It is not a mystery that if you are in the process of building an app you want to make it profitable, so you need a positive ROI.
But it easier to say it than making it possible, so we got you the methods you need to bring a profit product to the table!
We get to dig into the fun part (and answer the big question everybody’s boss wants to know…)
Let’s face it: you’re not developing an app for your health.
Whether it’s part of your marketing strategy, a new product, or a business in and of itself, almost everyone looking to build an app is interested in profiting from their work.
That said, it’s not inexpensive to have an app developed, and it’s not necessarily easy to see an immediate return on your investment if you just slap it up on the app store without a plan.
So without further ado, we’ve pulled together a quick overview of our four favorite methods for making your app profitable in as little time as possible.
Here are the four methods we’d recommend:
1. In-app ads
The old standard, many of the earliest apps were given away for free and monetized by running ads at the top of the screen or on the loading screen.
…highly, highly profitable ads.
But don’t think this early success means mobile ads don’t still work nowadays.
Flappy Bird, one of the wildest success stories the mobile world has seen, made its millions showing general-interest ads on a free, simple game.
Now, you need a relatively large user base to start seeing serious revenue from advertising, but it’s also one of the easiest methods to get up and running when you’re just getting started.
There’s nothing to stop you from adding more sophisticated methods down the road.
While other methods we’ll discuss in a minute are more in vogue at the moment, mobile ads are still a strong model and trending upwards.
2. E-commerce and affiliate marketing
The second method we’d recommend is selling products directly through your app, or monetizing it with affiliate links to other e-commerce businesses.
Popular apps like Pinterest and Wanelo have successfully provided shoppers with rich images and interesting browsing experiences in exchange for a percentage of anything they buy after clicking through the app’s link.
These percentages are often very small – Amazon commissions start at less than 5% per purchase.
But the upside is that people are doing more shopping on the web every year, and steadily making larger purchases – the trust barrier for spending large amounts of money online has practically disappeared.
High-end retailers can offer you the opportunity to make significant commissions from highlighting their wares, and as Amazon and other e-commerce operations start selling more large items like furniture and home appliances online, there will continue to be new opportunities to profit from affiliate marketing.
3. Make and sell a premium app
This one is very straightforward – you make a great app, you put a price on it, and when your customer buys it, they own it.
Now, you’re not going to want to target the bottom end of the market here – the app stores are flooded with .99 cent apps and it’s a long, hard path to take. There are plenty of apps selling very successfully for a few dollars, and even some succeed at $10, $15, or more because they’re taken the time and invested the resources to make a truly indispensable app for their market.
No, you won’t be getting a flood of “impulse” downloads like the free apps do, or even some of the .99 cent and $1.99 apps.
But you will be making a great product and selling it for a great price.
This business plan might not have the unlimited upside of some of the other models, but it’s a much more predictable monetization model and allows you to focus on delivering a great product and improving the user experience.
It also guarantees a much higher minimum purchase and can be a powerful indicator that your app is of the highest quality, which will help you stand out in a crowded marketplace.
4. In-app purchases
And finally, the fourth model we’d recommend – and the most popular at the moment – is offering a free or inexpensive app that’s monetized with in-app purchases, selling small add-ons to the game that can add up in a hurry. Multi-million dollar empires like Angry Birds have been built on the back of the in-app purchase model.
On the one hand, this model is based on giving away a top-quality app for a song. On the other hand, the potential for profit is endless if you have a solid plan in place to support that initial download on the back-end with new levels, maps, features, and even related apps.
This model definitely has a higher start-up cost than the others, but if you look at the most successful apps of all time, most of them were monetized by upselling cool new options to their existing users.