Start with Strategy.
Having money comes in handy. For the most part, the days of barter have come and gone, leaving us with cold, hard cash as our basic tool for getting things done.
That’s why it’s a good thing that each of us has a strategy for making money. Most of us went to school with the aim of getting qualifications that led to jobs. Our hard work, intelligence, and creativity paid off over the long term. We got better and better at making money so we can do more things and avoid starvation.
So why do many app developers fail to make money with their mobile apps? Gartner predicts that by 2018, 99 percent of apps will lose money. That’s a depressing statistic no app developer wants to see.
Are you going to be in that huge pool of money-losing developers? No?
Fortunately, it’s not impossible to monetize your app. In an earlier post, we talked about 11 ways to monetize your app. Let’s go deeper this time, and explore the first step to monetization: building your strategy.
Your strategy consists of three parts.
- Make it matter.
- Analyze the competition.
- Define success.
Make It Matter.
Here’s the first step to your strategy. When you went to school or took online courses, why did you do it? If your answer is, “so I could get a job,” that really translates to, “so I could develop skills that matter in the marketplace.”
The same idea has to be true of your app. Before you even start to code, you need to understand why your app is going to matter.
Ask yourself these questions:
- What will my app be?
- What will my app do?
- Who will download my app?
- Why will those people download my app?
- What will be the essential features of my app?
- What will be the essential benefits of my app? (Yes, features and benefits are not the same)
- How could I make my app better for my users?
- How will I attract users?
- How will I engage and retain users?
If you want to make money, you have to create an app that will attract attention, engage users, and keep them happy for the long term. You must focus in on who will use your app, why they’ll use it, and why they’ll stick with it. Answering these questions will help you create an app that matters in the marketplace.
Learn more about defining your project objectives and scope. Read: Mobile Strategy – App Fundamentals.
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Analyze the Competition.
Most app developers have a hard time finding a niche that isn’t already occupied. So, whether you like it or not, you’re going to have some competition. Ask yourself these questions:
- Who are my competitors?
- Is my competition successful?
- How many downloads have they generated?
- How are they making money?
- What are they doing well? What are they doing badly?
- How will my app be better than the competition?
If you’re feeling worried after you’ve answered these questions, don’t be—you WANT competitors. Competitors are a good sign that you’ve found a successful idea for an app.
But your app has to stand out! You have to find ways to distinguish your app from the competition. Creating another cloned game or trying to rip off an established coupon app isn’t going to work. You must be different and better in ways that matter to your audience.
Finally, you have to start defining your idea of success. Explore these ideas:
- How will my app make money?
- Can my app make money differently than the competition? Should it?
- What could get in the way of making money with this app?
- What’s my break-even point?
- What does financial success look like?
- What’s my timeline?
These questions help you explore your framework for financial success—and the possibilities go way beyond charging users to download your app. In other articles we’ll explore the tools you’ll use to make money, but at this point you’re simply trying to determine how successful your app could be and the scope of what you can accomplish in a realistic timeline.
So What’s Next?
Finally, you’ll want to mull all this over. It’s not uncommon for a developer to see new opportunities or challenges after thinking through their app strategy. You may have to go back to the first step and rework it, which could make your second and third steps obsolete. But once you’re done, you’ll have a very good idea of what it will take to make your app a success—and what success even looks like.
In our next article, we’ll start exploring tactics and tools for making your strategy a reality.
Read the ebook, Mobile First: Harnessing the App Lifecycle for Transformative Business Success to see how to ensure app success from start to launch.
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