Where do customers discover mobile apps? In 2015, is the app store still a critical success factor in mobile marketing strategy? Since the smartphone became our friendly companion, app store has proved itself a profitable marketplace for developers. However, is it still?
With over 3 million mobile apps available in the major stores, getting an app discovered (and downloaded) is one of the biggest challenges facing publishers today. You need to know how to marketing your app, and app store optimization (ASO) is a very important method - yet still mostly overlooked.
Right now, we all understand the value of search engine optimization (namely SEO) to deliver the best content properly ‘formatted’ through a website, blog and social networks. The only way to climb the rankings and sit where matters the most - the first page in Google’s SERP - is to follow the SEO best practices and improve customer experience.
Optimization is the keyword both Apple and Google are focusing on, to win the mobile war and ensure that users find what they need, when they need it, wherever they are and whatever device they are using. Why this evolution should not be valid also for mobile app stores?
A recent research by Google shows that, while apps are often discovered thanks to the opinion of friends, family or colleagues, stores still make the preferred channel to browse and scan thousands of alternatives.
In the exact moment you develop and publish your app, you enter a fierce battle, competing with over 1.6 million competitors in both the Apple Store and the Google Play Store to conquer customers’ attention.
WHAT’S APP STORE OPTIMIZATION?
What is, in a few words, the ASO? It can be defined as “the process of optimizing mobile apps to rank higher in an app store’s search results. The higher your app ranks in an app store’s search results, the more visible it is to potential customers. That increased visibility tends to translate into more traffic to your app’s page in the app store.” (Kissmetrics)
The goal of all your ASO efforts is evident: drive more qualified traffic to your page in the app stores, so users can convert, downloading your app.
The download might be just the first step in a more complex mobile app marketing strategy but, if you are untraceable in the depths of app stores, you will not even make that first step. When customers are not able to find you, it is like you do not exist at all. This is the first (and only) rule of app store optimization.
DO YOU REALLY NEED ASO?
Of course, you can live without optimizing your presence - much like you can avoid any investment in SEO and content management. It is a choice many brands have taken, spending in paid promotions to boost downloads, but competition raises costs. How can you compete with companies that have hundreds of thousands in advertising budget?
You can invest huge budgets in advertising and incentivized downloads, but that is not always a useful shortcut. You can spend all the money in this world to be first in line, but you must work to offer all useful information in a proper manner, or you will fall short anyway.
Same as results pages on search engines, organic is the answer. Moreover, that is where app store optimization comes in handy. ASO is your bet to avoid high expenditure while receiving the best outcome.
Optimization allows you to gain low-cost app visibility, increase the quality of your store page and boost downloads from quality users - increasing revenue in the process. With so many brands still overlooking optimization, ASO might become your secret weapon. Do you need further reasons?
A BRIEF GUIDE TO ASO
SEO and ASO are at the same time very similar (in tactics) and totally different (in scope).
Here we describe the core components of app store optimization, but consider that Apple App Store, Google Play Store, and Windows Phone Store have slightly different rules.
KEYWORDS - All relevant keywords for that specific app should be included in all strategic pieces of the page (name, app description, keywords tag), but stuffing your content with keywords, is a terrible mistake too many still don’t understand.
CATEGORY - Choose the right category for your app, also based on the level of competition, to influence your ranking. Always keep an eye on competitors to learn what you should be doing in the store, and what you are doing wrong.
VISUALS - The first thing that users see is your logo. Make sure it is iconic and unique. Even on the app page, visuals represent the main element to attract. The rule is simple: take advantage of screenshots and video trailer to describe the app and be memorable.
PRICE - Is it price an internal ASO factor? Yes, because app stores often use prices to categorize, suggest and offer discounts. The app store homepage is your display window, make sure to put a price that make sense for what you offer.
LOCALIZATION - your app must speak the same language your customers speak. Localization is critical to helping users decide whether that is the right app for them or not. Use description to explain all localized features.
RATINGS - What is the first thing users look at when scrolling down an app list? Ratings and reviews. While they are out of your control, they can decide the fate of your app. Make sure to highlight positive reviews and always reply to negative comments.
DOWNLOADS - of course, you do not have complete control on the total number of downloads, often considered and external factor. Nonetheless, it has a great impact on ASO and customers’ evaluation.
BASIC ASO REQUIREMENTS
Search engine optimization is not made to cheat the machine but to satisfy customers. The same way, the ultimate aim of store optimization is not to increase traffic but to make sure your app is discovered by relevant users.
That said, ASO management requires that you fulfill few critical preconditions:
- You will never optimize if you do not know who your digital customers are.
- This knowledge is the base to understand the language spoken by those who search for your keywords.
- Optimization takes time; customer engagement takes even more times.
- Most of all: if your app is useless or badly designed, no optimization might save you from failure.
Remember, ASO is not carved in stone. It is in constant motion.
“Store Optimization continues to become more sophisticated today than it was yesterday. In the future, Apple and Google will recognize install/uninstall rates, engagement, retention, and ratings/reviews data. This will allow app developers to focus optimization efforts on keywords, images, descriptions and, most importantly, on in-app user activity.” (Aykut Karaalioglu, CEO of Mobile Action, on Go-Mash).