When your 11 year old son creates his first iPhone app, you know there is no excuse not to build your own. The advantage I (may?) have over my son is 20 years of marketing experience. So, I should be able to make money from this iPhone app, right? Here’s the plan to monetize, market, and promote my first iPhone app.
How to build your First iPhone or Android app
Before you start… spend some time researching best practices before defining your Business Plan for building iPhone and Android apps. For example, as Apple does not support Adobe Flash do make sure your designer creates animation that works or can be exported to different systems.
Depending on how you build your mobile application, you can use the same material to create an application that works on both the Apple iPhone and the Google powered Android.
Why do I need to know this?
You want to get the best return on your investment.
- Instead of building a mobile app that is limited to an iPhone develop the materials so you can export them to other platforms.
- Create the source materials, for example, images, in formats that work on both systems.
- Develop the app so that you can also use parts of it for your website and/or blog. Use screens and animations from the app to build short movies – to market on YouTube – and for lead generation on your site.
In other words, before starting the development process, scope out where and how you can use the content to increase your reach.
The last thing you want to do is build an app…. and then have to build more material for your blog. YouTube account, and media kit.
Making Money From iPhone & Android apps
The app I’m building is about education. It’s designed to teach business folks how to speak 100 Chinese phrases they can use in business meetings in China.
There are – at least – five ways we can monetize it.
- Free – create sufficient interest in the product so that others download it for free. You can make money once you get enough traffic from the online advertising. So advertising is where you plan to make the money. The attraction here is that there is no upfront costs. The downside is that it’s not easy to get the critical mass to justify this approach.
- Paid – if the product get good reviews (more on that later) and is recognized as ‘best in class’ in its respective category, then you can explore charging. The default is usually .99 cents at least on the ITunes marketplace.
- Subscription – This means that you charge customers a recurring fee, for example, every month, for using the product. This works very well for certain business models. Education is one of these, which is why we’re focussing here.
- Add-ons – The Angry Birds app has sold 10 million copies at .99 cents each. One way they’ve increased their sales has been by offering other add-ons, usually for .99 cents that give you more skills or powers in the game. This is an effective way to offer a product at a low price and then tempt customers with other products as they use the game more.
- Physical Products – You can further expand your sales efforts by developing offline products. For example, the Angry Birds will soon be available as a board game. We’ll be selling the Chinese education materials as ebooks and flashcards you can print out.
Market your iPhone & Android apps
Next week, we’ll look into this a little more but for now, here are some ideas:
- Team up with a set of like-minded bloggers.
- Send them free copies of your application
- Ask them to review the application and send a link back to your site.
- Encourage friends to comment on the reviews (positively of course) and generate as much excitement as possible.
Before you launch the product:
- Use your blog to discuss what you plan to do with the application.
- Ask your readers for ideas on how you can build the application. They idea is to get them involved in the brain storming process and then share the excitement with them
- Continue this process for at least one month.
- Start to use the same strategy on Twitter, Facebook and other channels. For example, you could ‘seed’ questions on LinkedIn to generate curiosity.
- Share screenshots on the prototype app with your readers. Again, ask for more feedback.
- Connect with others who’ve develop similar (but not competing apps) and ask for advice. Remember to thank these folks (repeatedly) when you launch the product and in post launch blog posts.
- Thank everyone who responds by email.
- Give special discounts to early buyers. Use this to get referrals, which is critical for getting more credibility. See John Jantsch’s book, The Referral Engine, on how to do this right.
When you launch the product:
- Countdown to the product launch on Twitter and your blog.
- Develop a Twitter Plan.
- Choose your keywords wisely.
- Share this Twitter Plan with your affiliates and business friends.
- Get your friends to send out the same message on Twitter the same day. It has to be the same day. Use the same message and send folks to the correct landing page.
- Generate as much buzz as possible for 2-3 days. Drop everything else and focus on this.
- Write a series of blog posts that discuss the new product. Schedule these in quick succession.
- Get your network to leave as many comments as possible.
- Do the Retweets and Facebook likes to drive more traffic to the blog.
- Where appropriate, send folks to the Apple ITunes store or to eJunkie if you’re selling it online. We plan to use eJunkie.
- Thank everyone!
The final step is to:
- Automate the sales process so you can move to the next projects.
- Fix any errors that were encountered by customers when using the product.
- Reply to everyone who helped you get there.
- Share more on Twitter on how well the product launch went well. This is where you give as much credit as possible to your network. Don’t forget to spread the message on their Facebook pages as well.
- Use Google Analytics to examine the sales and landing pages. Creates goals in GA and observe these very closely.
- Begin to look at the feedback and see what type of products you can upsell. You’ll only know this once the product goes live and you engage with customers.
- Return to all the LinkedIn groups and remind folks of the product, thank them for their help and ‘share’ the sales page where they can see the end result.
Building a successful IPhone/Android application involves more than developing the product itself. Most folks focus too much on the app and overlook the marketing plan.
This means that they end up with a wonderful product but never find the customers. They also don’t build the network is critical to generate the necessary buzz and, more critically, gets your product in front of their customers.
Those are five ways to make money with an app. What else would you add?