9 Tips for Improving Your Freemium App Monetization Strategy


Creating a freemium app is simple: setting up an in-game economy where users can pay for advantages or unlock additional content through payments is something any developer can do. However, making the business model work is difficult: 47% of developers make less than $100 a month with their apps.

At Fortumo, we like to test all of the apps where our carrier billing solution has been integrated: not only to make sure billing works, but also to learn about how developers have built up their in-app monetization strategy. We’ve now put together a helpful list of the most frequent ideas most successful developers use:

  1. Make sure in-app purchasing is clearly visible inside the app. If it takes more than one click to reach the in-game store, it’s already hidden from the user. If the user cannot find where to buy items from, they also cannot make payments. You can test this out by asking a random person off the street to try and make payments inside the app.
  2. Have the in-app purchases appear in the game loop. If you have a casual game with a lot of replayability, consider suggesting the user to buy items after they’ve finished a game. It works better to let the user know they can make in-app payments rather than waiting for them to find the in-app store on their own.
  3. Users should be motivated to spend money. If the user doesn’t see the need to pay for the game, they will not do it. However, a freemium game should be playable for free as well - do not make the game unplayable for non-paying users, but make the experience better for them if they do decide to pay.
  4. Keep the language simple. Symbio recently wrote a great guest post for our blog on why you should localize your app. Your app needs to be understandable even for users who don’t speak the language: using simple terms such as “Play” and “Buy” helps with this. It’s also a good idea to visualize the main functions of the game (a “play” icon for playing the game and a shopping cart icon for the in-game store, for example).
  5. Keep the user playing your game. The longer a user plays your game, the higher the chance that they will convert into a paying user. You can for example offer players rewards for playing the game multiple days in a row to achieve this.
  6. Make sure your application runs on as many devices as possible. Cutting off a portion of users for using an older version of the OS or a device with a smaller screen could have a big impact on revenue, especially in the emerging markets.
  7. If possible, make your app usable offline. According to Localytics, 15% of mobile apps are launched while offline. While the data itself is 3 years old, the idea remains relevant today as well, especially if you have a lot of users from emerging markets where data connections are sparse. Even if users are not making payments while offline, they will remain better engaged to our app (see point #5).
  8. Localize your pricing. With our carrier billing covering 81 markets, we see that user spending can be extremely varied depending on the market - for example, India and Brazil have a 14-fold difference in average transaction sizes when it comes to in-app purchasing. Take some time to think about the prices you set for items in different regions.
  9. Run in-app campaigns. Giving users a discount for buying a larger amount of in-game credits or running a holiday-themed sales campaign is an efficient way to grow your app revenue. We’ve written previously about how to organize successful in-app sales campaigns - something which should be used by all freemium developers.

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