The App Money Machine: It can eat money or spit it out

App money machineLiterally hundreds of thousands of apps compete for attention and money.  Your app may be the best or first or otherwise have a compelling story to tell, but it’s not making money like you know it can.  Can you fix it?  We think maybe you can.

First and foremost, we assume you’ve identified your target customer and can explain your value proposition.  (If not, take a look at our Marketing Services page.)  We hope you have a comprehensive (which does not necessarily mean expensive) PR and marketing campaign.  Pretty rough to get anywhere without a darn good marketing plan.

Now, think about this … give part of your app away – for free.  In our post on How to Make Money Giving Apps Away, we examined some of the ways free apps can make money.  Let’s talk more about that concept.  If you have a great service, compelling content, or a fun game, consider giving something away (even something you consider valuable) to get the user hooked.  Then sell an “upgrade” for more service, more and better content, or more fun.

Here are some app marketing “upgrades” to consider:

The Content Upgrade.

If you are a content distributer, this is about the easiest concept and execution.  The Wall Street Journal gives away an app and gives away a bit of content.  To get the good stuff, however, you must subscribe.   You want to monetize your children’s book or your photos or your sports notes.  If the customer won’t take them for free, it’s not likely he’ll pay for them (or pay for an app that distributes them).  Get him hooked and then sell him “the good stuff.”

The Storage or Functionality Upgrade.

On line storage companies do this constantly.  You get a small amount of storage and the software to deal with your uploads for free.  Once you see the value, you can upgrade to more storage (you don’t want to lose all your family movies any more than you want to lose half of them) for a monthly fee (or pay for 12 months and get a month free).

The Opportunity Upgrade.

Game companies are all over this one.  You play with a certain number of credits to “buy” things in the game or you have access to certain experiences the free user (or lower paying user) does not have.  As big as the social networking has become, combining the Opportunity Upgrade with the Network Upgrade gives the app owner multiple value added opportunities after they’ve hooked the user.

The Network Upgrade.

Allow the user the ability to communicate with or play against or socialize with other users by upgrading to the social network package.  No one reading this article has missed the intrinsic value users assign to communicating with others – what some call the “interdependencies” of the community using the app. Here’s a link to a great post by Ro Gupta examining the interdependencies concept in much more detail.  The NetworkUpgrade could be an incredibly powerful tool for monetizing your app.

These are just a few of the marketing and monetizing strategies we review with customers on a daily basis.  There are many other upgrading opportunities depending on your functionality.

Want more information on how to market your app?  Drop me an e-mail.

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Mark M. Stetler is CEO of AppMuse and its related businesses: iPhoneAppQuotes.com, iPadApplicationQuotes.com, AndroidAppDevelopmentQuotes.com, and BlackberryAppDevelopmentQuotes.com. AppMuse is the Internet's leading provider of free app development quotes from experienced, pre-screened app developers for iPhone, iPad, Android, and Blackberry smart phones.

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