March 16, 2021
8 Min Read
Launching your mobile app is a major milestone for your company. An app can be a huge lever for growth, allowing you to tap into the still fast-growing mobile market.
As part of your overall marketing strategy, you’ll need to consider App Store Optimization (ASO).
There are various steps in the ASO process, and if you haven’t marketed an app before, you may need to work with an expert to help kickstart the process. But, if you’re going to be enlisting the help of an outside ASO freelancer or agency, it’ll still be useful to have an understanding of what kind of tasks and processes they can help with.
In this guide, we'll show you common services that an App Store Optimization expert would offer as part of your mobile app launch and growth strategy. You’ll be able to decide if it’s something you need help with, or prefer to handle in-house.
If you have an in-house team of growth marketers, you may have the basics covered.
But, mobile app marketing is a different beast to marketing a web app or physical product. The iOS and Google Play app stores are unique platforms, with their own algorithms and unique success factors. As just one example of many, in the iOS store, your app screenshots show up in the search results. On the Google Play store, they won’t — but you’ll have more characters available to write a descriptive app name.
An app store optimization specialist will know the nuances of each platform, and be able to help you understand exactly what needs to be done to get results.
In most cases, working with a proven ASO expert will be a more efficient use of resources than spending the time and money on training your existing team on app marketing best practices.
If your app has already been published to the iOS and Google Play app stores, you’ll have existing data to work with.
You can use tools like AppFollow or Apptweak to dig into your existing analytics, see where your current users are coming from, and how you’re currently ranking for important search terms and keywords.
If you haven’t yet launched your app, this step is still important. Review your planned launch strategy and your existing marketing assets. For example, have you held user research sessions to understand what value propositions and features your users care about most? Do you have a list of keywords that people use when searching for a business and app like yours? You can use this information when planning your ASO strategy, so it’s still relevant.
At this stage, you’ll also be able to map out priorities.
For example, if you haven’t yet launched, you’ll need to prepare everything, from your app name and description, to screenshots, to working out how to collect reviews.
If your app has already been in the iOS and Google Play stores for six months, you may need to focus on gathering more reviews as a priority.
If you skip this step, you’ll end up following the exact same playbook as your competitors did six months prior, and you won’t stand out because your strategy won't be tailored to your unique situation.
Working with an expert will help you understand the app marketing landscape and create a plan that works for you.
One of the early services most ASO experts will do is a competitor and market analysis.
They’ll review other apps in your category, and look at factors like:
For example, if your main competitors are all including the same few keywords in their title, or highlighting the same benefits in their description, you can test the same.
Or, if you notice that most competitors have a low number of reviews, you can focus on gathering reviews to ensure you have a clear advantage over the competing apps.
Once you know what you’re competing against, it’ll be easier to create a roadmap for priorities and set milestones for the project.
While you shouldn’t blindly follow your competitors’ strategies, there is likely always a way to learn from them.
A key part of app store optimization is optimizing your app landing pages on the app stores for discovery.
This will include optimizing your title, description, and app category.
Working with a proven ASO expert or agency will help you navigate this quickly. It’s a similar process to SEO, but tailored to the app stores.
Your app title is a perfect place to add keywords related to your app that people will be looking for in the stores. It’ll help people discover your app, and tell the app store algorithms what terms they should be surfacing your app for.
Weather app, Dark Sky (acquired by Apple), updated their title from “Dark Sky” to “Dark Sky – Weather Radar, Hyperlocal Forecasts, and Storm Alerts”.
The result? An instant jump in their app store rankings
Your app category is another way to help people find your app. Your category choice should be based on where people usually search for apps like yours. Don’t simply choose for the most popular categories. They may help get more eyes on your app, but if people don’t associate your app with the category it’s in, they’ll scroll straight past. For example, on the iOS store, you can choose from 27 different categories, and over 30 on the Google Play store.
Your app description is another relevant area to add useful information about your app. Focus on conveying useful information and the benefits your app can offer someone.
An app marketing expert will be able to spot the low-hanging fruit available to your app, and help you optimize your title, description, category, and anything else needed to take advantage of it.
The app stores, both on iOS and Google Play, are highly visual platforms.
Use your app store screenshots to showcase the key benefits of downloading your app, and features that your users find most useful.
For example, Cash App’s screenshots are focused on the key benefits of the app:
Source: Cash App’s iOS app store page
If the team working on the app learned that users didn’t care that they could invest or buy bitcoin using the app, they could swap those images out to highlight other popular features.
While you can launch quickly using generic app screenshots, adding benefits-driven text will help convey exactly what your screenshots are showing to help boost conversions.
If the images in the Cash App example above didn’t have the text, it would be unclear what each screenshot was trying to show unless you already had the app.
For most mobile apps, a paid user acquisition strategy can be a highly effective way to drive new installs. Most paid app acquisition happens on Facebook: in fact, almost 75% of ad spend is allocated to that platform.
But, an experienced ASO consultant or agency will be able to work with you and your team to decide on the best channels to run ads.
The best channels will always depend on your ideal customer and the platforms they use. For example, here’s no point in running Facebook ads if your users spend all of their time on TikTok, Twitter, or Snapchat.
As well as the traditional advertising platforms, look for someone with past experience running ads for mobile apps. They should know how to run ads in the app stores, such as Apple Search ads or Google’s App Campaigns.
These mobile app-specific channels will be unfamiliar to most marketers, but are key to help increase downloads — Apple Search Ads have an average conversion rate of 50%, which is hard to replicate on any non-native platform.
Considering 94% of people say that positive reviews make people more likely to use a business, collecting reviews is a hugely important part of your ASO strategy.
You should be collecting reviews from day one. They’re a key way to find what parts of your app users like most, and collect feedback on features that need improvements.
You can build this review collection process into your app using the OS-specific review systems on both iOS and Android. Essentially, this is a snippet of code that triggers a review request when a user takes a specific action. You could trigger it at moments like:
Over time, your reviews will act as a social proof engine, helping your app rank higher in the store, and increasing your conversion rates.
You can even use them in your screenshots. For example, Insight Timer highlight their 350k 5-star reviews in their first screenshot:
Having a large number of positive ratings has also been found to protect against ranking volatility, so you'll be more likely to maintain your top-ranking position in the app stores, even if you make big updates to your app description or title.
App store optimization is an ongoing process. In reality, it’ll never be over and done with.
When you’re launching an ASO strategy, working with someone who has seen success with other mobile apps is a good way to learn proven techniques to drive more downloads.
They’ll be able to help you set achievable milestones and goals that make sense for your unique app, give you insights into what you can realistically expect from your ASO efforts, and help you execute on every step.
If you need someone who can offer app store optimization services, Traktion’s on-demand talent marketplace can connect you with proven marketers who have worked on some of the world’s leading app-driven businesses.