Sunday, 16 March 2014

A Perfect App Store Optimization Strategy

App Store Optimization (ASO) is a very important part of your app or mobile game marketing strategy. Over 60% of all app installs come through a natural iOS App Store or Android Google Play search function, says Business Insider.

In general, both main app stores work similar and we can compare them to a standard internet search engine in terms of titles or keywords algorithms. If you want to appear above your competitors in search results, there are a few tips and tricks on how to boost your rankings. And unlike SEO, there is a second part when you neeed to persuade your potential customer to actually download your app after he or she clicks on it.

If you decide to give your application a vague name, most people won’t even bother clicking on it. Your app name should be as explicit as possible because you don’t want to confuse users with irrelevant title.

Be aware of a visual name length limitation – your potential customer will only see the first 32 characters of your application name if he’s browsing App Store from iOS6 on iPhone. In addition, your app name also works as some kind of “main” keyword and has a slight advantage in comparison with standard search keywords.

By the way, did you know that publisher’s name also plays a role in search results?

Keywords have an important role in your App Store Optimization strategy – a proper use of them can land you a huge amount of search traffic. Apple offers you 99 characters to set up your keywords, so take an advantage of it.

Don’t use merged keyword phrases as “dog training tips” and rather use those words separately as “dog, training, tips”. There are no more search ranking boosts for using whole phrases. Also, Apple is handling plural words much better now so if you are running out of characters, try cleaning up your keywords. For example, keyword “tip” works pretty much the same as “tips”.

App Store Optimization - Keywords

Do a brainstorming and think about various keywords people can actually use to search for your app. Sometimes it’s even better to use long-tail words because there is definitely an advantage to be in TOP 5 search results for keyword with lower search volume than sit somewhere in TOP 200 for “mainstream” keyword. You can use tools as to help you with keyword research and optimization. You can even see suggested keywords for your app based on keywords your competitors are using.

This part is often being ignored even by bigger publishers which means you have much higher chance to score on local markets. It is hard to rank number 1 for “fun games” in english, however for example in Spain this is much more easier task. Of course, you need to translate your whole app – which is a task you can outsource.

I highly recommend you to read this awesome article by David Janner who did a spectacular case study about increasing his download rate by 767% just because of localization!

ASO Localization

Icon itself has zero effect on search results, however its impact on click-through-rate and install rate is unbelievable. Many mediocre apps receive huge amount of downloads just because of well designed app icon. Now imagine that synergic effect when you actually have a high quality application with beautiful icon. As an example, read this case study about game called Trainz Driver which was selling 20 times as many units after icon change.

App Store Optimization - Icons

Even if it sounds obvious, don’t (really, don’t!) use your app name in your app icon. It looks just horrible. Design beautiful, simple and high resolution icon with simple colors. Be consistent if you plan to release more apps – for example take various Angry Birds app icons as an example. If you want to be sure that your icon looks great on every background, don’t hesitate to add some creative borders. For inspiration, look at iOS Icon Gallery.

The very first prerequisite for a great screenshot is logically your app design. Even if you could seduce people to download your app with highly manipulated screenshots, you will probably end up with with low ratings and angry comments. So remember – well designed app means beautiful screenshots and more downloads.

Don’t hesitate to use as many screenshots as you can! Apple gives you 5 slots and Google 8 – so use them. Place your most beautiful screenshot first, however be sure that it reflects core of your application or game. Putting a splash screen as your first screenshots is not a good idea, since it says absolutely nothing about features of your app. Also, be aware that Apple changed policy for screenshots and now you can only change them along with a proper app update.

Be creative and add some additional graphics and explanations to your screenshots – it’s allowed! For example, look at Clash of Clans screenshots below. In addition, here is a nice article about designing great screenshots.

Clash of Clans Screenshots

Great app description is like the cover page of your app’s CV. This is the place where you need to encourage your app viewers to download it. Don’t be scared to hire a professional copywriter or at least spy on your competitors and learn how to write a good description. Every app category has its own specifics.

The first 3 lines of your description are the most important. They are visible by default, along with your app icon and first (sometimes also second) screenshot. Explain clearly what your app is about and pitch your unique selling proposition – A.K.A. why are u better than your competitors? If you were reviewed by big internet player (as New York Times or TouchArcade), don’t hesitate to put that information on top of your description. Think about it as another marketing channel – people usually don’t pay much attention to text, so you need to be catchy.

Below the fold, don’t forget to include social proofs, quotes from blogs or mention your other successful apps. Also, keep your description updated when you add key features and receive new trophies. Don’t be too technical and always be honest with your customers!

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