Millions of people are spending more time on their mobile devices and inside mobile apps. Mobile apps are rapidly replacing websites as the digital hub for businesses and brands. But how do you get your target market finding and using your app?
For companies or brands with existing channels,like a morning TV show or a popular web service, acquiring mobile users starts with activating their current fans or users. Businesses without a TV air time or without large user bases like Pandora, Facebook or Twitter still usually have email lists and a website with visitors.
Promoting a new mobile app through these channels is essential, but fails to address the biggest source for new users – people searching for your services in the app stores.
App Factor #1: User Acquisition Channels
With the explosion of mobile app usage comes an increasing competition for users. The most popular channels for acquiring mobile app users are app store search and advertising.
For all but the very biggest mobile apps, advertising spend is allocated to a paid install campaign, on a cost per install (CPI) basis. Between an increased competition for mobile users, and non-mobile brands competing for mobile ad inventory, CPI costs have skyrocketed over the last 36 months.
According to the mobile advertising platform Fiksu, the cost of acquiring a loyal user (a user who opens the app at least three times) has risen from $1.13 in September of 2012 to $4.14 for September 2015.
Because both Google Play and Apple include downloads and download velocity in their app store rankings, CPI campaigns are also used in “burst” campaigns. The goal being to “buy” a burst of installs to rise up the charts and hopefully acquire users organically due to increased visibility. Buying enough traffic to hit the top 100 or so in the US app stores would require investing $50,000 k per day on a CPI burst campaign in hopes of acquiring organic traffic.
Image Source: App Developer Magazine
App Factor #2: Achieving Visibility In the App Stores
The number one source of app discovery and app installs is app store search. More users find apps to address their immediate needs by opening the Apple App Store or Google Play and searching. When a user enters a search, the results and rankings are largely determined by:
- The app store listing and its relevance to the search
- App performance metrics including conversion from search, downloads and ratings
Building a strategy for creating and managing an app listing for visibility and conversion is called app store optimization or ASO.
An app listing optimized for visibility and conversion from relevant traffic signals to Apple and Google that your app is a good result for a given search. Combined with the resulting increase in downloads and ratings, your app will start to climb the rankings for those search results.An optimized app provides a defendable, long-term position in the app stores for traffic from your target audience.
Image Source: wiredprworks
App Factor #3: How To Optimize An App Listing
Our data tells us that people are searching the app stores for features using two to three word phrases. The app stores are huge, with each store each housing over 1.5 million apps. Vague or short searches result in irrelevant results, so we have been trained to be specific when searching.
By identifying your app’s most essential and differentiating features, you get an idea of how your target market is likely to find your app in the app stores. It is important to understand not only how you would describe important features, but how your target audience would describe and search for them.
If you are serious about organic app store traffic, ASO and the ROI of acquiring organic app store users, working with an app store intelligence platform specifically designed for app store optimization is recommended.
With a list of relevant phrases, we can now start to build our app store listing. Apple and Google Play have different app listing fields, but there are some similarities.
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Both have an app name or title. This is the best place for your most important features or targeted phrases. Apple provides a space of 255 characters for a title while Google only allows 30 characters. Choose your app’s core features for the title – Your title is one of the first things a user will see. If you list what they’re looking for, they will be more inclined to click through to your full app listing.
Apple has a private/hidden keyword field limited to 100 characters that is used to help Apple understand what keywords the publishers thinks the app is relevant to. Break phrases into words, and separated by commas without spaces and remove duplicate words. For example, if we had a features list as follows:
- cheap flights
- airline deals
- discount vacations
- travel deals
- discount airfare
We would build the keyword field as follows:
Apple would then index this app listing for searches including “cheap airline”, “discount travel” and several other combinations. Together with the keywords used in the app name, a “keyword matrix” is created and indexed by Apple.
Google is similar but instead uses the publicly visible fields of short and full description instead of a private keywords field for determining how to index your app. Google Play’s indexation process uses the description; Highlight the your apps’ key features using the phrases people would be looking for.
There is much more to building and executing an on-going app store optimization strategy that delivers results. Optimizing an app listing is only the beginning of a long-term ASO process, but it is also the start of organically gaining more and more traffic in the app stores.
For more on strategies, best practices and tactics to avoid – download our whitepaper here.
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About the Author
Dave Bell is the Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Gummicube. In this role, Dave is responsible for overseeing the business strategy for the company, driving growth and market development. Dave is a pioneer of the mobile entertainment industry with more than 15 years of experience publishing, marketing and distributing mobile applications and games across carrier, direct to consumer and app store channels.