Mobile marketing is evolving nearly as fast as the massive global shift from traditional media (TV, radio, print) to the web. Now it’s the web to mobile and mobile apps.

A big part of taking advantage of this shift to mobile is identifying and communicating with your audience in the mobile app stores.

  • What features are they searching for?
  • How do they refer to those features (“photo book” vs “photo album”)
  • What other apps are they searching for?

The strategy for positioning a mobile app for discovery and conversion in the mobile app stores is called App Store Optimization, or ASO.

ASO is an ongoing process of managing and measuring an app’s app store listing so that the app shows in the search results of relevant searches, and then is downloaded by target users.

The app store listing elements includes app metadata such as the app name or title, the description, a keywords field for Apple and a short description field for Google Play.

In addition, design elements are part of every app store listing, and have a significant impact on conversion from an app listing view to an install.

These design elements include the app icon, the screenshots and an optional short video.

The following provides a high-level strategy for how to approach each element of your app listing.

App Title

Your App Title tells the user in a few seconds what you app does.

This may be the most important piece of ASO, for both ranking in search results, and converting users once they have viewed the app. If a user can’t tell what your app does by reading your title, they will likely select an app from the results that is clearly solving their problem.

Apple provides 255 characters for your app’s title, while Google Play only 30 characters.

Use the space provided to clearly describe to the user what the app does.

The recommended approach for Apple listings is “App Name – keyword rich tagline”. pic 1

It may be tempting to “keyword stuff” your app title in Apple. It is not uncommon, however; for Apple to simply reject a title they feel is too spammy. Mobile app store users are familiar with the types of apps that have spammy titles and will likely steer clear.

Google recommends “brand name + key function”. pic 2

App Keywords (Apple only)

The keywords field is an area of the ap listing that is not viewable in the app store listing. It is essentially a hidden field where an app publisher can help Apple better understand what this is app and who it is for.

The keyword field is limited to 100 characters, including commas.

Apple will index an app for its search results based in large part on the words and phrases in the app title and keywords field.

The combination of these two fields creates a “keyword matrix” – with the goal being to identify keywords that build the most possible relevant phrases.

Picking the best keywords requires understanding your market, your competitors and popular search phrases.

As expected in today’s fast moving world, these all change regularly. Managing keyword selection and positioning for an app can be a full time job.

Keyword planners are great tools – but remember they use data from Google Web Search and not App Store Search. Be sure to incorporate real data from mobile marketing data companies inside the App Store when identifying target keywords and phrases for the optimal keyword matrix.

App Description

A potential user viewing an app description means the user is curious and are considering downloading the app.

Concisely describe what your app does (features/benefits) and include a strong call to action before the fold.

For app store listings in Google Play, the short and full app descriptions serve as both the keywords field (for indexing) and place to describe features, functions and why a potential user should install the app.

App Creatives

Marketers have about 3-5 seconds to capture a user’s interest as they glance through the list of apps in their search results.

App Icons

The app’s icon is the only creative element displayed in search results, as screenshots and videos are part of the complete app listing page.

A good analogy to help convey the purpose and importance of a strong app icon is cereal boxes in a grocery store. One side on an isle, 4-5 shelves high, with cereal boxes vying for your attention saying “pick me!”. That’s the app icon in the app stores.

App Screenshots and Videos

If a potential user is viewing an app’s screenshots, it generally means the app appeared in a relevant search result, and the user selected the app out of the other choices to see more information.

Screenshots provide a great opportunity to show off the app’s best features.

These are not the features marketing or development are most proud of. These are the features that relevant users are searching for according to mobile app store data.

Many successful apps use images of their target market using the app in context to deepen the connection with their target audience.

Using the Right Data

Because the way the market searches the app store on mobile devices is different from how they search the web, mobile app store data is critical to reaching your target audience.

How is your target audience searching the app stores?

Because app store search still drives more than 60{71b550cbed0aca3fea2335d26076176dc834a5ad6e765af844b2cea64fe7483b} of app installs, positioning an app for discovery by a relevant audience can be the key, long-term driver of mobile app installs. App Store Optimization is never a one-time solution to finding your audience; finding the right company to work with will help you find your audience will help your app in the long run.

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