When you reach the point of marketing your mobile application, you must apply the correct app store optimization strategies. These strategies help drive traffic and installs within the App Store and Google Play. While app store optimization (ASO) can never replace paid user acquisition (UA), you should use both for optimal results. However, we’ll focus on ASO for now, as there’s much to cover relating to this topic in this guide.
If you’ve released an app before, you likely have some experience with ASO. Or you hired an app marketing team to handle ASO for you instead. But if your experience with ASO is limited or non-existent, you may wonder how it works in 2023. Or ponder if the app store optimization strategies that worked several years ago still work today.
The good news is that many strategies from a decade ago still have their place in 2023. Any prior ASO knowledge and experience you’ve acquired will not go to waste. But the same old, same old — doesn’t work either! For example, many ASO experts focussed primarily on keywords to gain in-store traffic about a decade ago. But nowadays, experts also optimize screenshots, analyze user reviews, and look at the user journey holistically.
Of course, that’s a lot of additional work and complexity added to the mix. As a busy appreneur or business leader, you may find all this daunting or beyond scope. If that’s the case, we’d always recommend that you work with an experienced studio like NS804 to handle ASO for you. But if you wish to tackle ASO in-house, check out the tips below.
1. What You Need To Know About ASO
ASO shares many similarities with search engine optimization (SEO) for indexing and accessing content efficiently. A similar philosophy exists for increasing visibility for a website as it does for a mobile app. Furthermore, the biggest search engine, Google, also owns Google Play — and most users have witnessed similarities in both.
But how does this all impact your app store optimization strategies? As part of your app marketing campaign, your key performance indicators (KPIs) will not align with your SEO KPIs. But they must align with the following ASO ranking indicators:
- App quality: The higher the quality of your app, the higher it will rank by the store algorithm.
- Uniqueness: Fresh ideas pay off, as app stores often reward unique apps with a higher ranking or a featured app placement.
- Scalability: The ability of your brand and app to scale to user demand will impact app ranking positively.
- Traffic: If your app proves popular, the algorithm acknowledges this and will ensure that more users see your app. Paid traffic will further boost your app’s ranking and won’t negatively impact your organic traffic.
- Categories: Your app can rank higher for specific categories or if it enters the top charts.
- Downloads: The higher your downloads, the better your app’s ASO ranking.
- Ratings and reviews: When users leave ratings and reviews, it helps increase your app’s keyword rankings. Positive ratings and reviews also convince other users to try out your app.
2. Do Research Before Formulating App Store Optimization Strategies
All your app store optimization strategies will be for naught if you don’t research the market beforehand. After all, you need to know which apps succeed and fail in today’s app marketplace. But that’s not all, as you must uncover what strategies successful competitors use for ASO purposes. Since this guide is not about formulating an app idea but app store optimization strategies, we’ll focus exclusively on the latter.
While this seems dubious, spying on competitors will help inform your app store optimization strategies. But if you avoid this path, your rivals won’t have any issues spying on the most successful apps, including yours.
Thus, it’s pointless to reflect on the ethical ramifications of spying on competitors when it’s a common practice in the industry. Besides, we’re not referring to corporate espionage or anything illegal but a way to gain valuable insights by doing the following:
- Spot competitor weaknesses: Read the user reviews of competing apps and compile a list of all their pain points.
- Discover the keywords of the top apps: Pinpoint the keywords that make successful competing apps appear during searches.
- Identify the keywords that drive maximum downloads: Determine whether branded or generic keywords lead to more downloads.
- Check out competing app metadata: Keep a close eye on how often a competitor rolls out updates and metadata changes to determine their ASO strategy.
- Use the correct tools to analyze competitor ASO: Try free and paid tools from vendors, such as App Radar, AppTweak, and ASOMobile.
3. Use Search Ads To Improve Your ASO
In 2016, Apple introduced its advertising platform — Search Ads. It’s a paid platform renowned for its sheer power in targeting various app markets. App marketers, in particular, love Search Ads and have made it their go-to tool for advertising purposes. So, there’s little reason not to integrate it into your arsenal of tools that will work with your app store optimization strategies.
But what does Search Ads do so well to make it essential? While Search Ads is a paid tool, it helps save app developers and marketers money. After conducting keyword research, you’ll likely have a long list of keywords you plan to use. But that’s counterproductive, as not all these keywords will drive a reasonable amount of traffic to your app.
Therefore, you need to reduce that list of keywords to only those that will bring favorable results. That’s where Search Ads comes in, as it will help you pinpoint the keywords relevant to your app and its target market. You’ll quickly pare down your keywords, reducing ad spend and increasing the possibility of successful searches.
4. Prioritize Visual Quality Within Your App Store Optimization Strategies
Whether developing a mobile game or a non-gaming app, you must make it visually appealing. This makes your app more marketable and gives users more reason to leave favorable ratings and reviews. And all this helps with ASO in several ways that we’ll discuss in greater detail.
