Just because you are a mobile app developer does not mean mobile app development must be your only line of business activity. Considering that most app developers are not making money on their apps, some diversification in your product and service offerings could go a long way! There is a long list of business activities directly relevant to your mobile development work. Let’s take a look at some:
1. Mobile Development Contracting and Subcontracting. This almost goes without saying, yet it still frequently ignored. Be available to other companies seeking to outsource their mobile development work. Many developers are fixated on producing their apps, suffice that getting paid to develop other people’s apps provides you experience, professional contacts, and some operating capital.
2. Graphics Design. Whether you have a team or not, odds are you have some involvement with graphics design. You do it yourself, someone on your team who is good at it, or you outsource it. So, take stock of what you have and what your development partners are capable of. If you have the means of producing high quality graphics, animations, videos, etc., you have the potential to market these as part of your services. If you outsource, this will involve negotiating a discounted rate with your partner and/or adding a mark-up on their rates. Many web site developers make these arrangements as a standard practice. Your apps can be used as part of your showcase, too. This offers a near-zero barrier to expanding your business.
3. Translation and Language Optimization. Technically two different services. All of the main factors associated with graphics design apply here, provided you, someone on your team, or someone you outsource to is fluent in two or more languages. Add expertise in specific industries, colloquial use, jargon, search engine optimization skills for matters of language optimization. There is an active need for both of these skills, internationally. Large companies pay for these services, too.
4. Product Testing and Reviews. Companies do pay for unbiased product reviews and this can be a good way of getting a lot of free product. Approached on a long-term basis and with videos on YouTube, you can build your own mobile app user audience before you produce your own apps. This is a fairly limited opportunity, but on a per language basis. Good to have your own web site with this approach.
5. Fancy Legal Advisories. The dividends for being a tech advisor for law firms can be very useful by way of their clientele. Lawyers depend upon all kinds of technical specialists as “professional witnesses”. Professional witnesses do get paid for expert services. See Wiki on Professional Witnesses for more. Make yourself known to your local lawyers and law practices… contrary to popular opinion they won’t bite you. Usually.
The first three are fairly obvious, suffice that if you are in business, having diversified sources of revenue is important, especially given the nuances of the monetization of the mobile app market. All of these additional business activities warrant having a web site for your business.
Santa is making his list and checking it twice to find out who has been naughty and nice. And here is a list of my own – a list of nice apps that you can download from Opera Mobile Store for your new (or old) mobile device. I stuck to the practical and pragmatic, things that can turn your smart phone into a… Swiss Army Smart Phone for adults. Tomorrow being Christmas Eve, we will take a look at Apps for Kids
Skype for free voice and video calls to anyone else on Skype. Quite simply, Skype is free and it can save you a bundle in talking with your friends and family wherever they might be. Skype has added new payment options to make it easier and cheaper to connect with people who don’t have Skype, too.
Did you wake up and see your alarm clock flashing 12:00? Late for work? You probably do have a battery powered alarm clock somewhere and it might still work provided you’ve replaced the batteries in the past year or two. But since you are likely to always have your mobile device with you and you regularly make sure it is charged – it can serve as your alarm clock, too.
Is a dollar still worth a dollar? Or maybe it’s worth just ninety-five cents today? Since the money changers have their own buy and sell rates for different currencies, you need to know what the “real value” of that currency is before you go to convert it. Numerous currencies have declined by as much as 50%, even 100%, over the past 12 months. It is hard not to be facetious if you are watching the money markets… or your own money.
A basic, but very functional To-do and Task List notemaker. You may not have a pen, you may not have paper, but odds are you will be carrying your mobile device. Ironically, if you take the time to write or type something, you will most likely remember it anyway. It also has supports microphone use for voice to text conversion making it even easier to take note of that ten million dollar idea that you have during your ride home on the crowded subway.
For as many apps as you are likely to download and try over the next few years, you will likely want a way to uninstall the ones you don’t use – to make room for more. I remember the day when a computer specialist told me, “You will never need more than a 300 megabyte hard drive.” Yeah… If you get a new Android gadget for Christmas this year, do yourself a favor and try to keep your apps and files organized.
This is another Pareto Principle oriented topic that can help you structure your monetization methods to achieve significantly greater revenue and potential for profitability. The Pareto Principle asserts that roughly 80% of your revenue will come from roughly 20% of your efforts. Sometimes it is 90%/10%, other times 70%/30%. The core objective is properly defining the specific activities that generate the most revenue or attract the most new users. There is also considerable dependence upon having a large enough user base to minimize statistical deviation.
Application of the Pareto Principle could be used to say that 20% of your customers will generate 80% of your revenue; and the inverse – the remaining 80% of your customers will generate the 20% balance of your revenue. You could even define your own work and activity in similar terms by saying that 20% of what you do will generate 80% of your revenue.
The super-user classification, however, goes into the second tier of Pareto Principle application – that is to identify the 20% of your top 20% revenue or new user generating customers, i.e. your Top 4%. That’s your super-user segment.
