The website “Free Apps for Me” has recently reviewed our iOS drone mission control app called Flight Plan. You can check out the review here.
For many people the whole point of writing applications is to see them published in the App store and available for download from iTunes. Before you quit your job and go out and buy matching Porsche 911’s you would be wise to get a few months of sales data under your belt. Like most endeavours, there is a bell curve of app sales. Everyone hears about Angry Birds developers making $70m, but there is a lot less media coverage at the other end of the bell curve.
In a recent survey of more than 1,500 developers in 83 countries, it was found that the average per-app revenue is roughly $1,200 to $3,900 depending on the platform. Additionally, the survey noted that an app has roughly a 35% chance of generating between $1 to $500. This obviously means that most developers cannot rely on app development as their main source of income. However, it does mean that if you put the effort in you can make enough to fund your development habit.
Our own experience is that you can never tell which Apps are going to be regular sellers (LifeGoals) and which will sink like a stone (LifeMovie). The Reefwing stable of Apps currently nets us around AUD$10k per annum, which is sufficient to purchase a MacBook Air, a new iPad, external development costs (Apple Developers Licence, App Sales Analytics, web-site and forum costs, etc.) plus a bit of change for the highly caffeinated beverages which programmers run on. Working mainly on on our contracted 3rd party apps we only work on these on the odd night and weekend so with more application we imagine the rewards would be better. The thing that we are no where near recovering is the time spent developing. The average App takes us about 3 months from start to finish and while the proceeds roll in for some years to come, it isn’t really passive income because sales quickly decline if you aren’t frequently updating your app.
However, lets face it – we would code if we didn’t get paid anything so anything we do get is a very pleasant upside. There is also something addictive about tracking the daily “sales” of you app (even if it is free).
The other thing that most developers don’t realise, is that the apps which are successful in the App store, have as much time and money spent on marketing their Apps as they do on developing them. There is the odd exception but these are an exception. Books have been written on this subject and we will provide our thoughts on the best approaches to marketing in another blog post.
14 Ways to Monetize your App (courtesy of yourAppreport.com)
1. Paid Downloads aka Pay Per Download – Paid downloads work as users pay up-front to download your app once it’s available in one of the app markets. Paid download apps work well for apps in the gaming, entertainment, productivity, navigation and news categories. However, the more users pay up-front, the less tolerant they may be of advertising or in-app purchases. You might try considering to offer a free version plus a paid version of your mobile app with additional content that contains fewer or maybe even no advertisements.
2. In-App Advertising aka Mobile Ads – One of the most popular among mobile app developers. In-App Advertising works by allowing ads run on space sold within your app and revenue is based on number of user impressions and/or clicks. These really work well on the gaming, news, chat and entertainment category apps. However, the small drawback with in-app ads is that your app will have to bring back users regularly, and basically be designed for heavy use.
3. In-App Purchases or Subscriptions – In-App Purchases work by allowing users additional purchasing privileges, badges or subscriptions inside the app once they’ve downloaded it. These work pretty good for apps in the gaming, lifestyle and news categories. However, this type of app really requires a very loyal following of users that are willing to pay for virtual or ongoing benefits. You will need to regularly add fresh content as well.
4. Sponsorships – Sponsorships can work by individuals or businesses basically under-writing your app in exchange for recognition type benefits. An example of this would be maybe an ad or logo within your app. These work best for Local + Event focused apps and narrow focused audiences. The drawback here is that these are typically a one-shot source of revenue. They usually aren’t ongoing or scalable. However, it’s a pretty good way to get a first app off the ground.
5. Push Ads: Ads are displayed in the notification tray of an opted-in user’s device. CTR’s and conversion rates are sky high with this format, since there are no accidental clicks like with in-app ads. Advertisers pay on a CPC basis. Unlike traditional mobile ads, these ads are not placed inside apps. Each ad is also tagged with a permanent opt-out link, as well as the name of the app which delivered the ad. However, on iOS systems, you can get really crafty with Apple’s push notifications availability. (Be careful with that).
6. Icon Ads: Similar to the pre-installed apps which come with a new smartphone, Icon Ads are sponsored shortcuts (icons) placed on the home screen of an opted-in user’s device. Advertisers pay on a CPI basis for each icon installed on a device.
7. Dialog Ads: Ads are displayed as a dialog box inside an app, presenting the user with a 1 sentence call-to-action along with an OK and Cancel button. For example, the ad can ask the user “Check out a free new 3-d game” with an OK and Cancel button underneath. Advertisers pay on a CPC basis.
8. OfferWall Ads: Ads for individual promotional offers are placed in a single in-app interstitial and can be selected by a user for participation. Advertisers pay on a CPC or CPA basis.
