What are Custom Offer Codes and how to set them up in the App Store Connect
Custom Offer Codes
Custom Offer Codes are an extension of an already existing Offer Codes mechanism. Before, you were only able to generate randomized one-time codes to give your users a discount on their subscription purchases with the old Offer Codes. With the new Custom Offer Codes you have many new possibilities at your disposal that can greatly enhance your marketing potential and allow you to acquire new customers and keep existing ones engaged in your application.
What are Custom Offer Codes
A Custom Offer Code is an alphanumeric string of characters you create that enables your customers to receive a discount or free access to Auto-renewable Subscriptions you have set up for your application. These codes can be redeemed by a special redemption URL you can generate or directly in your application if it’s set up properly. Unlike the previous mechanism, where you got many single-use, randomly generated codes, now you can create one meaningful code that can be distributed to large amounts of customers via various marketing channels, such as email distribution, social media, content creators partnerships or even within the app itself.
The Offer represented by the code is fully customizable. During the setup process you’ll have the option to assign properties such as the maximum amount of redemptions, the expiration date or the customer eligibility. The last property, customer eligibility, is especially important as it gives you a lot of control over the targeting of your Offer. You can make it as broad or as narrow as you want. The Offer can be presented to:
- new users, who haven’t yet purchased your subscription,
- existing customers to help retain them,
- those who have resigned from the subscription to encourage them to return,
- any combination of the above.
Custom Offer Codes availability
If you make your Custom Offer Codes available for new users and you have also enabled an Introductory Offer, you are given a choice whether to allow your customers to use both of them or limit them to only one. If you decide to make both Offers available at the same time then your customers will first benefit from the Introductory Offer and then automatically renew to the Offer associated with the Custom Offer Code. Otherwise the Introductory Offer is omitted and your customers will renew to the standard subscription price after the discount period from the Offer is finished.
The redemption experience is handled by Apple and can be modified to a very little extent. Whether redeeming the code via the URL or in the application, the customer will be presented with a screen with the name of your subscription, the details of the discount provided and either your application’s icon or a dedicated image for the subscription, if you provided one. What’s more, if a user does not have your application installed and they redeem the code via the URL they will be automatically prompted to install it.
Limitations and rules in Custom Offer Codes Offers
There are some limitations and rules to keep in mind when designing and creating Custom Offer Codes Offers:
- Only Auto-renewable Subscriptions are supported, no other type of In-app Purchase can benefit from Custom Offer Codes,
- Only users of iOS/iPadOS 14.1 or above can redeem these codes in the application,
- One code can be redeemed up to 25 000 times,
- There is an upper limit of 150 000 code redemptions per application per quarter. This limit is shared between the regular Offer Codes and all Custom Offer Codes,
- Existing subscribers can only redeem codes giving them a discount on a subscription group equal to their current one or on one that’s an upgrade,
- The code can be at most 64 characters long and can consist only of capital letters and numbers.
How to set up Custom Offer Codes in App Store Connect
To create Custom Offer Codes in the App Store Connect you need to have the role of Account Holder, Admin, App Manager, Developer or Marketing. Before you start, make sure you have at least one Auto-renewable Subscription ready for the application.
Set up an Offer for the Code
Before you create the code itself, first you need to create the Offer. Sign in to the App Store Connect and select your application from the My Apps section. From the menu on the left side of the screen select the In-App Purchases (1) option under the Features section, then select the Auto-Renewable Subscription for which you want to create the code (2).
Click on the + button next to the Subscription Prices section header (3) and select Create Offer Codes (4).
Enter the name of your Offer (5). This name is only visible to you and will be used to identify and manage the Offer on the App Store Connect and for analytics purposes. Then select the customer eligibility for the Offer (6). You can select any combination of the following options:
- New subscribers – the Offer can be redeemed by customers who have never purchased any subscription from a given subscription group.
- Existing subscribers – the Offer can be redeemed by customers who are already subscribed to any subscription in a given subscription group. Keep in mind that existing users can only use Offers for subscriptions equal to or better than their current one, they cannot use a code to downgrade their subscription.
- Expired subscribers – the Offer can be redeemed by customers who have purchased your subscription from a given group in the past and their subscription has expired for any reason.
New subscribers or Expired subscribers
If you selected New subscribers or Expired subscribers you can now decide whether to allow new and returning customers to use Introductory Offers in addition to the Custom Offer Code (7). If you select Yes, then your customers will redeem your application’s Introductory Offer first and then automatically renew to the Offer they redeemed with the code. Otherwise they will redeem the Custom Offer Code and then renew to the standard subscription price. When you’re done, press Next.
Select the countries or regions where you want the Offer to be available and press Next.
