App store is a crowded place

This year mobile commerce apps are expected to reach nearly $30 billion in purchase revenue. The fast-growing in-app revenue has triggered the interest of more e-businesses to expand their stores to mobile. The number of apps submitted to the app stores everyday is skyrocketing. With more than 2 million apps in each major app store, getting your app visible to potential users can be a huge problem. As building a great app takes a lot of time and money , it would be a waste if your app gets lost in the crowd and can not be found.
According to Apptentive, browsing in app stores is the most popular method of app discovery (with 63%). That’s why lack of optimization is now the major issue of app discovery. In order to effectively tackle this issue, it requires any app marketer to have a deep understanding of App Store Optimization (ASO).

What is App Store Optimization – ASO

App Store Optimization is the process of optimizing your app to maximize its visibility to potential users, rank higher in the app stores’ search results, boost traffic to the app’s page and finally improve conversions to generate maximum number of organic app installs. (TheTool) This process draws a free source of high-quality users to your app, which is the ultimate foundation for any app marketing strategy.
App Store Optimization

App Store Optimization in 4 steps

Now you’ve learnt about the main goals of App Store Optimization and why it’s crucial for your app’s survival in app stores. Next you’re eager to conduct a smooth and effective ASO plan but don’t know where to start? Here is the basic guide to App Store Optimization to walk you through this process:

1. Focus on keyword research

When it comes to app search result ranking, the quality of your app keywords is the major determinant. As a result, your app store optimization process should start from keywords. High quality keywords are (1) highly relevant to your mobile shopping app while (2) generating a large amount of traffic with (3) low level of competition. To find the right keywords for your app, you need to properly and carefully perform the keyword research.
The first thing to do is to come up with a list of possible keywords. You may want to start with brainstorming about 50 relevant choices. There are several sources for you to generate your keyword list. (1) It can be your competitor’s keywords. Go through their app titles and description to get some ideas about what keywords they are targeting for. (2) User review and ratings are a rich source for your keywords list too. Scan through their reviews to see if there are any constantly used terms. (3) Also there are some useful keyword suggestion tools that give a variety of valuable ideas to consider, such as Google Keyword Planner, Google Trend,..
Once you have got your possible keyword list, the next thing to do is to narrow the list down to about 25 keywords that best fit your app. Filter your list by its difficulty and then search volume to maximize your chance of high rankings.
Keep in mind that your keywords must be relevant to the app and your target audience. More specifically the keywords should describe app’s features, user need, app category, market or niche. You don’t want your app to be found mostly by users who is not interested and less likely to download it.
Shopping app ranking

2. Optimize on-page elements

When you have done with your final list, you’re ready for the next step: put your keywords in the right places and optimize other on-page app listings:
 

App name/ title

The first thing to catch potential user’ eyes when your app is found in the search results is the app name. Not only does it give your target audience a clear overview of your app, it also has a huge impact on your search ranking.  App stores give most priority to the keywords found in your app title. That’s why you need to save the most important keywords for the app name. Make sure it includes the most relevant and popular keywords to your potential users, but don’t overdo it. Carefully pick 2-3 high quality keywords, put next to your brand name to maintain a good balance.
App Store Optimization - Mobile app marketing
Source: BlueGlass

App description

This is where the rest of your keywords should go. However, things are a little bit different between 2 major app markets: Apple App Store and Google Play Store. App marketers should take these differences into consideration:
  • For iOs app:

Keyword field: You have only 100 characters to include other important selected keywords in this field. Use low difficulty and high volume ones, remember that ranking is more important than traffic. There’s no need to repeat keywords that were already included in other fields. You may want to break up word phases into single words to increase the chance of showing up for a wider range of keywords.
Description: Unlike Play Store, Apple’s App store does not index the description field for search ranking. Although it does not get your app found by potential users, iOs app description still plays a significant role in generating app installs. The first 3 lines of your description are seen the most, so put the most important information right up front. Clear your app’s value to users and put some social proofs to support that (reviews, awards, blogs..) You may list its main benefits and go into more details on how it works.
  • For Android app:

