An FAQ to navigating the app world for the first time

After a carefully constructed marketing plan, months of research and development, and lots of beta testing, you’re ready to go live with your new app. Congratulations!


There are still a few decisions you need to make prior to your debut in any app store or marketplace. Before deciding on factors like price and promotion, read on to ensure you’re making the most of your new digital marketing investment.

Should I make my app free or charge for it?
This is the number one question we get. Our answer: It depends. 

Just like your particular marketing needs (see: your marketing plan), charging for your app largely depends on the reason for the app in the first place. Games, subscriptions (Netflix, Pandora, Hulu, etc.), and most services, like banks or restaurants offer apps for free. Falling outside of these categories isn’t guarantee that you should charge either. You should examine your app, the need it fulfills in the market, and your target audience. 

For example, if you created your app as a coupon or money-saving helper, does it make sense to charge for it? It’s likely your target audience is cost conscious and may not purchase your app, instead opting for another like yours that is free. On the flip side, if your app has a cool factor and/or fulfills a specific need with your audience (like productivity or utilities), chances are people will purchase it.

Remember, once you decide to offer your app for free in both the Apple Ap Store and Google Play Marketplace it remains free; you cannot turnaround and charge for it.

How much should I charge?
Cruise the App Store or Google Play and you’ll notice that most apps are in the $1.99 to $0.99 range. Which price should you choose?

Unless you’re an altruistic billionaire you’re in the business of making money, so price your app as high as the market will bear. A good place to start is by evaluating your competition. Check out their functionality, user experience (UX), and price. If your app is better, select a slightly higher price point.

The beauty of app pricing is that you can change it. If your initial price point produces sluggish sales, reduce it for a short period.

However you decide to price your app, remember that Apple’s App Store and Google Play’s cut is 30% of all your app sales and in-app purchases (IAP).

If I offer free downloads, how can I recoup the money I spent in R&D?
App development, like all marketing activities, is not free. Whether you paid a contractor to do the work or used labor resources within the company, you spent money bringing your app to life. It makes sense that you want to recoup those dollars plus more. There are three ways to do this in the free app universe:

Fremium/lite version
In-app purchases

Fremium/lite version ⎯ Fremium or “lite” apps offer most of the same functionality as the full, premium app, with some differences. For example, a fremium game app may not have all the levels or options as the premium version, but it’s still fully playable. By offering a lite version, your customers can test drive your app before making a purchase. 

Before choosing the Fremium option ensure that you’ve followed all app store guidelines. Apple and Google Play will only greenlight unrestricted fremium apps that are complete.

Ads  ⎯ A lot of people are afraid of the A-word in app development. Don’t be. Ads are an excellent way to offer full functionality, yet still make money.

To get started, partner with a reputable ad network like Google’s Admob. Before you commit, do some research and make sure you select the right one. Some base their payments on CPM (cost per impression) and some on CPI (click per install). Decide which benefits you best and select the appropriate partner.

Ads should also fit your target audience. Feature the wrong ad content and you risk customers deleting you. For example, if you have an educational app, you don’t want ads that feature adult content (smoking, gambling, etc.). You can adjust the filters on your ad network to keep the content relevant to your audience.

In-app purchases ⎯ Anyone who’s played Candy Crush or Kim Kardashian: Hollywood is very familiar with in-app purchases. This revenue stream involves purchases of coin/life packs or boosters to enhance the gaming experience. In non-game apps, they’re used to unlock additional functionality, content, or pay for a subscription.

The more exclusive (or addictive!) your app content is, the better chance you have in capturing purchase dollars. Don’t in-app for in-app’s sake; to maximize your earnings in this channel, make sure your enhancements or additions make sense to both the app and your customer.


How do I get people to download my app?
You’ve decided on a price and uploaded to the app store(s), now what? Unlike The Field of Dreams, just because you built it, doesn’t mean they will come. Your app is one of a million in the App Store and for people to find it and buy it, you need to do some work before hand.

App launch should be part of your original marketing plan. If you have an app that lists the location of all the unused parking meters in town, you need a timely ad campaign to promote it. You could partner with local businesses to handout a flyer with your app info, purchase outdoor ads, or if it’s legal in your city, advertise on the meters themselves. Don’t forget to engage in value-added marketing services like PR and social media to maximize your launch. All of these activities need to be ready to go when you hit the upload button and most, if not all, of these activities need months to plan and execute. 

Plan this out well in advance and your app launch will go off with a bang.

Purchases, ad revenue, and in-app purchases are sluggish. How do I keep my customers interested?

The average person has 26 apps installed on their device. Is yours in pole position on their smartphone, is it three screens away, or even worse, on death/delete watch? If you notice a dip in purchases, ad, or in-app revenue, you have a customer engagement problem. How can you get back in their good graces? Assess problems and create solutions for improvement.

PROBLEM: Poor rating and feedback        
SOLUTION: Make timely fixes and address negative comments

PROBLEM: App life cycle is too old
SOLUTION: Review the market and competition. If your app is dated, enhance the functionality to be competitive or superior to the competition.

PROBLEM: No new app purchases; hidden in the app store
SOLUTION: Launch a Phase 2 marketing program. Refresh your marketing, social media, and PR. Engage with a blogger who will review and write about your app, giving you some fresh exposure.

Once you’ve won them back, give them a reason to keep it installed. Make regular updates, continue to promote your app, and enhance and improve functionality to keep up with the market.

Launching and maintaining an app is not a one-and-done affair. Just like all your marketing efforts, you need to monitor, measure, and react on a regular basis to keep your app revenue stream alive.

About Socialty:

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Socialty is a full-service social media marketing and social recruiting agency in Chicago.  We create content, websites, blog posts, email marketing and strategic marketing plans for small and medium size businesses. Our social recruiting team helps you attract talented candidates via social media outlets.  Socialty connects you to your audience and potential employees.  We'll keep you social while you carry on with your business.  Keep Social and Carry On!