Mobile App Marketing Technology

How to Value a Mobile App?

How to Value a Mobile App?

At the moment, thanks in no small measure to platforms like BuildFire, there are extra profitable cellular, SaaS and market apps out there than ever earlier than.

Whereas there are quite a few totally different sorts of monetizable purposes that may be bought—as an example, market apps like these for Shopify and Magento which are sometimes third-party “add-ons” and SaaS apps that are sometimes hosted within the cloud and accessed by means of a browser or proprietary shopper—cellular apps have a tendency to be extra common in nature and refers to any software deployed regionally on a laptop computer, desktop or cellular gadget.

Right here, we’ll refer to these common apps as we give attention to how to worth an app.

For those who’re the proprietor of a worthwhile app with a confirmed monitor report of success, likelihood is you’ve questioned how a lot your app is value. It’s a troublesome query to reply, as every app enterprise requires a detailed understanding of its distinctive complexities.

Sure valuation drivers are industry or macro-related, so exit planning ought to be a consideration from day one to make sure that if you find yourself prepared to promote, your app is in the absolute best place.

Some essential elements, such because the age of the enterprise and area of interest can’t be improved after the very fact. On this article, we’ll focus totally on the drivers that affect an app’s worth whereas additionally enhancing the operations and profitability of the enterprise within the meantime.

Many variables go in to precisely valuing app companies and you may discover them in a larger element right here. Sometimes, a few of the most essential have a tendency to be:


When you might not but be contemplating promoting your corporation, understanding what makes an app engaging to potential consumers may also help you construct worth—not solely on the time of sale however in the course of the time you’re working the enterprise.

Regardless of which stage of your enterprise journey you’re in, taking motion wherever attainable to positively influence the valuation drivers we define on this article can considerably improve the worth of your app.

Establishing Baseline Earnings

Step one to figuring out the worth of an app is to consider earnings. Earnings would be the baseline to which different valuation drivers might be utilized.

Relying on the quantity of gross income and general construction of a enterprise, we apply two totally different strategies to set up baseline earnings: SDE and EBITDA.

Let’s take a fast take a look at each:

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Vendor’s Discretionary Earnings, or SDE, is sometimes utilized to apps with an estimated valuation of underneath $5 million with an owner-operator mannequin. With the proprietor main the enterprise, it’s common apply to cost private bills to the enterprise entity for tax functions. Moreover, an proprietor will typically pay themselves a wage.

The mixed quantity of wage and private bills might comprise a vital quantity of gross income. When utilizing SDE, this will get “added back” to the ultimate earnings willpower. This helps decide the true underlying revenue potential of the enterprise, which may be obscured with out the “add-backs.”

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Earnings determinations of apps whose estimated worth exceeds $5 million and are sometimes not owner-operated are calculated utilizing the extra complicated Earnings Earlier than Curiosity, Taxes, Depreciation, and Amortization (EBITDA) formulation. EBITDA is an industry-standard technique of analyzing the operational efficiency of bigger corporations.

By discounting bills like curiosity and taxes, EBITDA supplies an correct snapshot of the operational effectivity and earnings of an app enterprise.

Bigger, extra strategic acquisitions typically use income multiples for high-growth companies so as to account for one-time investments and supply an correct image of the incomes potential of the enterprise.

As soon as a clear image of earnings is established utilizing both SDE or EBITDA or a mixture of each, the next valuation drivers assist decide the true worth of an app enterprise.

Mobile App Valuation Drivers


Associated to the variety of downloads, and of comparable significance, abandonment refers to clients failing to use your app after downloading it. Abandonment is a vital problem for app builders and entrepreneurs. It’s estimated that, on common, one in 4 cellular apps are deserted after a single use and lose 77% of Every day Lively Customers (DAU) inside three days of set up.

In case your abandonment fee is excessive, conduct a thorough examination of your onboarding course of. Take a look at drop-off factors and use them to decide methods you possibly can optimize the method to entice downloaders to use your app. 

Elasticode will help you optimize your consumer onboarding expertise. Clevertap provides you highly effective perception into how customers are using your app and aids in creating drip e-mail campaigns to maintain your app’s customers engaged.


It ought to go with out saying that having full and verifiable monetary data is a requirement when valuing any app. Regardless of this reality, many homeowners neglect to comply with accounting greatest practices, particularly within the early levels.

Accounting packages like Intuit’s Quickbooks remove nearly all of the friction concerned in maintaining your books up-to-date. Quickbooks syncs together with your financial institution accounts in actual time and gives on the spot entry to invaluable reporting resembling money move forecasts and profit-and-loss statements.

Utilizing Quickbooks, or comparable software program, and following accounting greatest practices from the beginning is likely one of the greatest investments you can also make within the long-term worth of your corporation.