An app with high-quality visuals will please your users and provide you with plenty of assets for ASO and marketing purposes. Start by taking high-resolution screenshots and record clips for previews and instructional videos. If you wish to add any branding to your screenshots or edit them, consider working with an experienced graphic designer. Likewise, consider hiring a professional video editor to make all your videos slick and impactful.
Look at ways to optimize your screenshots and videos for the App Store and Google Play. Ensure you arrange the screenshots to convey a coherent story about your app’s usefulness and core features.
If your app is exclusively text-based, you may want to spruce things up with graphics that flow harmonically from screenshot to screenshot. Moreover, this may enhance the story-telling component of your app’s presentation and ASO, which will help draw user interest.
While these screenshots are crucial, your video preview must never take a back seat as it’s equally important. Create a 30-second clip that hooks the viewer within the first 10 seconds. This early part of the video must highlight the core capability of your app and later reveal two or three of its prominent features.
Don’t forget to prepare a visually striking but comprehensible app icon. Ideally, work with a graphic designer who understands ASO, the app market, and your brand identity.
5. Focus On Localization At An Early Stage
Never draft your app store optimization strategies just before you launch your app. Instead, outline your ASO and localization during the planning stage of your app. It’s crucial to have clarity regarding the territories where you will launch your app initially.
For example, if you target English-speaking territories from the get-go, you’ll limit your localization strictly to English. You may also limit your initial release to the App Store due to the higher adoption of iOS devices in these territories. Once your app achieves a reasonable amount of traction, you can target other markets.
You may decide to target Android devices that are predominant in developing economies. But if you’ve made provisions for additional localizations when hashing out your app store optimization strategies, you can move forward with the necessary translations. Most likely, you have budgeted for all your localization costs and decided on the localization team and testing process.
Localizing your app to all target markets is worthwhile because it will enhance its visibility. Furthermore, it increases user trust, engagement, and conversions. Targeting multiple markets will inevitably expand the reach of your app and bolster its profitability with the right monetization strategies.
6. Update Your App Page Regularly
One of the biggest mistakes you could make is to leave your app product page as is, even after a successful app launch. And even though you’ll spend many hours optimizing your page for your launch — that’s not enough. That’s because app marketplaces are very dynamic in order to respond to user demands and market trends. These marketplaces are also very seasonal, meaning that holidays help drive additional demand.
It’s common for the app stores to run special offers during Black Friday, Christmas, Valentine’s Day, etc. So, you’ll need to update your keywords, screenshots, and icons to optimize your page for these holidays. And even though holiday-specific keywords don’t gain significant traction, they will still bring some traffic.
But the real reason to put in extra effort during holiday seasons is to align your app page with app store seasonality. Users often have more leisure time during holidays to discover interesting apps and great deals.
Thus, these users are browsing the app stores with intent and have certain expectations that your app page must meet. If they’re browsing during Christmas, ensure that your app’s description, promo text, screenshots, video preview, and icons convey that quintessential Christmassy feeling.
But be forewarned, your app’s category will play a crucial role in whether or not it gets a high number of downloads during the holiday season. For example, a travel app won’t do so well during Christmas, as most users spend time at home with few travel plans. However, a gift idea app will be in high demand during Christmas since most users will seek unique gift ideas.
7. A/B Test During The Entire Lifecycle Of Your App
You’ll never truly know the effectiveness of your app store optimization strategies without testing them out. The best way to do this is with A/B testing during every phase of your app’s lifecycle. Your first A/B test will focus on finding the keywords that drive the most traffic. Then, subsequent A/B tests will focus on your app’s conversion funnel and how your strategies impact the user journey.
You should also A/B test each time you change your description, promo text, icon, keywords, screenshots, and video preview. But you can also do A/B tests when entering new markets, during seasonal promotions, or when introducing new features.
But how long should you run A/B tests to gain significant analyzable data? Run A/B tests as long as possible, but never less than seven days if you have time and budget constraints. Furthermore, run separate A/B tests for the App Store and Google Play. You’ll find that results differ widely between these two platforms due to considerable differences in user behavior and traffic.
If you have a severely restricted budget, it’s better to pick one app store to launch and A/B test initially. You can also use your chosen store’s native A/B test tools to test and tweak your app’s page. Gradual improvements to the app page will improve your ASO.
Your app store optimization strategies are crucial to the overall success of your app. The app stores have matured, so finding the applicable keywords and making a few tweaks to your app page isn’t enough to drive traffic consistently.
Every aspect of your app page will impact ASO, so you can’t ignore minute details. But if all this seems too much or too complex, consider working with an expert. Contact NS804 today to learn how we’ll help you boost your ASO and meet your KPIs.