App Foresight: Top 10 Tips for App Store Optimization

App Store Optimization isn't new, it's something that has been a relevant activity for all companies with an app be they big or small for several years now but with over a million apps in each of Apple and Google's stores and this number growing by over 10k a day App Store Optimization, or ASO is more than just a hygiene factor.

LONDON, UK, June 19, 2015 - App Store Optimization needs to be top of the agenda if you want to get your app found by a relevant audience and in this post, we're going to reveal exactly what it takes to make your app feature above the competition. Before we start though we should remember that all apps are not equal, in fact the only thing that apps share is the need to get downloaded and seen by the right people who will use and enjoy the apps time and time again. Even in this day and age where app usage is growing even faster than London property prices, some very basic and fundamental errors are made by app marketeers and app product owners. One of these mistakes is to chase download volumes as a metric, and to consider a high star rating as the ultimate measure of success. Now these things 'are' very important but it's more important to find the right type of customer to download your app, and App Store Optimization will help you do this. This step-by-step guide will help you learn to manage your approach to ASO, so that you get the most out of it.

1) Build a KPI based app acquisition strategy

Almost invariably the apps that we optimise have multiple purposes and have been designed in a complex way that aims to fulfil several functions. Ultimately these multiple and non-related functions make the app a less attractive proposition for customers to use. On the subject of using and usage, "usage", is one of the key metrics of app success and so getting your customers to use it more, should feature higher up the priorities than getting more people to download it. As such, it's important to set out what you want your app to get discovered and downloaded for. Is your app designed to generate revenue, or is it a self service app that is designed to make it easier for customers to help themselves rather than picking up the phone and calling that costly helpline? Whatever it is, identifying the key purpose of your app will help you define the right strategy for getting the right customers. If your app KPIs do not match your business KPIs then that could mean trouble ahead!

2) Assess the competition, then do it again

With over a million apps in both Apple and Google's stores it's increasingly difficult to get your app seen by the right audience. It's just possible that someone else is doing a better job of it than you are, so it's worth having a look at what app search terms they are ranking well for just in case they could do the same for you. Why would you want to rank for the same things the competition does? Think of Central Place Theory, we always see fast food joints and car dealerships clustered together in one place, why do they do this? Imagine you are the only car dealer in a certain area ... a customer has already made a "buy" decision and they come to your dealership to buy a car, the problem is, on reflection they didn't want the type of car that you sell. You sell BMWs and actually they wanted a Mercedes, except the Mercedes garage is on the other side of town and they don't have time to go there ... but if it was next door, they could pop in and the Mercedes garage would get a sale. It might not seem logical at first but flip it around and if the Mercedes garage was next door and a customer went to that garage only to decide they actually wanted a beemer there's a significantly higher chance of BMW getting that sale than if they were miles away. So car dealerships, fast food joints and network operator stores cluster together to ensure all the customer has to do is choose who, not what or whether to buy, they've already made the decision to buy. It's the same for apps, it's better to rank alongside the competition than not at all, if your app doesn't feature for something the competition does, you have 0% chance of getting a download from that term.

3) Check what the competition "isn't" doing

Easier said than done? With so many apps, and especially in Apple's App Store where there is a limit to the amount of keywords and search terms that you can rank for, it isn't beyond the realms of possibility (and clever software) to work out where there are gaps in the market. For example, as this post is written, no single app ranks for "Banana & Cucumber", there's a good reason for this, nobody searches for it ... but you get the point, with a little savoire faire you can work out what everyone else has missed out.

4) Test and learn

It might seem obvious but the nature of "optimising" something is that it is perpetual. Just because your app ranked in number 1 spot for "Tofu", "Banana" or "Cucumber" that happened to be trending highly when the app was uploaded it doesn't mean that people will download your app as a result of searching for these terms. This can be for a number of reasons, it might be that your visual appeal isn't strong enough to indicate relevance for these terms, or it may just be that nobody is searching for these terms any more. Over the course of the first two or three updates you will learn what your customers respond well to, and you will be able to formulate the most relevant keywords for your target audience, if they don't feel that your app is worthy of a download for "Banana" then the stores will see the lack of downloads from such searches, and rank your app lower as a result.

5) Put yourself in the place of the customer

The customer, as we know, is always right (cough, cough), so it's important to consider what they do when they decide to download an app. Number 1, as we know is they type what they are looking for into the app store search box. Next, they are confronted with a list of icons and images from which to choose the most relevant app. A) if you don't appear you don't get a download, B) if your brand is not recognised, or your icon does not appear to be relevant you don't get a download, C) if your screenshots don't entice the customer to download your app ... then they won't.

