Succeeding with a Free App

One of the best ways for a small business to have big success these days is with a popular app. Unfortunately, with so many free apps available, earning revenue from smartphone users isn’t easy. But, there are ways small businesses can bring in revenue from a successful web app.

Unless your small business plan is to rely solely on the income from your app, chances are you’re hoping to use your app to promote an already existing website or service. Small Business Trends reports the most important functionality of a web app is usability. Make sure your app is providing a service that users want. And, once you’ve determined what will prompt customers to download your app, find a way to keep those customers coming back.

For sites like Facebook and Groupon, such a design was easy. Both sites were already extraordinarily popular with users, with customers usually seeking out a way to more easily access their services via smart phone. If you are lucky enough to have an in-demand app, a good part of the work is already done for you. You’ll only need to market the app on your website and in all communications with your customers, and users will find you. But you’ll still need to make sure your customers enjoy using your app.

The old adage, “keep it simple” applies here. The easier an app is to use, the better. Make sure your app design makes it easy to read on small screens, as well as easy to use with the touch screens and buttons of a cell phone.

In addition, be sure your app is something that makes its users’ lives easier. Groupon’s app not only lists the daily deals for a user’s particular city, it allows users to download purchased coupons and use them at retail locations, directly from the screen of the phone. If you provide convenience, customers will seek you out.

Small Business Trends also stresses the importance of notifications. Many smartphones now allow “push notifications,” which pop up as text messages when new information is available. eBay’s shopping app lets shoppers know when an item they are outbid on an item on which they are actively bidding. This often prompts the user back to the site to either increase their bid or find another item at a lower price. Notifications actively remind users of your service, putting your name in front of them as often as you choose.

Customers know that anything of value isn’t free forever. If your app needs to bring in revenue to survive, consider a “fremium” subscription, where customers can sample your service for a certain period of time, losing access to the service once time is up if payment isn’t made. Advertising and sponsorships are another source of revenue if your business model wouldn’t support a monthly charge. Some apps have had success in providing an app for free for a certain period of time in order to generate word of mouth, adding a charge after the initial interest has been generated.

Your app will likely represent your business model, one as unique as your company. Nobody knows your company better than you. Make sure your app provides the quality service your customers expect.

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About Stephanie Faris

Stephanie is a freelance writer and young adult/middle grade novelist, who worked in information systems for more than a decade. Her first book, 30 Days of No Gossip, will be released by Simon and Schuster in spring 2014. She lives in Nashville with her husband.