Formulating a monetization plan well ahead of its release will keep your app in the game for the long haul.

Whether your app has millions of users or you’re still in the process of brainstorming the perfect design, a monetization plan is an absolute necessity. Revenue from an app separates your product and your brand from thousands of one-hit-wonder novelties, establishing your app as a business, not a hobby.

From advertising to brand partnerships, these five strategies will support your monetization efforts and put your app on track to becoming a financial success.

1. Incorporate Native Advertising

Native advertising is a subtle form of promotion that will feel like a natural part of the app it’s presented in, and it will always be relevant to the world of the app itself — even to the point that it feels (or is) personalized to the user.

For example, imagine there’s a financial news app that compiles relevant articles about banking, the stock market, and mortgages for users. Now imagine a mortgage company paid to have an article about their home loans presented there, written and presented in the same style as the other content: that would be a form of native advertising. The execution would be even more refined if the article was presented exclusively to app users who had previously searched for information about home loans.

Obviously, this is only an option if your app provides regular content or news articles with which the native ad can blend in. The most important part of native advertising is that it always aligns with the style, content, and tone of your app or the publication it represents, and it should always feel like part of the app experience.

2. Consider Banner Advertising

While some users might find them annoying, placing banner ads along the bottom, top, or side of your app is an easy and direct way to pay the costs you’ve incurred in the development process. They’re especially valuable in mobile games, where an errant swipe of the user’s finger may cause him to “click” on the ad, increasing your revenue.

Banners are a great place for brands to build themselves up, especially if they relate to the content or the purpose of your app — which is why banner ads continue to be valuable and attractive to advertisers. As Ilya Pozin, wrote for Forbes, “when creating an effective marketing strategy for mobile developers… banners significantly outperformed native ads in brand recall, by a 38% to 25% margin.”

3. Provide In-App Purchases

One way to generate revenue without leaning on advertising is to make additional features available for purchase within your app. A user won’t be required to purchase a feature to make use of the app, but they will have the option to improve or enhance their user experience by doing so.

According to Forbes writer Chuck Jones, in-app purchases have become the greatest revenue driver for apps. “[They] generated a record 76% of all revenue in the Apple App Store on the iPhone in the U.S. in February 2013,” and “at least 90% of all revenue was generated by in-app purchases in the Asian markets, which include Hong Kong, Japan, China and South Korea.”

Though sustainability is a question to consider for in-app purchasing, there’s certainly plenty of potential revenue to be made through the creation of paid options within your app.

4. Make An Exclusive Version

Similar to in-app purchases, designing different versions of your app — a free, basic version, and one that users pay for or subscribe to for advanced features — is another great way to monetize while appealing to different audiences. It allows users to test the waters “risk free,” and decide for themselves whether they’d like to purchase the more advanced or comprehensive version.

5. Partner With a Similar Company

Do you know of a company with a similar customer base to your actual or aspirational one? Approach them about integrating their product or services into your app for a referral fee. Especially if you identify a company who will appeal to the needs or interests of your user base, an ongoing partnership can offer serious benefits to both businesses.

Need some help getting started monetizing your app? iCardinalApps, makes it easy to set up banner ads supported by AdMob, RevMob, and many more, as well as to develop and design the app of your dreams. No matter what your “app-spirations” look like, we’re here to bring your app development dreams to the next level.