App-Store Optimization Techniques That Work

by Roger Woods

posted on 12-09-2016

App-store optimization (ASO) is often misunderstood. Gartner forecasts that, by 2017, mobile apps will generate $77 billion in revenue; so naturally, everyone is trying to sell their unique formula to push mobile apps to the top of the heap. Unfortunately, it can be tough to gain the most from your optimization efforts — especially with 2 million other apps in the app store.

Luckily, Apple launched an initiative to clean up the app store. Couple that with the introduction of a paid option to feature apps, and ASO has never been more important for your mobile app — which is why it is crucial to separate fact from fiction. Below, I highlight some important techniques to help you understand what works and what doesn’t when it comes to ASO.

How ASO Is Different From Other Channels
There are, of course, best practices for optimizing almost every channel — and quite a few of them overlap. However, ASO is different from other channels for a few key reasons. For instance, analytics reporting from the app store is not as robust as other channels’ reporting systems, making it more difficult to understand the immediate and lifetime effects of any optimization efforts.

1. Immediate Impact.
Even something as seemingly simple as tracking the immediate impact of any changes you make can be tough with ASO. While it seems as if you should be able to say, “I made this change, which resulted in this many additional quality downloads and active users,” unfortunately, that’s just not the case. Since you aren’t receiving quality, real-time data on your downloads, it’s difficult to determine which changes have the most impact immediately. As a result, optimization can be extremely difficult.

2. Lifetime Value.
It’s also difficult to understand the true lifetime value of your optimization. Perhaps, you have a strong feeling that a specific change resulted in more downloads. However, you don’t have visibility into whether those new downloads came from less-engaged users or from users whom you didn’t retain. More downloads aren’t beneficial in and of themselves; mobile app users must be engaged to be beneficial — not just delete your app after one week. Without this level of visibility, you won’t know whether you are optimizing for the best customers.

The Four Most Common Mistakes Marketers Make With ASO
In all honesty, there are many opportunities for marketers to do things wrong with ASO. Following, I have listed the four most common mistakes people make — if you’re guilty of one (or more) of these, just know that you’re not alone.

1. They Don’t Even Think About ASO.
Many brands just launch an app, expecting it to be successful. Just because ASO is different does not mean that it is impossible. To compete successfully in the app store, you not only need to have a strategy in place, but also strive to put your best foot forward every time.

2. They Don’t Utilize Compelling Visuals.
You can upload as many as five screenshots of your app to the app store. People tend to be very visual, so screenshots can offer huge opportunities for your brand. Nevertheless, many apps simply resort to providing screenshots of their company’s logos or login screens — and then call it a day. Not utilizing truly compelling images is a wasted opportunity for your app.

3. They Don’t Request User Feedback.
Customer reviews play a huge part in ASO. If you’re not prompting your most loyal, engaged users to provide feedback on your app, you’re missing out on key optimization opportunities. Prompting users, based on their actions (perhaps, for instance, they’ve used certain app features or have returned to the app a specific number of times), to tell you how they’re enjoying their experiences can provide you with useful feedback for improving your app as well as let others know what they can expect from your app.

4. They Fail to Understand That Testing Is Manual.
While some providers swear that they can help you test your ASO, the truth is — at this point — it’s a very manual process. If you want to really understand what is happening and whether you’re garnering quality conversions, you will probably have to do the dirty work and manually dig through some data.

The Future of ASO
With the release of iOS 10, things are bound to change in the app store and beyond. So, how will this impact ASO?

1. Featured App Placement
For the first time, brands will be able to pay to have their apps featured at the top of search results. They’ll get targeting options to try to reach their core audiences — meaning, developing advertising strategies and understanding core users just became even more critical!

2. Better Search Strategies
For people to properly segment ads, they must understand which groups are searching for their apps as well as some of the demographics associated with those groups. While paid advertising often has many detractors, the increased insights it may provide could be very beneficial from an ASO standpoint — possibly even making search optimization easier to conduct organically.

Pay Attention to ASO
The single biggest mistake that marketers and brands make with regard to ASO is deciding to do nothing. You cannot perfect user experiences or prompt user engagements if you don’t have users — and you cannot obtain users if they can’t find you. Your sales funnel begins with app-store optimization — so, make sure it’s not the last thing left on your to-do list. From there, you have ample opportunities to deliver meaningful mobile strategies.

Topics: Digital Transformation