Have you ever thought about building a mobile app, but stopped yourself short, because you weren’t sure exactly how you’d make money with it?

Yes, it can help build your brand and grow your business…but there are simpler, cheaper ways to do that, right? (Whether those simpler ways are as effective is a story for another time.)

Well, here’s the thing: there are many ways you can profit from your mobile app—even if you offer the app for free.

We’ll get to those in a minute.

Here’s what you need to know: mobile apps are powerful, because they help you build your brand, grow your business, AND increase your revenue…

…ALL in one shot.

The problem? When it comes to generating revenue from their applications, many companies take a “launch first and monetize later” approach.

In doing so, they overlook key monetization strategies.

They LOSE money, before they ever have the chance to earn it.

But some companies get it right. They think about monetization from the outset, and harness the power of mobile apps.

If you’re thinking about building a mobile app, or monetizing a current one, this is key to understand.

But before you can think about monetization, you need to know HOW to monetize with mobile apps.

In this article, we’ll cover some of the best ways to monetize your mobile app. We’ll start off with some specific monetization strategies, and then dive into some methods for expanding your app’s audience and getting it in front of the eyes of more people.

Let’s get started.

1. In-App Advertising

This is a popular monetization strategy used by many businesses. In this model, you allow ads to run on space sold within your app, and revenue is based on number of impressions and/or clicks. In-app ads work best on the gaming, news, chat, and entertainment category apps. ‘

The one drawback of this model is that you only make money if a large number of users download your app and use it on a very frequent basis. So, it’s a great option if your app calls for prolonged usage, and you expect it to get downloaded frequently.

Here are a few methods for in-app advertising:

  • Interstitials—This ad fils up an app’s screen at strategic times—like before you exit an app—and tends to generate higher impressions.
  • Banners—This is a simple ad method that you’ve probably seen on many apps. The advantage is that it’s quick to deploy, but it tends to generate lower revenue than other ad formats
  • Video Ads—These ads usually generate more revenue and having a higher click-through rate.

Pro tip: Think recommendations, not ads. The more useful and targeted your ads, the better chance users will actually click them.

2. Monthly Subscriptions

This strategy is great for monetizing paying users who aren’t big spenders. Users sign up for a monthly recurring service when they purchase the app, or shortly thereafter.

A great example of this strategy in action is a meditation app called Headspace. The app begins as a free download, with a special “Take 10” program for new users. Each day, for 10 days, users are taken through a 10 minute guided meditation program. Once day 10 hits, users can choose to continue the program by starting a paid monthly subscription.

The genius behind it is that users begin to feel the positive effects and momentum of meditation,  as well as start to build the daily habit, and it’s a no brainer to pay a few dollars a month to continue the meditation journey. That’s why the strategy is so successful.

3. In-App Purchases

This method is often used by addictive games where players must purchase upgrades in order to unlock new characters or levels. However, there is plenty of opportunity for in-app purchases in other types of apps as well.

Take the Simple Pickup Lines app, for example. Simple Pickup is a business made popular through Youtube, with the purpose of helping guys improve with women. They offer a free mobile app with pick-up lines and exclusive videos. Each week, they add one “free” pickup line to the app. But users can choose to upgrade to “premium” for just $0.99, and get 15 additional pickup lines right away. It’s a simple (no pun intended) little app that has generated tons of success so far.

To best use this model, consider offering your app for free, or at a low price, and then monetize through user engagement.

4. Sponsorships

Sponsorships work best for local + event focused apps. Basically, your or your business under-write your app in exchange for recognition type benefits. An example would be an ad or logo within your app.

Sponsorships are a good way to get your first app off the ground and start monetizing, especially if you’re a smaller business. The drawback they have, though, is that they are typically a one-shot source of revenue—they aren’t usually ongoing or scalable.

5. Paid Downloads

In this model, users pay up front to download your app once it’s available on the app markets. While it’s nice to get some up-front cash, there are definitely some drawbacks. Even at just $0.99, the payment is a mental barrier for app users. With a myriad of free apps on the market, they’ll need some convincing before they unload that dollar out of their wallet. And they’ll also be less tolerant of in-app ads.

However, paid downloads do sometimes work. If your app is more niche, or solves a specific problem, users will be more likely to see the value in it and pay.

Conclusion

Mobile apps are powerful because they are a driving force to build your brand, grow your business, and generate revenue.

Many companies wait too long to implement monetization strategies. In order maximize the potential of your app, you should think about monetization early on.

With the strategies listed in this article, you have a solid roadmap to transform your mobile app into a revenue generating machine.

Do you want to turn your next app into a great source of revenue for your business, or add implement these monetization strategies into a current app? Click the link below to schedule a call with me to discuss your project!

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Dustin DeVries

Dustin DeVries

Living and breathing software strategy and architecture, Dustin has been building software for over 20 years. He really enjoys working with clients to determine the right technology, whether it’s a web application framework like Django or NodeJS, or a simple CMS solution like WordPress. He received his BS in Computer Engineering from Texas A&M University.During his spare time, Dustin enjoys reading, gardening, cooking, playing guitar, running, and hanging out with his family.