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How Will You Make Money?

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You should have an answer to the question “How will you make money?” early on. You may even have several answers. It needs to be plausible, and people (like investors) may push back and argue with you about whether or not it’s a feasible business model. If you’re asking people for money, it’s a question you will have to deal with so you better be prepared for it.

That being said, you pointed out a few important things. For one, it’s okay to not be sure which will be the ideal business model or price. The process of getting to profitability is something you’ll have to face eventually if your startup continues to grow, but you may be able to push it off for a while in favor of focusing on growing usage. That’s the second point, if your product is growing quickly, you’ll often find investors willing to fund your growth despite the lack of a proven business model.

There are only a few major business models though: Advertising, Subscription, E-commerce, Business Development, and Lead Gen are some of the major ones.

Let’s take Facebook as an example. In the early days, Facebook was growing so fast that they were able to get a ton of money before they had to worry about their business model. But it was pretty clear their business model was going to be advertising. It’s a fairly straightforward path to monetization for a social network — though not all social networks monetize solely through advertising (LinkedIn charges users for premium accounts).

There are some others (like Medium) where the business model is still unclear, but I bet that the founders have a path (or several) towards monetization in their heads.

Yes, solving a problem should be the most important thing for you to focus on. But the reality is that if you’re trying build a big business, you have to have an idea how it’s going to be a lucrative problem to solve.

How to Successfully Promote and Market Your App

Stories about successful apps are everywhere — Mint, Flipboard, Uber and many others. The companies behind these successes built apps that quickly rose to stardom, and along with that notability came large amounts of revenue. But many apps, even the most /creative, innovative and well built, don’t experience this type of success. Why?

App stores are inundated with applications. Android users have over 1.6 million apps to choose from, and Apple’s App Store users can select from 1.5 million. The competition is fierce. Understanding how to promote and market your app places you ahead of the competition, as you gain the ability to reach users on a much larger scale.

How to Promote Your App

Before taking any steps to promote your app and start wondering how to market an app, there is one decision that you need to make. You must be clear about your target audience. Who will download your application? Who will you serve? Are there several different segments or only one?

Once this decision is made, all other marketing efforts can be tightly focused, and as a result they will be more efficient. Here’s a few methods for growing your app’s user base more effectively.

Build a teaser website. This will be your hub for spreading information and capturing email addresses for people who are interested in your application. Your site should be simple and effective, and it should also include a place to blog.

Start blogging. Using basic SEO principles, write content that will draw people to your website and encourage readers to subscribe to your blog. Once subscribed, you can offer valuable content, but you should also share information when your app launches. Social sharing, such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, can also be leveraged to share content and connect with potential users.

Generate a plan for blogger outreach. Who is blogging in the niche that your app targets? You need to find these people, because they are influencers who can launch your app to stardom. Ask for an opportunity to guest blog to get in front of their audiences. Typically, you will include a biography at the end of the post, where you can place a link to your app.

Make the app free at the launch. Don’t create another barrier to download, especially when you’re building up reviews of the app. Any blogs discussing the app can promote it as free.

Create a podcast. In addition to your blog, you can create a podcast that is focused on your app niche. Publish on your site and also on iTunes. Or better yet, repurpose your podcasts into blog posts, or guest blog posts, to leverage your resources and reach more people.

Develop a product video. When developing your app website, create a product video that tells the story of your app’s development. Stories are powerful marketing tools and help you capture the attention of the visitor.

Create an interest-driven Facebook group. What niche does your app target? Created a targeted Facebook group, where people with common interests related to the app can get together and socialize regularly. You will build authority in the niche as the group owner and gain traction for your app.

Consider using Facebook ads. Target your specific niche, with the ability to leverage demographics and interests. When you drill down and focus on a highly targeted group of people, overall advertising costs will be lower and your ROI will be higher.

Leverage social media marketing. Host a Twitter chat to engage with people who may use your application. Take for example RunKeeper, an app that has a great blog with lots of content, including tips for runners and success stories. They share the content on Twitter, but also host a chat, where they can bring together people with common interests and build authority and meaningful connections.

Capture ratings. A higher rating in the app store translates into more downloads. So if your users love the app, ask them to spread the word. For example, Localytics uses segmentation to identify people who frequently use your application. You can then target that group with in-app messaging asking them to rate your app.

Regardless of which marketing strategy you select, it’s important to synchronize your promotions. Attempt to have almost everything appear at the same time before your app launches. This results in your target market seeing your app in several different places and thinking, “Gosh, I really need to check that app out — it’s everywhere!”

Marketing an App: What to Avoid

Some app developers make the mistake of opting for email marketing. And in general, email marketing can be effective when it’s highly targeted and integrated with your other marketing efforts. But trouble can occur when blanket or form emails are sent out with information about their applications.

You can also skip press releases when promoting your app. This method may have been effective several years ago, but today, there are millions of apps available. As a result, press releases about new apps are often discarded, resulting in wasted money, energy and time.

And finally, skip the “for pay” review sites. They often get less traffic than expected and, equally important, it’s unlikely that your target market is using those sites to make purchasing decisions.

The Next Steps

Every app developer has a different strategy, and a different budget. But the most important aspect of marketing your new app is the willingness to try many different tactics. A “one size fits all” marketing approach doesn’t exist because of the variety of preferences and review processes of your target audience. There is no one-size solution to how to promote an app; you have to consider your target audience and how to best reach them.

A willingness, however, to attempt different marketing tactics and measure those results will create a winning strategy that will result in more users downloading your app, as word spreads quickly.

Google Analytics: The Modern Way to Know Your Users

How many users came to your site today?

Do you know how many people are coming to your site? How could you figure that out? Well, if you live in the 1990s, you could put one of those little web counters at the bottom of your screen and keep track every time someone clicks it (you could also say hi to Ace of Base for us).

Now there’s a much better way to track web activity: Google Analytics. Google Analytics is a free service you can sign up for that will track all sorts of useful information on your site. It tracks much more than just who shows up. It will also tell you how many users are boys or girls, where they’re coming to your site from, how often they come back, even what kind of computer they’re using.

At One Month, we use Google Analytics to track data that allows us to figure out what sort of content will help our community best. Like when we found out that many of our visitors are Windows users, that helped us remember to keep them in mind when we make our classes.

Any web site you make can benefit from Google Analytics. It doesn’t matter if the site is a straight out of the box site from somewhere like Squarespace or if it’s a site you made yourself. It also doesn’t matter if you’ve never tracked the site before; you can add Google Analytics to it now.

Here’s how you get started:

  • Create a new account at the Google Analytics homepage.
  • Fill in a quick form with some details of you and your web site.
  • Copy the tracking script they give you into the code of your site (make sure it’s showing up on every page).

Then you’re ready to track your demographics.

Takeaways

  • Google Analytics helps web sites track user demographics
  • If you have a web site, you need good demographics to make content your users need.
  • Adding Google Analytics to your web site is easy no matter what kind of web site you’re using.