Tag: app store optimization

10 Tips for Creating Great App Store Screenshots

app store screenshots

They say that a picture paints 1000 words. With this in mind, it’s clear that app store screenshots represent a real opportunity to promote your client’s app(s) and show potential users why the app you’re company is offering is exactly what they need.

Here are ten tips to ensure you make the best of app store screenshots:

1. Follow the store guidelines

Apple and Google both produce detailed guidelines for the use of screenshots in their stores. (Apple’s are here, and Google’s are here). It’s essential to follow these very carefully, including submitting screenshots for all relevant devices, otherwise you risk your screenshots looking pixelated and unprofessional.

2. Select screenshots intelligently

It’s really easy to just think of the five main things the app does and screenshot them, but this isn’t the way to maximise success. Your collection of app store screenshots are your opportunity to truly showcase your customer’s app and show why it’s worthy of the home screen and memory space on user’s devices.

3. Prioritize benefits over features

Following on from the above, as far as possible it’s best to stick to the tried and tested sales approach of concentrating less on specific features and more on how those features will help (or even improve the lives) of your target users.

For example, with a fitness app, you need to show how the features are desirable to users. There’s no point in simply saying that there are “100 workouts!” It’s better to show how those work outs are fun, how they provide variety, how they can be completed in a short time, and ultimately how they’re going to help in their aim of getting people fit. If your screenshots appear like a feature list without showing these benefits, you’ve probably chosen the wrong images.

4. Highlight new functionality as an app evolves

Once the app is established, it does make sense to use one or more screenshots to show off new features, especially those that users won’t find anywhere else. But again, always try to aim for an angle that highlights the point and benefit of these features.

5. Consider annotations

There’s no shortage of online debate as to whether people should annotate their app store screenshots. Some people think it’s a bad idea, but it’s fair to say plenty of highly successful apps do have screenshot annotations on their listings.

One scenario where this is a good idea is if you have a particularly minimalist or graphical app where it’s not immediately clear what it does.

If you do decide to use annotations, ensure they’re done well and are completely clear to users. Poor use of foreground and background colours, together with small screenshots, can make for a very messy look.

6. Consider “screenshot shrinking”

flipboard-screenshotScreenshot shrinking is an alternative to annotation.

Instead of overlaying the screenshot with text or graphics, shrink the screenshot so it only uses some of the allowed space, and add supplementary text that describes functionality or tells the story of the app.

You’ll find this technique used to good effect on the iTunes Store listing for Flipboard.

Although, in theory, you could use a combination of screenshot shrinking and annotation in one screenshot, it’s almost impossible to imagine a situation where this would look anything less than confusing and cluttered.

7. Make use of localization

If you have localised your app for different language markets, you can include additional screenshots for other stores (the exact rules depend on the store).

It definitely makes sense to do this. If you’ve made the effort, for example, to translate your app into French, then French customers should see the French app version.

8. Think about how to order your screenshots

The order of your screenshots is crucially important, as many people will only glance at the first one.

There are various ways to tackle this. One of which is to tell the story of your app with ordered screenshots, but another is to ensure your first screenshot does the most to encapsulate what the app does and why people should want it. Exactly which method you choose will inevitably depend on the look and feel of the individual app.

9. A/B test your screenshots

A/B testing allows you to try out different screenshot combinations to see which are most effective at converting app store browsers into customers. You’ll find a previous guide to A/B testing best practices here.

10. Ensure your screenshots reflect your Unique Selling Point

The final step, which essentially rolls all these tips into one, is to make sure that your app store screenshots put across the USP of your app.

With so many mobile apps out there doing similar things, it’s essential to stand out. So if your app does nine things that the other apps do but one key thing that the others don’t, your screenshots (and indeed all of your app page content) need to show this unique benefit.

So now you’re ready to get cracking on that app store listing – but before you start writing your app store copy, take a look at our short video on app store mistakes. You’ll also want to do your keyword research carefully, which is where a good app store optimization tool (hint we have a recommendation) comes in handy.

