You have an app. That’s great! Your app should help solve customers’ problems, but just as important is how your app can generate revenue for the company.
However, that’s easier said than done. This guide will discuss eight app monetization strategies you can use to increase earnings from your digital products.
1. Keep track of the data from the beginning
Knowing who uses your app and how they use it lets you make critical changes in the future.
Keeping track of your data will allow you to know who your app is resonating with. The data will help you create an accurate customer persona. It will also help you stay on a clear path for nurturing a niche community around your app.
Nurturing a community will enable you to monetize from businesses that wish to utilize 3rd party app advertising via Google or Facebook. For example, if you see from your data gathering that it’s mothers who use your app, you’ll be able to monetize from ads that Google targets mothers with.
Apart from ads, two of the best ways to monetize from an engaged community are offerwalls and survey platforms. Like ads, companies pay you not to advertise through your app but to gather market data through your app. These, in turn, reward users and players who participate in these surveys with in-app benefits.
But how will you effectively gather data to maintain an engaged community?
If your app is a game, you may want to keep track of the most used weapons and items, so you’ll know what the most used items are and if your game needs balancing. If it’s a productivity or finance app, keep heatmap data on which point users are dropping off to pinpoint which part of the UI is giving your users the most trouble.
You need to know who’s using your app, too. Knowing your users will allow you to craft marketing content that will effectively speak to your users.
Popular mobile games like Among Us and Plants vs. Zombies collect users’ age as part of onboarding.
Collecting data and improving your business plan based on it may indirectly result in more ad revenue or directly result in more upsells on in-app purchases.
2. Optimize the onboarding process
You don’t want your customers to turn away from you before even experiencing your app. Nothing says “Welcome” more effectively than a quick and easy sign-up process.
For most apps, creating an account with an email and a password is enough. However, you could optimize the onboarding process further by integrating the option to sign in through Facebook, Google, Apple, etc.
Social login also allows users to receive ads from the platform they used to log in on. That will help your app generate more ad revenue, too. You may also give users the option to save their payment details in your app. That’s so their next purchase on your app would be much quicker, and they’re likely to do it more often.
3. Customize the user experience
Have you ever noticed how the YouTube homepage is filled with selections you might like? YouTube recommends videos based on the user’s subscription list, liked videos, among others.
In the same manner, your app should tailor to a user’s in-app activity. It may be as simple as addressing the user by his name instead of a generic “Welcome back.”
For eCommerce apps, a catalog containing tailored picks based on previous purchases will make deciding what to buy quicker and easier. This feature is handy if you have products to sell online.
Retail giant, Amazon, does this on their website and their shopping app.
For dating apps, daily ‘top picks’ will be suggested to the user, based on whom they’ve shown interest in. That improves the user experience by making it unique and tailored for each user.
4. Use gamification
When playing games, players are often willing to complete tasks in exchange for points and items. Often, that’s how games get their player base to commit– integrating daily tasks and challenges to incentivize a regular visit to their app.
Players also engage further because rewarded tasks involve some commitment. You can apply gamification principles to almost any app.
The language learning app, Duolingo, rewards players with points and achievements each time they complete a lesson. Duolingo users could then use the points to unlock other lessons, just like how games use currency and stars to unlock levels. This makes learning languages fun and keeps users engaged as if they’re playing a game instead of sitting through a lecture.
Rewarded surveys also utilize a gamified system where users willingly fill out surveys in exchange for game currency, free items, discounts, etc. You may also monetize your user base through survey platforms.
With this system, you can also get users to watch ads on your app willingly. Offering rewards for watching ads will increase the ad playthrough rate on your app. You’ll earn more ad revenue from that.
5. Reward engaged users
When your users meet specific criteria for them to be labeled “engaged,” reward them. It also helps to incentivize the daily use of your app. Most games reward players with increasingly valuable items for every consecutive day they use the app.
For Call Of Duty: Mobile, the game rewards players for simply logging in. There are even more rewards for playing matches and performing specific actions for that day.
Thank users for their dedication to your app. Perhaps the user has reached your max in-game level. You might want to provide him with a loot box full of “legendary” items. Or, if the user uses the app daily and is now on his 30th day, give them a discount coupon.
Rewarding users for their engagement positively impacts retention rates.
6. Use push notifications
Even when away from your app, people need to know what’s up. Do you have a limited-time offer? Do you wish to update your users about a new feature? Using push notifications will help deliver that message much quicker.
Push notifications can also help re-engage users who stopped using your app. You can use them to update users about the latest app news and product offerings.
The language learning app Duolingo, for instance, reminds its users to take their daily lessons through push notifications if it notices any inactivity.
Just don’t overdo it to the point that users disable your push notifications or, worse, uninstall you. Be creative, personal, and non-spammy with your content strategy. The personal nature of push notifications may be its greatest asset, but that’s also its biggest weakness. Tread lightly.
7. Use in-app messages
Include an integrated messaging platform when building your app. That way, people would have to transact on your app, making them use it more. That will improve your app-retention rates and build a niche community around it.
From this, Google and Facebook would monetize your app more for 3rd party advertising use.
Integrating a messaging platform on your app will also help users segment the types of conversations they have on their phones.
They would have Facebook messenger for personal convos, Discord for gaming and hobby conversations, Snapchat for more clandestine exchanges, and your app for app-exclusive transactions.
That will make users open your app for those particular messages, thus improving your app retention.
Dating apps like Tinder have an in-app messaging platform where users may chat with those they’ve matched with. To re-engage in a conversation with that person they like, users need to open the app again.
If you have a messaging platform on your app, you may sell rights to companies to advertise on your messaging platform. That’s a helpful way of monetizing, especially if you’re a messaging app.
It can come in the form of direct messages through your messaging app or in the form of ads that take the form of an inbox message.
Messaging apps like Viber may monetize from this kind of marketing.
Make sure the inbox ads don’t disrupt the functions of a messaging platform. You’d still want users to enjoy the experience of an actual messaging function.
You can use off app messaging channels too if you’re taking an omnichannel marketing approach. For example, you might send recurring emails to your audience to better engage them and improve retention rates. Pro tip: Ensure that your emails are verified for better results.
8. Improve and evolve
To retain your users and keep them engaged, you need to improve and evolve. During the onset of the COVID pandemic, online communication became a necessity. So, digital payments and food & same-day courier services upped their game.
Seeing a massive spike in the market for their services, they sought to integrate every feature that may be useful to those who wouldn’t be able to step out of the house.
These features included paying bills from their homes, ordering food from home, among others.
Uber, for example, eventually added a food delivery system and a courier function, in addition to being just a carpool app.
Improve and evolve based on the data you’ve gathered from your users, the recorded calls with customer support, and the app data.
According to Apptentive, the best apps can retain 35% of their users in the first week, whereas the industry standard is only 6%. You can generate this result as well by following the tips on this list.
Generating revenue from an app isn’t a short-term result. You have to continually improve and innovate the app so it will remain relevant and used.
Follow these tips, and you’ll be able to monetize your app. Good luck!
Nico is an online marketer and the founder of Launch Space. He helps companies develop their digital marketing strategies. He’s worked with everyone from Fortune 500 companies to startups helping them develop content marketing strategies that align with their business goals. Follow him on Twitter @nhdprins.