4 Ways to Make Money from Your Free App 36

4 Ways to Make Money from Your Free App letsreachsuccess.com

This is a guest post by Drew Johnson, Co-Founder and Co-CEO of App Partner, a Brooklyn-based mobile agency.

Giving away your app for free may seem like an intimidating proposition, but there are many ways to make money from a free app.

As the old adage goes, “nothing in life is free,” and this certainly applies to free apps.

Here are four of the best ways to monetize your free app and start making money.

1. In-App Purchases.

Some of the most successful and profitable apps owe their success to the in-app purchase model.

Clash of Clans, the highly regarded free-to-play mobile game, makes a staggering amount of revenue from in-app purchases every year. Supercell, the developer of the huge mobile hit, brought in $2.3 billion in 2015. Simply put, in-app purchases are an extremely effective way to make money.

With revenues like these, it may come as no surprise that in-app purchases are projected to become the #1 source of mobile app revenue by 2017.

A free app combined with in-app purchases is a compelling mobile strategy, since more users will download an app that requires no upfront investment. Once the users are “addicted”, the enticement of in-app purchases will take care of the rest.

2. In-App Ads.

Ads are a great source of revenue, with one caveat: To produce consistent revenue from in-app advertising, your app will need to generate sizable and steady amounts of traffic.

As a rule of thumb, expect to make somewhere around $2 for every 100 downloads your app receives.

Your mileage may vary, but you need to have a focused marketing plan to reap the rewards of advertising. In-app ads are best used with other monetization methods in order to maximize the benefits from your free app.

3. Subscriptions.

A subscription model provides users with a free app that offers access to products or services for a regular fee. Ordinarily, the fees are structured on a monthly or annual basis.

While the subscription model is not typically as lucrative as in-app purchases, it works to great effect for certain niches and industries.

Take Birchbox for example, for only $10 a month, each app user receives a “BirchBox” with filled with products like shampoo, lotions, makeup palettes, etc. This subscription fee covers the shipping cost and other expenses like their social media marketing – but still generates enough revenue to grow as a stand alone business.

Subscriptions are increasingly becoming more popular among consumers, so if this monetization method is relevant to your business, now may be time to create a compelling free app that generates revenue through this model.

4. Sponsors.

Lastly, consider sponsors as an additional avenue to make money.

It’s similar to in-app ads but instead of implementing an ad platform that displays randomly generated ads and pays based on the # of clicks, you instead get specific brands to pay you a fee to become a sponsor with a prominent presence inside the app plus other perks (access to user data, etc.).

You’ll be able to charge whatever flat fee you can get that sponsor to agree to so it’s potentially easier to monetize than in-app ads.

This works particularly well for apps targeting niche customer bases.

For example, an app that teaches you the guitar could be sponsored by The Guitar Center. The sponsor may even help you market and promote the app.

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The Five Elements of Flawless Customer Experience 11

The Five Elements of Flawless Customer Experience

Providing a flawless customer experience is the ultimate goal for any business.

There’s a lot that goes into creating a customer experience that keeps your clients coming back for more. In fact, there’s so much involved that it can almost seem overwhelming.

However, providing a flawless customer experience becomes much easier when you approach the task through these five distinct elements:

Ownership of Emotions
The Unexpected


When it comes to your customers’ satisfaction, time is essential. Think of how a great experience at a new restaurant quickly sours if you’re left waiting for your food to arrive. Think of how your excitement over a great department store sale turns into frustration as you stand in line for what seems like hours.

Time is your most valuable resource and it is up to you to make sure you’re using your customers’ time wisely.

This is why restaurants have comfortable waiting areas with drinks and appetizers, or why airports have lounges with restaurants, shops, and even bars.

If your customers are being forced to wait for a service, make them feel as if their time spent is not wasted. The more positive drivers you offer customers, the less likely they are to grow dissatisfied with their experience.

Think of how you can implement this in your own business. Are there places where you can help fill customers’ time? Are there places where technology can be used to cut down on the time it takes to complete a task? Remember, it’s the customers’ time that should be valued, not your own.


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You must understand what your customers want, when they want it, and how.

While this may seem daunting, getting a better understanding of your customers doesn’t take millions of dollars, complex data analytics, and a degree in psychology. Instead, all it takes is a simple look. Watch their process, engage with them, ask them questions, and listen to them.  

How are customers interacting with your product? What’s the first thing they do when they enter your store? What’s the last thing they do before they leave? How long are they spending in each department? Do you notice anything that hampers their experience?

Take a look at your competitors. How are your potential customers interacting with them? What does this business offer that you don’t or vice versa? What is your, as Harvard Business School professor Clayton M. Christensen says, “job to be done?” What are your customers hiring your product or service to accomplish? Understand why your users are turning to your products.

Ownership of Emotions

Many companies have already taken hold of their customers’ emotions, though cynically. Subliminal advertising is a key example. However, the ownership of emotions does not have to be cynical. When used correctly, it can be the “holy grail” for companies.

Owning emotions begins with the aforementioned ability to understand. When you truly understand a customer’s choices and then act to make the experience better, you’re building a relationship of trust. That trust is the foundation of emotional ownership.

One way to build this trust is to reduce the “emotional” noise that surrounds your customers. Let them know that, even on their worst day, your business or product is there for them and that it will be a constant in their lives.

Think of restaurants and the long wait times you have to endure when they’re busy. Think of how angry—or “hangry”—you feel as you stand around, waiting for your table, and listening to your stomach growl. However, think of how some restaurants are able to reduce that emotional noise by serving you finger foods and drinks as you wait.

Also, seek to understand what emotionally motivates your customers.

Why should they be motivated to visit your store or use your product? To feel confident? Free? Unique? Secure? Successful? Research shows that all human beings are motivated by one of those factors.

The Unexpected

Experiences become stronger and more memorable when they’re accompanied by an element of surprise. Surprise can be addictive, which will only keep your customers coming back for more.

Think about mailing your customers or clients small packages with gifts and swag. Everyone loves to get mail and everyone loves free stuff, especially when it’s least expected.

A surprise doesn’t have to be a huge flash mob (though it could be!). Hand out snacks at your store. Is it a cold day? Give your customers hot chocolate or warm punch. Is it a client’s birthday? Send a card! Even a small note of thanks for a customer’s business is a nice little surprise.

The most important thing to remember: simply be sincere and don’t become predictable. Chocolates on hotel pillows were once a great surprise for guests. However, now that their wow-factor has faded, hotels are continuously trying to get back to the “unexpected.”


You’ve made promises and established goals. The only thing that’s left is to follow through on them. This starts with creating your mission statement, one that you, your employees, and your customers can commit to it. This will define your customer experience.

Your mission statement must promise to impact yourself/your business, the community, or the world. It may commit to impacting one, or all three. However, whatever it promises, you must follow through on. Your customers’ trust, and thus their experience, depends on it.

More about these five elements can be discovered in Unforgettable: Designing Customer Experiences that Stick, to be published in 2018.

Kyle H. David has made a career in technology and entrepreneurship for nearly 20 years. In 2001, he formed The Kyle David Group, now KDG. Over the past 16 years, KDG has grown at a rapid pace, attracting clients ranging from the United States Senate to major financial institutions, international nonprofits, and Division I universities.