How to Monetize your App Successfully

Written by Kevin Liew on 01 May 2018
10,101 Views • Mobile Apps

Yes, you can build an app to be proud of these days. However, monetizing your app can be a real problem.

And it is not your fault-the web is overwhelmed with free apps that perform excellent functions; and customers which are unwilling to pay, because they always expect to find a cheaper way to accomplish their tasks.  

Yes, your app monetization strategy is endangered. Pursuing revenue, as a perfectly normal approach of hardworking designers, is perceived as a threat in the world of free/more affordable alternatives.

So, how to monetize your app? It is not impossible!


Start advertising inside your app

The reason why mobile app business grows in spite of revenue threats is that designers discovered monetizing options that are not related to their users.

It doesn’t even matter what type of app you have. Whether you’re building a fitness app, a multiplayer game, or a productivity one, the monetization part is similar.

In-app advertising can help you reduce (or completely remove) the cost barrier and allow users to download the app for free.

It is not too much to ask, because your ultimate goal is to obtain a stable user base and to gather behavioral information which you could sell to other brands/publishers to ensure additional profit sources.

New users are also guaranteed, since they don’t have to pay in order to ‘check out’ your app.


Still, avoid ads that are intrusive or disruptive, or limit the number of ads as much as you can. Users don’t like to be distracted, and you don’t want them to lose focus from your content.

Good things to avoid, for instance, are video commercials that appear automatically, before the user has even accessed a particular element of the app.

In addition, get rid of video-ads that are too long because users don’t have time to deal with them.  Another tip that can be really useful is to avoid annoying pop-ups.

Even if users try to avoid them, they can click them unwillingly and be redirected from your app. In the worst case, accidental clicking could create fake data and it could skew ad-metrics.  

Make ads appear as an internal part of the content

Choose ads that are actually relevant to your content and your users, and integrate them in the original structure of your app. Advertisement ought to appear natural, if you want users to pay attention to it.

For example, Hulu has implemented ads for when users pause content within the app. Note that the above example applies to a monetization strategy for streaming TV apps, and may not apply to all apps. The ads only appear several seconds after a user has paused their show as to not interfere with potential rewinding or fast-forwarding. These ads appear as translucent banners, allowing advertisers to get their message across without interfering with the user experience of the app.

To make things simpler, advertising needs to be absolutely related to the ultimate goals of your app-for instance, if you own a travel app where users organize their itineraries, you certainly don’t need dating site ads.

We’re not saying they won’t be catchy-users may even consider checking them out! However, chances are small because their attention is already focused on something else (special travel offers, for instance).

One more thing-if you already decided to integrate ads in your content, make sure they are placed in the right place. They need to be visible, but not to distract users who are clearly not interested in them.

As you can see, it is all about balance-ads are perceived as your ‘enemies’, but they can easily become allies.

When applied in a proper way, ads are an excellent decision, because they will not distract users from their initial intentions.

Integrated ads are highly targeted, as long as they are personal and relevant to the customers. Ads with suspicious privacy issues, on the other hand, could overrun the original value of your app, and they could raise privacy issues (it is a guaranteed way to send users away).


Think about registration and emails

You own a newsletter and you want to include it in the app? Do it! There is nothing wrong in motivating customers to visit your site.


It is not going to be easy, but it can still function. Besides, an app is just another gateway for a well-established brand, and a newsletter can keep it alive with the ‘old glory’, even when it is not popular.

Promote the app

Yes, we understand that you don’t want additional expenses, but a way to monetize your app. Still, how do you expect to attract users and to turn them into loyal customers if nobody knows about your existence? Promotion is not an expense-it is an investment!

Promote through email lists – Email lists are an excellent marketing trick, which can turn users into loyal customers faster than any other promotion channel.

Putting clients on the ‘email list’ will ensure you they know about all of your promotions and limited special offers, and it will make purchases much more likely.

Promotion through social media – This is also a trend that ought to be followed. Take Candy Crush Saga as an example-they made miracles thanks to Facebook!


Further on, this is not the only ‘million dollar deal’ achieved through social networking. What you need to do is to ensure a place in the always-developing virtually connected emvironment; and to spread your app as much as possible.    

Promotion through guerrilla marketing – Yes, it’s a virtual world, but a bit of real-life civil marketing will not hurt.

Freebies, participation in known tech events, or events of your own can be really helpful to inspire people to download the app. However, guerrilla marketing tends to be slightly expensive, and you have to make sure it complies with your budget.

Promotion through press coverage – You cannot neglect the importance of press for the survival of your app. Many outstanding apps (both Google and indie ones) gained ROI thanks to heavy press coverage.

Therefore, you should gather a small team of PR experts to execute the process (or to execute it yourself, if on a limited budget); and make sure the world is going to hear about you. The choice of good press that can really launch you to the top depends on you.

In-App Purchasing

The in-app purchasing model is the safest way to transform your app into a proper sale-channel (for real life products and services, or virtual storefront for the app).


Since there in no one to do the intermediate work, you are free to retain all profits and to organize sales in the way you want.

Whatever your products may be (consumer goods, services, game lives/currencies, etc), in-app purchases will help you sell them in a very natural and expected manner.

If dealing with in-app goods, make sure you’ve introduced an in-app currency that can be paid in exchange. For instance, you can sell extra lives for time; or time for rare virtual tools.

Pay-Per-Unblock and VIP levels

Beware-there is a difference between ‘free’ and ‘freemium’ business approaches. The freemium one enables users to use certain features for free, but to pay an amount if they want to unblock the other ones.


Designers usually promote this model as providing basic accessibility to the functional part, with a possibility to become a VIP user who can take advantage of premium features.

What we recommend you is to have two separate versions of the same app: a free (affordable) one; and a paid one. Customers’ choice will depend on their taste and financial capacity.

However, make sure everyone has access to your trial versions, because the quality of the paid app can attract users to purchase it.

At the end of the day, the ultimate goal is to turn desirability into necessity, and to incorporate apps in people’s way of living.

Adding a price to quality is not always a bad thing-it will show that you value your work and that you believe your app can be important for users.

Here is one caution tip: be detailed enough to make your customers understand what you are offering them. Without a proper description, they could easily overlook your product in the App Store, and move to a similar one that costs less.

Build partnerships

The same as in other business branches, successful brands in mobile design don’t stand alone. They have a lot of partners-such that help them produce quality content, or others that sponsor their monetizing efforts.


However, this comes quite later, as in order to attract partners and to make them trust you; you need excellent quality and significant traffic records.

If not sure whether to start alone, join a brand and develop co-branded apps. If you prove to be successful, brands will come to you and they will offer to buy your app or to employ you to promote them through your work. What more can a designer wish for?

One of the best scenarios is for your partners to sponsor your content. They can either promote your goods, or introduce your limited offers with exclusive rights.

This is good because it can bring you more revenue and it can make your brand recognizable even without big expenditures.

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