App Monetization Part 2 – Growing Awareness with App Store Optimisation

It’s vital to consider how you will market your app on the App Store or Play Store. You could develop the most useful app ever created with superb UX, but without driving awareness to your app, very few people outside of your company will experience it. These are the steps you need to consider when it comes to getting your app seen and encouraging users to download and engage with it:

Benchmark your competitors

As part of identifying the keywords you want to optimise for, make sure you look at the apps that are currently ranking high for them because those are the ones you’ll have to beat to increase your rank. In addition to keywords, stores use downloads, ratings, and ranks, to rank apps for a specific keyword.

Create a benchmark of the apps you want to beat by keeping track of their downloads, ratings, and ranks. You can look at ranks and ratings by browsing the store directly or using a tool. The app needs to have at least 40k downloads and rank in the top 100 to break into the top 3 that someone will see when they search for a keyword. 

Use keywords in the app’s name. Apple and Google give a lot of weight to keywords that appear in the app’s name when deciding where to rank the app. This is something you can test to determine which phrases or keywords are best. 

Use keywords in your app’s long description. (Google Play only). Google reads and indexes app descriptions to decide where to rank your app (similar to how SEO works). The long description can be up to 4,000 characters long so you can take advantage of that, repeating and varying keywords at least five times each throughout the description. 

Actively increase your ratings. The number of times the app has been rated has a direct correlation with its rank in search results. You can actively increase the ratings by asking users to rate the app. 

Optimise your keyword list. (Apple only). Apple lets you indicate which keywords the app should rank in. The list is limited to 100 characters, so do your best to use each and every character. Use single words separated by a comma and eliminate all spaces. Don’t enter full search terms, spaces, or your app’s name or category.

Once the traffic has increased you need to convert it

Design a simple and clear icon. The icon is the first visual people see about the app and is a great opportunity to capture their attention before it drifts to a competitor. Use your icon as a way to convey what the app is all about quickly. Icons that don’t pack too much detail, have contrasting colours, and relate to the app’s functionality or the brand attract and keep attention.

Use colour to make your screenshots exciting. The screenshots are the largest visuals on the App Store page and draw attention very quickly. This is a great opportunity for us to show your app’s UI and keep the viewer excited about downloading the app. To make the screenshots pop, put them on a coloured background. Doing that will put the focus on the app and the features that are being shown. See examples below:

Use video to show your app in action. This is a great way to take someone from not knowing anything about your app, to knowing the highlights very quickly. Some developers choose to just show the app, while others create a marketing video with captions and music. Which works better will depend on your audience, but the important part is to show off the app. 

Bonus: Google Play uses YouTube to serve app preview videos, which means your video will also be visible to billions of people directly on YouTube. Even better, every video view in Google Play counts towards your views on YouTube.

If you begin this process you need to constantly iterate and improve. When your app is new it will perform better, competing in a more niche space to get relevant traffic to your app more frequently within the app store. Then as your app matures, gets more downloads and ratings, it is imperative to re-assess and tweak your keywords to increase traffic volume. You will now be able to start competing in this space as your app score will have increased and this process will probably never stop.

Once you’ve converted users, you need to keep them engaged

Controversially, user interface (UI) can be deprioritised when developing certain apps. This is different for each app and depends heavily on the reward your app offers to the users. If this reward is of significant benefit users will engage with the app regardless. However if the rewards are minimal, UI is critical to retain your user base. We would never recommend ignoring your UI but sometimes it is better to release your app if your offering is good and then continually improve your UI as the app develops throughout its life cycle. 

Your UI will never be perfect, no matter what the investment, and you need to make sure this doesn’t hold you back from releasing your app. Different people will always react differently to your UI, so you need to do your best to make it satisfactory for the majority. There will always be someone who thinks it should be done differently and the same goes for your designers.

Another great and tempting way to keep users engaged with your app while making some money is using “offerwalls” which we discussed in our last blog, please go and read more about that here.