Have any other app store tips? Leave a comment below or give us a shout on Twitter, in our community pages or on our Facebook page!

A/B Testing Your Way to App Store Success

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The fact that everybody wants their app to get noticed and perform well in the app stores is a no brainer.

A slightly less obvious no brainer is that it’s highly unlikely that the first combination of price point, branding, and description one tries when launching an app will perform the best in the stores. This would be an extreme case of good luck, showing extraordinary customer insight! For this reason, agencies launching an app should recognise the need to try different things to market it, to maximise interest and conversions.

Thankfully, it’s possible to handle this in a scientific and data-driven way, without resorting to mindless trial and error. The way to do it is to use A/B testing.

A/B testing involves showing some potential customers one version of your client’s app’s store page(s), and the others an alternative version. By comparing conversion rates and other metrics, you can drill down on what works – what keeps customers interested, what makes them download and purchase, and what makes them head for the “Back” button. This method of testing is extremely well established with websites, and increasingly popular with switched-on app agencies.

Here are five crucial tips to help you implement a program of A/B testing for your app(s):

1. Choose the right tools

There are a host of tools to enable you to functionally implement A/B tests. Some of the most well-known include Optimizely, Google Analytics Experiments and Kissmetrics.

The cost of using these tools can vary, as can the functionality, but essentially what you’re looking for is something that allows you to serve one app store page to some readers, and another to the remainder. You obviously need something that allows you to analyse the results in depth too.

2. Establish your baseline data

Before beginning A/B testing, it makes sense to accumulate a meaningful amount of initial data based on your standard app listing. If you don’t do this, you have nothing to truly compare against.

This doesn’t mean you must wait months before implementing A/B tests, but you should have enough data to cover usual peaks and troughs in views and sales, or you could end up with test data that doesn’t paint a realistic picture.

3. Try one thing at a time

It makes absolutely no sense to carry out an A/B test where you change multiple elements of a client’s app listing.

For example, say you change your app icon, some screenshots, and some of the descriptive text. Even if the A/B test reveals that the “new” version of the page vastly improves conversions, you will have no idea which of those changes had the impact!

a/b testing app storeTherefore, it’s crucial to try one thing at a time. This exercise is all about drilling down on which elements work. A/B testing takes planning and careful analysis of the results. At the end of it you may well end up with the third icon you tried, the last set of screenshots and the first description you ever wrote – but if you do things properly you’ll know for certain which versions work. It’s also just an important to work out which didn’t work! The importance of a good App Store Optimization tool – which can help you focus on keywords, see which competitors are using which screenshots, and view app store copy – is key.

It’s also worth mentioning at this juncture that price points are another thing you can A/B test. You will find that there is a sweet spot with pricing and conversions where the multiple will result in the most income – but it will likely take you some time to identify it.

4. Think about timings

Timing is everything with A/B tests. Specifically, meaningful results take time. It’s therefore important to maximize accuracy by planning in testing periods that are long enough to “smooth out” the usual weekly “peaks and troughs” and reduce the risk of atypical days skewing conclusions.

It’s also unwise to carry out A/B tests over “unusual” periods, such as holiday times, or during global sporting and political events when people may be otherwise diverted.

5. Consider the impact on ongoing income

If you’re carrying out A/B tests on a successful and profitable app, you may have to accept that there is some risk to revenue while they’re in progress – especially if you test out a variation that is less successful than the live one.

a/b testing app storeIn some ways, this is just part of playing the “long game” towards greater success – but as you do start to hone in on that success, you will need to consider the income implications.

One way to reduce the impact is to carry out smaller tests on more drastic changes, by sending a smaller proportion of potential customers to the experimental page, for example.

A/B testing is a great way to ensure maximum app success, and it’s value is one of many factors that illustrates the fact that an app is a living product that can be constantly improved.

Any tips we missed? Feel free to leave a comment below.

And if you’re still looking for an App Store Optimization tool, take Kumulos for a FREE spin today!

