For publishers, app monetization means heavy competition and a lot of false starts. But following a few best practices can ensure that your monetization efforts never fall flat.
See How Competitors Monetize Their Apps
When you set out to implement a new app monetization strategy or increase your app’s revenue, check out what your competitors are doing.
You don’t have to copy them. You probably shouldn’t — your app and content are unique. But you do need to see whether they are doing something you haven’t considered before. And you need to see whether it’s working for them and whether it might work for you.
Keep in mind that your competitors in the mobile app market might be different than your competitors on the internet at large or elsewhere within your industry.
Here are a few strategies to identify apps that compete with yours:
- Search the major app stores for a broad category that would include your app. The most downloaded apps in that category are good contenders to be your top competitors.
- Search the app stores for your app specifically. Your app should be the first search result, but which apps show up directly beneath yours? These are apps that are likely to be highly similar to yours, which makes them potential competitors.
- Read reviews of your app. If you pay attention, you may see reviewers comparing your app to other apps. These comparisons can reveal other apps with similar offerings to yours.
Once you have identified your mobile app competitors, do some digging. Download their apps and see how they’re making their money. Do they have banner ads? Are they offering a freemium subscription model? See what’s working and what isn’t, and let that inform your app monetization strategy.
Balance App Monetization with UX
When you start researching app monetization for publishers, you may find yourself getting excited and eager to try out some new methods. That’s great! But even though monetization is critical to the success of your app, don’t let it blind you to the importance of the user experience.
UX is one of the single most important factors in whether a user will continue using an app. Of course, you need people to use your app if you plan to generate revenue with it. So, you’ll just want to make sure you balance your monetization goals and activities with maintaining a good UX for your user base.
The easiest way to do that is to put yourself in the mind of your typical user.
Is that big, flashing banner ad taking away from their ability to enjoy the game, watch the video or read the article? Or does it complement the experience well?
Is that interstitial ad between levels a smooth and comfortable change or is it overly jarring?
The best approach is to measure user engagement metrics as you test new monetization strategies so you can find a way to have the two goals work in harmony.
Test to See Which Monetization Strategies Work
Good mobile apps are light, easy to use, and fast. You need to be like that, too.
You can do that by testing everything to see what works. Stay agile — and maximize your app’s revenue — by making changes based on the results of your A/B tests.
As you perfect your app’s monetization model, consider A/B testing the following:
- Freemium vs. free trial. Which method converts more free users into paying users?
- Traditional ads vs. sponsored posts. Which method provides a better UX? And which generates more revenue?
- Clicks vs. impressions for ad revenue. Between cost per mille/thousand impressions (CPM), cost per click (CPC), and cost per action (CPA), which gives you a better return?
- Higher prices vs. lower prices. For subscriptions or in-app purchases in your app, is it better to charge more and make fewer sales or charge less and make more sales?
You can A/B test nearly every aspect of your mobile app. And if the answer to any A/B test could sharpen your app monetization abilities, it is worth your time and effort.
Forget About Your Gut — Go with the Numbers to Monetize Your App
It’s your app — you dreamed it and made it real — so trusting your gut about how to monetize it makes sense, right? Not always.
If you think an app monetization strategy will work well for your product and user base, that’s a good place to start. But let the data inform how you move forward. Do your users actually engage with your mechanisms of monetization the way you want them to? Do you have enough users at this point to make it work?
If the answer is no, your gut was wrong and that’s OK. It’s a learning experience that will inform your future efforts. For your app to survive and even thrive, go with what the numbers say will work.
Keep Building Your App’s Audience
A publisher’s ability to make money through an app is all about the user base. To increase revenue, you have to increase the size of your audience.
That means you can’t set it and forget it when it comes to app monetization strategies. Over time, you will naturally lose users, but you won’t naturally gain users unless you go viral.
Continually growing your audience is essential to growing your revenue. Publicize your app, run ad campaigns to promote it, and market it on your website.
Pay Attention to the App Stores
Unfortunately, it’s the app stores’ world and publishers are just living in it. They make the rules, and publishers who want to monetize their apps have to pay attention.
Read the developer guidelines from Apple and Google, and routinely check for updates. Apple and Android both used to favor paid apps as the top app monetization model. Now, pay-to-download apps are often among the least profitable, and both companies recommend models that look more like freemium or subscriptions.