What should you do with your mobile app profits? This came up earlier while discussing issues on breaking even. Clearly, once you’ve actually made a profit, you’re all set, right? No. When you find things that work you need to keep doing them until you find something better.
Too frequently, people who do have a good thing going stop. Sometimes they think the money they made earlier will keep rolling in at the same rate. Other times, they stop their current advertising program to experiment with other programs. Experimentation is good, but it needs to be vetted before completely shutting down other revenue streams. Sometimes, it is simple burn-out. It could be any number of things.
With any business, however small, you want two things – a vision of where you want to take it, and an exit plan. We’ll leave exit plans for future discussion. Your vision is especially important as it will decide a lot of issues for you. It’s one thing if you intend for your mobile app development to be a sort of a “hobby with benefits”, another if you want it to be your primary source of income supporting a comfortable lifestyle, and something totally different if you aim for it become a multi-million dollar business.
Most of the processes are the same; it is only the intensity of effort that varies.
Three Focal Points – Most mobile app developers don’t have to worry significantly about shipping and handling, product packaging, storage or physical inventory. This eliminates a large portion of operational considerations leaving you to focus on basically three things:
Simply, if you are looking to make money in mobile app development on a sustained basis, you want to keep producing high quality apps, marketing them and finding more/new/better ways of monetizing them while reducing costs. These mostly speak for themselves.
Improving Business Model – The third is the most important of the three. This is the mechanism that will help take you from relying upon in-app advertisements for your free app revenue to a variety of potentially much more lucrative arrangements using your revenue to:
Continue Advertising – These are just some of the ways of reinvesting into your business, but throughout the entire process, you want to keep advertising your apps for as long as doing so is profitable. If for every $1.00 you spend on advertising, you were guaranteed to make $1.10 every 30 days, there’s no reason to stop that. One would be hard pressed to find a bank paying 10% interest over a year, say nothing about monthly.
Remember the Law of 72. This is your doubling rate – 72 divided by your interest rate. If you are consistently getting $ 1.10 on every dollar of adspend, that is 10% – meaning you are doubling your money every 7.2 MONTHS (not years).
There will be fluctuations, but as long as you have your thumb on the pulse of your adspend, you will be able to take prompt corrective action when variances start creeping in. It is always said that, “Past performance is not a guarantee of future results.” If you treat advertising like it is your lifeblood – always engaged, constantly testing, always seeking to get a 1% better return on any of your KPI’s, you will be kicking butt the majority of the time.
Continuing work in developing great apps is a given, of course. Releasing a bad app is bad for business, but by this stage you already know that.
An article in appdevelopermagazine.com underscores that only a minority of app developers invest time or money into marketing their apps, and thus fail to break even. Only a minority of new businesses and start-ups fail for lack of technical knowledge. The single greatest cause for start-up failure relates one way or another to ineffective marketing. The focal point of this article is achieving a breakthrough with your marketing, first to do it but also to synchronize your efforts. Specifically, this concerns “concentration of force”.
Concentration of force is bringing all your efforts together at the same time to achieve a specific objective. In military terms, it is the difference between the trench warfare of World War I and the massive mobile movements seen since World War II. In marketing, concentration of force is having all of your online advertising, press releases, app reviews, email marketing and viral efforts all hit on the same 1 – 3 days. It does not need to be exact, just everything needs to happen in quick succession, one after the other.
All of this requires work, whether you are setting up press releases or writing emails to your fans. Obviously, you cannot do everything at once, especially if you are a single developer or part of a small business. Of course, you can bring on additional help, but you can also do a lot of this work well in advance of your launch date. If marketing really isn’t your thing, breaking it all down into bite-sized chunks is easy enough and can be spread out over 1 – 2 months with 15 – 30 minutes a day.
Social Networking. Whether building fanbase on Facebook or developing professional contacts on LinkedIn, this should be a non-stop part of your efforts, even if it is 15 – 30 minutes per week. This can extend to developing relationships with bloggers, journalists and editors. If you commit to it now, later you won’t find youself isolated. A lot of business people who shunned social networking early on have come to engage it on a regular basis.
Social networking is like a savings account — you keep building it because one day you might need other people’s help. Social networking is an easy way to help others in lots of small ways – even a like, a share or a comment for someone else’s post is helping them get the word out about something important to them, now. Many will be happy to do the same for you. If you need it tomorrow, but have not invested the effort into it – it will not do anything for you.
When you know the launch date of your newest app – get with everyone in your social network and a) ask for their help, b) specify how they can help in some simple 2 – 3 minute way. This can be arranged 1 or 2 days ahead of your launch.
Email Campaign. Like social networking, building up your email list is a non-stop effort. If you haven’t started one yet, now is the time. Presuming you have a list of friends, opt-in newsletter subscribers or past customers, you can prepare emails to promote your newest app well in advance. Once you know all that your app will feature, you can begin setting up emails for each of your user groups. Odds are you will have several lists of people — close friends, business associates, customers, newsletter subscribers, you want to personalize for each.
For launching a new app, you can look at sending out 1 initial announcement, a follow-up 3-4 days later, and likely a second follow-up after two weeks. Email tends to have a better open and response rate on Mondays and Tuesdays. Openers are good for running specials and set up the follow-up email, “Only 24 hours left to…” take advantage of your initial offer – reduced price on a premium app, in-game currency or anything else you come up with.
If you use an email service like iContact or Mailchimp, you can schedule your emails well in advance.
Press Releases and announcements. Press releases can be prepared in advance just like your emails. The main thing is to make them professional, all information up to date (last minute touch-ups), and scheduled through any service you use. If you don’t use a press release service, you need to make sure it is delivered to all of your press contacts, and then make sure it gets posted to your web site, the day of your launch.
Article Submissions. Alongside press releases, it can be useful to submit articles to blogs and other media venues which accept guest articles. In your author credits or perhaps in the body of the article, you can refer to your press release, you just need to know its URL. These can all be prepared in advance and submitted either the day of or day after your public launch.
Paid Advertising. Obviously, any paid advertising you do needs to start once you have launched. The main thing here is that you can do your marketing research to designate which venues you want to advertise through and the specific settings you want for each ad campaign. On the day of your launch, setting all of this up then only takes a few minutes per advertising venue.
Special Events. One final factor that can help you determine a launch date is associating the launch of your app with other events – like holidays, but could include trade shows or conventions, or something relevant to the type of app you are launching. An app for parents might be associated with “back to school day” as one example. Obviously, you don’t want to delay your app’s release, suffice that by adding this into your development schedule very early on can help you to time releases with auspicious dates.
Net Effect. By synchronizing all of these efforts, getting into the most popular charts becomes much easier. If you hit on day one with 25,000 downloads you will perform better than if those were spread out over 25 days or even 5 days. App promotion does not favor piecemeal efforts.
On launch day, you want maximum exposure. The more prepared you are for launch day, the less you have to do, frees you up for other opportunities that may arise — like interviews on television, “See how one local mobile app developer is making big news, coming next after this commercial break….”