One of many crucial elements any potential purchaser will take a look at is progress. It’s nearly a provided that an app with progress figures which are trending upwards shall be a extra engaging goal for acquisition than one with stagnant or declining progress.

Progress is one other space the place documentation is crucial. From as early a stage as possible, your small business ought to make the most of industry normal instruments like Google Analytics for Mobile Apps to measure your app’s progress, in addition to transcend primary Google Analytics performance.

The extra element you might have when measuring your app’s efficiency, the higher. Look into constructing customized studies that may assist you get probably the most out of your analytics.

There are numerous instruments to provide help to get much more granular together with your analytics. App Annie for iOS and AppsFlyer for Android are two of the preferred and highly effective.

Proprietor Involvement

As an proprietor, are you spending greater than 20 hours a week working your app enterprise? Limiting proprietor involvement in favor of outsourced help (or staff) is among the greatest methods to improve the worth of your enterprise as most consumers are in search of passive revenue.

With few exceptions, consumers are sometimes not looking for to purchase a enterprise that requires their full-time involvement, preferring that there be some assist in place, even when this reduces the baseline earnings (notice: this will lead to greater multiples to greater than offset the lower in earnings).

High quality of Code and Documentation

Code is the spine of any app. Any potential purchaser will insist on doing a thorough evaluation of an app’s code, knowledge structure, and supporting documentation as a part of their due diligence course of.

Constructing your app utilizing industry-agreed coding greatest practices from the bottom up is among the greatest investments in worth you can also make.

Any compromises could lead on to appreciable expense in future if the code or documentation wants to be considerably rewritten to adjust to a purchaser’s necessities.

Focus of Earnings and Platform Danger

Focus of earnings may be defined as having “too many of your eggs in one basket.” Whereas this a concern for many companies, it’s of specific concern to house owners of apps.

Many apps are depending on a single product, monetization technique or area of interest, making them notably weak to unexpected change.

Apps are additionally unusually vulnerable to platform danger. The overwhelming majority of cellular apps are reliant on two platforms: the Apple App Retailer and the Google Play Retailer. This dependence makes app house owners extremely weak to change in both platform’s insurance policies and know-how.

At a minimal, this reliance on third-party platforms means apps would require frequent updates to stay viable. Of much less chances are the priority that modifications to both one or each of the platforms will render an app redundant or unsellable.

That is a danger to which builders of cloud-based apps, for instance, are much less vulnerable.

Lively Customers

With apps, a consumer’s degree of exercise and engagement must be measurable on a very granular degree. For a lot of apps, this metric is much more necessary than the variety of downloads because it provides a extra correct image of how the goal market is utilizing the app.

Not solely will this info lead to a extra correct valuation, however it also needs to show invaluable when it comes to updating and enhancing the design and efficiency of your cellular app.


Whereas that is a driver that may’t be artificially improved, the age of an app is nonetheless an essential think about figuring out its worth. Consumers worth stability and sustainability, and verifiable financials reflecting constant profitability over time converse for themselves.

That is very true the place platform danger is a concern. With this in thoughts, it sometimes follows that the youthful the app enterprise, the upper the doubtless danger profile required, and subsequently, the smaller the pool of consumers.

The impact of age as a valuation driver modifications after the one-year mark, however most sellers select to wait till the two-year mark earlier than promoting, utilizing the interval between the primary and second yr to exit plan. After three years, the age of the enterprise turns into an asset and may lead to a premium valuation.

App companies with longer monitor data of success might fetch a larger a number of, notably if the expansion of the enterprise continues to be trending upwards after three years or longer.


Your app’s buyer acquisition value (CAC) performs a very important position in establishing the worth of your app, notably because it relates to buyer lifetime worth (CLTV). CAC refers to the sum of money you spend in buying a new buyer.

CLTV refers to the quantity of income a buyer offers over the lifetime of their use of your app. In case your CAC markedly exceeds your CLTV, will probably be troublesome on your app to take pleasure in long-term success.The overall rule of thumb is that a CLTV/CAC ratio of three is right for many app companies.

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Streamlining gross sales and advertising processes is likely one of the greatest methods to enhance your ratio of CAC to CLTV.

Regularity of Income

Once more, associated to a potential purchaser’s want for sustainability and stability, is the significance of regularity of income.

Have there been durations of anomaly the place the earnings of your app enterprise have spiked or dipped considerably? Have you ever recognized the rationale for this and brought steps to assist guarantee it gained’t occur once more?

If it will probably’t be prevented is there at the very least a development, similar to seasonality, that makes the regularity of your app’s income simpler to predict?

