The app market is one of the most competitive spaces in the world. It’s crowded and growing more crowded every day. A great way to increase long-term exposure is app store optimization.
App store optimization, or ASO, can be defined as the ongoing process of testing and measuring updates to app store marketing assets, with the goal of increasing visibility and driving more downloads.
We’ll walk you through the basics. For a step-by-step guide, check out App Annie’s ASO Playbook.
Prepare your app for discoverability
ASO can be divided into two areas, discoverability and conversion. The first step is to get noticed in an app store, and that begins with your category. Where you categorize your app should take into account where you’ll be most competitive as well as where you can attract the most relevant users.
For the Amazon Appstore, you need to choose one category and one subtype. The goal is to select a relevant category, but also choose one that gives you an opportunity to stand out.
Monitor competitors to find the best keywords
Entering keywords is optional on the Amazon Appstore, but it helps people find your app. You’ll want to identify which keywords are being searched, aren’t highly competitive, and will help improve your rank.
Finding strong keywords means closely monitoring competitors. By analyzing how a competitor ranks for a specific keyword, you can strategically select keywords to help your app rank higher. You can also take advantage of seasonality to capitalize on consumer interest. For example, the ad companion app Retale capitalized on “Black Friday 2016” keyword searches by taking a big chance with their naming strategy. Many apps added some form of the phrase “Black Friday” to their app name and description during this time, but Retale removed the name “Retale” entirely. On November 5, they changed their name to “Ads & Deals: Black Friday 2016,” and then a few days later to “Black Friday 2016: Ads & Deals.” The strategy paid off, as they shot up in rankings.
Make a compelling case for users to convert
First impressions count, especially when it comes to convincing someone to download an app. Potential users will glance at your app store icon, screenshots and the ratings and reviews. If they like what they see, chances are they’ll install. Here’s how to optimize those assets.
App icon: keep it simple and scalable
Your app icon is the first visual element people see when they view an app store listing. Complex icons can be difficult to distinguish on smaller devices, so keep it simple.
Design for scalability, as well, and try to give a nod to the action in your app, like in this example from the mobile game Color Switch. The design allows it to look good on any device, and the icon is tied to elements of gameplay.
Chances are, your first app icon designs won’t be the final ones. It’s crucial to continuously test new designs to identify the ones that attract high-quality users.
App screenshots: tell a strong story
Your first screenshots can have an enormous impact on discovery. On the Amazon Appstore, publishers can submit anywhere from three to 10 screenshots. Make sure the first two work the hardest to engage your audience since those are the most visible.
Using captions can also help drive downloads. For example, the game Mobile Strike combines eye-catching characters and short, impactful text to quickly communicate its core features.
Some app publishers use short videos to put potential users directly into the action. Video will take more of your budget, so make sure it includes a direct call to action.
As with an app icon, app screenshots are an ideal asset to use in A/B testing. Test, tweak and re-test for success. (Review App Annie’s tips on using screenshots for ASO.)
Ratings and reviews: make them work for you
High ratings and reviews can lead to more organic downloads, so it’s important to encourage good feedback. One way to do this is to prompt users for reviews during great moments in the app. This could happen after they’ve reached a new level in gameplay or accomplished a task.
Of course, negative reviews will always exist, so it is important to have a strategy in place to resolve known issues. And the quicker you can respond, the happier users will be.
It’s also important to monitor ratings and reviews across different app stores from your own. Then you can use what worked in Google Play, for example, to inform your update in the Amazon Appstore.
Successful ASO is constantly evolving
When a majority of downloads come from search, you’ll need to monitor, test continually and evolve your ASO strategy to get the best results. There is no “set it and forget it” approach that will work.
Choosing the best keywords to boost discoverability is only half the battle. Once a user is on your app page, you still need to drive downloads. Assets like icons, screenshots, ratings and reviews are crucial to communicating your app’s value proposition. Keep testing, tweaking, and learning. Good luck!