Mobile app marketing is a broad term referring to the promotion of mobile apps to increase engagement and downloads, along with retention of users. App store optimization is one of the crucial components of mobile app marketing. It involves maximizing an app’s visibility in the mobile app store to get the maximum number of downloads.

App store optimization (ASO) helps in increasing organic downloads without any cost, leading to higher ranks in search results, improvement in visibility, and lower acquisition costs. It will enable you to use the right keywords and description to put your app in front of people who are searching for it. Below graph shows the total number of mobile apps available on Google Play Store and Apple App Store as of 3rd quarter of 2018.

Looking at the number of apps available on mobile app stores, it is essential to do app store optimization to target relevant users. To help you in your efforts, we have listed the best practices for starting app store optimization.

  1. Keyword research:
    Research says 63% of apps are discovered through general browsing in an app store. You, therefore, have to work on the keywords for your app, which you are aiming to target and choose them wisely.The best technique is to use mid-and long-tail keywords that have more chances of conversion, enabling consumers to find what they are looking for. They are less competitive and have less search volume. You have to create a balance between traffic and difficulty level to survive in the competition. If you try to target only high search volume keywords, it will be quite challenging for a new mobile app. Getting a high rank for low search volume keywords is better, giving you more visibility.There are also various ASO tools available for keyword research that will help you with keywords that competitors use and people search for. The Google Keyword Planner tool is not only useful for SEO but also for keyword research of apps. Other than that, there are other helpful tools like SensorTower and App Annie.
  2. App name:
    Your app name has to include keywords to make it SEO-friendly and rank higher. Along with having keywords, your app title should contain an appropriate number of words and characters. According to Appbot, best titles had an average of 36 characters and 5.5 words.
    Keep the unique name of your app that is relatable using primary keywords. Below graph shows the impact of using keywords in the title of the app.
    Make the title catchy, short, and clear. For example, Google has given the name Maps – Navigate & Explore to its app. If your title is appealing, it will be memorable for the users, which will give you better downloads. Consider the character count of the title; currently, the Apple App Store allows 30 characters and Google Play Store 50 characters. Also, use URL-friendly characters in your title. Apple App Store uses the name of the app to create a URL.
  3. App description:
    Your app description has to be informative for the users to convince them to download your app. Highlight how your app can solve the problems of the target users. Only 5% of users click on the “Read more” button, so try to include the most important part of your description in the initial sentences and make it persuasive. You can add bullet points, awards, social proofs, etc. to increase your chances of downloads.Google Play Store allows a short description of 255 characters and the Apple App Store of 252 characters. A short description can be used to instantly and precisely highlight the advantages of your app. For the full description, Google Play Store allows 4000 characters in the description.It is vital to have keywords in the first few lines of the app description. But don’t overuse keywords; include keywords into sentences naturally. Apple App Store has a specific 100 character keyword field whereas in Google Play Store keywords are included in the title and description only.
  4. App icon:
    The first thing that users notice about an app is its icon. It should be catchy and appealing, related to your app’s name and its category. A good icon can help you in increasing your downloads by 560%. Choose colors that are a representation of your brand and identity. Instagram, for example, is easily recognizable by its icon.The best way to test what works for your target audience is by doing an A/B testing. The reason behind this is to create many icon variations and choose the one that gets the most clicks.For the Apple App Store, you will be required to make an icon of at least 1024×1024 pixels, and Google Play needs a 512×512 pixels icon.
  5. Images:
    Images are the best way to capture users’ attention in the mobile app store. Good visuals can enable you to turn users’ eyeballs into clicks and downloads. Screenshots of your app that are relevant to what users are looking for can be very effective and increase the appeal of your app description. They should be of high-quality and demonstrate the key parts of your app to encourage downloads and enhance rankings. Instead of going through the process of using your app, users can easily get an idea about the app and its functionalities through the screenshots. Below are the screenshots of Beauty Plus mobile app in Google Play Store:
    Showcase the most important screenshots first, followed with the secondary ones. This is because 60% of users won’t swipe past your first two images, and using the two best screenshots can increase your conversions by 25%.
  6. Videos:
    You can upload videos along with the screenshots, showing actual app usage to help customers get an idea about your app (known as App Previews.) This can be particularly effective for gaming apps or apps having dynamic interfaces. Keep your video short and punchy to create excitement for your app among your target audience and encourage them to download the app. It should explain how your app has an edge over the competitors, advertising about the app’s prominent features.Videos don’t directly affect your search results but can enable you to increase your conversions. An app video has the capability to increase download rates by more than 23%. Your video should be such that it can grab the attention of users within the first 5 seconds. Keep your video short, just highlighting the main features of your app. Pay special attention to the thumbnail image of your video. Your videos even if played mute should be able to convey what you want to.iOS allows App previews of only 15 to 30 seconds, making it mandatory for you to deliver your message within that span of time. Whereas promo videos from YouTube can be of 30 seconds to 2 minutes long in Google Play Store.
  7. Localization:
    If you want your mobile app to reach the global markets, you have to adapt to different markets, known as localization. People around the world aren’t only looking for apps in English; they use their native language. Both the Apple App Store and Google Play Store allow you to localize your listing.Here is the Amazon Music app in the India iOS store:
    Amazon Music app in the Spain iOS store:
    Localization will let you increase your app’s search visibility in mobile app stores, helping you reach your target audience and increase downloads. iPhone apps saw an increase in downloads by more than 767% by localizing app keywords.

