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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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).
- 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.
- 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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