Use Incentivization to Drive the Right Numbers

Incentivization is giving something to get something. In the mobile app world, incentives usually come in the form of in-app virtual currency or currency for use on a mobile store. Incentivized installs already have a long history since, banned by Apple for influencing app rankings and bypassing commissions.

Can you get a lot of installs by offering incentives? Yes. And? Almost everyone will take the incentive and run. Unused apps have zero monetization.

There are some exceptions. There are apps, mostly premium (paid) games, that have performed well within an incentived environment. People download numerous apps they won’t use solely for the currency needed to buy one app they will use, or play. That’s a great deal for top end developers, but it comes at the expense of all the other developers trying to compete.

It is difficult to argue against the seductive nature of the incentivized install. People like seeing numbers. That’s the draw. But care has to be taken to get the right numbers.

The goal with incentivization is to encourage people to take actions that contribute to your profitability. An install is one step in that direction, a pre-requisite for everything else. It is, however, one step before the real monetization process begins.

The obvious goal is to get people to use your app once, and then to keep using it, regularly. This generates the advertising revenue, the purchase of in-app currency, potentially a paid upgrade.

The biggest drop offs are a) from install to first use and b) first to second use. Knowing this, incentivization efforts are best focused on these two events. That really begins with having a great app to begin with, and continues by creating an overwhelming desire that the end user must answer to set their mind at ease, “What is next?”

Much of what goes into developing a popular app is more psychological than technical. The more people do something, the more likely they are to continue doing it. We will examine this in greater detail. For now, the message is pretty simple – incentivize the things that most directly support your profitability.  In most cases, incentivized installs won’t.


Project Manager at the Opera Mobile Store providing Sales-Marketing support. Content development and research.

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