In the early days of the App Stores mobile marketing had a relatively simple formula, which consisted mostly of buying installs to get visibility in one of the major charts in Apple’s App Store or Google Play. An entire industry of first generation analytics tools emerged to help developers understand how many downloads it would take (and how much one would have to spend) to win coveted chart position. As happens with all industries, the world of “apps” has grown up and is now a much more mature market – requiring very different marketing strategies to succeed.
Follow the Consumer
App Store Optimization (ASO) is the evolution of mobile marketing. One of the key goals of ASO is to improve your app visibility and increase organic downloads coming from search within the global app stores. As of 2015, nearly 70% of all app downloads come from search inside the app stores. That means that every other marketing channel fits into that other relatively small slice of the pie. The consumer shift to search based discovery mirrors what happened on the web in the mid 90’s as users moved away from directory based discovery (like Yahoo!) and toward search based discovery (like Google).
This shift to search in mobile is happening for almost the same reasons as the shift that happened two decades ago on the web. Consumers are fed up. Unable to find anything valuable or interesting on the charts due to the chart manipulation occurring as a result of early mobile marketing techniques, consumers started to search for more interesting apps. In a survey conducted by Gummicube that included 1,000+ respondents, more than 60% felt that the apps on charts never change while 75% report being unable to find “relevant content” in a category listing.
When examining search data from the past 12 months in the app stores, Gummicube was able to identify category titles such as “rpg games” emerging as top search terms. This further reinforces the consumer preference to review search results even when presented with a curated category in the app stores.
What ASO Really Means for the Industry
To understand what App Store Optimization means for the mobile industry, one needs to just look towards the web as a parallel. Nearly all of the data that marketers use to target advertising campaigns, understand their audience and research consumer demand has its underpinnings in search data. Imagine running an advertising campaign online and choosing your call to action at random, or worse targeting keywords for a website without understanding your relevance for those keywords. This is the kind of black box that mobile marketers have faced.
ASO vs. SEO
App Store Optimization is similar in principal to SEO for the web. You want to rank organically for keywords that have volume and, in order to do this; it is necessary to structure your metadata so that you have a chance of appearing when users search for your target terms. For better or worse, that is where the similarities to web SEO end and there are many important differences:
- Metadata: The metadata you target for ASO is different for each app store, including declared keywords, title, short description & long description
- Algorithm: The search algorithms across Apple’s App Store and Google Play are not similar, each requiring their own unique set of metadata
- Reviews: User reviews are extremely important – the words and phrases can act as “likes” or “upvotes” for what your app really does
- Engagement: We have observed that the app stores (particularly Google Play) look at engagement from downloads. That means incentivized download campaigns may hurt more than they help.
- Click Through: If you want to rise up the search ranks, people have to click through and download your app more than the competition.
- Data: Web search data is not the same as mobile search data. You can’t use Google Trends or the Keyword Planner as a stand in for real mobile data.
The last point above about data is perhaps the most salient, because there is a lack of transparency in where most sources get their data. In almost all cases, simple keyword tools source at least a portion of their data from Google’s web API’s. This means concepts like competition, difficulty and volume don’t always reflect real activity in the app stores.
Gummicube recently released exclusive data as part of a focused study on the differences between web and mobile keywords and search patterns. Our researchers found that there is almost zero overlap in search terms and trending search topics in the App Store. We found that search semantics (the words users type into the search box) and search intent are very different across both platforms.
One conspicuous thing not on the list above is downloads – or download velocity. While overall downloads can play a role in modern mobile marketing, search is a channel where relevance matters far more than the number of installs that you have in a given day. This is because your relevance, click through, installs and perhaps even engagement is measured keyword by keyword. While marketing that nets 100,000 installs in a single day may make you seem popular on a chart, it doesn’t tell the app stores why you should be relevant for a specific search term.
Modern Mobile Marketing
Marketing in general is becoming a much more data driven process and the information that can be gathered from well-executed App Store Optimization is its foundation. Whether you are an app developer, a startup or a Fortune 500 organization this is the data that tells you about your core audience and their preferences. It validates your assumptions about demand and also helps you understand how to have the best converting marketing strategy across all channels.
Gummicube is a recognized leader in providing software and services for mobile marketing and App Store Optimization. Top global app developers and marketers use Gummicube’s DATACUBE mobile marketing platform and full service App Store Optimization program to find their audience in the App Stores. Read more mobile marketing tips at Gummicube’s blog or contact us
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