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Muscle & Fitness sees 34pc increase in in-app purchases

American Media Inc.?s Muscle & Fitness magazine has seen not only an increase in in-application purchases, but also a 23 percent increase in average session length after integrating new push messaging strategies.

Optimum Nutrition sponsored a free download of one of the publication?s mobile issues, and American Media leveraged push notifications to drive users to take advantage of the offer. American Media worked with Localytics to power this campaign.

"In-app and push messaging from Localytics offered a unique opportunity for us to communicate with our user base," said Chris Tarrow, director of tablet publishing at American Media, New York. 

"Since Apple doesn't share customer email addresses, campaigns like this are the only way for us to interact directly with our customers," he said. "Push messages, which appear on the phone or tablet's home screen, are great for driving app opens, while in-app messages work to engage users in the app."

Free muscle
Through in-app messaging and push notifications, Muscle & Fitness let users know that they could access a sponsored issue called ?The Ultimate Starter?s Guide? in the Muscle & Fitness app. The issue was sponsored by Optimum Nutrition.

The Muscle & Fitness app is available for free in Apple?s App Store, but consumers normally have to pay for individual issues once inside the app. This sponsored issue enabled consumers to access free content.

Muscle & Fitness sent push messages to consumers to drive them into the app, and they sent in-app messages to remind them of the free download.

During the 10-day period after the campaign was launched, subscription purchases increased by 40 percent and issues purchased increased 29 percent from the previous 10-day period. This represented a 34 percent increase in total in-app purchases.

Additionally, the average session length increased 23 percent, and the median session length increased 53 percent.

Mobile reading
The first iteration of mobile publications tended to be publishers copying online or print content onto mobile devices. This basic transformation did not take into account the unique attributes of mobile devices.

Now, more publishers are looking for new ways to enhance the reading experience on mobile devices, leveraging the unique functions of smartphones and tablets.

In-app messaging and push notifications are two ways to add onto the reading experience, but there are a number of other ways to innovate on mobile as a publisher.

For instance, Forbes recently added a new way for its readers to interact with content in its mobile application via a feature called ?Stream? (see story).

The New York Times offers a unique paywall on mobile that lets readers access three articles a day (see story).

Other publications are making content in mobile issues easily shoppable. For example, Rodale?s Men?s Health Magazine partnered with ShopAdvisor to make its content shoppable and also added other features such as image sequences and a free preview function in iTunes Newsstand (see story).

Different tactics like these can help a publisher such as American Media drive consumers to its apps more frequently and for longer periods of time.

"Many people download apps but stop short of making an in-app purchase, but if you can drive them toward free content, like American Media did in these messaging campaigns, you are offering them an opportunity to sample your content and get to know your brand," Mr. Tarrow said. "This organically leads to a greater number of purchases.

"The Ultimate Starter's Guide included a lot of video content, which is great for engaging mobile users," he said. "The more engaged users are, the longer they will spend with your app."

 Final Take
Rebecca Borison is editorial assistant on Mobile Marketer, New York