App Store Optimization (ASO) Guide For Mobile Apps & Games

Why App Store Optimization Matters

As of June 2019, there are nearly 3 million mobile apps and games on Google Play Store and 2 million on Apple App Store. The number is even bigger if we consider other markets (Amazon AppStore, Blackberry World, Windows Store, etc...)

There’s a popular expression that goes “There’s an app for that.” Well, taking a look at the numbers, it makes more sense than ever when it comes to figuring out how to market an app. So, how do you figure out how to promote an app in a crowded market?

The most cost-effective solution to get more traffic and downloads is through App Store Optimization.

This comprehensive guide shares how to optimize an app to get more visibility and downloads before launching, the cost to develop one, and some tips to promote it afterwards.

What is App Store Optimization?

App Store Optimization Definition:

App Store Optimization (ASO) is the process of optimizing a mobile app or game listing to maximize its visibility on the app stores, whether it’s Google Play Store, Apple App Store or others. Thanks to that traffic boost to an app’s listing, the chances of getting more organic downloads increases.

ASO is a cycle that includes three steps:

  • Keyword research. A key part of ASO and Search visibility optimization. You can read more about ASO keyword research here.

  • Optimize for search and conversion. Improving the listing on the App Store and Google Play, as well as the Conversion Rate, by using A/B testing on copy and visuals.

  • Tracking, improving and localizing main KPIs. Such as keywords ranking and competitors’ rankings, conversion rate to install, organic installs, etc.

It’s really important to keep in mind that there’s always room for optimization, so ASO is a process that never ends. There’s always a way to improve your current strategy!

Main ASO Factors

These are the factors to take into account for an ASO strategy:

  • On-metadata factors. Developers can control and edit them easily from either Google Play Console or App Store Connect, such as App Name / Title, Subtitle (App Store) or Short Description (Google Play), Keywords Field and Promotional Text (App Store), Icon, Screenshots and Video. Both visual and textual assets can be optimized.

  • Off-metadata factors. They can’t be controlled directly but are influenced by developers. Some of them are Installs, Average Rating, Ratings and Reviews.

Tracking and Measuring Your ASO Strategy

Your ASO strategy needs constant monitoring, as the mobile app business world is always changing. You should keep track of the most important KPIs periodically (the ideal would be daily). Some examples would be installs volume (both organic and non-organic), keywords rankings, top charts rankings and ratings and reviews. And don’t be afraid to experiment with your graphic elements! By using A/B testing you can decide whether those changes are good or not.

Users’ feedback can become a good instrument to detect problems regarding your app’s performance. You should always aim to provide the best user experience possible, and a good way to do so is to reply to their comments fast and provide solutions to their issues. A bad review can become a good one if addressed properly! Positive sentiment can result in an increase in conversion rate, which also helps ASO.

Now let’s take a look at the most important ASO on-metadata factors for both Google Play Store and Apple App Store.

Google Play Store ASO Factors

The Title is one of the most important textual fields and it should include your top keywords. It allows users to find the app or game and it is 50 characters long. It’s complemented with an 80-character Short Description, and they affect ASO in terms of search and conversion rate. Lastly, the Description allows you to write up to 4,000 characters, and the keywords used there will help to improve rankings.

In terms of visual assets, the Icon is a fundamental element, as it is the first impression the users get of the app and it needs to stand out. First impressions are really important! Another vital visual asset is the Screenshot Gallery, that lets you place 8 images, as well as videos.

Top Apple App Store ASO Factors

The App Name is the first field you should optimize. It contains 30 characters and needs to contain important keywords. One of the differences between the App Store and the Google Play Store is that the first includes a 30-character Subtitle on which some keywords should also be included. Then there’s the Description field, that can include 4,000 characters and it is not relevant for Search ASO, but it is important for marketing purposes. Lastly, the App Store also has a Promotional Text Field that can be used to inform about changes, updates, or special events. The last text field is Keywords Field, which is private and includes the keywords that you want your app to rank for (maximum of 100 characters).

In terms of visual assets, they are relevant to the conversion rate. The icon is also very important in the App Store, although the major visual is the Screenshot Gallery, which can show up to 10 screenshots. It presents how the app works and it also can include a video that plays automatically.

Post-launch App Marketing Tactics

After your pre-launch and app store optimization strategies are complete, there are some other things you can do to promote your mobile app or game more.

  1. Word of Mouth: It’s an obvious one, but be sure to make the most of it! Reach out to everyone you know: family, friends, etc., and ask them to promote your app or game by posting it on social media or talking with others. You can also include a social component to your app or game, such as asking users to share features or achievements among friends, running contests to give rewards or encouraging them to invite friends to win a prize in exchange.

  2. Influencer Marketing: Reaching out to influencers is a popular tool for promoting products—and it can also be used for your mobile app or game. Users tend to try influencer recommendations, so they are a powerful source of users. If you want more visibility and the chance to get loyal users, try it out. (Note: some will require payment for promotion.)

  3. Reach out to the Media or Other Relevant Partners: Get a press kit ready. Then, get in touch with the media and journalists to help reach a larger audience. This is the information that you should have ready includes:

    An App Guide: A walkthrough of the app, its functionalities, and its target users.

    A Press Release: An article that explains the benefits of your app, such as what problems it solves. Make a good story about it to make it appealing for journalists.

    Visual Assets: Screenshots, icon, logos—every graphic that will help promote your brand.

    Share your product at conferences that will have relevant users in attendance. Consider writing a blog post highlighting your features and functionalities and posting on other companies’ blogs too.

  4. Cross-promotion via other apps: If you have more apps or games on the market, you can use cross-promotion to drive users you already have into your new app. It’s effective and free, so it’s a great way to promote and grow your mobile app.

    You could also talk to other developers in order to exchange users; there are several developers’ associations around the world that do this.

  5. Run paid app campaigns: Investing in ads on social media is one of the most cost-effective ways of getting users to your app or game. You can manage your campaigns for both Facebook and Instagram easily on Facebook Business Manager, and it has lots of options regarding segmentation. You can also measure all kinds of actions, such as in-app purchases once users download your app.

  6. There are lots of mobile display networks, such as social media channels (Facebook Ads, Twitter Ads, Snapchat Ads, etc.), already mentioned above. But there are also others specialized in mobile games (Unity Ads, Chartboost, Ada Colony, Picture Puzzle, etc.), or other great networks like Applovin, Epom Apps or Appnext. User acquisition costs are usually higher, though. Nevertheless, it’s good to test them, as it can get you a boost during a specific moment.

  7. Google Universal App Campaigns (UAC): Google’s equivalent is Universal App Campaigns (UAC). Google uses all the data from the app’s listing uploaded to the store, including keywords and descriptions. It’s also possible to use videos for YouTube and several graphics for your display network. Those ads appear on Google SERPs, associated search networks, and YouTube.

The Never-Ending Process of Mobile App Marketing & ASO

Keep in mind that ASO—and mobile app marketing in general—needs constant monitoring as your app or game has to be optimized at all times, which is the only way to succeed.

Furthermore, ASO isn’t magic! Don’t expect to do all the work for you, as the product has to be good otherwise all those efforts will be in vain. It takes a lot of time and an efficient development team to develop an app or a game—and even more to make it great.

Summing it up, keep working on ASO and mobile app promotion, as you can always do better!

Author Bio: Gerard Gordon is Content and Social Media Manager at TheTool, a powerful performance-based mobile ASO tool that helps you track and optimize your app marketing strategy.

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