Mobile application development has grown tremendously over the last few years. Building an app can be a very satisfying endeavor, as you will be able to help people accomplish their goals more efficiently. In addition, you can obtain new customers for your business, which can result in a substantial increase in revenue.
But if you’re considering going into the mobile app business, one the most important decisions you’ll make is determining the right revenue model. Fortunately, there are many ways to monetize your apps.
Paid apps are probably the most straightforward revenue model. You, as the developer, publish the app on a mobile platform and sell it for a fixed price. The user pays upfront and receives a fully functional application.
Using this model, you can set the price based on the perceived value of the app. If you are looking for the maximum number of downloads and visibility, you can try an initial pricing of 99 cents. If the app helps people solve special problems, you may be able to charge a premium price if you can demonstrate that it’s worth the higher price. You must be able to answer the question: what does your app offer that others don’t?
In-App purchasing (IAP) refers to app features that require payment to unlock additional features or functions. In-app purchasing can be found in both paid apps and free apps. Free apps with in-app purchasing are called freemiums, which is a merging of the words “free” and “premium.” In this model, the app is made free to users and relies on in-app purchases for revenue. Freemiums are popular because there’s no risk to users. They can try the product without committing to purchasing it.
In-app purchasing allows you to build a customer base that appreciates the free offering and will be happy to pay to experience more. As of 2013, 76% of all revenue in the Apple App Store is a result of in-app purchasing. An example of this model is the game “Angry Birds,” which allows users to play for free at its basic level but requires payment to unlock premium features. Common ways of using IAP are virtual currency, unlocking, and subscriptions.
When an app user buys virtual currency, it sits in that person’s app account much like a credit. It is often purchased in bulk and remains available until the user decides to use it on app extras. This method is used heavily in games, in which various features can be unlocked, such as new levels, characters, or environments. In addition, the currency may be used to extend playing time.
Unlocking is when the user pays a one-time fee to unlock useful features in a game or other application. Unlocking often gives the user access to upgrades that make the app a more pleasant experience or more useful.
Using the subscription model, users pay a monthly rate for continuous access to certain app features. Subscriptions are often used in magazine apps, where the user makes payments to gain access to new content.
Display advertising refers to displaying a third party ad inside an app. Using this model, the advertiser pays you to show the ad to your app users. This is a low-cost way of generating revenue because it doesn’t require you to develop any new app features.
Types of ads available include interstitial ads, which temporarily take over the entire screen before the user exits the app; banner ads, which display ad information in a banner at the top or bottom of the screen; app wall ads, which present special offers to users; video ads, which consist of ads generated via video; and rich media ads, which consist of various forms of interactive media that allow the user to interact with the ad for the purpose of gathering information for the advertiser.
Various sales opportunities are available to help monetize your apps. E-commerce involves selling physical products via a mobile app. If you don’t have anything to sell yourself, you can become an affiliate for others. When you link to their product pages, you receive a percentage if someone purchases an item via your link.
Another way of generating revenue is to offer your app in exchange for donations. Sites like Wikipedia have used this model successfully. Using this model, you would make the app available for free and ask users to donate based on the value received from the app. Many people won’t donate at all, but others will compensate for this by donating generously. If the API behind your app solves a widespread problem, you may be able to sell the API or prepare white label versions for developers to tweak as they see fit. Finally, your individual app users may provide a source of income. You have likely acquired data about them that other companies can use, and you can sell this data to them for use in marketing campaigns.
People may notice your app while browsing the app store, but if you really want to ensure your app’s visibility, you’ll want to implement a promotion strategy. There are many effective ways to use promotion as a vehicle to monetize your app. As discussed earlier, freemium apps can be used to recruit interested customers who you can then funnel to the paid versions of your apps. In addition, you can expand your customer reach by localizing the app to extend to international markets. This involves offering content specific to your international market or expanding the languages that your app supports.
Another way to promote your app is to create a mobile-enabled website that can be indexed by Google and other search engines. When users search for terms related to your app, the search engine will display your website, which you can then use to encourage people to download the app. A website gives you more screen real estate to describe the app and why someone should download it.
Another great way to promote your app is via your own email list. You need to have a way to capture the email addresses of those who are interested in your product. These are the people most likely to purchase from you in the future. You should periodically send email invitations to download the app, offer special discounts, and provide news that’s exclusive to members of your email list.
Finally, you can use social media to get the word out about your app. Starting an ad campaign will increase your reach to include your fans, their friends, and beyond. Also consider integrating social media with your app to allow users to share it with their friends, which results in free advertising for you.
With the prominence of smartphones and tablets, mobile apps are quickly becoming the go-to source for all sorts of online activity. Therefore, building a mobile app can be a very lucrative source of income. Build a distinctive app that people will want to talk about and share, and chances are you will be successful in monetizing your app.