App Monetization and Marketing: The Holiday Edition

The holiday season is the most profitable time of the year for any business, from app developers to retailers. During this time of the year, mobile spending is higher than ever, alongside app installs and completion rates.
In 2014, mobile traffic accounted for 45% of all online traffic during the holidays, with one in four purchases in the U.S. occurring on mobile. Mobile usage exceeded expectations in 2015 as consumers spend an estimated 85% of their time engaging with mobile apps.

This upcoming holiday, millions of tablets and smartphones will be wrapped up and dispensed as gifts to mobile users, eager to install and engage with new apps. As consumers spend most of their time on mobile throughout the holidays, major brands will also spend top dollar on app advertising.

All of the above constitutes a major opportunity for mobile app developers to attract new users and drive tremendous revenue from their mobile apps. But for the same reasoning, the holidays are also the most competitive time of the year, with everyone contending for the limelight. A robust app monetization and marketing strategy is of utmost importance for developers hoping to experience a significant rise in growth, adoption and profits.

You’ll want to play your cards right- so we’ve put together a to-do list for developers looking to increase their app’s user growth and revenue this holiday season.

Christmas came early! Prep for The Holiday Season in Advance

Christmas Came Early

Consider this- everyone will be promoting their holiday deals on Halloween weekend (Saturday, October 31st), Thanksgiving Day (Thursday, 26th of November) as well as between Christmas and the New Year (25th December- January 1st). If you don’t start early, your voice will drown in the crowd of crazy sales and holiday promotions.

If you want to get ahead, you need to think ahead.

  1. Plan your app monetization and marketing strategy ahead of time so you can start sending out early-bird promotions and plan acquisition campaigns accordingly.
  2. Anticipate the delay for app approvals and updates. Make sure to have your updates ready and ad networks or analytics SDKs integrated by mid-November so you can submit your app to the app marketplaces before the Christmas rush.


Put on a Halloween Costume! Customize Your App with Holiday-Specific Graphics and Content

Put a Costume on!

In the visual-first society of today, consumers buy with their eyes. Studies reveal that effective seasonal marketing significantly enhance sales. In fact, in-depth research shows that Android apps that change up their graphics and content for the holidays see a whopping 129% increase in engagement while IOS apps experience an increase of 24%. A customized design should be a significant (and fun!) part of any effective app monetization and marketing strategy.

The holidays are the perfect opportunity to upgrade your app’s look and feel; users will enjoy the customized experience and appreciate the developers’ efforts to remain involved with the user’s experience in the app. If you have a gaming app, you could add a special spooky level for Halloween, change obstacles into turkeys for Thanksgiving or include falling snowflakes during gameplay in time for Christmas! Utility apps like travel and culinary apps can focus on holiday specific content and offer guides to Christmas fairs across Europe or dedicated Thanksgiving recipes. These customized features might call for small changes in code yet make for a big enhancement in user experience.


Santa Claus is Coming to Town! Spoil Your Users with Holidays Deals and Promotions

Sales and Promotions

Don’t be a holiday grinch. As far as social conventions go, the holidays always go hand in hand with slashed prices, great deals and exciting promotions. Further, if you leverage the holiday time limit, you can be sure to raise your sales or in-app purchases. Your users are expecting as much.
Deck your in-app store with boughs of holly and offer key virtual items for half off, reward users with a holiday bonus during gameplay (using rewarded ads), and utilize customized push notifications to highlight all the exciting holiday bargains and features. These efforts will ultimately help your app keep up a good retention rate over the holidays and through the New Year. Take into account that as users move to new phones, they will be re-evaluating their app installs. Your app needs to make it on their “Must Have” list. If a user just loaded up on in-app purchases, you can be sure that your app has secured its future on their next smartphone.


Be Thankful For Mobile Ad Networks! Take Advantage of Increase in Demand from Mobile Advertisers

Increase in Demand

Brands allocate a disproportionate budget towards mobile advertising during the holidays. Their reasoning is sound; consumers are on-the-go more than ever and therefore are more likely to search for holiday gifts, retailer deals or travel destinations on their mobile phones. Moreover, mobile advertising usually leverages advanced targeting- helping brands reach their key audience and making mobile an optimal advertising channel. Research reveals that ad impressions get a 50% boost during the holidays while experts predict a 400% rise in video consumption on mobile this coming holiday season.

What does this mean for mobile app developers? Higher payouts, completion and click-through rates. So you’ll want to make sure you’re partnering with the best mobile advertising networks over the holidays to secure high revenue. Try out several ad networks, preferably ones that offer mobile video in their product suite, and check out fill rates and eCPMs. Monitor their performance closely and select those that contribute most to your monetization  strategy. Lastly, make sure you integrate the SDKs of the profitable networks before your last submission to the app marketplace!


The More the Merrier! Focus on Effective User Acquisition


With the exceptional rate of growth and adoption during the holiday season, developers have a window of opportunity to promote their mobile apps to receptive and engaged users. As it also happens to be the most competitive time of the year, you should be pulling out all the stops.

You’ll need to devise an acquisition and distribution strategy that combines both paid advertising and free promotion that encourages word-of-mouth. To do this effectively, developers should determine goals in advance, as marketing objectives vary immensely depending on your app’s lifecycle.
If you’re promoting a new app, you’ll want to focus on discovery visibility so your acquisition strategy will lean towards acquiring a high volume of users, with a small emphasis on gaining quality users as well.
If you’re promoting an established app, you’ll want to acquire quality users, while maintaining a steady flow of users.
Make sure to take advantage of all the marketing channels available to you from user acquisition campaigns to blogs, forums and social media.


Beyond the Holidays

Most of these suggestions will continue to contribute to your app monetization and marketing strategy well into the new year. Moreover, they can also be applied throughout the year e.g. during Valentine’s day, Easter and the Chinese New Year (especially if you have a lot of users from this part of the world) with some tweaks. Developers need to continuously improve their apps as mobile users are more demanding than ever; their loyalty is won through new releases, exceptional user experience and interactive features. Further, the mobile advertising industry is always debuting new and less intrusive ways to monetize apps. Mobile success comes to those who constantly enhance their mobile app.
How do you take on marketing and monetizing your app during the holidays? Do you have any useful tips to add? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!