How to Monetize Your App without Killing the User Experience
One of the most interesting markets to emerge in the last decade has been the one for mobile apps. Towards the beginning, around 2008, the “app Boom” was in full swing. Downloads were impulsive, yet people were quick to delete the apps that lacked value.
Fast forward to 2017, and people have become much more selective. A recent study found the average smartphone owner only uses 10 apps per day. Additionally, the total time spent in apps is on the rise.
For app creators, the hard part is creating an enjoyable UX that breaks into that tight-knit circle of frequently used apps. Even more, they must step their game up in terms of finding innovative ways to monetize their programs without coming off as invasive. Finding the perfect balance of promotional content and usability is perhaps the most difficult task during this process. Here are some valuable pieces of advice to help you do so gracefully.
Make ads part of the content
Let’s be honest. There are VERY few people who genuinely enjoy ads. However, they are still a valuable source of revenue. In fact, mobile ad spends in the US is predicted to see significant growth in the coming years.
The trick is strategically placing ads so they don’t take away from the UX. To do this successfully, it would be beneficial to steer clear of pop-up and banner ads, as this can easily disrupt the experience and be a nuisance to the user.
When incorporating ads, look to utilize a native design. This refers to the practice of making promotional messaging appear as though it is part of the app and serves as a contextual factor within the natural content.
Take a look at how Angry Birds used this State Farm and as part of their authentic gameplay.
Not only was this sponsorship used seamlessly within the app, but its function was also to actually help the player advance the game.
Native advertising can be a fantastic way to balance monetization without compromising the UX. While there are many approaches you can take for this method, to be truly successful, these types of ads need to be conceived throughout the entire planning stage of the UX.
Maximize the free version
The “Freemium” concept of app development is nothing new. This pricing strategy involves a program of which is free to download, but money is charged down the line for further functionality, additional features, virtual goods, or any other optional content.
While this a great strategy to create interest in a program, many struggles to find an equilibrium that hooks people at the most optimal point in the UX. In other words, you want to create a freemium version where the user can enjoy the best parts of the program without paying.
If you jump the gun and it becomes blatantly obvious the only way to advance is by paying, people will be quick to tune out. Or, if you wait too long to effectively present these options, the user might have already achieved everything they want with the free version and not see a need to go further.
Ideally, once they have deemed the app worthy of their time, spending the extra money is justified.
Take RTS game Throne: Kingdom at War, for example:
This app does an incredible job in letting the user explore a significant portion of the gameplay with a free version. When it becomes somewhat necessary to use actual money for the sake of the game, people have likely invested enough time and interest to where spending a few dollars to enhance the UX is completely reasonable.
Ultimately, your objective is to get people to fall in love with your app and trust that your motive is to create a good experience, rather than make money.
Forming strategic partnerships is an awesome way to expand your customer base – which ideally leads to more revenue. This involves finding another organization within your industry that wants to use your app to promote their brand or bring together UX functionalities. Essentially, this can be viewed as the app world equivalent to influencer marketing.
For this integration to work, it must be fluid. The partner you choose to work with should be related to your niche. Even more, both parties should stand to benefit from the agreement.
A few years ago, LinkedIn partnered with Evernote to enhance the UX of both platforms. With the integration, LinkedIn members were able to view a business card within Evernote’s card scanning function and connect with this person through their LinkedIn network.
Both platforms used each other’s services to enhance their respective UXs and reach new audiences.
Whomever you choose to partner up with, the customer base should have similar interests. If your jointed strategy can truly benefit both followings, this can result in an extremely valuable source of revenue.
Consider data monetization
This strategy is one in which you must tread lightly. Selling user data you collect through your app comes with a number of privacy laws. As long as you abide, this can be a lucrative approach.
In general, user data can be monetized in two ways:
With each app comes a different customer journey. Companies can analyze this and use the insights from your bank of customer data to better market their brand.
Data has become one of the world’s most valuable resources. While you can make good money from selling yours (and not harm your UX), users value their privacy. Unroll.me, an inbox organization service, was recently under fire when it became known they were selling customer data to Uber. Uber was using it to see people’s usage of primary competitor Lyft. Needless to say, Unroll.me’s users were less than thrilled about Uber getting to see their ride history.
When people give you their information, they put their trust you. Also, this data is your corporate asset and a valuable one. If you choose to use this method of monetization, be careful and do it ethically. Although you can make good money, be sure to consider the long-term effects.
Over to you
The app boom has come to an end, and that’s a good thing. What it means, is the standard for high-quality programs has been raised. Keep in mind, everything starts with a good UX. Without it, people have no motivation to stick around. Regardless of what method you use to monetize your app, NEVER sacrifice the quality of your creation. For it won’t do anyone any favors in the long run.