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Mobile App Retention Tactics for Subscription Apps

Nataly Aleksakhinaby 
Head of Marketing at Apphud

7 min read

In today’s competitive app landscape, customer retention is crucial for the success of any subscription-based app. For app developers or marketers, it is important to understand that retention rate has a direct impact on the profitability of your app. In this article, we’ll explore the most effective retention tactics to help you keep your customers engaged and coming back for more. We’ll also provide tips on how to effectively implement these tactics in your app so you can maximize your app revenue.

This is a guest blog written by Apphud.

What is app retention rate?

App retention rate is a metric used to measure the number of users who continue to use an app after its installation. It is important for apps because it helps measure user engagement, loyalty, and overall app performance.

For subscription-based apps, user retention can be challenging because subscribers may often reconsider their purchase at every renewal period. This makes it important for subscription apps to sustain their relationship with current customers and continuously exhibit the value of their app.

When it comes to subscription apps, it is important to keep the metrics trial and subscription cancellation rates in mind. Working with these metrics is the key to the success of an app.

Why is app retention rate important?

Improving user retention is essential for any app. It encourages users to return to your app and make purchases through subscriptions. If you don’t invest in user retention, it can be an important reason for user churn.

Attracting a new client is just the beginning. You need to work just as hard to keep them or bring them back. Don’t worry! We are here to give you helpful advice on how to improve your app retention rate and reactivate your customers.

The subscription cancellation rate for iOS apps
The subscription cancellation rate for iOS apps. Source: Apphud.
The trial cancellation rate for iOS apps
The trial cancellation rate for iOS apps. Source: Apphud.

Best practices to win back churned app subscribers

We have already proven that it is important to know how to handle customer returns. Whether it’s because a customer had a bad experience with your app or simply changed their mind, it’s necessary to have a plan for returning app subscribers.

Personalization and push notifications

Obviously, one of the most effective methods to bring back customers to apps is to leverage push notifications and in-app offerings. Push notifications are a great way to remind clients of the value of the app. By targeting notifications to customers based on their interests, preferences, and past behaviors, you can increase user engagement, win back subscribers, and ultimately increase customer loyalty.

Additionally, you should strive to provide users with personalized experiences to keep them engaged and coming back. This could include providing users with discounts, exclusive content, or rewards. Finally, you should focus on creating high-quality content and regularly updating the app to ensure that the user experience remains enjoyable and engaging.

  • Use limited-time promo offers
  • Offer a higher subscription plan
  • Personalize the message – take into account unique user events
  • Pay attention to payment issues
  • Build paywalls with no-code solutions

Offer discounts to churned subscribers

Set up automated push notifications when customers cancel their paid subscriptions. Create a 50% discount offer screen to encourage customers to re-subscribe. Don’t forget to A/B test your paywall to select a better-performing option for your customer base.

Offer additional trials to churned-trial subscribers

Set up automated push notifications when customers cancel their free trial subscription. Offer an additional trial period when the current one expires. Use this time to remind the user of the value of your app.

Interact with non-paying users

Set up a push campaign with a personal, limited discount, which is triggered after the user cancels a payment with a 1-hour delay to the audience of non-paying users. Repeat this push notification 2-3 times a week if the payment hasn’t been successfully charged.

Win back customers after payment issue

Set up an automated push notification and in-app message if the user has payment issues with subscription renewal. Payment issue notifications and in-app banners reduce involuntary churn by a few percent.

Run a survey after a subscription cancellation

Set up a push campaign after the subscription has been canceled with the link to the 2-step paywall scenario: ask the reason for subscription cancellation and offer the time-limited discount.

Explore best practices and increase your conversion rate on the app stores with the free Paywall Gallery

Leverage App Store Optimization

It is vital that you correctly optimize your app product page to help users get an accurate picture of your app before they download it. This, in turn, can greatly boost your app retention rate. Optimize each element of your app product page carefully; make sure to add  relevant, most searched-for keywords in your metadata (app title, short description/subtitle, long description, keyword field [iOS]), optimize your creatives (app icon, screenshots, and preview videos), localize your app page listing for different markets, and implement an effective reviews strategy for your app. Investing in ASO will bring more organic traffic to your app, as users will know what to expect when they download your app.

Discover everything you need to know about App Store Optimization in this practical guide

Deep subscription analysis

To prevent customer churn, you should analyze the data you have. If interpreted correctly, it can provide valuable insights. This, in turn, can help you improve customer service, develop more effective retention strategies, and personalize your approach.

Metrics you should keep track of:

  • Subscriber retention: This metric measures how many customers remain their subscriptions active over a period of time.
  • Subscription churn: It is a measure of how many customers have canceled their subscriptions to an app.
  • Revenue churn: This metric displays the amount of revenue lost from customers over a period of time.
  • Active subscriptions: It shows the total number of active subscribers at any given time and indicates the overall health of your subscription-based business.
  • Cumulative LTV: It is a metric that measures the total amount of revenue generated by a customer over their lifetime as a company customer.
  • Cumulative CLTV: This metric shows the total value of a customer to a company over the customer’s lifetime. It takes into account all the revenue a customer has generated for the company and all the costs the company has incurred to keep them as a client.

If you’re planning to work with retention, but need to know where to start, take a look at Apphud. We have advanced revenue analytics that includes all the metrics above and 20 more, a push notification tool with various event scenarios, a screen builder, and a paywall A/B testing tool.

Learn how customer retention can boost your ASO efforts


In summary, effective retention tactics implementation is essential for subscription app developers to ensure customer loyalty and maximize long-term success. By personalizing the user experience, providing incentives, offering discounts, and collecting feedback, subscription app developers can increase user engagement and win back lapsed customers. In addition, they should monitor key metrics such as retention rate, trial and subscription cancellation rates, cumulative LTV, and cumulative CLTV to gauge the overall health of their subscription-based business. With the right strategies in place, subscription app developers can build a thriving business and enjoy the rewards of a satisfied and loyal user base.


Nataly Aleksakhina
by , Head of Marketing at Apphud
Nataly is a seasoned Product Marketing manager with more than 7 years of experience. She is responsible for marketing strategy creation and implementation. Committed adherent to the agile methodology.