6) Always choose a secondary category

It might not seem like a big thing, but some people still browse categories first when they're looking for apps. There are a few fashion app brands out there who have published their apps to the "Catalog" category instead of the "Lifestyle" category. This is neither wrong nor right but you could get a strategic advantage by featuring in a category that none of the competition has entered into. The best thing to do is hedge your bets and go for more than one category.

7) Think outside of the box, in this case, outside of the app stores

App Store Optimisation isn't just about keywords and optimising what you rank for, there's a whole series of even more crucial activities that need to be governed outside of the app stores, to make sure your app ranks highly within the app store. Mobile customers drop off at a rate of one every three clicks, on mobile you lose 7% of your traffic for just a 1 second delay. Removing all the barriers to downloading your app from outside of the store is just as important as optimising it inside the stores. Don't forget that some traditional SEO techniques still work in the app stores.

8) Don't be afraid to pipe up and put in a complaint

It's explicitly against the app store rules to deliberately use someone else's copyright but it does happen. Some web and mobile search engines allow you to bid for rival's keywords and so rank for their copyright but this is not permitted in the stores. There are ways to make this happen in a "black-hat" less detectable way but the most common way is to simply stick your rival's brand into your keyword string. This happens today and it is done by some very big brands who should frankly know better (get in touch if you want to know who!). We have worked with clients who have successfully had rival apps expunged from the app stores for blatant disregard for the rules. Neither Apple nor Google can police everything due to the volume of apps so some companies still try to get away with it. So the key thing here is to check whether your rivals are misusing your brand and pipe up to the stores if they are not doing it legitimately.

9) Sew it all together for the complete App Store Optimisztion model

You've created a list of strong keywords that are designed specifically to attract customers who are looking for something specific. You know they have been chosen because your app fixed a problem that your customer has, be it I want a take-away, I need help, I want to buy clothes. You've designed and produced the most attractive and enticing visual collateral so you know that people will choose your app when they discover it. It's all done. But you can't just sit back and wait for the right downloads to flood in. This is a process that needs to be governed, it's vital that you're able to demonstrate which parts of the optimisation process are performing the best, and the worst so that you can improve or amend them.

10) Once your app is optimised, measure success with the right metrics / KPIs

Downloads and Star ratings, as we have said are important but they are not the be all and end all. The following are metrics that you should monitor following the in-store optimisation

ASO metrics:

Total search terms ranked for
Total top 50 search terms ranked for
Total top 10 search terms ranked for
Total Number 1 search terms ranked for
% terms in top 10
% terms in top 50
Volume of high value search terms ranked for
Main Category Ranking improvement (i.e. currently 29th in free Lifestyle iPhone apps)
Sub Category Ranking improvement
Ranking change for existing terms (i.e. find flights = currently P11 on iPhone pre ASO, post ASO = x)
Total / Daily Downloads
Total Net / Daily Installs (installed - uninstalled)

As well as these measures there are significant amount of other metrics to monitor including, but not restricted to:

Usage and engagement: Number of app sessions, length and depth of sessions, frequency of main customer journeys

Volumes: Downloads, Installs, Uninstalls, Updates
Value: LTV = App Lifetime Value, what is the average app user worth to you as a business?
Revenue: Total Revenue, ARPU (Average Revenue Per User)
Satisfaction: Reviews, ratings, reviews/ratings,G+1s,Stars, NPS (Net Promoter Score)

CPI and effective eCPI

K-Factor - what is the vial impact of your marketing?

Retention: Duration, lifetime of installN.B. length and depth of app sessions can be an indication of poor performance depending on the customer journey and type of app. Apps by their nature should be quick, simple and task oriented so a 2 click journey that lasts just 10 seconds but is executed frequently times can be an indication of success rather than a lack of it.So there you have it, the complete guide to what you should be doing and how to do it. For more about App Store Optimization or to get in touch please email info@appforesight.com


Contact Details

Company Name: App Foresight
Issued By: DC Copeland
Phone: 07901800900
Address: LONDON, UK
City: LONDON
State: LONDON
Zip: 30189
Country: United Kingdom
Website: Visit the website

Keywords : App Foresight, App Ranking, App Store Optimisation, ARPU, ASO,

by DC Copeland (few years ago!)

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