How to Pick the Right App Store Keywords

pick-right-app-store-keywords

With over two million apps in both the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store, it’s important to do all you can to maximise the chances of people finding your clients app(s). A crucial part of App Store Optimisation (ASO) is selecting the correct app store keywords to use to show both the stores, and your apps potential customers, what your app is all about. This task is much like the Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) that’s so important to the success of a website – and just like that takes effort, research and expertise.

The article puts forward five tips to help you with your keyword planning and give you the best chance of your app being discovered via searches.

Obey the guidelines

Before you start, you should familiarize yourself with the guidelines both Apple and Google make clear regarding listings for their stores. (You’ll find information for the App Store here, and the Play Store here).

The guidelines Apple and Google set have many similarities, and both companies strongly advise against grey / black hat optimization techniques, particularly involving excessive “stuffing” of keywords into app names and descriptions. However, it’s just as important to learn the differences between Google and Apple’s approach as it is to learn the similarities.

For example, Google Play Store indexes descriptions, so keywords within descriptions are key there (within sensible reason). Apple, meanwhile, focuses on a specific keyword field where you must select keywords up to a 100-character total limit.

As such, it’s well worth taking time to optimize your listings for each store individually. Broadly speaking, there are no big “tricks” you can employ here – algorithms are generally sophisticated enough to reward those who do good research and optimise their listings whilst obeying the guidelines.

Do your research

With the above in mind, it’s clear that research is the key, and it begins with a well-conceived list of the keywords you think you need to target.

Your objectives should then be to:

  • Learn how many people are searching for those keywords.
  • Ascertain what the competition is like for each.
  • Choose which subset of your app store keywords is most likely to bring you traffic.

As with traditional SEO, the idea is to find keywords where there’s a healthy level of search traffic AND a low enough level of competition to stand a chance. Very general keywords such as “camera” may have vast traffic, but will also be so hotly contested it’s hard to stand a chance.

It’s best to use a combination of tools to conduct this research. Traditional SEO tools such as Google’s Keyword Planner are helpful for starters, but dedicated App Store Optimisation tools are a better choice, and will allow you to look at both your chosen keywords and those being used by your competition.

Find your niche

Hopefully you will already have a clear niche in mind for your app, but the keyword research exercise above will quickly reveal if the niche is too broad. With so many apps in the marketplace, yours needs to be different enough to throw up some keywords that hone in on where the app is unique.

These will end up being the search terms that lead people to your app rather than your competition. ASO tools can help you find new keyword inspiration, but it bears repeating that a USP for your app that you can play into some of your chosen keywords is crucial too.

Consider localization

This may not apply to all apps, but if the intended audience spans different countries and languages, you can make use of localization to give you more space for descriptions and keywords – one set per language. Investing time in professional translations of descriptions and keywords can pay dividends if you think it’s likely people could search for the app using keywords in other languages.

In the case of the Google Play Store, “machine translated” localizations are added automatically, but if you’ve used Google Translate you will know that these are sometimes amusingly inaccurate. For a small investment, you can give a professional impression to customers who speak other languages AND give yourself extra space for local keywords.

test different app store keywords

App store optimization isn’t a one-off task. It’s vital to continually monitor both your clients and your competitors’ apps to see how you are ranking for various keywords, as these rankings will never remain static for long at all.

In time, the chances are you will begin to finesse your app store keywords strategy, but in the early days it’s likely you’ll want to do plenty of experimentation with different keyword sets and descriptions. One feature to look for in a good set of ASO tools will include keyword tracking – which will allow you to monitor how keywords are doing over time.

Equally important is to leave them running long enough to extract meaningful results. App store ranking algorithms will always be something of a mystery, but many factors will play a part, from reviews to uninstall rates, to the authority of incoming links to your app. It’s a good idea to do some A/B testing on the app listing – to try out possible keyword variations.

With so many things playing a part, it’s important to work to ascertain what changes are helping or hindering – do too many at once and you’ll struggle to work that out!

In the end, picking the right app store keywords is both an art and a science – but, with a little practice and testing – you’ll soon be able to get your clients apps found in no time.

App Agency News Roundup – January 2017

app-agency-news-january2017

The holidays are over. Its still cold and dark. Those New Year resolutions have fallen by the wayside.

