Apphud – Integrate, analyze and improve subscriptions in your iOS app
Marketing

4 tricks on launching Facebook Ads for iOS app with subscriptions

Running Facebook ads is a good way to get tons of iOS app installs by a reasonable price. Advertisers and iOS app developers love Facebook Ads platform because of their flexibility and low cost-per-install (CPI) rates. But if your iOS app contains subscriptions, setting up Facebook ads campaign isn’t a straightforward task. There are many nuances you should pay attention to while setting up Facebook ad campaign targeted to iOS app growth. Here we will discuss tricks, that may increase trials conversion, reduce churn and maximize 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 “Optimization & Delivery” section at the bottom of Ad Set settings:

Optimization for ad delivery settings on Facebook Ads

Even though these settings are at the very bottom of a screen, they directly influence at your future spends 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 certain event. Here you can choose between App Installs, Link Clicks, App Events and Value. In the most cases, if you earn money on iOS subscriptions, you should select “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 subscription. The second option is StartTrial event, which occurs when a user starts trial.

But what is the pitfall?

The problem is, that by default, Facebook poorly tracks Subscribe events. Let us explain. After you integrate Facebook SDK into your iOS app, it will send Subscribe event when a user starts subscription without trial. But Facebook will not send Subscribe event when subscription renews or trial converts to regular subscription. Usually, iOS subscription renews silently when the app is not launched (or the app may be 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 don’t know when trial is being converted to regular subscription and can’t create Subscribe event.

So what’s the solution? The first option is to build own server-side logics to track subscriptions and send appropriate events to Facebook when subscription renews, trial converts etc. But it will take plenty of efforts and many development hours. Or you can use ready solution, like Apphud, to track subscriptions and send events to third-party integrations, including Facebook, in a few minutes. Apphud supports 21 events, including trial conversions, renewals, refunds and billing issues, that could be sent to Facebook in order to optimize your ad campaigns.

In sum, we highly recommend trying to launch Facebook ad campaigns optimized by Subscribe or StartTrial event. You will be surprised by increased ROI and reduced ad spends.

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 customer: 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 ask at least for a gender and age when a user activate free trial. These are the examples of a simple polls you may show to user after trial activation:

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 is 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 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 Facebook Lookalike audience

Let’s dive into Facebook settings and learn how to set up Lookalike audience based on Subscribe event. As a reminder, Subscribe event usually creates when a user converts from trial to regular subscription, purchases subscription without trial or renew 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”:
  1. Click to “Create New Source” > “Custom Audience”:
  1. Select “App Activity”:
  1. Select your app and Subscribe event. You may optionally choose a date range to include only users who made a purchase recently.
  1. 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 audience only from those people, who purchased certain in-app product or spent more than certain amount of money.
Select events parameters for detailed targeting
  1. Name your audience and save.
  2. Select location of people of your future audience and define audience size. Audience size ranges from 1% to 10%, where 1% is the closes to the target audience. According to our experience, “1%” shows better conversion rate but has higher CPI.
Set audience location and select audience size
  1. Once created, you will be able to choose this Lookalike audience while setting up Ad Set:
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 issue. 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 billing_issue event to Facebook when user billing issue occurs.

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

Exclude people who had billing issues from Facebook Lookalike audience

Save your audience and launch Facebook ad campaign.


That’s all for now. All tricks, mentioned above, aren’t an 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.

Also don’t forget about Apphud – an essential tool if you run Facebook Ads on apps with subscriptions. Have a great day!