As part of our approach here at Rocket Farm Studios, we believe it is crucial to get things right from the start, even before launch, because the first few months after are the most critical for any app. The app market is highly competitive, with millions of apps already available on various app stores, and thousands more being added every day. As a result, it’s essential to ensure your app has the best chance of being seen by potential users, and optimizing it for visibility is a critical part of achieving this.
As an organization, visibility should be a crucial part of your DNA because it can significantly impact your app’s performance and ultimately, your company’s success. If your app is not visible, it will be challenging to gain new users, generate revenue, or even achieve your business goals. Therefore, ensuring that your app is optimized for visibility should be a critical part of your organization’s strategy.
Understanding the App Store Ecosystem
Based on a study by Business of Apps, as of 2022 the Google Play store has a total of 3.3 million Android apps available for download, while the Apple App Store offers 2.2 million iOS apps.
In the Chinese Android app market, Tencent’s MyApp holds a 25% market share, followed by 360 Mobile Assistant with 15%, and Xiaomi App Store with 11%.
With millions of apps in their systems, how do app stores go about deciding which ones to spit out at the top of the search results? How does an app store algorithm work? All in all, an app store is similar to a search engine. It just has a unique type of data that it provides in response to queries. Like other search engines, app stores use app metrics and features of the app’s landing page to determine its ranking in the search results.
The key factors that affect app store search results are:
- App Title: Though your title could be up to 50 characters maximum, try to keep it short with the most important keywords located towards the front.
- Keywords: The Apple App Store provides a keyword field where you can add any other keywords that did not fit in your title. Since the character limit is 100, it’s best to avoid using spaces after commas to give yourself more room for keywords.
- Description: For the Google Play Store, you should carefully pack your keywords into the description section as there is no keyword field. Be sure to also explain what the app does and try to answer questions for your target audience.
- Downloads: The more downloads you have, the better your app rankings. Download velocity is a very changeable metric that can be increased with paid app installation campaigns.
- Reviews: Naturally, you can expect apps with a large amount of high-quality ratings to outrank those with less reviews in general or lower quality ratings.
Understanding how these factors affect app listings is the key to app store optimization (ASO). Optimizing your app’s visuals and its metadata allows you to catapult its ranking in the search results, greatly increasing your visibility.
Maximizing Visibility Through Keyword Optimization
Before adding in keywords, you need to make sure you’re selecting the most relevant and suited ones for your app’s intended audience. This is where keyword research comes into play.
To conduct keyword research effectively, it’s important to use a variety of tools and techniques. You can start by using the built-in search auto-suggest feature in the app store and Google Play search bar to see what phrases and keywords come up. You can also use third-party keyword research tools, such as Data.ai (formerly App Annie), Sensor Tower, or Mobile Action, to gain insights into the keywords your competitors are using and identify new, untapped keywords that can help you stand out.
Researching keywords helps you understand how your intended users search for the apps they need.
- Relevance: Choose keywords that are relevant to your app’s features, functionalities, and category. Consider what your target audience would search for to find your app.
- Search volume: Look for keywords that have high search volume to increase your chances of being discovered. However, also consider less competitive keywords with moderate search volume that could still bring targeted traffic to your app.
- Competition: Analyze the competition for each keyword to assess how difficult it will be to rank for them. Focus on long-tail keywords with low competition to increase your visibility.
- Intent: Consider the intent behind the keywords you choose. Are users searching for information or looking to make a purchase? Use keywords that match the user’s search intent to increase your conversion rates.
- Localization: Consider the languages and regions you want to target. Localize your keywords for specific regions and languages to ensure they match the local search behavior and language of your target audience.
Placement is key and one thing to note is that most users only read the first few lines of an app description, it’s important to place your most relevant and important keywords near the front. However, you should avoid packing too many keywords in your app title or description, as it can work against you by making your app look like spam. Placement of keywords influences placement of your rankings as well.
Try to accomplish a balance between branding your app, describing its purpose, and including keywords that represent the buyer’s intent at different levels. It’s not easy to get this balance correct and you have to continue to work at it as you see how users work through your funnel. You have to have a process to analyze data and make adjustments.
Enhancing Your App Store Listing with Visual Assets
Your app’s landing page plays a huge role in its appeal to potential users. Not only are visual assets generally more engaging than text, but they can also quickly help users understand more about the experience of using the app and what it can do.
- Use high-quality screenshots: Include visually appealing screenshots that showcase the key features of your app. Make sure the screenshots are clear and high-resolution.
- Add videos: Videos are a great way to showcase your app’s features and functionality. Consider creating a short video that demonstrates how your app works and how users can benefit from it
- Use app previews: App previews are short videos that automatically play on your app’s listing page in the app store. They give users a quick overview of your app and its features. Make sure to use engaging and compelling visuals in your app previews.