Welcome to the third week of January 2017! Only 49 more weeks until we do it all again.

Year end statistics for 2016 for mobiles and the app markets are starting to roll in, so we thought it’d be a good chance to do a short roundup of what 2016 left behind so you can get your app agency off to the right start in 2017.

APPS STILL GROWING – KIND OF

Techcrunch made some buzz in the news feeds on January 17, 2017 when it announced in an article that worldwide App downloads were up 15 percent in 2016, according to a report from analytics firm App Annie. A large part of this increase can be attributed to China, which surpassed the U.S. in 2015 to become the top downloader in the iOS store.

What’s interesting is that, just a few days previously, on January 12, 2017, Techcrunch ran another article with the banner headline “The mobile app gold rush may be over“. The basis for article was a report by the firm Flurry which stated that, for 2016, overall app usage grew by only 11 percent for 2016, compared to a figure of 58 percent for 2015.

So for 2016 overall, downloads are up (kind of) and app usage is growing (kind of). But what does this really mean from an agency point of view?

From all signs, it appears that app growth is starting to stabilise and maturing in the established app markets such as the United States, UK and Europe. To put it in other words – just because you put out a shiny new app for a client, it doesn’t mean that users are going to download it. Or, if they do download, and they don’t get exactly what they’re looking for, they’re going to turn right around and toss it in the virtual trash.

“Oh no,” we can hear you say. “That would never happen to one of OUR apps. We’re the best agency in [insert hip part of your town here]!” Think again – its estimated that up to 94 percent of users uninstall an app within the first 30 days.

LESS APPS, MORE TIME

In another section of their 2016 report, App Annie noted that in 2016, the total Worldwide Time Spent in apps in 2016 was up 25 percent from 2015. These figures, however, only counted Android devices and, interestingly enough, the only country it excluded was the country mentioned above as passing the U.S. in 2015  – you guessed it – China. Flurry’s take on the same statistic – they’re calling it Mobile App Time Spent – documented 69 percent growth in 2016.

You can check oapp-agency-news-reportut the whole report over on Flickr, which also includes interesting stats such as US App Usage During Super Bowl Game Quarters and Top Chinese Mobile Personas.

The biggest app winners, according to Flurry, were messaging and social media apps, which grew an insane 394% over last year – due in no small part to apps such as Snapchat and Facebook Messenger (I’m even using Facebook Messenger now so you know it’s achieved market saturation).

This is also tied into the phenomenon of “Communitainment” where users are spending more time using integrated technologies to both generate and consume entertainment from within an app – such as making phone calls from within Whatsapp.

The Price is Right

On the Apple app store front, 9to5mac broke the story this month that prices for apps in the UK, India and Turkey app stores would be rising by as much as 25% to keep up with current price fluctuations in the pound (we’re looking at you, Brexit). That means an app that previously sold for £0.79 in the UK app store would rise to £0.99, on par with the $0.99 app price in the U.S. store.

This isn’t a factor for a U.S. based agency, but if you’re operating elsewhere, you’re going to have to start thinking about your pricing model – maybe it’s time to bring out the Cost Per Install spreadsheet and update it for 2017.

QUALITY OVER QUANTITY

The takeaway from 2016 going into 2017? Apps are getting more expensive and users are downloading less of them. The apps that users do wind up downloading – if they don’t uninstall them after the first few days – they’re using more.

So what’s all this mean if you’re an app agency out there developing apps?

Good luck in 2017 everyone!

Did we miss anything? Leave us a comment below or join the conversation on our LinkedIn,Twitter, Facebook or Community page!

Top Five App Store Mistakes to Avoid

five-app-store-mistakes

The Apple App Store and Google Play Store are places where, for some, fortunes are made. However, for many other people they are places where their precious apps can sink below the millions of others on offer – dashing previously high hopes of success. As you no doubt know very well, the app marketplace is a competitive one, so we can’t pretend it’s easy to rise to the top. A good app store optimization tool is key. However, there are also a few “schoolboy errors” that are easy to avoid when it comes time to publish apps. This article discusses five big app store mistakes, and helps your agency avoid them.

