TL;DR: A smart, multi-channel monetization strategy is based on user engagement. Here are a few critical mistakes along the way, and winning tactics that can help avoid them .
While 800 apps are downloaded every single second from the Apple App Store alone, 22% of downloaded apps are never used a second time. This means that getting users to install your app is the easy part. Getting them addicted to your app is a whole different story.
While successful app companies, with solid, highly profitable and ever-growing business, operate in different categories and have different UX, goals, budgets, business models, etc., they all share two things:
1. A clear optimized use of engagement and monetization in collaboration efforts
2. Sky-high user engagement rates. Be it DAU, MAU, ULV, session duration or any other metric, these app companies present enviable yet achievable upward trend lines
Top performing apps have better key monetization benchmarks (MAU/DAU):
Top Android apps retain 70% of the users three days post-installation:
All Android apps compared to the top players, including Facebook, Whatsapp, Twitter, WeChat, and Snapchat
Source: The Information
Top 5 Mistakes To Avoid
Here are top five mistakes that may critically impact the future of your app company, and how to avoid them.
Mistake #1: Skipping Engagement
Having superb app functionality is a great core value, but developers must find additional, value-adding layers, such as fresh content, to keep users engaged. Skipping the engagement-optimization phase is a big no-no. You can have the greatest monetization strategies in place, but if the users don’t stick around, who’s there to be monetized?
What does it take to truly optimize your user engagement? First of all, you have to be able to effectively measure it – acquaint yourself with, and constantly monitor, key engagement metrics, such as daily active users and number of screens per session.
It also means companies need to keep finding ways to encourage spending more time in the app, without spamming and annoying them, as users who uninstall you, can’t be monetized. This is something many app developers struggle with, or worse, ignore, in their eagerness to play the monetization game.
Winning tactic #1: Patience
Cracking the engagement challenge was a main goal when developing our Start lock screen app. It was hard work and it took a lot of blood, sweat and tears. We decided to share what we had developed for our own app with the entire app industry. Start magazine is an SDK (or URL, or API) that lets you, app developers, integrate a content magazine into your app with relevant, fresh content, coming from top content publishers. The content is also customized per user’s preference and reading habits, language, location and category.
This allows you to add real value to your app and incentivise users to keep logging in and spending more time in the app.
On top of that, we also added monetization layers over the content itself.
Mistake #2: Spamming
We’ve all had apps send us zero value notifications like holiday greetings (with no treat attached) and pleadings like “we haven’t seen you in a while”. It’s considered spam, and users hate spam, so it’s actually counterproductive.
This is why many top app companies enrich their apps with fresh content and additional value-adding layers, creating opportunities for sending out genuinely interesting push notifications. They also work on their notifications micro-copy and get creative using ‘rich-push’ tools, and more.
Winning tactic #2: Less is More
My two cents here: Often times less is more. Unless you have something meaningful to say or value to add, don’t push.
Mistake #3: Insufficient Analytics
Many app developers don’t invest enough time in understanding and monitoring these numbers, and fail to spot problematic areas when they come along. Knowing how your mobile app is performing doesn’t stand alone – you have to know who you’re doing compared to other apps in the industry.
Winning tactic #3: Numbers are Your Crystal Ball
Top app companies not only have crystal clear knowledge of their ROI, ULV and similar measurements, but are also constantly examining these numbers and comparing them to industry trends. Keep a healthy attention mix between engagement and monetization. It will also help you make sure that you maintain upward trend lines in your key metrics.
We ask app companies that use Start Magazine to measure its impact on their ROI, based on advanced monetization metrics (such as ARPAU, ARPDAU). We also specifically ask them to look at metrics that represent their engagement, such as ULV, retention and advanced engagement rates.
Mistake #4: Single Monetization Stream
Just like with our online counterparts, apps have a much lower chance of demonstrating healthy trend lines when a single-revenue stream approach is deployed. If it fails there are no fallback plans.
Winning tactic #4: Don’t Put All your Eggs in One Basket
A multi-stream monetization strategy is a proven approach to reaching positive ROI faster than with a single monetization stream approach.
Many top app companies smartly leverage multiple revenue-generating methods. They optimize their use of each method using it in appropriate screens, operating systems or flows.
For example, the premium purchase model is known to work better in specific geos, segments and operating systems, but for other apps, ads-based monetization works better.
Don’t let the work overload or UX issues deter you from experimenting and deploying several revenue-generating methods.
Mistake #5: Static Apps
Digital content can be leveraged in so many ways. It can drive stickiness, retention and ad monetization. Yet somehow, many apps don’t fully utilize digital content to engage with users and better monetize.
Winning tactic #5: Content is Mobile King
Fresh, interesting content, tailored to each app user’s behavior, location and interests, will keep users engaged, help you better monetize through existing revenue channels and create a whole new monetization channel that does not interfere with other channels.
Start, our Android lockscreen consumer app, presents our users with ever changing, fresh and personally tailored content.
As mentioned above, this effort also led us to develop our fully hosted and managed A-to-Z customized in-app magazine, Start Magazine. We now allow other app companies to implement Start magazine within their mobile apps for improved engagement and increased monetization, for free (in fact, we’ll pay you to use it!)
It’s very convenient to stay in the comfort zone and do what always worked (or didn’t) for the app. But things are rapidly changing; consumers have endless options, and are becoming more sophisticated, with higher expectations. A lot can be learned by looking at what top performing apps are doing. To get ahead of the game, keep your eyes open and work to understand winning core strategies – there are great engagement and monetization opportunities out there just waiting to be utilized.