The top 10 ways to monetize your app hold true across every platform. Whether you’re monetizing a desktop application or fueling your mobile app, the underlying monetization strategies remain the same.
1. In-App Advertising
At the end of the day, you’re usually trying to sell something by using your app as a sales vehicle. In its most common form, this means renting out your app’s ad real estate to advertisers.
In-app advertising, along with the freemium model, is the most common way to monetize a mobile app or desktop program. To effectively use this monetization method, pick the right advertising network, the right ads, and make sure that your ads blend seamlessly with the app experience.
2. Pay-Per-Install Ads
While in-app advertising relies on the app and user engagement to monetize software, pay-per-install programs earn revenue during the installation process.
By signing up for a pay-per-install network, you can join a global network of partners that advertises their products to a global network of users. Each time a user accepts a download from an advertiser, you earn money.
3. Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate marketing refers to commissioned sales. Typically, this type of monetization is based on a percent of the product’s sales price, but there are other compensation models.
To monetize an app with affiliate marketing, develop a relationship with a merchant who has a product or service that fits with your app. If you negotiate the right commission, you can earn very good income from this model.
Donations appeal to the altruistic users, and aren’t the most effective form of monetization. If you want to earn more money, try incentivizing donations or even mandating them.
Also, remember that every customer contact point is an opportunity to ask for a donation. Asking for a donation up front may be one of the worst times, since people haven’t even tried your app yet. Consider asking at app-shutdown, during updates, or other pre-scheduled times.
5. Charging for Your App
Charging for your app used to be the way to go – in the 90s. But now things are different. This is one of the least popular monetization methods, since it just doesn’t work that well. There are too many competitors and free apps for people to pay for an app they haven’t tried.
However, if you dominate a particular niche market and have a high-value function to offer, this can be a very lucrative plan, since you can charge what you want.
6. In-App Purchases
Otherwise known as the “freemium model,” in-app purchases offer paid upgrades, bonuses, or other app-exclusive benefits inside a free app. To make the most money from your in-app purchases and upgrades, offer new and exclusive benefits that really add value to the user.
Even something as counterintuitive as in-game currency can generate big revenue for developers. One key to success is making sure users are hooked before pitching your in-app purchase.
7. Search Monetization
Search monetization earns money for you each time an app user performs a search. It works like this: embed a third-party search box into your app, pull search results from other services, and watch your income grow.
The more effectively you can integrate search functionality into your app, the more effective search monetization will be.
8. Selling Code, Content, or Data
Customer data is very valuable, so if you can sell that to marketing companies or analytics companies, you stand to earn some good money. Develop an app that collects useful information, such as user interests, preferences, location information, and more.
The more you can collect, and the more you can make it seem like a part of the app, the better chance you have of selling this information.
9. Selling Your App
If you’ve already got a steady income stream and an effective financial strategy, you may feel somewhat attached to your app. But apps require maintenance, time, and resources.
Selling your app and brand can put some cash in your pocket while you move on to your next project, build your portfolio, and grow your business.
10. Integrate with a Subscription Service
As with paid purchases, this can be a challenge. The subscription model, which is commonly used by internet companies, cable companies, and cell phone providers, is most effective when you provide an ongoing service.
When you render a service that keeps evolving – especially one that is cross-platform and provides critical functionality – you stand a good chance of earning money this way. And since the money keeps rolling in regularly, you can make a very good income with this model.
Monetization is becoming more and more sophisticated, so it pays to study industry leaders such as CodeFuel. As with anything practice makes perfect, so pick a monetization strategy or two and dive right in.