1. Explaining the “What” but not the “Why”

Concentrating on benefits instead of features is straight out of “Sales 101” but getting this the wrong way around is a common error. Essentially, people choose and use apps that solve a problem or make their lives easier or more enjoyable, so app store sales copy needs to reflect this reality. Let’s take a photo app as an example: the app may have 100 filters and a dozen sharing options, but it’s better to point out that it has filters that will “enhance memories” or even “make selfies look better!” Instead of listing all the possible sharing options, it’s better to highlight that the app makes it “easy to share your photos with friends across all platforms.” If you have clients producing their own sales copy, you should be on the lookout for this, and encourage them to focus on the “what’s in it for me?” attitude that customers have when choosing apps.

2. Assuming YOU Know all the Keywords

Everyone who’s “close” to an app during development will inevitably start to form an opinion of what kind of thing people will search for to (hopefully) find the app in store. However, it’s possible to become too close and too set in an opinion. It’s therefore crucial to step back and think from an outsider’s perspective. It takes some lateral thinking (and often some specialist SEO knowledge) to really optimize an app store listing so that it attracts searches from the right potential customers. An app store keyword search tool will almost always reveal some rewarding keyword opportunities that will have been missed by people too attached to the project.

3. Ignoring Video

Adding a video to an app store listing is very straightforward and can improve conversion. App users are a demanding bunch with a tremendous amount of choice at their fingertips, so if you can quickly show them exactly what they get if they download, you should see better results that using screenshots alone. The potential mistake here is ignoring the video option due to assuming it’s a big extra job or something particularly time consuming; An annotated screencast style video takes a very short time to put together.

4. Forgetting About Google

Not everyone who arrives at an app store listing does so as the result of browsing or searching their respective app store. Plenty of people still arrive “the old-fashioned way” – i.e. by searching Google, or finding reference to an app in an online article. As such, ensure some promotional effort is going into pushing the apps outside of the app store too. A good example of this is game apps. There are simply so many of them that an app store browse isn’t always the best way to find or choose them. Many people would instead Google something like “best iPhone games for 2017” and choose from a curated list, of which there are dozens! So, don’t let the app store be the sole focus of promotional efforts. Other online avenues are often involved in the sales process.

5. Not Keeping Watch on Reviews

A run of bad reviews can be the kiss of death for an app – so it’s essential to keep an eye on what customers are saying. This needs doing on a consistent basis, otherwise bad things can happen.

One example of this is when a new operating system or device release results in compatibility issues. If someone’s not watching the reviews when customers start to discover such a thing, average review scores can plummet, along with download numbers.

The Google Play Store allows a “right to reply” and interaction with reviewers, who can often be convinced to amend their reviews if you fix their issues and provide good customer service. Apple’s store doesn’t, so it’s important to put out a new release quickly after discovering issues, which effectively “buries” the poor reviews a further click away for people browsing the store.

Obviously, however, the best thing is to keep a constant watchful eye on the reviews and respond quickly to issues that are making customers unhappy. It should therefore be agreed who (agency or client) should keep an eye on these scores and respond.

These five tips are simple but essential. If you take a look around the app store, you’ll quickly be able to find hundreds of examples where people have made these five app store mistakes to their cost.

Five App Store Optimization Tips

app-store-optimization-tips

Apple’s App Store and the Google Play Store have completely transformed the way companies can find a “shop front” for their product. Having said that, the competition is beyond fierce. Pocket Gamer maintain a record of how many apps are submitted to Apple’s store, and the figures make fascinating reading.

Typically, the number of apps submitted daily ranges between 2500 and 3000. In September 2016 over 160,000 apps were submitted in one month alone. As such, there’s always some work to do to get your client’s apps found – let alone noticed on a serious scale. With that in mind, here are five app store optimization tips to give those apps the best chance of success:

Concentrate on presentation

It seems incredibly obvious, but there are thousands of app developers and agencies who, in their hurry to push an app live, allow their apps to look extremely lackluster once they hit the stores.

