Using Subscriptions in Mobile Enterprise Apps

When Apple finally created the option of subscription in-app purchases in February 2011 (nearly a year after the iPad debut), it was a much-needed shot of adrenaline to the digital publishing industry. Sales shot through the roof. Initially this was attributed to the creation of Newsstand, released at the same time, but now, three years later, Apple seems to believe the former was more responsible for driving revenue than the latter. Newsstand (with its easy-to-miss icon) can now be hidden in a folder, and more importantly, as of iOS7, non-Newsstand apps can now offer subscriptions.

That’s good news for content producers of all types, who can now take advantage of the inherent benefits of subscriptions: the ability to change the model of content delivery from push to pull—opt-in, if you will—and automatic downloads.


Magazines have long understood that subscriptions breed both loyalty and engagement: Users are asking you (in some cases paying you) to send them what you got, over and over again. That’s a great and powerful connection compared to your asking them to please, please come take a look or just spamming widely and hoping for a 0.5 percent return. Even social media has to be sought out—followed, perused, favorited. And thanks to a technical feature of an iOS subscription, if you let, subscribed content will just download in the background—dropping directly into your app.

This model has powerful utility in the corporate publishing space, whether internal or public facing. Here are three interesting ways for non-traditional publishers to take advantage of subscriptions in their mobile enterprise apps:

Internal Communications

While the intranet may be a great repository of information when you need something specific, it’s a lousy communication channel—nobody keeps it as his or her browser home page. But creating department- or region-focused internal newsletters users can subscribe to on their devices lets you push information directly to them as regularly as necessary—weekly, monthly, even quarterly. Keep it short, keep it relevant, and people will read. We even do it at mag+: Every Monday morning at 7, a one-page summary of the company news goes out to all our smartphones.

Sales Enablement

Relying on your sales force to constantly update their materials is a recipe for chaos. Create a sales enablement app your force can subscribe to get the latest presentations, product guides and collateral. Subscriptions don’t need to follow a set frequency—you can publish anytime you want and the content will download automatically.


Talk about a brand endorsement—imagine how many more sales you could drive by changing catalog distribution from push to pull; what better way to reach your most loyal customers. Imagine Target sending a weekly sales flyer, or Gap distributing a quarterly new product issue. Subscribers can even get first look or special discounts.

No matter your content and your consumer, there’s a way that establishing a pull model and taking advantage of automatic downloads can add value to your app and create a more loyal user. Next week, I’ll talk about ways to get creative with subscriptions.

More information about mobile enterprise apps and Mag+.