How to Monetize Your App in 3 Simple Steps

The number 7 hasn’t left my mind since I left the Mobile Monetization summit organized by the awesome Mobile Monday Tel Aviv team: Aviv, Jasmine, Lior, and monday

Despite the excellence of the speakers, venue, and networking, I walked away in a dejected state. And I couldn’t stop thinking about 7 dollars.

It was more than $7, actually. That was the number cited by Ran Ben-David of AppRank for the cost of acquiring one app user. And that’s just acquisition. For every 1000 users you acquire, how many actually use the application enough to return any of the cost? If you’re a paid app, well, how many paid apps are there over $7?


I thought about some of the app companies I’m working with these days. What does this mean for app developers? How can I actually help them acquire customers at a cost that has some hope of some day returning their investment? Most of my clients are iOS only – meaning for every advertising dollar or article outside of the iOS environment, fewer than half of the people even have an iPhone.

A perfect example is my client, Lecture Timer. The app serves a real need for anyone who gives lectures or presentations, is beautifully and elegantly designed, and priced appropriately at 3 dollars. But at $3, what can you do if the acquisition price of a customer tops $7?

I’ll tell you what you can do in 3 steps.

  1. Keep your day job. Assume your app business will not make money for a long-long time, and when it does, it will be a supplemental income. Do this in your spare time and/or with partners, in their spare time.
  2. Create a unique application that fulfills a real need of yours or people you know.
  3. Market yourself, slowly, through blogs, through social media, through the press. The same way you developed in your spare time, market yourself in your spare time. Maybe you’ll find a partner who wants to be the marketer, but again, they need to keep their day job. This is not a real living.

That’s it. If you’re talented, devoted and lucky, you may build up some nice supplemental income in a year. Ultimately, maybe the app will make enough money for you to spend a bit more time on it or develop an additional app. Look at it like building any other business.

They say 80% of app developers don’t make enough money to quit their day jobs. That sounds like a low number to me. 90% of small businesses fail. 99% of startups fail. How did we get to 80% on apps?

So maybe I don’t need to be dejected and neither do you. Just realize that the app business is like any other business now. You need to be the best. You need to invest in a long-term strategy and marketing over the long haul.

How are you marketing your app? Are your numbers significantly different?

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Rebecca Rachmany

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