    For localization, you will have to translate your app’s name, keywords, description, screenshots, etc. It is, however, important to consider that what works in one country might not work for some other country. So, you have to customize ASO to appeal to users of different countries. If you change your keywords based on the search volume of those countries, you will be able to enhance your app’s rankings.

  8. SEO:
    It is important that you promote your app out of mobile app stores too for increasing search visibility. SEO plays a key role in directing traffic to your app. So your app store optimization strategy should include SEO practices as well to get more number of downloads and purchases. As traffic to your app product page increases, your app ranking will go higher too. You can incorporate techniques like paid search, social media marketing, influencer marketing, link-building, etc. Another strategy that has worked for marketers is app indexing. It is a new concept that allows people to click from listings in search results to apps on their smartphones.App indexing technique can not only help you to improve downloads but drive traffic directly from search engines.
  9. Reviews and ratings:Online reviews and ratings are crucial for the success of your mobile app. They can act as social proof making users download your app. It’s difficult to get more number of downloads that don’t have high ratings. More the reviews, the better your app has chances of high ranking and visibility. The below graph shows the percentage of consumers willing to download an app with different ratings.
    If you get negative reviews, your support team can resolve each of them personally and promptly to win the confidence of users.In-app feedback is one of the ways to enhance engagement. As per a study conducted by Instabug, incorporating in-app feedback helped in increasing user engagement by 750% and getting 80% less negative reviews. Another way is to send push notifications to encourage users to give reviews of your mobile app.

    Ask for reviews when users are completely engrossed in your app, have completed a task or you have provided a positive support experience, instead of asking them immediately after the download.

  10. A number of downloads:
    When downloading a mobile app from the app stores, users even consider the number of downloads to check its popularity. From the number of downloads, they get an idea about how much the app is preferred. More the number of downloads, higher the demand and the value of the app, and more is the buzz created. This has a positive impact on the organic ranking of the app.Factors like screenshots, reviews, ratings, etc. don’t directly enhance app store search ranking but increase the number of downloads, which subsequently lead to your app ranking higher.

Conclusion

You can leverage the above app store optimization tips to reach your target audience and attract more users for your app. They will enable you to stand out in an ever-bigger crowd and face competition.

Don’t give up if initially, your app store optimization techniques aren’t working well. App marketing takes time and patience. ASO needs to be constantly monitored with changes being made over a period of time. You need to consistently track your rankings as well as competitors’. Everyday a lot of mobile apps are published on app stores. You need to continuously test with keywords to rank higher and get more traffic.

To reap the benefits of ASO, you have to invest time and effort along with having a good app first! With continuous changes, you will be able to increase the number of downloads and ultimately enhance revenues, keeping you ahead of the game.