9. Video Ads: High-quality Video Ads are shown in-app. Our proprietary ad server only displays Video Ads to users on a wi-fi or 4g connection, ensuring a positive viewing experience. Advertisers pay on a CPM basis.
10. Rich Media Ads: A full landing page is embedded inside an app, with a fixed close button at the top. Advertisers can build rich experiences which are directly embedded in another app.
12. Full-Page Banner Ads: Ad is displayed as an in-app interstitial to users, with a fixed close button at the top. Advertisers pay on a CPC basis.
13. AppWall Ads: AppWall a new interstitial mobile ad format that Advertisers can use to generate huge CTRs and higher engagement than virtually any other in-app ad type. Displayed within an app session, AppWall displays a variety of different offers and actively optimizes their placement in order to drive results that were never before possible in the mobile marketing space.
14. Affiliate Offers: A great way to monetize your app is to leverage affiliate offers. There are 1000’s of affiliate offers available for almost any topic. When you hear “affiliate” you may be thinking someone has to pull out their credit card and purchase something from an online store and you will get a percentage… this is true, but there are also PPA affiliate offers (Pay Per Acquisition)- where you can get paid if one of your app users simply registers for a newsletter or website. I have found these offers work great in apps. Most people prefer to make affiliate purchases, with a credit card on their desktop computer, most people don’t want to pull our a credit card and type all those digits into their little smartphone screen. With PPC offers- you can show the user a relevant ad, the user can signup for a newsletter and you can get paid $1,2$ or more each time
Here are some affiliate sites to check out for PPA offers you could add to your app:
Building the greatest app in the world means very little if nobody can find it. Marketing considerations are a critical aspect of any app launch. This is true now more than ever, as the app store becomes more and more competitive.
Most developers have processes and checklists around app development prior to go live, like testing on multiple devices. What about a checklist for app marketing prior to go live? Below is an App Marketing & Go Live Checklist (courtesy of AppReporting.com) that we like to go through before we launch an app.
- Include Social Media Integration Within the app. Allow users to share via Facebook, Twitter etc
- Include Email Share features. Word of Mouth Marketing! Allow your users to email their friends about your app.
- Include direct feedback option. Allow users to submit feedback and comments within the app. Getting negative reviews hurts! Reduce the odds of negative comments by allowing your users to provide feedback directly to you with your app.
- Promote and entice ratings within your app. Ratings are a form of marketing for your app, a very important form. Getting positive ratings is critical. Ask user to rate and review your app, within your app. I posted about this here: How to Get More (& Positive) App Reviews and Ratings
- Online Marketing- create a dedicated website for your app. These days hosting is inexpensive. With most major hosts you can do a one click install of WordPress and using a free (and responsive, so it plays well on mobile) theme you can be up and running in little time. A website is key because you can link your Press Releases back to your website and App Review Requests. Your website will earn links and eventually rank in Google and other search engines for search queries related to your app. This form of online marketing will help your app get more installs by driving search traffic from the search engines.
- Social Media- create a Facebook page for your app. Create a Twitter account for your app. Publicize your social media accounts on your dedicated app website.
- Optimize Your App Description. Using keyword research (Google Keyword Planner) create a strategy for your app. Ensure your app title, description and keywords are optimized for a strategic keyword. Once your app page is optimized focus attention to optimizing your dedicated app website.
- Design an amazing app icon and screenshots. This is the most overlooked by app publishers. Your potential app users are very design focused… both app stores and centered mainly on app icon images. Remember someone looking for your app is really looking at your app icon first, along side dozens of your competitors icons. If your icon doesn’t stand out, they will simply click on your competitors icon. I have seen so many truly great apps that fail because the icon is poorly designed. Look at your app icon next to your competitors icon before you launch your app and see if it stands out well, ask yourself “would I click on my icon or one of the others?”
- Create a Press Release for your app. Post it on your dedicated app website.. and post it to press release sites.
- Create a short video demo of your app. Post it to YouTube. Share it in your Press Release.. share it when you request app reviews.
- Prepare for app review requests. There are hundreds of websites that review apps.. many for free. Once your app is live- submit it to these sites to get reviews and links to your app. Include your press release and video url with your request. Our team can do this work for you and submit your app to over 155 iPhone app Review Sites or over 115 Android App Review Sites.
- Research related blogs to your app. Every App has an audience and for every audience there are blogs. Research blogs that are on the same topic of your app. Find the related site, contact details, Facebook profiles. When your app is ready you can reach out and network with these sites to help market and promote your app. You can share your Press Release and YouTube Video and you can kindly request a review of your app. You can also offer to guest post on their blog in return for a link back. You can do this work yourself, or have our team assist by researching 100 related blogs to your app.