- Use attractive app icons: One of the most important elements of your app’s visual identity is its app icon. Your app icon should be distinctive and memorable, making it easy for users to recognize your app amongst a sea of competitors. To create an effective app icon, consider the following tips:
- Keep it simple: A cluttered or complex icon can be difficult to recognize and remember. Keep your design simple, with clean lines and bold colors.
- Make it relevant: Your app icon should reflect the core function or theme of your app. Use colors, shapes, and imagery that are associated with your app’s purpose.
- Be unique: Avoid using generic or overused design elements. A unique icon will help your app stand out from the crowd and create a strong brand identity.
By the way, one type of screenshot you may want to include is one that demonstrates how your app handles Dark Mode. Recent studies have indicated that over 80% of people make use of their operating systems’s Dark Mode.
Improving User Engagement and Retention
User retention rates for most apps are generally quite low. Too often, apps end up untouched or uninstalled after the first couple of uses. High uninstall rates can negatively impact your app listings. The whole goal is to get people to love your app and talk about it. Getting more people talking about your app is key but how can you keep users coming back for more and actively engaging with your app on a regular basis?
Step 1: Track your data. You cannot understand how your users think and act if you do not keep track of your data. We can instrument every event that happens in the app, for starters. We should be able to understand every user aspect as they proceed through the app. Every event and every function should be trackable, and if it isn’t, it should.
Step 2: Study the data. Where are users dropping off? What features are they struggling with? What’s working? Ideally you should be segmenting your customer base as early as possible to understand long term behavior. Sometimes specific events trigger a whole new class of users.
Step 3: Make improvements based on what you’ve learned.
Step 4: Repeat.
Provide regular updates and new features. New features are perhaps the most exciting way to keep users engaged, especially if users feel that their feedback is being heard and incorporated into ongoing improvements.
It’s important to also consider off-app initiatives such as email campaigns, SMS, and push notifications. These channels are critical for re-engaging users at any stage in their lifecycle and can help drive long-term engagement and loyalty.
- Email campaigns – can be used to nurture leads, promote new app features, and encourage users to return to your app.
- SMS messages – can be used to send timely notifications and alerts.
- Push notifications – can be used to send personalized messages that are relevant to each user’s individual preferences and behaviors.
To get the most out of these off-app initiatives, it’s important to develop a comprehensive growth strategy that integrates all of these channels and ensures that they work together seamlessly. By doing so, you can build a loyal user base that engages with your app regularly and drives long-term success.
Encouraging Positive Reviews and Ratings
Having more positive reviews and ratings increases your app store rankings. It’s a simple fact. What’s not so simple, on the other hand, is drawing in those positive reviews and properly handling any negative ones.
One of the best ways to encourage positive ratings is to ask for a rating within the app itself. This allows users to quickly provide their 1 to 5 star rating without needing to revisit the app store. Be sure to time the prompt well though, as a badly timed writing prompt can negatively impact user experience. Rather than prompting users as soon as they open the app, try waiting for them to complete a task that has significance – not just any task, but something where the user has achieved a goal.
Believe it or not, you can also use your negative reviews to your advantage. Try not to leave negative reviews unattended, especially in the early phases of your app’s life. Responding to negative reviews and making an attempt to fix the problems users are having often leads the reviewers to come back and change their ratings to more positive ones.
Maximizing Your App Marketing Efforts
Although ASO is an essential part of every app marketing strategy, there are also other methods you should be using to maximize promotion. For example, nearly every mobile app user is likely to engage with social media on a daily basis. Make the most of that regular engagement by building a community around your app on various social media platforms. This involves posting regularly about updates, discussing feedback with users, hosting competitions or giveaways, and showcasing content made by users themselves.
Other great ways to promote your app include:
- Paid Advertising
- Influencer Marketing
- Social Media Marketing
- App Store Advertising
- Content Marketing
Having a comprehensive app marketing strategy is essential for the success of your app, and it all starts with a solid foundation of organization and process. It’s crucial to have the right processes and procedures in place from the beginning, so you can effectively implement strategies like App Store Optimization (ASO) and ensure that they are continuously refined and improved over time.
By having a deeper understanding of ASO and its effect on your app’s store rankings, you can create an ideal user experience for your target audience and improve your app’s visibility, reach, and overall success. This involves a strategic approach to keyword research, developing a compelling app icon and visual design, and optimizing your app’s description and metadata to ensure that it ranks well in search results.
At Rocket Farm Studios, we can help you set up the right process and teach you how to effectively implement these strategies to ensure your app’s success. By continuously iterating and improving upon your app marketing strategy, you can stay ahead of the competition and maintain a strong presence in the app stores.
For help implementing an effective ASO and app marketing strategy, contact Rocket Farm Studios. We’ve been winning awards for years doing just that!