Mobile Apps – those tiny applications which sit on your mobile phone and provides all sorts of functionality, simplying your life and business, your connectivity, your social experience and entertaining you on the go. Mobile Apps – hundreds of thousands of them literally on various App Stores – have created a Mobile Web revolution – it is the advent of Web 3.0.
Ok – Mobile Apps are great – businesses are enamored by their potential, consumers want them, developers and brands want to make money of them. The last part is the most tricky one so far. How do you monetize Mobile Apps, most of which are either Free or sell for less than a Dollar? This remains a tough challenge for most developers or brands the world over. Here are some key insights on how one can market Mobile Apps we well as monetize them:
- Selling Mobile Apps is (generally) not a Business in itself
What? And people think they can retire writing Mobile Apps in their basement.. The sad fact is that just creating Mobile Apps, even with all their promise, is not a standalone Business Model. The Barrier to Entry is way too low. Any half decent developer can produce a Grocery Tracking app overnight.
Discoverability and Marketing of apps from smaller firms and developers is a difficult task. It is like saying SEO alone will make your business money, to take an analogy from the online world.
- Relying on Advertising revenue may not be a viable strategy
Many developers and brands assume that Apps can monetize themselves using those Banner Ads or in-App Ads. Issue is mass marketing apps is challenging, especially those apps which are from smaller brands and developers; unless the App is widely popular over a long period of time (eg Facebook, NDTV or Angry Birds apps), Banner Advertising will not provide substantial revenue to make the business tick.
- Apps are extension of your other business
The fact is that Developers and Brands need to think of Mobile Apps as an extension of their other Businesses, as an additional value they provide to their audience beyond their core business. That means, Mobile Apps are an Extension to other businesses and not a Business by themselves. Hopefully your core business is successful and Apps will serve as an additional value add or accelerator for the core business.
- Apps and Social Media Marketing
The world of Mobile and Social Media / Digital Media has truly converged. These areas are inseparable from two angles : First – Social goes on Mobile and Mobile enables the Social Networks. Secondly, App Marketing needs to integrate with Social Media Marketing.
Social Media is probably the best way for App Developers and Brands to generate buzz about their Apps and drive downloads (or mobile website access). It is a low cost way to engage audience and create social ambassadors for spreading the word about one’s Mobile Content and Apps.
- Apps in a Niche Market
Say you are in the business of selling Legal Content and Consulting. Your business could benefit from providing Mobile Access to your Legal Content. Another example is of that an Educational business – which puts its Educational offerings on a Mobile Channel.
The bottomline is that Apps developed for a niche market marketed by Experts in that Vertical have a higher chance of success and monetization.
- Large Brands can use Apps as an additional Channel
Finally, Blue-chip Brands and Large Enterprises have it most easy when it comes to monetizing or leveraging Apps. These firms have strong brand name and visibility already and can easily mix Marketing of their Mobile Content into their overall marketing messaging and portals. Eg large brands can prominently display their App Download links on their highly-trafficked website and newsletters. Plus, consumers actually search for apps from these providers in various App Stores.
In summary, Large Brands can and should use Apps and Mobile Web to engage their audience further and provide additional value.
Hope this helps those who are thinking about App Monetization and App Marketing. To learn more on this, we encourage you to attend the Mobile Apps Conclave – the largest Mobile Apps Conference and Expo in India on 29th April in Bangalore, where many leading experts from India’s Mobile Industry will tackle this topic, among many others.
February 27th, 2011