Over the past few years, the romanticized narrative that creating an app is a quick-and-easy way to mega-fortune has slowly faded away. The reality is that most apps require well-executed and methodical marketing campaigns, time, and money in order to establish and grow a quality user base. Sure, there are occasional overnight viral sensations, but even the most popular apps rely on sustained marketing campaigns to drive key success metrics.
Sustained campaigns can be defined as all the marketing activities designed to make an impact in at least one of three ways:
1 – Acquiring new users
2 – Re-engaging existing users
3 – Creating brand awareness
User acquisition has always been among the top priorities for mobile app marketers. This ongoing objective is optimized only when both paid and organic channels are converting at their highest potential levels. In terms of organic channels, app store performance should be a central focus.
App Store Optimization
App store optimization (ASO) refers to the process of improving the visibility of your app in app stores. The primary goals of ASO are to boost your app’s ranking in app store search results and increase the number of organic downloads. The following data helps illustrate why ASO has emerged as an essential component of organic user acquisition:
• Forrester research concluded that 63 percent of iOS users and 58 percent of Android users find apps through general browsing in an app store.
• 50 percent of daily active users search for apps on a weekly basis on Google Play.
• 12 percent of daily active users search for apps on a daily basis on Google Play.
These data points help illustrate an important notion: if you’re not incorporating ASO into your overall sustained campaign strategies, you’re excluding the largest organic discovery channel for your app and leaving users (and potential revenue) on the table.
Factors that Influence App Store Ranking
It’s important to note that each app store has its own unique search algorithm and slightly different ASO rules. However, the list below contains just a few of the fundamental factors that most experts agree make an impact on your app store rankings.
The App’s Title – Although it might be tempting to stick with a short and catchy app title, including the most relevant keyword in your title is generally considered to be a best practice. In 2013, ASO experts MobileDevHQ found that apps that included a keyword in the title ranked 10.3 percent higher than apps that did not. (Note: There is some speculation that recent algorithm changes may have reduced the effectiveness of keywords in the title, but until conclusive data comes through, it’s probably still a good practice.)
Targeted Keywords – Selecting the right keywords is fundamental to app store performance. The challenge of selecting the best keywords lies in finding words that are relevant, not overly competitive, and have high search volume. The Apple App Store limits keyword lists to 100 characters, encouraging you to be especially deliberate with the words you choose.
Downloads – Downloads impact rankings in two different ways:
Volume: The sheer quantity of downloads an app has is an indication of the app’s popularity and carries weight in search algorithms.
Velocity: The speed at which downloads take place also impact rankings. For example, if you were to run a burst campaign that resulted in a high number of downloads over a short period of time, your app should expect to see a boost in rankings.
Ratings and Reviews – Ratings are also generally considered to play a role in the ranking algorithms. Being responsive to user feedback and ensuring your app performs as advertised are essential to maintaining high user ratings. App reviews often reveal information that is not found in the product description and can provide users with additional perspectives on what to actually expect from the app. Reviews can also be a great source of insight into how to improve your app.
App store optimization is a fundamental component of sustained campaigns and should not be approached as a one-time task that can be completed and forgotten. Continuous research, experimentation, and iteration are critical to success and should be built into your mobile marketing processes. Implementing ASO best practices and taking the time to learn the nuances of each store where your app is published will enable you to maximize app store conversions.
This article is part of the Mobile Marketing Essentials series.
Becky is the Senior Content Marketing Manager at TUNE. Before TUNE, she led a variety of marketing and communications projects at San Francisco startups. Becky received her bachelor's degree in English from Wake Forest University. After living nearly a decade in San Francisco and Seattle, she has returned to her home of Charleston, SC, where you can find her enjoying the sun and salt water with her family.