For far too many people the crucial details – the screenshots, app logos and description texts – are little more than an afterthought once the hard work of actually creating the app nears its end. This is a really short-sighted approach.

To increase your clients’ chance of success, make sure they understand how important this presentation is. Producing the app description, for example, should be treated as a serious task in itself. It should never be something that’s quickly thrown together and highlights endless features instead of benefits.

The combination of graphical elements, screenshots and descriptions will often be the first a potential customer sees of an app, and has a huge bearing on the number of downloads. It’s up to you to ensure your customers understand this, and place sufficient importance on the related tasks.

Ensure apps have a Unique Selling Point

Again, an obvious one on the surface, but something many people forget. With millions of apps to choose from, there’s simply no point in copying what’s been before – every app that stands a chance of being successful needs a way to stand out.

This is something to bear in mind at the early stages of app development. If a client is proposing an app that’s been “done” dozens (or more) times, they need to understand that it needs an edge over the competition – otherwise obscurity beckons.

Remember testing and quality control

App testing is time consuming and repetitive, but this should never be used as a reason to take shortcuts. Customers will soon catch on if an app doesn’t do what it says on the tin, and Apple might too.

This quality control focus must be maintained long beyond version 1.0 and the Minimum Viable Product stage. Even a well-established app can be dealt the kiss of death if you push out a poorly tested update. One minute you can have a great looking listing, then before you know it the App Store is showing a one-star rating under “latest version” because someone forgot to make absolutely sure the new version worked properly on (for example) an iPhone 6 Plus.

Effective quality control requires constant co-operation and dialogue between all the developers, the agency and the client. Most importantly, these parties should learn the importance of slowing down and not rushing either products or updates to market.

Remember also that you just to test more than just the app. A/B test your app store listing to see which keywords users are looking for – not just the words you THINK they’re looking for.

It’s a tad clichéd but it’s better to do it right than do it fast.

Encourage reviews

Apps with poor review scores often get completely ignored. Add to this the fact that end users can often prove unfairly savage (even when they’re only paying pennies), and you have the potential for the all-important review section to destroy the success of your app.

The best way around this (aside, of course, from doing all you can not to give people a reason to leave bad app store reviews), is to encourage reviews from the happy customers. This doesn’t mean hounding people for reviews via popups, as this is something that could provide yet another reason for negative reactions!

However, if you time things right, you can encourage people to give credit where it’s due. Perhaps consider a “give feedback” prompt when users have clearly been using the app as it’s intended without problems. In-app analytics can help with this.

Another thing you can do is encourage people to leave reviews during other interactions with them – perhaps via clients’ websites and social media. It’s also worth working on building a good relationship with frank, honest and informative update notes when bugs are fixed. Some well-known companies including Slack really excel at this.

Don’t forget other means of marketing

Finally, don’t allow your clients to think that the app stores aren’t the only places to showcase their apps. The stores should be just one part of a combined marketing effort than can include promotion on company websites, social media work (including paid targeting) and PR efforts to have apps featured in external reviews and “best app” roundups.

Sometimes the bug successes and download surges come from these exercises, and not because of how the app’s been presented for the stores.

App Store Optimization as a Service – here’s how to do it.

App Recurring Revenue

App store optimization is one of the best ways to grow services revenue and build a strong recurring revenue platform to help your mobile app agency grow. Here we define the key steps of app store optimization and how to offer this as a service to complement your mobile app development business.

Why is building Monthly Recurring Revenue is important.

So you build mobile apps for a living. Like most your income is tightly linked to project delivery. Billings are lumpy, and real hard to know where your cash position will be more than a few months down the road.

You’re no different from thousands of mobile app development businesses out there. But things are changing. More and more businesses just like yours have worked out there is another way. A way to build highly valuable recurring revenue services. A way to secure a retainer from your mobile app build customers, by offering complementary follow on services to sit alongside your core app build business.

