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Mobile Marketing

Common Mistakes To Avoid When Monetizing Mobile Apps

Ezra Siegel  //  May 12, 2014  //  7 min read
The experts on Apptentive’s Mobile Team provide answers to your questions about from between app development to successfully marketing your app. Got a question? Ask it in our comment section below or on Twitter using #MobileTeam. In each post we’ll highlight a different topic where the Mobile Team will share their insight and experience.

This week we asked the Mobile Team:
What common mistakes should app developers avoid when trying to monetize their apps?

The biggest mistake developers make is not devoting enough time to figuring out what their monetization strategy is. They have probably spent a very long time crafting their app but spend only a small amount of time figuring out the monetization mechanics. Understand your target audience/demographic and decide your strategy. Once launched use analytics to understand how people are using your app and keep pivoting, it’ll probably take some different tactics to get it right!

Rod Burns – WIP

Monetization is an integral part of app development. Not only that you should think about it from the beginning, you also need to keep adjusting it after launch. Experiment with different price points. Run discounts from time to time. Provide different bundles for your in-app products. Better start with a high price and adjust down – you may anger your users if you hike up the price after they got comfortable with the cheap options.

Chiu-Ki Chan –Square Island

Time and time again I’ve seen developers go straight to freemium and make pretty much nothing at launch, simply because they give away too much and didn’t attract enough users.

Unless you’re sure you can consistently get millions of downloads each month, then freemium is not for you. Paid is still far better for indie developers. If your app does well in the paid charts you can always try moving to freemium further down the line.

If you’re launching as freemium or switching to it, you should proceed with extreme caution.


What Dan Counsell (above) said. I’ve both witnessed and personally experienced the perils of going freemium and giving away too much. Don’t undervalue your work and don’t be afraid to charge appropriately. If people don’t buy what you’re selling, then have the price cut conversation, but don’t set the bar too low right out of the gate.

Ben Johnson – Raizlabs

There’s only one right way to make money and that’s by providing value. When you think only in terms of how you could make money, you’re thinking only of yourself. You get customers the way you get anyone else, by thinking of what they need, not what you want or can get away with.

Mike Lee – The New Lemurs

The biggest problem with App Store monetization is that developers often wait till after they have thought up and designed the project to add monetization on top of it. The most successful freemium apps are those that plan their in app purchase from the ground up and make it part of the experience.

Kyle Richter – Empirical Development

If you are considering charging for your app, the most important question is how much it costs you to acquire a user. If you plan to advertise for your users, you need to understand your cost per click and conversion rate so that you know how much you need to charge to recoup it; this will often be $4.99+. If you are getting users for free, then you can target the much more attractive $0.99 price point. There’s nothing worse than advertising for an app and losing money on each install!

Dan Shapiro – DanShapiro.com

When making an app that you’re charging upfront for, don’t be tied to one price point. Be willing to play around a bit, and find where you can really maximize your revenue. Also, for more expensive apps, putting them on sale for a limited time can help generate buzz and get users exposed to your brand. Never underestimate the power of a user loving your brand!

Michele Titolo – Michele.io

The price point or monetization strategy should be thought out at the very early stage of development. Whether to go free, paid, freemium, etc should impact how the app is built and what the user journeys are in the app. Often we see developers go premium and build an experience based on that, but then try and change the monetization strategy later on. I’ve rarely see that approach work. Research and decide up front exactly how you plan on monetizing and use that to inform how users will experience your app, don’t try and decide later on or change it later on.

And the other piece of advice I would have for anyone going premium is to immediately forget about how much you think your app is worth and canvas real world opinions from people you don’t know. Your friends will all tell you that your app is worth whatever you tell them you are planning on charging. However, the real world app store doesn’t work like that and you need to get real insight from your potential users.


Do you have any monetization strategies that were a success or lead to failure? Share your questions and comments below or by using #MobileTeam on Twitter.

The Math of the App Business Guide

About Ezra Siegel

Ezra is the VP of Community at Apptentive. He is a Chicago Sports Diehard and loves travel. Some day he would he plans to visit every country in the world. Connect with him on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+ .
View all posts by Ezra Siegel >

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