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Apple’s Guide to Promoting In-App Purchases

In-app purchases are one of the widely preferred methods to generate revenue from your app. Earlier, the intricacies of the promoted in-app purchases lay beneath the surface of the vast App Store. But then, during one of its App store overhauls, Apple enabled users to browse and purchase in-app purchases directly on the App Store, before even they purchased the app.

This increased visibility of in-app purchases was well-received by businesses and users. Today, the in-app purchases appear right on the product page, can be displayed in search results, or can be featured in Games, Today, and Apps tabs.

Source: Apple

And what it all means is that it has raised the bar high for marketing and revenue generation.

If your business depends on in-app purchases, or you are someone keen in learning about how to promote in-app purchases for your iOS apps, here’s what Apple’s got to say about ‘Promoting in-app Purchases’.

Different types of in-app purchases

Using in-app purchases you can market and sell a variety of content, including new features, services, and subscriptions. There are 4 types of in-app purchases you can offer.

1. Consumable

These purchases are used once, and once they are exhausted, the users have to purchase them again. For example: Lives or coins of a game.

2. Non-Consumable

These are purchases that do not expire, like features and filters. You can have Apple host the content when you create them using App Store Connect, or you can convert the content (which you are currently hosting on your own server) to be hosted by Apple. Here are the steps to host content with Apple

3. Auto-Renewable Subscriptions

If you want to let your users access to your content or services on a periodical basis (like monthly access to cloud, weekly subscription etc.), you can offer them auto-renewable in-app purchase. They will be charged on a recurring basis, and are also given the option to cancel if they wish to.

4. Non-Renewing Subscriptions

This type of purchase/subscription do not auto-renew, and users have to renew it manually each time.

How many in-app purchases can you promote?

On the App Store product page, you can choose to promote up to 20 in-app purchases at a time. And you can have additional in-app purchases in line, approved and ready to be promoted. This way, you have the flexibility to change the in-app purchases on the product page at any time as per your business needs.

Boost the number of downloads with In-app purchases

Apart from generating revenue, in-app purchases also aid in increasing app downloads. If a user does not wish to install an app, but wants to purchase the promoted in-app purchase, it will prompt them to download the app first. Once the app is downloaded, the transaction will continue in the app.

You need to be wary of user time here. When users are into your app finishing the in-app purchase transaction, you need to present them the payment sheet as soon as possible. Unnecessary or extra steps could make them impatient and may force them to drop the purchasing.

Promoting your in-app purchases

1. Make sure your app supports a delegate method in SKPaymentTransactionOberver

When your app supports this delegate method, the following is accomplished:

  • It informs the observer that a user has initiated an in-app purchase from the App Store
  • If the app is already installed by the user, this delegate method is automatically called

2. Customize your promoted in-app purchases

You can customize any of your promoted in-app purchases a user sees on his specific device. For example, you can hide certain items that the user already has on their specific device, or show only the relevant part/level of a game based on their game play.

You can customize the in-app purchases using the SKProductStorePromotionalControllerAPI

3. Use high-quality promotional images for your in-apps

Since each promoted in-app purchase requires an unique promotional image, choose the right promotional image that best represents the purchase. This image will appear on your App Store product page, search results, and on Games, Today and Apps tabs.

Do not used screenshots as your promotional images, and make sure they are not confused with your app icon.

App Store uses a framing system to your uploaded promotional image. This is done to showcase that the in-app purchase is an addition to the app experience. When your in-app purchase appears on places other than the product page – like the search results – you app icons is also shown on the lower left corner. On your part just ensure that is not obscured by the frame, and avoid having important details in the lower left corner. Also, make sure that you don’t overlay the text on the image.

Though your promotional image is usually used in small sizes, the image should be of high quality. A PNG or a JPEG of 1024 x 1024 pixels is recommended.

4. Display Name

While selecting display names for your in-app purchases there are certain things you need to bear in mind.

  • Use a name that is easily understood by both, your app users and App Store visitors
  • Avoid using too generic names
  • If possible, try to have display name that connects that connects to your app in some way
  • In case of auto-renewable subscription, include the duration of your in-app purchases
  • The display names can be up to 30 characters long

5. Description

Let the descriptions be different from each offering. The descriptions can be up to 45 characters long.

Things to remember

In order to promote in-app purchases, your app should have a promotional image, and the app should be an iOS app.

All in-app purchases and metadata must be approved by App Review

The in-app purchases promotion is currently not available on the App Store for iMessage

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