Variety of Downloads

The first metric most universally used for evaluating the efficiency of an app is the variety of downloads it has from the related app shops.

In case your app is just not experiencing adequate traction with shoppers based mostly on the variety of downloads, will probably be troublesome for it to succeed.

Be proactive in addressing this very important concern. Begin by analyzing the quantity of visitors to your app’s webpage on the related app shops. For those who’re receiving a suitable quantity of tourists however they aren’t changing into clients, your visitors acquisition is probably going not at fault.

The typical app retailer web page conversion fee varies extensively by industry. One research of over 10M app customers discovered an general common conversion price of 26.four%. The research additional revealed that probably the most telling issue of app retailer conversion price was visitors supply; greater than 50% of app customers discovered the app by way of app retailer search.

There are three probably elements answerable for a customer’s failure to convert:

  • Your app doesn’t seem to clear up a large enough drawback for its viewers or doesn’t seem to clear up the issue nicely;
  • The content material in your app retailer web page isn’t compelling sufficient to persuade guests to convert; and/or
  • Unfavorable evaluations and scores are having a dangerous influence on shopper notion.

It is best to all the time be working to enhance the efficiency of your app and your gross sales funnel. Proactively tackle any reputable considerations from unfavorable suggestions by responding to reviewers and making the required revisions to your app’s performance.

One other step you’ll be able to take to handle a low app retailer web page conversion fee is A/B testing the varied parts of your app retailer web page, corresponding to app screenshots, descriptions, icons, and movies. Splitmetrics is designed to make it easier to do exactly that.

Evaluations and Scores

The most effective and most cost-effective strategies to increase adoption of your cellular app is to construct social proof via constructive scores and evaluations. Encourage your lively customers to depart scores and evaluations on the related app retailer by incorporating reminders into your app.

Be certain to hold them unobtrusive—the very last thing you need to do is frustrate customers with countless requests to price and assessment the app. If a consumer is actively utilizing and having fun with your app, they’re unlikely to maintain an occasional reminder to price the app towards you and are extra probably to depart a constructive evaluation.

Constructive evaluations can have a dramatic impact in your conversion fee. Current modifications to the Apple App Retailer’s search engine algorithm take consumer evaluations under consideration and have an effect on an app’s discoverability on the platform.

Google Play additionally makes use of consumer critiques to decide app high quality which may even impression your app’s search rating.

Commonplace Working Procedures (SOPs)

Even when your app enterprise runs like a well-oiled machine, it’s necessary to completely doc each single operational exercise and course of utilizing industry normal strategies.

SOPs will render the switch of operational obligations to a new proprietor rather more possible and scale back the period of time you might spend coaching a new proprietor.

It additionally has the extra advantage of serving to you to streamline and standardize your processes, which is a should when delegating duties to others and scaling your enterprise.

SweetProcess is a SaaS app designed to provide help to systemize your processes and significantly facilitates the creation of thorough SOPs.


Visitors is the lifeblood of any on-line enterprise—the identical is true for many apps. You want to drive visitors to your website and/or the related app shops, convert guests into leads, and convert leads into clients.

Whether or not you do that primarily by means of natural or paid search, it is crucial to doc the place your visitors comes from. At a naked minimal, make the most of Google Analytics to monitor and doc your visitors, proper from the beginning.

Your visitors knowledge is significant not just for an correct valuation however will show invaluable for monitoring and enhancing efficiency.

Remaining Ideas

Thanks to plug-and-play platforms like BuildFire, creating a profitable cellular app is simpler than ever. Having an understanding of the elements that go into valuing an app may also help you construct your app enterprise with worth in thoughts proper from the beginning.

Most of the processes outlined above, from maintaining correct data of financials, visitors, and progress, to creating your app utilizing coding and documentation greatest practices, are a lot simpler to implement within the early levels of your app enterprise.

Not solely will these measures assist put together you for a profitable exit out of your app enterprise sooner or later, however additionally they present a strong framework for making essential selections all through your enterprise journey.

On the lookout for additional info? FE Worldwide, a main M&A advisory for on-line companies, provides an in-depth of exploration of how to worth a cellular app.

Concerning the Writer: Since founding FE Worldwide, the main M&A advisory for on-line companies, in 2010, Thomas Smale has consulted tons of of digital entrepreneurs on exit technique, progress, and enterprise improvement. He’s a extremely wanted speaker at digital conferences worldwide. Thomas is aware of what it takes to bootstrap a enterprise, rising FE Worldwide from nothing into a international concern with workplaces in New York, London, Boston, and Singapore whereas persistently doubling annual income and common deal measurement.  He writes a weekly column for Entrepreneur, and is a common contributor to the FE Worldwide weblog in addition to many different prestigious on-line retailers.

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