Top 10 Mobile App Monetization Strategies
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How to Make Money Off Your Mobile App: Top 10 Mobile App Monetization Strategies

Mobile applications are a great way to scale your business. With everyone now on their mobile devices 24/7, reaching your target customers through mobile apps is now the way to go.

As the digital landscape continues to evolve, mobile apps are rapidly growing to be an essential part of the digital ecosystem. Large corporations and small businesses alike are investing in mobile app development services with mobile app monetization strategies in mind.

Free apps generate more revenue than paid apps. According to a report by App Annie, 98% of Google Play’s revenue is driven by free to download apps. In a recent report done by, app revenue has jumped to $50 billion worldwide across the App Store and Google Play in the first half of 2020, which is partly due to the global pandemic.

Developing an app inevitably requires a huge investment of money so you might be asking the question: how can I make money off my free mobile app? In this article, we go through the top mobile app monetization strategies that can help you effectively earn a passive income through your free to download mobile app.

1. Advertising

Mobile advertising is the most profitable app revenue model. It’s also the easiest to implement since it involves a third-party ad network.

How do you earn?

Using ads to monetize your app is simple: all you have to do is to display commercials in your app to get paid from third-party ad networks. You can get paid every time an ad is displayed (per impression), every time the user clicks on the ad (per click), or every time the user installs the advertised app (per install).

2. Subscriptions

Subscriptions work by offering your users free content or features for a limited amount of time. This app monetization strategy is commonly used for cloud services, video and audio streaming, and online news services.

How do you earn?

The popular technique done by app publishers is to offer users a free trial period (which usually ranges from 7 days to 30 days) and then charge users a subscription fee for access with no restrictions.

3. In-app purchases

In-app purchases provide you the ability to sell virtual items directly from the app. This revenue strategy is commonly used by mobile game publishers as it involves digital money and encourages non-paying app users into purchasing items without being too intrusive.

How do you earn?

This strategy works by encouraging app users to purchase consumable (items that can be used once) and non-consumable content (items that don’t expire and are for permanent storage). Common examples for in-app purchases include virtual currencies (game coins or gems), new maps or levels, and character skins.

4. Physical purchases and merchandise

Many e-commerce businesses develop a free app to sell physical goods or merchandise such as clothes, shirts, shoes, and gadgets/devices.

How do you earn?

Users can directly purchase physical goods and branded merchandise from your free to download app. Selling online will allow you to reach more users directly anywhere and anytime and your customers can track their order inventory and place their orders faster and more conveniently


5. Sponsorship

This is an interesting app monetization strategy that can work best when used wisely. If your app is popular with a certain niche market, brands who are interested in that market may approach you for sponsorship opportunities in order to promote their brand.

How do you earn?

You can earn through sponsorship or partnership deals in two ways: a) agreed revenue split generated by the app, b) monthly sponsorship fee paid by the funder for app maintenance, or use.

6. Referral or Affiliate marketing

Referral or affiliate marketing is a strategy done by promoting or selling your affiliate’s products or services through your app to optimize your revenue opportunities.

How do you earn?

You can earn revenue by advertising your affiliate’s products or services through pop-up ads or promoting through an in-app store. You can generate revenue through the following payment models: cost per mille or cost per impressions (CPM), cost per click (CPC), and cost per install (CPI).

7. Freemium Upsell

Freemium apps are mobile apps that are free to download but contain in-app purchases for premium features.

How do you earn?

Users can gain full access to premium features or paid functionalities for a fee if they like the content that they see. By offering a free version of the app, publishers can gain new users and downloads at a rapid rate. This monetization strategy is commonly used by language learning app publishers and photo editing apps.

8. Email marketing

Email marketing may seem like an old strategy to earn revenue but that doesn’t mean it’s ineffective. By incorporating an email tie-in with your mobile app, you can easily collect email addresses and engage more with your customers.

How do you earn?

By asking your users to provide their email address upon sign-in, you can easily collect their email address and update your email list. Whether it’s to promote deals or update them about your new app features, sending out emails can help you in customer retention.

9. Data monetization

One of the most effective ways to earn revenue from your mobile app is through this data-driven strategy. By collective user behavior and analyzing insights, you can create more hyper-targeted marketing campaigns to reach your target market.

How do you earn?

Through this method, you can see which users are spending the most time and money on your app. Using this insight, you can create special campaigns that target these users instead of exerting money on new user acquisition.

10. Transaction Fees

If your product has access to third-party services that sell their products through digital purchases, your app can generate revenue through this monetization model.

How do you earn?

You can charge a small transaction fee for every single digital transaction or purchase made through your app. Mobile e-wallet app publishers commonly use this strategy.


With plenty of mobile app monetization strategies for you to choose from, there is no single formula that can guarantee you the greatest revenue for your return on investment. Before deciding to implement your strategy of choice, make sure to plan accordingly, and create a well-rounded marketing strategy.

At the end of the day, it all boils down to developing a great product in the first place and knowing your target users. With the right revenue model and proper strategy, you can enjoy decent success in the mobile marketplace.