Should I Make My iPhone App Free?

This is a question I get quite a bit from App Entrepreneurs and App owners. I have to admit it’s a good question since it seems like everyone is making their iPhone apps free these days. Here’s my take on it…

Instead of giving you the usual answer of “it depends”, I want to give a solid, actionable answer that you can implement instead of doing more research, or clicking around the Internet for more information.

I will give my answer based on my own anecdotal and empirical data and it can be broken down into two groups:

1. App Entrepreneur – Should you make your iPhone App Free? Yes with few exceptions.
2. Business Owner who uses app for lead generation, brand awareness – Should you make your iPhone App Free? Absolutely 100% yes.

Let’s get some definitions out of the way. My experience in this whole Mobile app thing is having owned a Mobile Games business in 2006, developing 37 different applications for my App Business in 2008 and 23 for clients since 2010, and all of my day-jobs since 2005.

What I define as an App Entrepreneur is someone who owns a business that is SOLELY dedicated to publishing Mobile Apps and selling them in the App Stores for the different devices. This person ONLY produces and markets apps and nothing else. Obviously, the Business Owner is someone who owns a business that has a primary focus other than developing and marketing Mobile Apps. An example would be an Auto Mechanic. The Business Owner in this case could have an iPhone App developed to help bring in more customers and/or build a brand with the app.

So what’s with my answer?

Let’s start with the App Entrepreneur. Start with the idea that you will give away your app for free and provide in-app purchases or monetize through ads. Examples where this works really well are games and social apps. An example of a game that does a lot of this stuff right is Kim Kardashian Hollywood. Instances where you would charge would be if you have an app that is laser focused on a niche and is insanely useful to professionals in that niche. Typically, this means that your app would be for a business rather than the general consumer. An example could be an iPad app that you can hook up to a car for diagnostic purposes.

In terms of the Business Owner, your app should always be free. You have to keep in mind what a lead is worth to your business. Sure, you could try to cash in and monetize with the methods above somehow, but you could be holding back how many leads or clients you could gain from having your target customer be able to download your app.

I hope this gives you a clear cut answer as to the route you should take with pricing your iPhone app.

Posted in iPhone App Pricing Tagged with: , ,

Engineering As Marketing – Why This Could Be Powerful For Your Business!

This is something that has been around for a while but hasn’t really received a label that I am aware of. Engineering as Marketing is simply having some sort of tool that is related to your Business that helps customers in some way.

For example, a marketing automation company called HubSpot has an online tool that grades and reviews your Website based on certain marketing criteria. This tool acts as a lead generator which warms up a prospect for a salesperson to sell their Marketing Automation Software to them.

Another example could be a Bank offering a free mobile application to their customers to download that allows them to calculate monthly mortgage payments.

The tool itself doesn’t have to be complicated technically, it just has to be useful to your customers or clients!

One of the benefits of this concept is that it’s high-leverage. You spend some money upfront to get the tool made and for as long as it’s available to people, it is giving your Business a constant stream of leads. This can be more powerful and more scalable than constantly attending networking events and Chamber of Commerce meetings.

Another benefit of a tool for your customers is that it can illustrate or enhance the problem they already have. For example, if you have a course on how to quit smoking, a tool that shows how much they spend on cigarettes per month could spur them into taking your course.

To help you brainstorm some ideas for an online or mobile tool for your customers, here are some types of applications to help you get some ideas:

  • Calculator
  • Tracking App
  • A Catalog
  • Map or Location based tool
  • Review or Rating app

I hope this gets you thinking about ideas for a tool or app that can help bring in more customers for your business.

Posted in iPhone App Marketing Tagged with: , , ,