One of the best (and easiest) recurring revenue service to offer is a service that helps app owners get more app downloads. With more than 60% of apps being downloaded following in store searches, offering an app store optimization service that drives downloads for your customers apps is a true Win/Win.

You win by making money on retainer monthly, offering services that help tie your app customers to you and position you for any follow on work. Your customers win by tapping into your mobile expertise to help them build a strong and growing user base for their mobile app.

One thing to say at this point is, ASO is only part of the bigger App Optimization Services that you should be offering. You shouldn’t ignore the 40% of downloads that don’t come from app store search, if you are going to maximise mobile app downloads.  But lets leave the broader topic for now and accept its good that you’re building download volume.

So let’s look at App Store Optimization as a Service in a bit more detail.

The 4-R’s of your ASO-as-a-Service offering

Think of it (and explain it to your clients) in 4 key phases.

  • Ready (or Audit if this isn’t parallel with you building the app)
  • Run
  • Review
  • Refine

The Get Ready

If you can, this is best costed as part of the build phase. If you want help to fully scope out all phases of the build, you could use this free scoping tool. It will act as a check list to make sure all phases, including post live, are covered and will show any doubting clients that it’s normal to include this in the project.

There are 8 key elements in the this get ready step. All need to be done before you’re ready to submit your app to Google Play and the Apple App Store.

App Title – Make sure it describes what the app does. Make it as concise as you can, just a few lines. (255 characters to be exact in the App Store). The app name in Google play is limited to just 30 Characters. This is the most important piece of ASO. If it doesn’t clearly say what it does, potential downloaders will just scroll by.

App Key words – 100 characters limit is all you can work with here. So pick the key words that best fit with the app and the audience. For this you’ll need to get your customer to be very very exact about the target market for the app, who the competitors are and what their likely search phrases will be.  The key skill here is to avoid the highly searched key terms, they will be very competitive so ranking top 3 is going to be tough. Make the effort to find the highly specific and under used key words that fit well with the app. It’s better to be top on 30 searches for a highly specific key word than 10th for 3,000 searches for a more generic key word.

App Description – Nailing the app description to make it clear to the audience for the app how it solves their problems. Clear concise wording that covers the key points of the app features, functions and benefits in as short and concise a way as possible is something that needs planned and though through so your listing is powerful and compelling. You get up to 4,000 characters with Android, but considerably less with Apple. It’s tempting to load the description with loads of key words. But its best not to. If it doesn’t flow and read well it will just turn downloaders off and defeat the whole purpose.

App Category – Picking the right primary and secondary category for your app is a critical decision to optimize this for search. So make sure your customer thinks this through carefully and you help them choose wisely. Getting it right will immediately serve up the app in search to highly relevant potential downloaders.

App Ratings – An app with a 4-5 star rating (as well as a high number of ratings 20+) will have a huge impact on download volumes the app will get. The social proof of this is huge. Having active users saying good things about the app, especially if you’re asking them to pay to download, is a massive endorsement. But more than that it has a big impact on your search rank. Again it’s not a one off task but a constant task that you need to be on top of. Offering a proactive rating service to your clients where you go and find fans of the app to post a review, monitor the star ratings of the reviews the app is getting and reporting this regularly to your clients, is going to be an integral part of your mobile app optimization as a service offering.

App Logo – It may sound like a small thing, but a high impact, professional looking thumbnail for the app, that communicates what the app does, will help catch the eye of the downloader browsing the app store. It may be that the icon needs to faithfully stay true to the corporate identity of the company you build the app for, but there may still be some room to be creative and make the icon jump off the screen.  There’s only seconds to get noticed, so make sure it right.

App Screenshots – It’s criminal just how little thought is given to what screenshots are used on the download page. Remember it’s not an installation guide, it’s an advert for what the app does. So make sure you use the biggest wow screens. Even better if those wow screens communicate the value of the app. This is your app shop window, so make it look cool, real cool with some great screenshots that are good quality, not pixelated and well cropped.

App Publisher – This could be you, to help you promote the great apps you build for clients, or if your client as a range of apps it’s important that these are all described consistently so they can be searched and other apps from the same clients business can be easily found.

