As I start a new year and trying to make a bit more revenue from my app, I’ve been thinking a lot about monetisation lately.
My current “strategy” for monetisation is:
- Free app with a banner ad neatly placed out of the way. This is my main source of revenue.
- Paid for app with the banner ads removed. I earn more on a bad day of advertising, than I do in a good month of sales.
Killing off the paid for version
My paid-for version is a bit of a thorn in the side. People have paid for it, and I am guessing it is mostly people who wanted to support me. I have fewer than 100 active installs, but they are active installs nonetheless. I have several issues with having this as a standalone app:
- There are overheads in maintenance. It’s not massive, as my PC does most of the work, but it generates a separate APK, I have separate space in the app store, analytics and crash reporting apps have to be aware of this separate app. Just because it is easy to create a separate app without ads, doesn’t mean you should always do it.
- As a standalone app, if I wanted my users to have the ability to easily port their data to the paid version, I would have to specifically write something to handle this and then support it.
- As a separate app on the app store, I am competing with myself. I think there are some benefits to this, but I never look at the rankings for my paid for app, because it will always be lower than a free one with the same functionality. All those lovely 5 star reviews on my paid app don’t really matter, because my free app will always rank higher.
- I consider users who have paid for my app as loyal supporters – and I want to return that loyalty. However, at what point does that loyalty run out? Do I have to indefinitely support a user who paid £0.79 back in 2015? (It sounds like I resent those users, I really don’t!).
Other ways to monetise
AdMob is constantly suggesting to me that I should move to more aggressive forms of advertising in my app (like interstitials and rewarded ads). I think that putting a 30 second ad in between a user and the information in my app is a really bad idea. My app is all about instant information and I have to be aware that no amount of short-term revenue will fix a really poor user experience. By looking at it this way, I think I may be able to find opportunities in my app where a user doesn’t want instant information and may have some opportunity for this.
I read somewhere about the idea of a tip jar in an app. I haven’t really seen any implementation like that, but I like it. I don’t really want to see how others have done it, because I think I can take my own spin on it. Basically, I want to allow users to contribute whatever they can afford in return for something. The way I want to implement it, moves more towards a subscription model, rather than a tip jar model, but I think from a user’s point of view, it might look the same.
Giving them something
Let’s talk about the “something” that they would get in return. I don’t want to put any of my core functionality behind a pay wall. Why would someone pay for it in my app, if they can get it for free plus a few annoying ads in another? So the general idea is that the something they would get, is probably the removal of ads and maybe some functionality which doesn’t form part of the core of my app or functionality which differentiates me from my competitors.
In terms of the subscription model I was talking about, rather than making “premium” features available forever, it would be for a limited (but long) time period. I am thinking between 6 and 12 months at the moment, possibly dependent on the amount you tipped.
Maybe I can credit a user with some “subscription credits” when they decide to watch a rewarded ad instead of paying. I would imagine that these credits should run out a lot sooner than it would for paying users, but you could get a “try before you buy” experience by watching a rewarded ad.
Putting it together
So my offering would change to look something like:
- Only a single free app with in-app purchases
- If you use the free app, you get all of the core functionality and some neat little banner ads which try and grab your attention
- You can pay me to remove ads and gain access to premium features (prices and time periods are for illustration only – it probably still needs some balancing):
- Buy me a coffee for £1.95 – gets you 4 months premium access
- Buy me a pint for £3.95 – gets you 9 months premium access
- Buy me a something which costs £4.95 – gets you 12 months premium access
- You can watch a rewarded ad which allows you to gain access to premium features for a number of days (somewhere between 3 and 7).
Not just about money
Whilst the idea is to try and increase my revenue and make more money, I also want to protect the user experience as much as possible. I could just slap ads in the middle of everything and I could try and be sneaky by making ads appear in different spots on every page to really confuse my users, but this doesn’t work for me in the long-run. I need to protect the user experience as far as possible and for me, this way of monetisation feels like it could be a win-win for all. Obviously this is still an idea and still need implementation, but time will tell as with everything related to revenue in the app market.