A new report from ABI Research indicates that mobile app revenue is expected to increase from $8.5 billion in 2011 to $46 billion by 2016. While most of app revenue has thus far been associated with mobile games like Angry Birds, ABI Research predicts that more revenue will be created outside of gaming because of in-app purchasing and more effective in-app advertising.
As smartphone and smart tablet users become more comfortable with mobile advertisements and paying for apps, brands will have new opportunities to monetize through marketing mobile apps. We have noticed a trend toward productivity and business apps capturing more revenue. Last year already saw medical and financial apps yielding the highest revenues-per-download.
For every success story, there are bound to be many business apps that end up at the back of the unemployment line, so to speak. Here are five ways that you can market your mobile apps for maximum yield:
Go Freemium: Give Your App Away (Kind of)
The best way to market your app might just be to give it away. Though it might seem counter-intuitive, a July article in Mashable reported a trend that freemium apps (free apps with premium ad-ons) actually earning more revenue than apps requiring a paid download.
In-app purchasing allows brands to release a free app to earn the trust of consumers who will then buy additional services in the app. In-app spending is effective because it allows customers to spend money inside the app directly rather than forcing them to make an initial investment at download.
For example, the Dropbox iPhone app has used in-app purchasing to great effect. Dropbox, a cloud-based storage app, is free to download. However, Dropbox only comes with 2GB storage. An additional 50-100 GBs of storage can be added as an in-app purchase. Dropbox additionally rewards users with free additional storage for referring new customers.
Keep Your Eyes on Android
Marketers should be turning their attention to Google. While news that Google is changing the name of the Android Market to Google Play might sound like they are abandoning enterprise apps, this is not likely the case. It is more likely that Google is planning an enterprise reboot in order to keep casual content separate from business content.
Whatever Google wants to call their app store, it may well be an untapped gold mine for mobile marketers. It’s true that Google has done relatively little to support revenues in Google Play. In-app purchasing wasn’t even available until July of 2011. There are also certain markets where pay-per-download is not even offered, not to mention the fact that Google doesn’t offer subscription billing at all. However, if Google is seriously interested in competing with Apples’s mobile revenues, it seems imminent that they will offer new revenue channels for brands to take advantage of.
“I think Android is severely under-revenued,” stated Mark Beccue, Senior Analyst for Mobile Services at ABI Resarch, “Google is behind the eight ball when it comes to letting developers monetize their apps. If Google were more aggressive in enabling monetization, we would see revenues jump quite a bit.”
However, we feel that it’s only a matter of time before Google decides to turn their attention to app revenues. Marketers should keep their eyes on Android as a possible revenue stream. It’s an evolving market that is roughly half as saturated as Apple’s app store.
App Store Optimization: SEO for Mobile Apps
You can develop the greatest business app of all time and it won’t matter unless consumers can find it. Marketing technologists are beginning to talk more seriously about App Store optimization (ASO). A new solution from AppStoreHQ called App Store Optimization Keyword Volume Estimator (try to say that five times fast) hopes to revolutionize ASO. This solution is designed to tell app publishers how often a query is being searched for in the App Store. But wait … there’s more. The app also allows you to enter the your app’s URL and the URL of competitors. It will analyze meta data and automatically suggest keywords that can help your app get noticed in search queries.
Plan for Multiple Versions
Anyone who has been involved in app development can tell you that it often seems like there is no way under the sun to get everything perfect in the first iteration of your app. Luckily, brands don’t have to.
In fact, releasing multiple versions of your app can actually be an effective marketing technique. Begin by releasing your core functionality and then release more functions sporadically at 2-3 month intervals in order to keep your users engaged. Don’t feel compelled to release all the functions right away. Staggering your functionality gives you time to improve upon your app’s design after listening to customer feedback. Each new version presents marketers with an opportunity to reach out to customers as well as capture additional leads.
It’s important to establish success metrics for your app to gauge its return on investment. Start by establishing clear-cut goals for your application. Decide what you are trying to accomplish with your app. Are you trying to drive capital? Do you hope to create brand awareness? Do you want to improve customer loyalty?
If applicable, see if the app’s performance can be measured by your existing analytics solutions or CRM tool. Keep a close eye on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin and set Google alerts in order to nurture any consumers who are discussing your app. Social CRM tools can help you keep your finger on real time data streams.