How can you appeal to your paying super-users? It could be as simple as offering larger or bulk purchase deals.
Let’s say you sell in-app currency for real money offering packages for $1.00, $2.50, $5.00, $10.00 and $25.00. This offers something for the vast majority of the customers who may opt to purchase your app’s currency. If you are seeing a significant ratio of $25.00 purchases, you may consider adding a larger package for $40 or $50.
That’s not entirely out of the question. One major online company has indicated that roughly 3% of their customers spend $100 per month on their social network games (a combination of PC and Mobile apps).
Thus, merely by adding another tier of package pricing to your app’s currency store, you could see your super-user revenue increase by 50%, potentially 100%. Of course, it is not entirely that simple, but it is worth testing with a pilot run over one week. Obviously, too, the package should clearly be worth the extra charge and you probably want to practice some pricing restraints, i.e. a price ceiling of $100.
What this asserts is that some experimentation with the pricing of your app’s currency or vanity store items can significantly impact your revenue (positively or negatively). Ongoing, early testing and experimentation will help you find your sweet spots. Relative to the total amount of work that went into producing and marketing your app, how much work is this? It almost doesn’t register as a single percentage point.
How can you appeal to your top “evangelists”? Your other super user segment involves people who may not be spending money on your app but are attracting people to it – bloggers, reviewers, active social gamers and networkers. Almost every online game has a “refer a friend” option which frequently rewards them with in-game currency for each referral who signs up and/or who plays to a certain point.
First, if you don’t have a referral incentive program for your game already, you should probably make one. Secondly though, you want to spend some time reinforcing their efforts. This may require some tracking, for which there are tracking tools available.
If you know of fan sites or blogs, periodically reference them on your own forum/s or web site. If someone posts to your Facebook page, thank them for their post and consider granting a small, but noteworthy, in-game “prize”. The only limits are your own creativity and willingness to invest a small amount of time into the people who are trying to help you – even if, for their own reasons.
And Everyone Else
The super-user segment does not mean that you should ignore or dismiss the other 80 or 96% of your customers. It could, however, prompt you to evaluate substantially reducing the amount of effort you invest into supporting the lower tier 4% and 20% of your customers who are draining your resources (i.e. forum trolls, uncommon devices where your app is simply not working as intended, etc.)
Fundamentally, the larger your user base, the better – in the extreme majority of cases.
Finally, the Pareto Principle is not an exact thing; it is a very useful guideline. It requires keeping apples, apples; and oranges, oranges. It was originally the result of an observation of wealth distribution that 20% of the population controls 80% of the wealth, something that holds true (or truer….) today. It is applicable to categorizing the work that yields revenue in mobile app development.
By and large, developing – creating an app generates no money whatsoever. The marketing and promotion of it does.
Market reach counts – advertising on Opera Mobile Store can get your app in front of millions of end-users you are not likely to reach otherwise. Contact our sales team today!
If you are looking for different ways to monetize your app, you may find the following articles of interest to you:
As a new developer it can be frustrating to generate self-sustaining revenue by competing with apps on the “global market”. It is largely a matter of supply and demand, where the number of app of potential interest to “anyone” can make it difficult to reach someone – because everyone else is trying to do the same. There is the potential to achieve better, even faster, revenue through apps for your local market. The kicker is that once you have a functional app for one local market, you have a template for many other local markets.
One type of local app can be likened to a “community portal” – representing area establishments, businesses, sports, clubs, etc. You will likely want to apply a theme to it – related to sports, community, entertainment, etc. It could be presented as much as a game or utility, or both. Conceptually, this is far from new, there are plenty of examples out there that you can draw some inspiration from. The core component is monetizing your app under this model.
Market Research is Required. If you run with sports, you will want to know which sports to target, how many local high schools, colleges, and private leagues are in close proximity to your target city. Your theme can just as easily be focused on night clubs, local bands, general business, education, religious or charitable organizations. To qualify the potential of your “theme”, you might also physically survey their activity levels – frequency of events, number of special events, attendance levels, etc.
The larger the local population, the better off you are. While you might want an app for a small town, you would likely want to broaden your target to encompass a county or district.
Define Your Possible Revenue Sources. It is important to be creative in listing out all of the “even remotely possible” sources of revenue that could be associated with your app.
With creativity, almost “anything goes” – these days you don’t necessarily need a product to have a product, just as long as you know and have an agreement with someone who does. Your role is to promote their business through your app. The difficulty, as we know, is that there are so many apps, that they are often given away for free. It is difficult to monetize free, but not impossible. Functionally, it is much easier to monetize something when you know where it fits and how it interacts with everything relevant to it.
Define Your Breakeven Point. Include your projected development time and all the expenses associated with developing your app. You want to know in advance how much you will need to generate before starting on your app so you can evaluate whether the market will bear it – whether just $5k or $25k.
Knowing how much you will need can help you define how much you would need to raise from each possible source of revenue. Conducting a survey of local people about how likely they would be to spend money on any aspect of your app will provide you a better basis for assessing the potential of the revenue components.
