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Effective online marketing requires a willingness to peek behind the curtain of the internet. I was always one to jump at the chance of seeing how exactly things work, from movie magic to my dad’s transistor radio to the algorithms that make the world online.
While the creativity of app marketing is what pulled me toward it in the first place, this inner-circle knowledge is what kept me coming back. If your journey is just starting, or you want to level up your results, let me take you on a little tour behind the scenes.
Let’s look at what ASO is, and how mastering it can make you the most powerful app in all of Oz.
What is ASO?
ASO stands for App Store Optimization, and is a vital skill for any developer or marketer who wants their app to stand out from the crowd. At its core, ASO is about understanding the algorithms that push an app to the top of the app store, and using that knowledge to make an impact.
There’s a lot that goes into making your app listing algorithm-ready, but a few of the most important factors include:
- Keyword Optimization - Choosing relevant and popular words to describe your app so searchers can find it
- Title and Description - A short and catchy name combined with a brief summary that helps to attract users and show them why your app is the best around
- Icon and Screenshots - The first thing people see when they find your app. Some sneak peaks of what to expect once they download
- Ratings and Reviews - A report card for your app, showing users if it’s worth downloading. This is one of the biggest deciding factors for many people
- Localization - Adapting your app to different languages and cultures so that it can reach and engage a wider audience
Each of these factors works together to get your app in front of people, and ultimately convince them to click “download”.
ASO vs SEO
It’s tempting to lump ASO together with Search Engine Optimization (SEO) as their goals are so similar. However, because of the specific algorithms you’re trying to impress, these two skills can be very different.
- Platform - SEO focuses on improving website rankings on search engines like Google, whereas ASO focuses on boosting app rankings on app stores like Apple App Store and Google Play Store
- Key Factors - SEO considers various factors such as website content, meta tags, backlinks, site structure, and user experience. ASO, on the other hand, takes into account app title, description, keywords, ratings, and reviews
- Searcher Intent - SEO targets users searching for information or solutions, while ASO targets users specifically looking for apps to download or install
- KPIs - SEO experts focus on website traffic, click-through rates, bounce rates and conversion, while ASO experts are concerned with app downloads, install rates, retention rates, and user reviews
Although they have similar overall goals of improving visibility and rankings, these skills require different tactics and approaches for success.
Why Is ASO Important?
A rookie mistake is assuming that your app is so good that you don’t need to worry about complex issues like ASO.
I know and you know that your app is spectacular, and as soon as people get in on their phones, they’ll be thrilled. But if they can’t find your app, they aren’t going to download it.
There are several reasons why ASO has become a vital part of any app’s launch. Here are just a few.
- Increasing Competition in App Stores - Every single day, roughly 1188 apps are uploaded to the Apple App Store alone. Your app can quickly be buried under this mountain of content
- Enhanced User Experience and Engagement - When people find your app from a specific search, and know what to expect before downloading, they are far more likely to be happy and excited about it
- Cost-Effective Marketing - Compared to paid ads or other marketing strategies, ASO is a cost-effective way to promote your app and attract organic users
- Long Term Results - Unlike other forms of marketing, ASO has a lasting impact on your app’s visibility and ranking in app store search results
If your app is going to have any shot at success, you’ll need to invest time into optimization.
Best Practices for ASO
So you know what ASO is, and why you should be concerned with it, but how exactly can you ensure your app store listing is ready to go? There are lots of tricks of the trade, but these are some of my favourites.
Tip One: Do Your Research
If you've spent any time looking into SEO, you know that keyword research is the basis for any successful campaign. ASO is no different.
People are still searching for apps on the store using anything from “kids games” to “fitness”. But randomly stuffing your description with words you think might chart is going to do more harm than good.
Take the time to research what words are getting searched for the most, especially within your niche, and find ways to organically include them in your app title and description.
Users can tell when you’re keyword stuffing, and they’re far more likely to trust an app that’s described in a normal, human way.
Tip Two: Make it Pretty
We’re all a little sick of hearing “don’t judge a book by its cover” because we know inherently that the cover of a book can show us a lot about its contents.
Your users are looking for a professional, well-made app. They want to know that you and your team care about the product you’re putting out into the world. And ultimately, when they’re scrolling through the endless list of options, they need something to catch their eye.
Investing in a strong design for your app icon, screenshots, and video preview is an easy way to instill confidence in casual browsers when they come across your app. Bright, cohesive colors, clear iconography, and exciting teasers all work together to make your app stand out.
Tip Three: Ratings and Reviews
Positive ratings are like the double-edged sword of successful ASO. Not only does a higher rating make the algorithm like you, it also convinces people your app is worth their time.
There are lots of ways to boost this rating, and a lot of it comes down to reminding and incentivizing your audience to leave a positive review.
- In-App Pop-Ups - Sometimes simply asking for a review is enough! Make it as easy for people as possible, and prompt them after a win
- Incentives - Offer rewards or bonuses for leaving a review
- Engage with Negative Feedback - Everyone has an off day. Try to be understanding and helpfully solve the user’s problems. This could turn a negative review into a positive one
Whatever you do, make sure the reviews you get are genuine. If people only leave reviews to get rewards, they won’t have much of substance to say and your conversion rate will go down.
Tip Four: Always Be Improving
One aspect of the app store that is often overlooked is that browsers can see the latest update for an app, and what your team improved. If you’re regularly updating and improving the app, make sure to highlight that in the description or let users know in the “What’s New” section.
This not only shows that your team is dedicated to continually making the app better, but it also lets users know that it’s worth their time to download and try out. When you take the concerns of your user base seriously, they are far more likely to leave positive reviews and tell their friends about your app.
It also helps with your app’s ranking, as regular updates are seen as a positive sign by app store algorithms.
ASO Essential Tools
You can’t improve what you aren’t paying attention to. As you work to optimize your app’s findability, it’s vital that you keep track of what’s working.
Depending on which storefront you’re using, this means having the right app to track KPIs.
- Google Play Console - Provides insights into app performance, user acquisition, and engagement metrics from the Google Play Store. You can also conduct A/B testing and monitor reviews and ratings
- Apple App Store Connect - Shows app analytics, user engagement data, and performance metrics on iOS. You can also monitor reviews and respond to customer feedback
These tools are key to understanding what changes are making a difference for your ASO.
The Bottom Line
Behind the curtain of every successful app is a little help from the algorithm. It may seem like a fickle overlord, but there are clear, actionable ways to take charge and make it reflect how amazing your app truly is.
If you take the time to understand what makes app stores tick, you’ll find that the magic was within you all along!
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