Short description: This field, which is limited to 80 characters only, weights more in app search indexing than the long description. It’s critical to naturally integrate keywords into your short description, put the ones with higher quality first for better results. Clearly communicate the benefit in an easy-to-read form to maximize conversion rate. A strong call to action copy can effectively trigger app installs.
Long description: With up to 4000 characters, you have more space to explain in depth its features and how it works for them. Optimize your description for quick comprehension and better readability, avoid being too technical. Again, highlight the most important stuff on top. Also you can include social links to increase brand awareness. Make use of Google Play’s rich formatting to better organize your text.

App icon

App icon is the first visual impression of your app. If done right, your app icon can get more potential users to dive deeper into your app page, read the description, check out app screenshots and eventually tap the download button.
A well-design icon should be simple and eye-catching. Don’t stuff words into your icon as you have app name for that. Use high contrast colors to make it stand out. You may want to add icon border to make sure it looks great on both light and dark backgrounds. Your icon design should be consistent with your overall app design to increase brand awareness and differentiate from your competitor’ apps.
App Store - App Listing

Screenshots

Most visitors don’t see more than the first 2-3 screenshots. So deliver your app’s strongest benefits through these first screenshots to maximize conversions. Add short caption text to each screenshot so that even people who know nothing about your app still can get it at once. Focus on how your users benefit from your app, not just list out all of its features. Also, A/B Testing your screenshots can improve your app performance up to 20%.
 

Preview video

 
A video may cost you a lot of efforts but it will surely worth your while. Preview video allows you to quickly and memorably show people what your app is about and how it works. It enables your potential users to experience your app before actually downloading it. Highlight your app’s best features as soon as possible, use attention-grabbing graphics and keep your video short and sweet (up to 30s). A clear call to action to install the app at the end is recommended.

3. Manage off-page factors 

Off-page factors are the elements that affects app ranking and conversions while not directly being under your control. Even when you don’t have straight power to change them, there are still several actions you can take to better manage these factors and improve your app’s ASO.

App ratings and reviews

Most users typically check app ratings and reviews before deciding to download it. As a result, the average star rating has a critical impact on your app conversion rate to install. If you want to get better ratings and reviews, the key points are (1) prompt happy customers to leave a review on your app page and (2) make it easy for unhappy ones to reach you and directly express their feedback so that you can fix the problem and update in the fastest manner.
You can’t stop people from leaving negative reviews but you can change the ways they do it. By having a close eye on customers’ in-app actions, you can identify when is the right time to proactively ask for in-app feedback. If users are pleased with the experience, nicely invite them to submit a review on app store. If they’re not, personally direct them for more detailed feedback on improvement and let them know their opinions are appreciated.
App ratings and reviews
Source: Apptentive

App performance

The impact of app performance on its ranking is powerful than you think. The number of app downloads, download velocity, click-through rate plays an important role when it comes to app ranking. You need more than on-page optimization to maximize your app performance in the app market. Put more efforts and set up a thorough strategic app marketing plan. You can include social media, blog-posts, email marketing, content marketing, advertising,.. in your plan to reach more potential users.
See more app marketing tips: Top 7 Tips For Mobile App Marketing in 2017

4.Track and monitor your app’s ASO 

When the above process is done, it’s time to check back to identify progress and measure how well your app is performing. Take into account the main ASO performance indicators: keyword ranking, top chart ranking, category ranking, organic downloads, conversion rate,.. to see the exact impacts and know how to improve your ASO. Also, keep an eye on market trends, your competitor’s rankings, keywords, changes in app listings, other updates,..
Track and monitor ASO
App Store Optimization is a complicated and never-ending process. It might take a lot of time and efforts to see better result. No matter how well-optimized your app is in the app store, the job is never done. When you finish the checklist, go back to step 1 and start all over again. The app market is dynamic and never stops changing. App Store Optimization needs constant observations and regular management to maintain and grow your app’s visibility and conversion.
App Store Optimization: What app marketers should know
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