If you estimate that you will need $10,000 for your app and you know that you can likely get $3 from 1,000 local subscribers, then you have some basis for considering the VIP upgrade for $30 to possibly 20% of them. That wouldn’t be out of the question for a developed market with a population of over 250,000 people. That accounts for $2,400 + $6,000, leaving you theoretically shy of $1,600 from your base target.
You can then look at other means of revenue or possibly expanding your target market to pick up the shortfall. The goal is to find as many revenue streams as you can, so that if one falls short, another can pick up the slack.
By working with local areas businesses and establishments, you substantially increase your total marketing capability. If your app helps a business connect better or more frequently to their existing customers, and help bring them new customers, they are likely to promote it. You can offer to help them by providing the content to make it easy for them to do so.
Repeat. Once you have one app that shows signs of success for one area, you have the capacity to bring it to other locations. That’s really the true goal, because the vast majority of your development cost is already taken care of. All you need to do is create another version of your app that focuses upon a different theme or location. That’s likely to include just graphical and text adjustments – and then the networking and relationship development efforts to get new businesses on board with your new app.
However, now that you have one successful app out there, you can sub out for a community relations manager to help in building up the client base for your new app. By showing that it works in one location provides reasonable basis that it can work in other locations of a similar demographic and business breakout. Moreover, you are not limited to working on just one new app at a time, but can aim for doing the same for multiple cities or counties. In short, you don’t need to go global to be profitable.
You don’t have to be mobile to take advantage of mobile. You just need to know someone who is. This is a continuation of Friday’s post on Using Mobile to Help Grow Your Business. In the 1990’s and early 2000’s, everyone was introducing their local web site developer, “I know this guy who can make a killer web site for your business, he can set you up with anything…” Voila, the Internet as we know it! Well, a part of it anyway. Now there’s this mobile thing and to be honest about it, unless you are well ahead of the bell-curve as a small business owner you may well have a hard time seeing how it can work for you.
First, while PC’s have been around, forever… Mobile apps and the mobile app market as we know them today are relatively new. While mobile does go back to the late 1990’s, Apple’s App Store only started in July of 2008, with the predecessor of Google Play starting one month later. That helps provide some context.
Most business owners who set up a web site likely found there was more involved than just having a web site to help monetize their business – advertising, seo, social networking, building email lists of customers, producing newsletters are all part of doing business online, too.
While some may see Mobile and PC/Internet as two different things, they really are the same thing seen through a large screen or a small screen. Essentially. Where personal computers and laptops focus on software, mobile devices focus on apps (software by another name) to extend their functionality and value. Overall though, Mobile Devices are becoming more and more like Personal Computers, in terms of power and functionality, but imminently more convenient.
First, it is important to underscore that Mobile Internet Traffic exceeded Personal Computer Traffic back in January of 2014. If you are focused on the otherwise “traditional” internet user (one who uses personal computers or laptops), you are reaching less than half of your potential audience. Having a mobile-friendly web site for your business – one that is easy to view on small screens is one objective for your mobile customers, discussed separately.
Mobile offers you four broad possibilities for you to explore for your business:
Mobile app developers come in all sizes, including SME’s and large corporations, but you will likely want to connect with solo developers, small teams, or possibly a collective of developers, local to your business. The heart of this discussion gets to two core points.
Let’s look at a few examples in defining a common audience.
Simply, the match does not need to be exact to be beneficial. It may involve adding a special service, offering new product lines, or expanding to reach a new audience. These all stand as the kind of considerations small businesses should be examining and evaluating anyway.
If there’s a match, you are able to enhance the value of a developer’s mobile app by offering discounts or specials to their end-users with coupon codes. In turn, the developer is able to help you to reach more new prospective customers – through their app AND through their customer newsletters.
This is the beginning, but only the beginning of forging a good networking and business relationship. You will need to work out the costs for running promotions, perhaps explore an affiliate or commission program along with how to track it, possibly look at some form of cooperative marketing effort for promoting the app.
The key point here is that many developers of mobile apps are stronger on the tech side than they are on the marketing side. That can be a great fit if you are strong on the marketing side and weak on the tech.
One very important point to understand about the mobile app ecosystem is that most developers are not making a profit on their mobile apps. Over 90% of mobile apps are distributed for free with developers relying upon in-app advertising and/or in-app purchases for their revenues.
Developers are going to develop apps “anyways” – as in most cases, it is a function of “time” (not money). Most small developers do not consider their time as part of their “bottom line” when it comes to creating an app.
They have the ability to write code and create programs that can do a lot of cool things. The time to write and test code on different devices precludes learning or applying to a lot of other things – like marketing, advertising, branding, networking, etc.
Understanding these dynamics can be useful and profitable for both of you. Sponsoring the development of an app means providing upfront funds for a portion of the app’s overall development cost in return for things like:
Additional opportunities could also include serving as an agent for the app developer in finding other sponsors and engaging in promotional activities on their behalf. These matters are all matters of traditional business negotiations.
The main point is that you do not need to be a mobile developer to benefit from mobile apps across several channels of activity.