Dave Bell is the Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Gummicube. In this role, Dave is responsible for overseeing the business strategy for the company, driving growth and market development. Dave is a pioneer of the mobile entertainment industry with more than 15 years of experience publishing, marketing and distributing mobile applications and games across carrier, direct to consumer and app store channels.
Much of the conversation on app store optimization is about words. What’s the right way to describe your app’s best features? What are similar words and phrases your target market is using in app store search? Which words provide the best mix to build the most relevant phrases?
It makes sense that this topic in ASO gets a lot of attention, as it’s hard to think about converting app store views to users if there is no traffic.
The words used in your app store listing are just one part of ASO, where even the optimal combination of words won’t make up for poor conversions and low engagement.
The good news is that everything works together. Relevant keyword coverage coupled with strong conversion rates and engaged users not only drive more installs and increases user lifetime values (LTV), but it all helps your app rank better for the words you’re targeting.
ASO is a process of building an app listing to acquire relevant users organically via the app stores.
Want better rankings for target keywords and phrases? Prioritize improving your conversion rates and app engagement over obsessing about which new words to add to your app name.
Conversion is the rate at which apps are installed from search results or an app listing view. Ten people saw your app and two installed – that’s a 20% conversion rate.
If your app converts views to installs at a high rate relative to the app’s search ranking, all else being equal, your app will increase in the ranking for that search term.
Note: “All else being equal” is an extremely loaded phrase that includes downloads, ratings & reviews (value and volume), time since last release, social signals, engagement and retention metrics.
Incremental improvements to your app’s conversion rate are likely an easier and faster path to more app installs.
For example, an app store listing that is viewed 1,000 times a day and has a 20% conversion rate for 200 downloads daily. To get to 400 daily installs, you could keep tweaking your app name, keywords field, or descriptions to find a magical combination and hope for double the traffic. Assuming there’s no decline in conversion rates, your app now would have 400 daily installs.
You could also build on your best performing words/phrases by instead making small conversion rate improvements of only 20%. Four experiments with 20% improvements would lead to a doubling of your conversion rate from 20% to 40%, and of installs from 200 to 400 with the same 1,000 app store views.
This improved conversion rate signals to Apple and Google that your app represents a relevant result for specific searches, improving rankings resulting in 2,000 app store views and 800 installs at your new 40% conversion rate.
Your attempt to double actually quadrupled your app installs without changing your app listing, but by changing conversion rates.
We are often so focused on filling the bucket that we don’t pay attention to the leaks. Working to improve conversion rates fixes the leaking bucket.
How to Improve Conversion Rates
If your app listing is optimized for a relevant audience, the creative elements of your app listing have the biggest impact on conversion rates.
The app icon, screenshots, optional video and even the order of the screenshots can have a surprisingly huge affect on users installing your app.
Google provides tools for creating experiments on live app store traffic (called ‘Experiments’). Focus groups are a cost-effective alternative for testing a wider range of design ideas, and for garnering feedback as to what your target market liked, didn’t like or thought was confusing.
In addition to testing creative elements with focus groups and using Google’s “Experiments” module, using the most relevant feature-based phrases as copy or calls-to-action in your screenshots can have a large impact and is worth testing in addition to screenshots images, colors, designs and order.
If you have an app that users love – monetization, traffic, installs can all be solved. Without an engaging app (relative to its competition), ASO can be a bit like pulling weight up a hill.
Google told website marketers years ago to focus on delivering a good experience for their visitors instead of trying to optimize to a Google algorithm. The mobile app space is starting to adopt a similar direction, which is good news for serious app publishers and bad news for lookalike apps or apps with little to no value.
Notifications have been the tool of choice for increasing engagement and retention across all types – and still should be. But there is a new tool that app marketers should be experimenting with right now – deep links/app links.
Apple and Google are now both indexing in-app content metadata – similar to how a website page would be indexed, not just the home page. If the content also appears on the web, the actual content will be indexed as well (not just the metadata like title and description).
For users who have your app installed, a web search or Spotlight search relevant to not only your app listing information, but the metadata of the in-app content will appear at the top of the search results – improving your app’s engagement rates.
The words and phrases targeted in the app store listing metadata are an important component of app store optimization. In many cases, rankings for these targeted terms will improve with higher app conversion rates and better engagement metrics. Both have a huge effect on installs, lifetime values and your app’s rankings for targeted keywords.