8 Ways to Make Money With Your App
December 29, 2016


Free mobile applications are an impactful way to reach an audience with your brand messaging — but what about actual revenue? Some brands are able to host free apps without any need for revenue for a variety of reasons, including brand recognition. For the rest of us, monetization of mobile apps is a way to bring in extra revenue for our brand while engaging a following.

Unsure how to get your mobile app to a point where it’s making money? As a follow up to our post titled, The 411 on App Monetization, we’ve created a more extensive list of all the options you have for making money on your app.

In-App Purchases

Offer your audience a chance to buy something without leaving the app. If your app centers on gaming, you can offer a price for more credits or lives. If your app is connected to a more traditional business, look for ways to offer low-cost, one-time options inside the app that benefit the user. Amazon developer evangelist, Mike Hines, analyzed the top 50 grossing apps with in-app purchases and found these commonalities:

List Building

Collect simple contact information from your app users, like phone numbers or email addresses, giving you the opportunity to reach out beyond the app through SMS or email. This is particularly helpful for brands that have a product (besides the app) or service they want to market. You can send out special app-member discounts and newsletters to get people engaged beyond the basic app activities. The more a customer interacts with your brand, the better the chance you’ll have of a sale down the road.

Freemium Model

Allow users to download your app for free but then offer upgrades for a price. For an accounting business app, for example, give broad financial advice for free but offer more personalized content for a premium cost. Think of your app on two levels: basic and advanced. Engage users enough on the basic level to make them want to pay for advanced. And when they pay for advanced, keep them engaged by offering obvious value.

Sell Products

Here’s another tip for brands looking to use an app to market another product or service. Create a call to action directly in your app that allows users to purchase your products or services right then and there. Take the Sephora to Go app for instance. The app’s Virtual Artist allows users to try on different shades of lipstick and different styles of fake eyelashes. It also offers eyeliner and eyeshadow tutorials for a variety of looks. While trying on products or learning about application, the app gives users the option to click on the actual product and make the purchase instantly — genius!

Native Ads

You never want to disrupt the app experience and frustrate users. By designing native ads that fit smoothly into what you’re already offering, you can earn some cash from the advertisers but not run your app users off. Make sure you work with an ad-tech firm that can create ads that look native to your app so they aren’t disrupting your app experience.

Joining Forces

Partner with another app or brand to make indirect money by building your visibility. You don’t need a huge app to agree to partner with you, either. Look for one that complements your business and has a similar size following. Together, you’ll be able to draw in more app users and then monetize that following using one of the other strategies on this list.


A great way to automate payments from users on a consistent basis is through subscriptions. Allow access to the app when users pay a monthly fee. Making that fee affordable is important, of course, and you must have plenty of value for that cost since there are so many competing apps.

The Sweat with Kayla app by Australian personal trainer Kayla Itsines is a great example of an effective subscription-based app. The subscription cost is reasonable in terms of the value you get. As a subscriber, users gain access to workouts, meal plans, progress tracking, fitness education, and more — in essence, this app acts as a replacement for personal trainers, nutritionists, and even gym memberships since a lot of the exercises can be done at home.

Affiliate Marketing

Make money from other businesses when you send a sale their way. You can add affiliate links to your app for products or services that complement what you offer or make sense for your audience. Those affiliate links then act as a virtual referral, and you can collect a fee based on the sales you help that company make.
The way you choose to monetize your app will depend on the nature of your brand, goods, and/or services. One approach or a combination of a few should suffice, so take the time to research how you want to turn your app into a money-making machine for your business, or simply consult the experts.

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