Elsewhere on this blog, we go into great detail about other monetization strategies, but if you have your heart set on charging for an app, how do you pull it off? There are a few ways to improve your odds.
Some Preliminary Advice
Many developers and news sites recommend using the freemium model instead of charging for your app. And studies have shown that freemium and advertising models tend to dominate the market in terms of total download volume and total revenue share.
However, since you can often demand a higher price per installation with paid apps than you can earn through other monetization strategies, it is a tempting approach. Here are a few situations when you might want to consider charging for your app:
- When your app is heads and shoulders above the rest – An app that offers significant value, is completely unique, and has a strong competitive advantage will be a good candidate.
- When the app performs a necessary function for a niche audience – A business app or a technical app that serves a niche crowd is another good option. A specialized educational app or an app that performs an esoteric function for a small industry are examples of apps that may be valuable enough to warrant a price tag.
- When you have the reputation to back up your app – A company with a pre-existing audience and a loyal customer base can use that audience as leverage to launch the future of their product.
- When you’re developing a sequel – As with the above point, it’s worth noting that pre-existing, loyal users are more likely to pay for an app than people who have never tried it before.
- When your app is for iOS – Though iOS apps are in the minority, they pull in the vast bulk of the revenue. Apple customers, who tend to have bigger wallets, are more willing to pay for apps than Android customers.
Knowing How Much to Charge
Around 90% of apps are free, and when you put a price tag on the app, demand goes down significantly. But if the demand remains strong enough, you can earn a return on your development time.
First, examine your industry. The medical industry, the health and fitness industry, business, and weather tend to have more paid apps than most other industries. Games, news apps, and social networking apps tend to be free, for the most part.
Second, balance the functionality and uniqueness of your app versus the demand for the app. The stronger each of these factors, the more you’ll be able to charge for your app.
Third, look at your target market. Where does your audience live? How much do they usually pay for apps? If your target market lives in an emerging nation with no history of app store purchases, charging for your app may not be very successful.
Once you have a ballpark idea of who your audience is and how badly they need your product, it’s time to experiment with a few factors.
- Pricing – When you price your app, start low, then gradually increase the price until you hit the peak revenue point. If you start high, then lower the price, you run the risk of upsetting early customers who purchased at the higher price.
Temporary price shifts, such as limited time deals, are a good way to gain publicity and increase downloads. A $5 app that is suddenly free seems like a better value than a similar app that has always been free – even if they are exactly the same.
- Monetization – Don’t let the price tag be your one and only revenue source. You only get paid once for an installation, but advertising keeps working for you as long as people use the app. Ensure that ads don’t compromise the program and that your user experience is still be worth the app’s cost, then mix in advertising and in-app purchases to keep the income streaming in.
Analyze Your Data
The best data is hard data, so gather as many numbers as you can. Trust the numbers above what may seem reasonable or logical to you. Your app usage data, app store downloads, and advertising conversion rates will give you a wealth of information that will tell you how well your monetization strategy is working.
It can be difficult to predict what customers will pay for, so research your market, then test and optimize your pricing.
Though charging for an app can be tricky, it can be an excellent supplementary revenue stream when you do it right. Examine competitors, predecessors, and your target market, then price accordingly.