Memos covering software and technology.

App Store Optimization (ASO): The Ultimate Guide to Getting Your App Noticed

App store optimization (ASO) helps drive downloads and new signups. Here are a few ways to get your app noticed.

App Store Optimization (ASO): The Ultimate Guide to Getting Your App Noticed
Photo by Rami Al-zayat / Unsplash

Inbound marketing has changed the way that companies behave online forever. Instead of targeting an audience across multiple mobile marketing channels with advertisements and marketing messages, inbound marketing is bringing those customers to you organically.

This same concept can be applied to ASO, or app store optimization. With the millions of applications available between Apple’s App Store and Google’s Play Store, it’s difficult to stand out among the crowd. When you’re preparing your app to be listed in the app stores, it’s important to remember that, although digital, you are designing a product to sit on a store shelf.

In order to get users to download your app, you need to draw them over to your shelf to pick up your product and take a closer look. In physical brick and mortar stores, marketers design product packaging to do just this. However, unlike physical stores, browsing for a product is less common than searching for it, in fact, 63 percent of app downloads are a result of a search. In the digital app store, optimizing your app’s listing will increase the likelihood that users will find it and download it.

Here are five ways to get your app noticed:

Deciding on a name

After investing resources into the development of a high-quality app, poor product packaging will make it less appealing to users. The first step to making your product more appealing to users is to decide on a name.

When deciding on a name for your app, not only do you want something simple and catchy, you need to pay attention to keywords, and you want a name that will intrigue someone into clicking on it. However, loading your app name with more than three or four keywords will actually hurt your rankings in the app store.

A great app name will also hint at its purpose. One example is the growing social network Snapchat. The genius in the name “Snapchat” is that it perfectly illustrates the purpose of the app: users communicating through snapshots.

Making a video preview

Using a video to show what your app can do is the best, most engaging way to get users excited about downloading your app. This is an incredibly valuable marketing tool and will either sway users towards or away from your app.

A poorly executed video is worse than no video at all. Even after checking all of the other ASO boxes, poorly thought out video can reverse the perception a user has of your app. Lucky for you, app videos take time, not money.

The video itself needs to showcase the best of what your app has to offer: the features that set it apart from the rest, and the overall purpose. Start by recording device footage of your app (which is easy and free), then write a voice-over script to match. Rather than relying on the text, you used to fill the description boxes, new content will better narrate what is happening on screen as well as add to the amount of information on your listing.

It’s helpful to add aspects to the video that are unique to your app, like sound effects, to make it more personal. Additionally, research your target audience and focus on the features that matter most to them.

Designing an icon

The app icon will be your greatest asset in driving clicks to your app’s listing, and the more clicks you get the higher your rank in the results. Canva can be a great tool for creating a quick and easy icon. Not only does the icon appear in the search results, it also shows on the app listing itself, along with screenshots, name, and rating.

These are the driving factors for whether or not a user will further explore or download your app. The icon needs to match the brand of your business, convey the purpose of the app, and be visually intriguing to grab the attention of the users.

When googling for the best practices in app design, you’ll find a few common themes: keep the design simple, use eye-catching colors, and avoid using words. While these are all true, they form a very vague image of what your app icon should look like.

What you need is an app icon that invokes a certain feeling for your user. In the case of the MyFitnessPal or RunKeeper icons, not only do they follow the above-mentioned rules, they both use an image of a person being active. This is perfect for the purposes of both of their apps, it plants the thought of staying active in the minds of their users.

Making use of the emotional factor is especially effective in driving game downloads. Take a look at two of the most popular mobile games, Clash of Clans and Game of War, both have an app icon showing a game character yelling. The success of the two games has caused others to follow suit with the “action mouth” icons.

Choosing your screenshots

Not only do app screenshots improve the rank of your app’s listing, but they are also the best way to shape how users will perceive your app. It may seem like a simple task to take a few screenshots of your app and upload them to your app page, however, it’s important to keep in mind that your screenshots are your best opportunity to display the app’s full capabilities.

It can be misleading to call these images screenshots because of the ability to overlay text and artwork to better show how the app works. While regular screenshots can show what your app does, screenshots with a text overlay can explain how your app works. This is important in shaping the perception users have of your app.

Another thing to keep in mind when optimizing your app’s screenshots is screen size. In the iOS app store, iPhones no longer come in one screen size. By only taking advantage of one screen size, users may be led to think your app has not been updated in some time. Similarly in the Google Play Store, screenshot sizes can be confusing considering the wide range of screen sizes in the Android world. Your best approach would be to either follow the guidelines published by Apple and Google or read our more detailed post about using screenshots in the app stores.

Getting reviews

The more often and positively reviewed your app is the higher it will be ranked in the results, it’s simple. What isn’t simple is getting those reviews, let alone positive ones. Online reputation management is key to any new app launch.

Having your app installed on a user’s device gives you a direct line of communication with them through push notifications. However, converting those push notifications into positive reviews is difficult.

One thing to keep in mind when asking for a user to review your app is timing. Reminding your users to review your app after sharing something from the app to social media or making it on to the next level of the game will increase the likelihood that they actually post the review in the first place as well as that it’s positive.

When you’re just getting started, finding users to review your app will be especially difficult. The number of reviews and overall rating of your app play a big role in whether or not someone will download it. To get the ball rolling, ask your friends, coworkers, and parents to post those first positive reviews.

Writing a description

When you’re writing the description for your app, it’s important to look at it not only from the users’ perspective but also from the ASO perspective. Not only do Apple and Google’s algorithms behave differently from how users might read your description, but they also differ from each other.

The description box looks like a great place to explain all of the functions of your app at length, however, you are limited to only a few lines before a user has to click “more” to expand the rest of the text.  Even though you may have a well-written and engaging description, users won’t read all of it unless you can get them to click that “more” button.

On the ASO side, Apple’s app store only takes into account the first few lines of your description when scanning through it. Meanwhile, Google’s Play store scans the description in its entirety.

Developing an app is costly and time-consuming. Fortunately, getting users to find your app doesn’t have to be. For more information about app store optimization, contact us today.

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