Last and most important is targets. What does the app owner need to achieve. Sure they want to be top on all their most important key words. But actually that’s not what they really need. Its best to be highly ranked for a few highly relevant key words (get them to select 1 or 2 at outset) than to try to boil the ocean at the get go.

Run Phase

So you now have all the key elements in place, you’ve carefully selected your primary and secondary categories, you have an awesome description, your app thumbnail jumps off the screen. You’re set to go.

You have all the benchmark targets agreed, the analytics set up and the report formats all branded up in your livery.

Review Phase

When you review (how soon after launch) and how often you review (probably monthly) depends on a few things, but mainly volume. If you are getting good numbers of downloads, then its important to review more frequently. If volumes are falling short, way short, then its good to get ahead of the problem and figure out what needs to change.

It’s important (and to your advantage) to know that this isn’t a one off task, it’s a constant cycle of measure, analyze and change. So something that needs to be worked on constantly, and you need to be paid to do of course. This is one of the reasons why it’s a great service to offer on retainer and build that highly valuable recurring revenue from mobile app projects.

Here you need to provide your app owner client with an easy to read, and action based, probably monthly report. Make sure it’s in your brand, so it’s your name they see and not that of any tools you may be using.

Most importantly agree actions and changes and if necessary reset any targets and expectations. No matter how good you were at estimating download volumes you’re almost certainly going to be , the mark in the first few months. What’s important there is you are proactive and showing your clients that you are on top of any remedial action that’s needed. But don’t be overly optimistic, remember that ASO can be slow burn. It’ll take a few weeks to make the changes and resubmit to the store to change any listing information.

Here are a few of key things to include in your monthly review

Downloads and updates – so not just the new downloads, but also those that are updating the app each time a new version is pushed through the store. Regular updates have a huge impact on how you rank so regular updates are important.

Search Rankings – show this both for the primary key words the app needs to rank for and against the apps key competitors. This is best shown in line graph format so you can see the search rank positions change over time. You’ll of course show this for each store the app is in.

Reviews and ratings – have you had any, are you rating 4* plus. Again big impact on how you rank in search so tracking the star rank and numbers of ratings is important. Recommend a push campaign to gather more ratings regularly, look to see if ratings are improving or worsening with different app versions or different platforms.

Demographic profiles – What platforms and stores are performing best. If you have apps both Apple and Google store you can compare and contrast the performance of both.  What’s the download growth profile like for each platform? What are the install rates and updates rates like per platform, geography, country etc.

The precise mix of services you include here will depend largely on the success criteria set for the app at outset.

Refine Phase

To continually improve the performance of your download programs you need to continually optimize how they are performing against the pre-defined targets agreed with your clients. Having a clear and reasonable view of what “good” looks like is essential so you can set the agenda for what needs improved.

And then the monthly cycle resets and your mobile app store optimization as a service offering repeats Run, Review, Refine in perpetuity.  You get to regularly meet with your client, review the performance of the app, discuss and plan the changes you need to make and be in the best position possible to up-sell to the full stack of app optimization services and any follow on app builds.

Still not convinced, well…

Its a great way to add additional high value services along side your mobile app build project. What’s more, you can of course easily offer it to mobile apps you didn’t build. So it’s an awesome customer acquisition tool to help you win new customers from other app developers.

Further, that blade cuts both ways. The real question is, can you afford not to offer it.  If you don’t offer it to your app clients and another app developer does then you risk losing the client.  So in short, you can’t afford not to offer this, if you’re serious about building a growing app agency.

Convinced you need to do this, but don’t know how. No problem.

We know it’s one thing knowing you need to offer something new, it’s another thing making it happen when you’re crazy busy just with the day to day. So we try that bit harder to make it easy for you. You can join our classes and learn from others, you can even ask us to do it for a while until you’ve got the time and have the skills to run it yourself. It’s your call.

If you want help to deliver your own App Store Optimization services then check out Kumulos ASO. If you want help getting going we have a range of “Kick-Start” Services to help you,  contact us today to ask to see how we can help.