9. Once created, you will be able to choose this Lookalike audience while setting up Ad Set:

Saved Lookalike audienceSaved Lookalike audience

Use Lookalike audience to launch Facebook Ad campaigns.

4. Exclude people who experience billing issues from Facebook Ads Lookalike audiences

It may be surprising but according to our data, 15% of customers are being completely lost because of billing issues. We received this number by using data about 1.8M customers around the world, who use apps, connected to Apphud. Billing issue churn rate varies from country to country, starting from 1% in Norway and Slovakia, up to 52% in Albania, and 74% in Cambodia. That's why it's critically important to exclude people, who experience billing issues, from your Facebook Lookalike audience, not to waste your money.

How to exclude people with billing issues from Facebook Lookalike audience

That's easy. Firstly, integrate Apphud into your iOS app and configure Apphud's Facebook integration. Read more about how to set up FB integration here. Now Apphud will send thebilling_issue event to Facebook when user billing issue occurs.

Then exclude users, who experience billing issues, from your audience. This can be done while configuring a Lookalike audience:

Exclude users, who experience billing issuesExclude users, who experience billing issues

Exclude people who had billing issues from the Facebook Lookalike audience

Save your audience and launch a Facebook ad campaign.

That's all for now. All tricks, mentioned above, aren't the ultimate truth for any iOS app with subscriptions. They must be properly tested on your app. But on average, following these rules may increase your ROI and conversions. I hope these strategies will help you to improve your business.

To get more insights regarding subscription app revenue growth read the Apphud Blog.

Co-founder at Apphud
Ex iOS app and game developer. 11 years in the industry since iOS 3. More than 50 apps are in the background with 4 exits. Entrepreneur and traveler.

Related Posts