Developing a mobile app and bringing it to market is not easy. Development costs, marketing, debugging and other expenses can be significant. But even if you've had a great idea, and you are pushing it out to the Play Store, Amazon App Store, App Brain, etc it is still exceedingly difficult to actually make all the money you've invested back and turn a profit. Even though smart phone usage is exploding all around the world, there are thousands of new apps every day, and getting lost in the crowd is all too easy no matter what OS you develop for or what app market(s) you distribute through. But you can make your app profitable, and here are 5 ways that you should consider monetizing your app.
Did you know that freemium is currently responsible for 75% of all app revenue generation on the Play Store? In 2012 alone money made from freemium apps more than tripled. This is no coincidence. Giving your customer base the chance to try your app, enjoy your interface and see the value that this app brings to their device is paramount. Customers are infinitely more likely to try an app out for free and then pay for it later than they are to cough up cash up front for something that they might never use. Nothing is worse for a consumer than paying even a small amount for an app that turns out to be buggy, useless, or even malware. If your app solves a problem for your customers, they will be willing to pay once the app in question has demonstrated its value. Show your user base that you are working hard for them, and they will be willing to fork over money they worked hard to earn.
One of the great challenges of monetizing your app is simply getting your customer base started. The best application in the world won't make a dime if it doesn't have a core group of fans who tell their friends about this wonderful new product. The basics of marketing apply to app developers just like they apply to everyone else. You should have a slick website with plenty of easy-to-access information, a social media presence is vital not only for marketing purposes but also for gathering feedback from your users, and any money you have to market your app should be spent carefully. It is easy to spend thousands on PPC, SEO and content distribution marketing with little to no results. Proper analysis of your analytics are vital, but you should also consider paid app review services like the one we supply here at Android Headlines. You need to reach your audience cheaply and with authority, and for a couple hundred bucks its easy to reach hundreds of thousands of superusers without breaking a sweat. No matter how much the world changes, marketing is marketing. Reach your audience cheaply and engage them and watch your audience grow.
3. Go International
For most tech start-ups in the Silicon Valley the US market is the first stop. This is certainly understandable. Language and cultural barriers can make internationalization of your application a scary proposition. But in today's constantly shrinking world this is not a luxury that should be afforded to most start-up app developers. In October 2012 Japan generated more revenue through the Play Store than the United States. Japanese consumers accounted for 29% of the global Play Store income while the United States came in at number two bringing in 26%. Japan and South Korea accounted for over half of all Play Store purchases during the fourth quarter of 2012. This trend is only accelerating as emerging markets like Thailand, China, Russia, Brazil, Mexico and Taiwan continue to see explosive growth in Android smart phone usage. Don't be afraid to cross borders and diversify your audience. In an increasingly global smart phone economy, opportunity speaks every language.
4. Cross Promote and Push Recommendations for Other Apps
It's easy to forget, but if you have an established user base that you are struggling to monetize, the hardest part of your job is already done. You have an app that people like, and share, and enjoy, but not all apps lend themselves to generating revenue from freemium, paid, or banner ad monetization. If your application falls into this category, consider making app recommendations to your users. Dolphin has been very successful at monetizing their free mobile browser without banner ads. The browser's "Speed Dial" page shows recommendations for apps that that user might enjoy. All users are constantly looking for new apps to try, and if they are using your app, you have already built a modicum of trust with that consumer. Cash in on that trust by driving installs of other apps and charge a reasonable price per click. Your users won't feel that you are shoving ads down their throats and other developers (or other apps you have developed) will make money, everyone wins.
5. Reach Out to the Enterprise Market
Providing a service or product to businesses and business people of all sizes and types is a somewhat untapped resource in some markets. We have recently seen Samsung and Microsoft making aggressive moves towards the enterprise mobile space because it is lucrative and opportunities abound. Each individual industry has opportunities for creative developers to carve out a niche market. The more specific your product is, the easier it is to reach your audience. Advertise on blogs and forums that are focused around the industry that you want to service and watch users flock to your application. Just because the potential size of your audience might be somewhat limited by reaching out to an enterprise audience doesn't mean that you can't make just as much (or more) money than a consumer-oriented product. Almost every industry from healthcare to car repair is still struggling to modernize and adjust to a quickly-changing marketplace. If you can help businesses to do just that, your app can get in front of the eyeballs of a moneyed audience composed of decision-makers at companies around the world. Think outside of the box, because that is where most of the money is.
We hope this information gave you some ways to make your application profitable without compromising the experience of your users. The smart phone application business may be crowded, competitive and fast-paced, but that doesn't mean that your product can't make some noise and open some wallets. No business ever went broke knowing their audience and giving them what they want. If you code it, they will come.