Acquisition & Engagement

Using ASO To Improve Brand Equity

Becky Doles

There are countless elements that factor into app marketing, and it’s become increasingly complex over the past few years. When I think about the 30,000 foot view of marketing, I like to break it into two main categories – structured and abstract. There are the concrete marketing tactics such as paid advertising, where you can calculate an exact return on investment (ROI), and then there are the more abstract campaigns where it’s harder to pinpoint what your returns are.

Both are valuable in their own way. App store optimization (ASO) tends to be thrown into the more structured bucket (if you had to pick). You know where you rank for certain keywords, and you can see how your downloads and revenue correlate with those rankings. What isn’t talked about as much, is the more abstract ways you can use ASO. This post will go over how to use the app store to help build brand equity.

The $400 Million Dollar Billboard

One of the more pertinent (and expensive) examples of marketing that I would classify as abstract, is when a company pays literally hundreds of millions of dollars to have the naming rights to a stadium. The question that many people ask is… why? Why would Barclays pay $20 million dollars a year, for 20 years, to have the naming rights to the stadium of the Brooklyn Nets? Are a lot of people opening accounts with Barclays at basketball games? Is banking a hot topic to talk about when watching Paul Pierce nail a 3-pointer?

Companies like Barclays pay that much for naming rights to help build brand equity, and increase the reach of their company. Naming a stadium generates literally billions of impressions over the duration of the contract. No, you didn’t read that wrong – that was billions with a ‘b’. This helps make companies like Barclays a unanimously known household name, and increases their brand equity.

Before we go on, let’s quickly review what I mean by brand equity. When I say brand equity, I am talking about the value that is added to a product by associating a brand or company name with it. This can take many different forms. It might mean that consumers are willing to pay more for a product or service, or it might just mean that when provided with choices, they will go with the company they recognize. One part that factors into your brand equity is the quality of your product, but another huge factor is how recognizable your name and brand is. For example, if someone has a headache and is presented with Advil or Pain Reliever X, they will most likely choose Advil because they know and trust the brand (even if Pain Reliever X has a superior pain relieving product).

Moving Beyond The Branded Search

Although only a few years old, and still in its infancy, the app store is quickly turning into a destination people go to help solve their problems. As we mentioned in the blog post ‘The State of ASO in 2014,’ Google announced that the Google Play store sees over 6,000,000 unique phrases searched monthly.

What does this mean? First, the app store is getting a lot of attention. Second, and just as important, it demonstrates that search in the app store is NOT just branded (meaning people don’t just search for specific brand names like ‘Barclays’ or ‘Geico’). That number shows that users are searching for more than just specific app titles; they are searching for generic phrases to find an app that can help answer a question, complete a task, or solve a problem.

Creating A Billboard With Keywords

Keywords are mostly thought of as a means to drive downloads. An app wants to rank for a search term because they believe their app will be downloaded by users who search for it. Although true, that’s a very narrow way to look at keywords – they are much more versatile than that. Both the Google and Apple app stores provide extremely valuable real estate on a user’s phone. With the newer card layout, you occupy almost the entire screen.

How can you make the most of this? Well, let’s say you are working in marketing for Geico Insurance. Maybe you initially target a list of keywords that you think will lead to downloads – like ‘car insurance’ and ‘motorcycle insurance.’ Users who search for something like this are probably looking to download an app that provides or helps with car and motorcycle insurance (*surprise!*). However, you can also include other keywords that might not lead to direct downloads, but for which you still might want to be associated. For example, Geico might choose terms like ‘safety,’ ‘coverage,’ ‘low price,’ ‘car games,’ ‘motorcycle games,’ or ‘gecko.’ Ranking highly for these words might not directly lead to downloads, but they will spread your brand name to targeted audiences and associate your company with specific keywords. Someone who searches for ‘car games’ to download a game related to cars, likely enjoys cars, and will most likely someday need to either purchase or renew insurance for a car. Getting your name in front of these people goes back to building brand equity. When they come to the point where they need to make a decision, Geico will be a familiar name because they have seen it before.

The Wrap Up

Does utilizing the app store to enhance brand equity lead to the same number of impressions as having your name on a professional sports team’s stadium? No, of course not. But, it is still a valuable marketing strategy to implement, and will only become more valuable as apps and the app store become more popular.

I’ll circle back to the two main buckets of marketing – structured vs. abstract. Normally, keywords and the app store are thought of as something structured; you want to rank for keywords because they will lead to downloads. Don’t get me wrong, this is extremely important and is one of the most valuable uses of keywords. But hopefully, this post helped you think about them in a new, more abstract way. You want to rank for keywords to not only lead to downloads, but to also help enhance brand equity and associate your company with valuable terms by using the app store as a billboard.

Becky Doles

Becky is the Senior Content Marketing Manager at TUNE. Before TUNE, she handled content strategy and marketing communications at several tech startups in the Bay Area. Becky received her bachelor's degree in English from Wake Forest University. After a decade in San Francisco and Seattle, she has returned home to Charleston, SC, where you can find her strolling through Hampton Park with her pup and enjoying the simple things between adventures with friends and family.

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