7 Mistakes App Developers Make When Monetizing Their Apps (Part 1)

Being an app developer has quickly become one of the most exciting and lucrative fields to be in, as millions of smartphone users take advantage of the new possibilities of constant mobile access to information, entertainment, shopping and social contacts. Unfortunately, for every Angry Birds, there are thousands of apps that never make any significant money.

This is crazy, in a way, because despite the intense competition at the App Store and other app marketplaces, app developers & marketers have never had more options than they do now to monetize their apps.  Being successful as an app developer today requires a break from the past. You are no longer limited by basic debates about “Free vs. Paid” apps or whether to charge $0.99 or $1.99. If you can get past the old ways of thinking about how to make money from apps, you will open yourself to a new universe of opportunities.

If you’re an app developer or marketer trying to get your business off the ground, or take an existing app development business to the next level of revenue generation, it’s worth asking yourself if you’ve been making some of these all-too-common mistakes.

Here are the 7 biggest mistakes that app developers make when trying to monetize their apps:

1. Selecting premium pay-per-download as a default: The most visible and easy-to-understand way to make money from apps is to charge for it, right? After all, if you sell 5,000 app downloads for $0.99 each, that’s about $5,000 worth of revenue, right? What could be easier? Unfortunately, it’s not nearly that simple. The clutter of the marketplace is well documented, and when you recognize the psychology of most app users, most people are not going to eagerly line up to pay even the small price of $0.99 for your app – unless they have a compelling reason to do so.  Most apps are given away for free to create and drive an audience and then make money off of them. Once you have that audience and their attention, you can find multiple ways to make money from them including mobile advertising, in app purchase, offer walls, et al.  Pay-per-download can be a good revenue source under the right circumstances, but for first-time app developers who don’t have a proven track record and an eager audience of users, you’re probably better off giving away your app for free. First get the downloads, then make the money.

2. Building the app first, and then deciding how to monetize it: As we discussed in an earlier blog post called “If You Build It, They (Probably Won’t) Come,” app development and app marketing need to be part of the same overall strategic plan. It’s not good enough to build a great app and put it out on the App Store and wait for the money to roll in. No matter how good your app might be, you need a detailed, multi-step marketing plan to put it in front of people, get users to download it, and then support that plan with social media marketing and other promotion efforts. Many app developers are not natural marketers and sales people. It’s a different set of skills to design a killer app and write great code than it is to sell an app and introduce it to a wider audience. Fortunately, there are
great tools available to help app developers market their apps – via mobile advertising, distribution networks like the Chartboost, in-app advertising and many others.

3. Not customizing their approach for different platforms: Many app developers take a one-size-fits all approach to app marketing. But the truth is, just as coding an app for iOS is a different programming language than developing an app for Android platform, selling apps on the App Store is different from selling on the Android Market. Each app marketplace has its own unique Terms of Service and rules governing the apps, and this affects your marketing plan by affecting how you can distribute and monetize your app. Certain app marketplaces have more restrictive rules and can even withdraw an app from the store, with very little notice, leading to a sudden drop in revenue. It can be hard to get attention on the App Store if you’re not already one of the most popular apps in your category. Simply building an app and offering it for sale on multiple platforms is not enough – you need a detailed marketing approach that takes into account the unique features (and limitations) of each platform

Do any of these mistakes sound familiar to you? It’s not too late. You can transform your app revenue generation by correcting a few simple aspects of your marketing strategy.

Read Part 2 of the 7 Mistakes App Developers Make When Monetizing Apps series here!
By Ryan Morel

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