Tag: aso

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!

App Icon Design: How to Do it Right

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Choosing the right icon for your client’s app in Apple’s App Store and the Google Play Store may seem like a very tiny job among the many others involved in developing and launching an app, but it’s actually extremely important. Not only is an app’s icon one of the key elements of a user’s first impression, it’s also how they’ll (hopefully) interact with the app in the future on a (hopefully) regular basis!

If you’re in any doubt as to the important of app icon design, have a think about some of the apps you regularly use personally; The chances are there are one or two you just never seem to be able to find on the screen of your smartphone or tablet, despite flicking back and forth and feeling sure you knew where it was before? If so, it’s more than likely that the app in question has a poorly designed and unmemorable icon. Not to mention the fact that there’s not a lot of point into pouring resources into App Store Optimization if you’ve got an app icon design that’s going to drive away users in the first place.

Still unconvinced that iconography’s important? If so, also consider the fact that anecdotal evidence suggests that icon issues are one of the most common reasons for Apple App Store rejections. Icons that are unclear or look too much like something else won’t get into the store in the first place. This part of app development is not one to take shortcuts on.

With all of that in mind, here are five things to consider when designing icons for your client’s apps:

Limit your colors

Look at the icons for some of the most popular apps in use today. With some notable exceptions (Slack and Just Eat spring to mind) the vast majority use only two or occasionally three colors. (It is, however, fair to say that game apps are something of an exception to this rule).

That said, Netflix, Fitbit and Groupon all use just two colors for their icons, as do most of Apple’s native apps. The reason for this is that this simple design works best for “everyday apps.” While it is possible to make an icon with more colors work, it’s a very difficult task. Were it easy or wise, the market-leaders would be doing it.

Prioritize simplicity and clarity

Following on from the above, it’s fair to say less is more when it comes to designing app icons. If you want a few case studies for this, take a look at the icons for Facebook, Twitter and Spotify. All are bold and simple, instantly recognizable and (returning briefly to the previous point) only use two colors! Icons are about brand recognition and familiarity. They are not the place to make a try to illustrate features or attempt to say too much.

On this subject, they’re also rarely a place you’ll want to put text. Although some market leaders do this it is an exception to the rule, and usually when a brand’s logo is already extremely well-established (BBC News is a good example here). Broadly speaking, text in icons looks squashed and messy – and is best avoided.

Look at the icon in all sizes

Your client’s app icons will show up in all kinds of places, and in all kinds of sizes. App stores can use different sizes depending on whether you’re on a desktop, tablet or smartphone. Then once the app is downloaded sizes can differ too. As such, it’s no use having an icon that’s clear and eye-catching when it’s large but jumbled when it’s small. Nor is it any use having the reverse scenario when the small icon looks just right but the larger version looks pixelated and amateurish. Truly good icon design will work in all the relevant sizes.

Consider different devices and configurations

The different devices your app icon will appear on are highly relevant too. Does the icon look good on a budget Android device as well as the latest “Retina” style display? How about in “low light” modes, against a plain black or white background, or against the plethora of colors that may be part of a photo a user has chosen to use as their device’s wallpaper? Suddenly designing the perfect icon doesn’t seem so simple any more once you take all these things into account. This is all the more reason to give this task the dedicated attention it deserves.

Don’t copy!

Now it’s clear just how much is involved in creating the perfect icon, the temptation may be to have a thorough look at what’s already out there with a view to “imitating” something that works. Don’t succumb to this temptation. For starters, if you come too close to plagiarizing someone else’s design you run the risk of App Store rejection (or worse). You also risk giving potential customers a poor perception of your business ethics. Worst of all, however, it means you’ve not invested the time to find the perfect distinctive iconography for your app, which will hopefully be something thousands of people eventually tap on daily.

You will find a useful Q and A on App Store iconography here on the Apple Developer website.

How to Pick the Right App Store Keywords

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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.

Top Five App Store Mistakes to Avoid

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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

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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.