Got a great mobile app idea? Sweet. Sadly that’s just the beginning. Not only do you have to build it (we can help you with that) you also need to generate money from it…unless you’re just doing this for fun. We looked at the most popular strategies to make money from your mobile app.

What is mobile app monetisation?

In a nutshell, mobile app monetisation is the process of converting app users into revenue. Since the market for mobile apps is increasingly competitive, not to mention the build costs involved, monetisation is a vital element in making your app project viable. Here’s our take on the six best methods to generate cash from your app.

1. In-app advertising

Annoying as they often are, in-app ads are the most popular way to generate revenue. You should weigh-up the pros and cons of each method, considering how they impact user experience.

Interstitial ads – these appear in-between two sections of an app, such as when it’s loading or when a game level is complete. We suggest these are used sparingly, so you don’t irritate users.

Native ads – these are designed to integrate with the theme and feel of the app, so their presence feels natural and unintrusive. Many social media apps employ this method successfully.

Affiliate ads – these are referral links to affiliate products within the app. If implemented correctly, with carefully chosen products, this method doesn’t damage the user experience, and can even enhance it.

2. The subscription model

The subscription model involves providing an expanded range of app features for a fixed monthly payment. Customers can still access the basic app for free but upgrading to a ‘premium’ version unlocks additional features. If structured correctly, this model can provide monthly recurring revenue, while maintaining a steady influx of free users. Success comes from balancing sufficient free features, to engage new users, against enough premium features, to justify an upgrade fee.

3. Data monetisation

Data monetisation means harnessing aggregated user data to provide useful insights on customer preferences. Armed with this data, you can double-down on the most successful ads and affiliate products. You’ll discover which ad placements harm user experience and which create the best engagement. Just a heads-up – take care to communicate the terms and conditions of data privacy to your users.

4. In-app purchases

In-app purchases are a no-brainer if you sell a physical product, making the app an extension of your existing retail channels. If you don’t sell products, you can still utilise this method by offering ‘virtual currency’ in exchange for in-app benefits, such as game progress or profile customisation. If you take this route, it’s vital that your users feel they are getting good value for money.

5. Transaction fees

This is a variant of in-app purchases, typically used if your app incorporates a buying and selling platform. Whenever a customer makes a purchase from a private seller, you gain a small percentage of the money they spend. This works best if your app users engage in a relatively large number of transactions, meaning you can charge a low percentage fee and avoid irritating sellers.

6. Transactional apps

As you’d expect, transactions are the central feature of transactional apps, with examples including cryptocurrency and stock trading. Each penny spent buying stock or currency contains a transaction fee that goes to you. Most users in this category will expect to pay fees but be sure to research the market and set competitive prices.

Tread carefully and choose wisely

To select the right monetisation approach, you should consider which methods can be applied to your mobile app, your users’ sensitivity to advertising, and the perceived value of your app and its features. It’s also important to work with your software developer to incorporate any functionality into your app design.

Alternatively, you may wish to hold-off on monetising your app altogether, instead focusing on growing your user base. This is a popular approach in social media and community-based apps, which typically build their audience before focusing on revenue.

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