Choose one of the following types of Offer
Pay as you go – your customers will pay a discounted price for each billing period for the duration of your Offer. (For example $1.99 per month for 3 months for a subscription with a standard price of $9.99 per month). If you select this option you can then select the duration and the price of the Offer (8). The possible lengths of the discounted duration depend on the length of the billing period of your subscription and are as follows:
- For 1 week subscription from 1 to 12 weeks
- For 1 month subscription from 1 to 12 months
- For 2 months subscription either 2, 4, 6, 8, 10 or 12 months
- For 3 months subscription either 3, 6, 9 or 12 months
- For 6 months subscription either 6 or 12 months
- For 1 year subscription the only option is 1 year.
- Pay up front – your customers will pay a single discounted price for a given duration (for example a $4.99 for 3 months for a subscription with a standard price of $9.99 per month). If you select this option you can then select the duration and the price of the Offer (9). The discounted duration can last either 1, 2, 3, 6 or 12 months regardless of the duration of the billing period of your subscription.
- Free – your customers can access your subscription for free for a given duration. If you select this option you can then select the duration of the Offer (10). The free duration can last either 3 days, 1 week, 2 weeks, 1 month, 2 months, 3 months, 6 months or a year regardless of the duration of the billing period of your subscription.
When you select and configure the type of your Offer press Next.
Set up region-specific prices
Now you have the option to tweak the prices for specific regions if you’re not satisfied with the ones generated automatically by Apple. When you’re done, press Create to finalize the process of creation of your Offer. It’s important to know that after your press Create, you can no longer change anything. If you made a mistake or need to make any modifications your only option is to create a new Offer.
Now that your Offer is ready, it’s time to create the Custom Offer Code.
Create the Custom Offer Code
Select the Offer you’ve just created (1).
Scroll down until you see the Custom Codes section and press a + sign next to its header (2). Then enter the code you want your customers to use to redeem the Offer (3). Remember it can have up to 64 characters and can be composed only of capital letters and numbers. It’s important to note that once you create a code it cannot be reused for other Offers and subscriptions. Next, choose the redemption limit (4) and the expiration date (5). You can also select a No Expiration Date option if you want. Then press Create.
Distribute the Custom Offer Code
While Apple gives you all the tools necessary to create and manage your Offer, you must take care of distributing the Offer Code on your own. Use all the channels available to you to reach as many customers as you can. Contact them directly by email or in a more indirect way through social media campaigns. Organize events and hand over the codes printed on cards. Any way of reaching your desired users possible can and should be used.
It’s important to remember to provide your customers with detailed information regarding redeeming the codes they received. It won’t do you any good if your users know all the benefits your Offer will provide them, know the code to unlock those benefits but do not know how to use it. There are two ways to redeem a Custom Offer Code:
- In your app (if it has been set up properly)
- Using a special redemption URL.
Creating a unique redemption URL
A redemption URL is one of two ways for your users to redeem a Custom Offer Code. No changes need to be made in the application code to utilize it, so it’s easier and faster than giving your customers the ability to redeem the code in your app. When the user enters the link they’ll be taken to a special Apple’s page where they can redeem the code. What is more, if they enter the URL on an eligible device (such as an iPhone when you developed your app for the iPhones) they will be prompted to download your app first, if they don’t already have it, before being able to enter the code.
To create a redemption URL for a Custom Offer Code enter the Offer Details Page on App Store Connect, find Offer Code URL section (1), copy the link you’ll find there and replace the word CODE at the end with your Custom Offer Code. For example, the unique redemption URL for the example app shown in this article would be:
End the Offer early
If you want to end your Offer earlier than you initially anticipated, there are tools that allow you to do it. You can either disable a single Offer Code from your Offer or remove the entire Offer altogether with all the codes associated with it.
Deactivate the Custom Offer Code
To deactivate a single Custom Offer Code go to the details page of your Offer, scroll all the way down, find your Custom Offer Code and press the Deactivate button right next to it (1). You will be presented with a pop-up window where you can confirm your action, press Deactivate and the Offer Code will expire immediately. After it’s been deactivated it can not be reactivated again. Keep in mind that your customers that have already used the code will not be affected and will continue to benefit from the Offer.
Deactivate the Offer
To deactivate the entire Offer and invalidate all the Codes associated with it go to the details page of your Offer and press the Deactivate (1) button in the top right corner of the screen. You will be presented with a pop-up window where you can confirm your action, press Deactivate and the Offer will be terminated immediately. After it’s been deactivated it can not be reactivated again. Keep in mind that your customers that have already used any of the codes associated with the Offer will not be affected and will continue to benefit from the Offer.
Should you use Custom Offer Codes?
As you can see, this new system introduced by Apple is a great tool for anyone who wants to easily reach many customers in a short amount of time. It requires very little effort to set up, especially if you’ve used other Offers in the past. A very generous limit of 25 000 redeems per code and the ease of sharing a simple alphanumeric string make these codes an invaluable help for all marketing campaigns, even large-scale ones.