Apps are expensive to build, update, and maintain. This means your app needs to be profitable to make it pay off. All businesses want to make money, and an app business is no different. The way your app makes money will depend on the type of app you have, and what the users are willing to spend on.
There are several different ways to make money through apps including:
- Pay to download
- Advertising (this can be hard in early stages without enough users to drive advertiser interest)
- Vendors (if you have an app that focuses on businesses or services, for example, Etsy or Yelp, this can be an option)
- One-time purchases (for bonuses, upgrades, expansions, services, or products)
- Subscriptions (access to premium content and functions)
- Driving customers to another platform in the business that does generate profit (for example the Lite versions of several game apps)
Your app can use one or several of these ways. However, without a solid strategy going in, you will struggle. Not all apps make money, and not all apps continue to make money. This is where staying competitive comes in. Any successful app will inevitably spark copycats and similar apps in the marketplace. To protect your profit, and keep your users, you have to take steps to protect your brand and stay competitive with similar apps available.
A very important part of staying competitive is regularly doing market research. You can’t compete with apps you don’t know exist. You also can’t plan marketing strategies to acquire users to your app instead of others if you don’t know who the others are. Market research often comes up in very early stage design, but it is something that should be a regular task if you wish to be successful long-term.
You also need to know your target customers and continue to check in with them over time as expectations and desires can change. In marketing, focus on what makes you different, and preferable, to customers. Take care of your existing users and incentivize them to invite others and rate your app. Pay attention to opportunities to expand what you are offering and appeal to new target user groups.
Lastly, stay true to your brand and product. Don’t start adding random features and changing your look in an attempt to keep up with competitors. All your features, changes, and improvements should be grounded in the feedback from your user base, your brand, and what is best to improve the product you offer. While you should know what your competitors are doing, that doesn’t mean you should implement things they do just to stay competitive. Maintaining your own brand identity and having a solid, continually improving product that customers find valuable is much better than an overcomplicated app with many extra, confusing features and unclear branding.