Ways To Make Money From Digital Content on Mobile
Thanks to the proliferation of mobile devices, people increasingly expect information on-demand and at their fingertips. You need to make sure that you cater to your on-the-go customers to generate more traffic and activity for your site.
Do I need to make a separate mobile website?
This is a tricky area, as some mobile versions of websites work very well, whereas others don't work as they should and tend to annoy visitors.
In a recent Forbes article, Darcy Travlos suggested that mobile users are far more engaged than web users because of the focus a mobile takes to hold and the time it takes to change content - e.g. backing out of a browser window in Safari on iOS and opening a new window.
At the same time mobile users are on the go, so will probably devote less time to reading. Thus they are less likely to read longer pieces of content. If you are creating content specifically for mobile you need to strike a balance between informative and interesting, and easy to read, watch or listen to on the go.
It seems best to take the time to create a mobile-friendly main site that still places your content at the forefront.
But how can I monetize mobile?
You need to consider how much you can be making from an app, because they cost a lot of money and some time to develop properly. It can cost around $5,000 (£3,200) to create a small content-based app, and around $50,000 (£32,000) to $150,000 (£96,000) for a big recognized brand app. These are very rough averages, as it all depends on what you'd like your app to deliver.
However, if it's just a mobile content app with some in-app purchases, let's say it takes around $5000 to create. Apple and Android take 30% of all app sales, so if you charge $1 for people to download your app, you've broken even after just over 7,100 downloads. And you know that once people have paid for and downloaded your app they're probably going to spend some time engaging with it, which is good for you to show off your expertise and then goods and services. You could even charge more than a dollar for your app, meaning fewer downloads before you begin to generate profit - and, generally, the more people pay for an app the longer they will spend engaging with it.
Another way to attract more attention is to make your app free, you'll get more downloads and more people engaging (but probably for less time than if it were a paid app). You can attract them with your great content and have options to become a subscriber/member of your site, offering your eCommerce products as in-app purchases. In-app purchases are one-off payments for a single product within an app -- remember that both Apple and Android Market take 30% of all their app sales. You could have premium content available for download in your app or a button to redirect to your ebook for sale on Amazon!
In 2011, both Apple and Google (Android) introduced subscription capabilities for content-based apps. This meant that users could subscribe to the content at the touch of a button in apps like Netflix, the New York Times and Spotify.
Apple will take their 30% of any subscription set up within the app and only ask that the business not offer a “better deal” for subscription via their website -- it must at least be the same price in the app, if not better.
Android Market on the other hand only takes 10% of subscription sales from Android content-based apps; this is something to consider.
However, Apple give 100% of subscription sales to the business for any customer who downloads the app having already subscribed. So you could offer your subscription on your website but add that it can be used as a “digital subscription” once they have downloaded your app.
Think very carefully about whether you want to develop an app, and weigh up any quotes you may get from app developers against how much you think you can charge for the app, or how much you think you might make from in-app purchases. The app market is still relatively new considering its popularity, so it is difficult to gauge how much you can make from an app. A good way would be to see if any of your competitors or businesses of a similar size have developed an app and how well that is doing.
Creating a great mobile content experience can be tricky, but once you've got it sorted, mobile users are super-engaged... so make sure you pick what you're displaying carefully to keep them there and get them interested enough in your content to part with some money.