The first thing we need to talk about is what people do wrong when they go about trying to optimize your app content so that it can be discovered amongst the thousands of apps in Google Play, iTunes, and the Android app stores. It will give us a foundation upon which to build our App Store Optimization (ASO) best practices.
So, what are the most common mistakes people make with mobile apps that make it difficult to optimize their existence?
- First on the hit parade is the critical task of building good software. If you build a poor piece of software, you’re probably better off not optimizing it so it can be found. Your brand’s reputation will suffer significantly. Write good software or don’t write any at all.
- The failure to use keywords to an advantage ranks a close second. When people search for anything, they almost always start off with a key word or phrase, whether they are searching from within the app store itself using the internal search engine or if they are Googling it externally because Google now includes mobile apps in its search results.
- Hmm … keywords again, but this time the mistakes focus on choosing the wrong keywords. It’s not always the high-volume keyword that wins the day. You have to be a bit shrewd in your logic and pick keywords that have a tight relevance to your app and keywords that take advantage of current events or trending opportunities.
- Images and rich media … how the customers love the touch and feel they give content. In the same vein, if the images are of poor quality and add little value to the mobile app, the customer is a easily put off by those images. The bounce rate skyrockets. Just any image won’t do. It has to be of high quality and have relevance with the app in demonstrating its features and/or functionality.
- Content is king … never forget it. Everything you write about your mobile app must be engaging, accurate, and of value in explaining what the app does and why it’s valuable to the customer. Marketing buzzwords and jargon don’t cut it. Highly technical and confusing mumbo jumbo doesn’t cut it. Plain English and getting directly to the point does as long as you do it with a slight flourish to make the customer smile and feel positive about the experience.
- Reviews and feedback on your app figures into its ranking on the search results page. You must stay current and make sure those reviews are available. Additionally, when you field a new version of the app, the reviews start over anew and you have to build that information stack all over again.
Now that we have that out of the way, we can make some real progress. Let’s cover some of the nuts and bolts of ASO. We’ll put some context to the foundation we just built about what not to do. First, what are the search factors to consider when putting your mobile app content together?
- Category (KW)
- Publisher (KW)
- Ratings (quantity)
- Ratings (score)
- Keywords (visible only in iTunes CMS)
- Download quantity
- Download velocity
- App uninstalls
- External links
Well, what good are these without something to which to relate. The image below is labeled with the first 5 search factors. The app content is clear with each element of search easily found. The spacings are comfortable with relevant screenshots that demonstrate what the customer can expect from the app.
App uninstalls are an interesting search factor. It’s an issue subject to a lot of hearsay and unverifiable methods to come up with a percentage. Thus, it bears some discussion here. First, if you have a developer account with Google and you’ve tied your Google Analytics account to your developer account, you can find out a direct answer for each app you are monitoring. It’s an individual statistic but important nonetheless. It can be displayed right on your developer console.
As a more general, industry-wide statistic, I find measuring the retention percentages for mobile apps to be the more accurate indicator. It’s not hard to jump from retention rates to uninstall rates with a little bit of simple math. Flurry does a myriad of studies that provides insights on the mobile apps that it tracks. The chart below provides an interesting perspective. It’s clear from the chart that the best mobile apps have a max retention rate of 55%, which translate to a 45% uninstall rate. The interesting perspective is how well the category of apps fare. Retail apps don’t fare well at all with a 65-70% uninstall rate. The customer mobile app journey looks to be a rocky road.
Ok, that’s how we optimize so that the customer can find our app in the store. It’s not particularly difficult, but it does require the cooperation of the whole team, including the marketers, sales people, creative team, IT and the analytics folks so we can set up to measure our metrics and KPIs for the app. If you don’t measure, you never know if the app is performing up to expectations or not. Not everyone gets the content optimized right the first time. It might take an iteration or two. Now that our app can be found and ranks high on the SERP, how do we get them to buy or download the app?
The other important part of the content is the stuff that feeds the conversion machine. We do care about how many people downloaded and are using the app. Yet, downloading isn’t enough. We need to know how many of those people who downloaded it are actually using it. Anyway, we are talking about conversion factors that we put in with the app content. What’s important? Glad you asked:
- Preview video
From these conversion factors, you can clearly see how the creative team factors into your success … or failure. The images, rich media, and video content must be top notch, relevant, and current. This type of content can be time sensitive as well. Current events and trends may dictate different content on short notice. Your creative team no doubt keeps an excellent library of digital assets that are stored and accessible on a moment’s notice. Make sure your app watchdog is minding the store and making course corrections dictated by the analytics insights or something going viral on Twitter that will help your app sell. That one little tweak just might be the tipping point.
In my next blog in this series, we’ll talk about the nuances and differences between the various sources where mobile apps can be found. We’ll also be jumping into how to manage your app store portfolio. The best practices to keep things current and aligned with your mobile strategies also figure heavily into making the content just right.
Are there any ASO topics you’d like to know more about? I’m sure we’ll get to most of them over time but I love to shake things up a bit. Let me know!