With nearly 3 billion active smart phones on the market, and the number of monthly active mobile users rising, the demand for new apps is at an all-time high. Developers are trying to meet user demand while competing against the other 2 million apps on both the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store. With so many apps on the market, it begs the question of how to get the app in front of an audience that would find it useful or fun enough to not only install the app but will return and interact with the app on a regular basis.
Developing an acquisition strategy can be alarming if developers do not know where to begin. Acquisition is all about knowing how to market an app (ASO, paid and organic installs) to its targeted audience. Developers have embraced App Store Optimization best practices to aid in their efforts of expanding their app’s reach in the stores, drive discoverability and engage with their audience.
The Importance of ASO
ASO is the standard marketing tool for app developers to build visibility in the app stores, improve conversion rates and become more relevant to user searches by allowing them to understand exactly what user want by monitoring user trends and behaviors
ASO can help developers get to the top of user searches by making key improvements to the app’s metadata (title, description, screenshots, etc.), otherwise known as the set of data that gives information about other data.
Before developers can start making changes, they need to monitor current user trends and behavior along with examining what kind of users they attract and where their app gets the most traffic.
Organic vs. Non-Organic Traffic
Apps will get traffic from two different areas: organic and non-organic traffic. While both are forms of traffic that gauge how well the app is doing in the app stores, they are completely different.
- Organic Traffic: When a user encounters an app, and decides that it is worthwhile to purchase or download for free. Organic traffic often comes from users who are searching in the app store or are exposed to it through means such as social influencers.
- Non-Organic Traffic: Can be achieved several ways and most commonly comes from using incentives such as virtual goods or extra game content, bot farms and other paid services.
It is important to monitor how an app is doing and to adjust marketing campaigns. Keep in mind, however, pushing advertisements does not always mean that visitors will install an app.
Developers also need to monitor current user trends and behavior to attract browsing users. Search queries are how users will find an app and tend to be one to two-word phrases. Developers can mimic user search habits by targeting specific keywords to help improve discoverability.
Types of Users
Similar to the types of traffic, there are two types of users: decisive users and explorers. 60 percent of users tend to be decisive visitors while 40 percent of users simply explore or browse the app stores to see what new apps are available.
Developers need to target specific keywords for their app to appear in user searches, regardless of whether the user knows what type of app they are looking for or are simply browsing the Top Charts and new apps.
What is an ASO Strategy?
Before developers can start targeting keywords based off user trends and behavior, they need to understand the current app market and have a clear direction for their ASO strategy. Building a strategy is simple and always has the end goal of becoming more easily discoverable and improving conversion rates.
Developers can easily take advantage of this opportunity by making changes to their app’s metadata, which consists of the title, keywords, description and creatives. These changes are made to better target a specific audience and improve visibility in the app stores.
An app’s title is an important piece of metadata for improving its visibility in the app stores. In the Google Play Store, developers only have 50 characters to state the brand or company’s name, and developers in the App Store only have 50 characters to do the same (this will change to 30 characters with the release of iOS 11). It’s crucial to use high-volume keywords as title tags to express an app’s core features and to become relevant to user searches.
Thankfully, for both stores, the title serves as extra space for targeting keywords that will not take up space in the keyword bank.
Keywords are determined based on user trends and behavior. The keywords need to be unique and relevant to the app and will determine what the developer will target in the description and creatives.
iOS app developers must adhere to a strict 100-character keyword bank while Google Play does not have a limit on targeted keywords. Despite Google Play not having a restriction how many keywords developers can target, it’s wise to target a smaller group of words instead of thousands to help with relevancy.
Both the iOS App Store and Google Play Store give developers 4,000 characters to entice the audience and explain the core features of an app. With this space, developers should use high-volume keywords that are relevant to the app to target the audience and become relevant to user searches.
The description is there to emphasize why users should download the app. ASO best practices suggests using a call to action at the end of the description to encourage indecisive users to download while briefly reiterating the more important core feature.
- Screenshots & Video
The first visual representation of the app’s core features besides the icon are the screenshots and preview video. This shows the app in action and expresses how users can operate the core features. Having a visual representation that is well executed can also improve conversion rates.
The screenshots and Preview Video should not be confusing or cluttered. If the visuals do not make sense to users, they are less likely to convert. Developers can also use high-volume keywords that emphasize the app’s core features in the screenshots and to quickly tell glancing users what is in store if they download.
Make note that the preview video takes place of a screenshot and appears as a still image, otherwise known as the poster frame. It is important to treat the poster frame just as any other screenshot, meaning the visual needs to be relevant and incorporate high-volume keywords to address any important core features.
Developers looking to market their app and improve their visibility in the app stores need an ASO strategy that will make them more discoverable to users, improve their conversion and boost their store ranking.
Users are more likely to find apps through search, which is incredibly important to discoverability and accounts for how 65 percent of apps are found. Developers that make key changes to their metadata can see immediate improvements to their app’s overall growth in the app stores and stand apart from their competition.