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Jul 26 2021
ASO is vital for maintaining the app’s relevancy for target keywords. With an average of 63% of installs coming by way of search; ASO is the foundation of an effective user acquisition strategy across every category in the App Store.
Users often try to problem-solve when they search.
We know these are high intent users because they’re already in the App Store. We know that they are savvy at navigating around the App Store and do so at lightning speed. For example, your screenshots/video will get about 3 seconds to tell a compelling visual story and convince a user to download. So, optimizing creative is also an essential part of ASO.
With projected revenue of $2B in 2020 from Apple Paid Search, (ASA), it’s indisputable that app publishers are allocating significant budgets for these campaigns. Factor in the number of apps in the App Store, rule, and it’s clear that some of these individual budgets are huge. Armed with this knowledge, for the majority of publishers, the objective can’t be to outspend the competition, but rather to outsmart, or “out-optimize” them!
As with any lofty goal, to be successful requires a plan. The following are some key objectives to fold into the mix when developing an ASA strategy.
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50% of all searches in the App Store have a brand term in them.
Be proactive with anything newsy about your product or organization. React swiftly to awards, launches and trends in the marketplace; especially if what’s trending is a pain point that your product can solve.
To expand reach and acquire new users.
Align images with keywords associated w/trends, doing so increases the likelihood it will resonate with your audience and positively impact conversion.
Target the same high volume and relevant organic terms w/ASA.
ASA campaigns are agile and highly effective at scaling acquisition efforts, but there is a downside. Bids can, and often do get too costly for high volume keywords. Even if the tolerance for a high cost per install is there; budgets exhaust quickly.
When this happens, an app needs to rank organically for highly relevant, high volume search terms. Otherwise, the app is vulnerable to competitors who are eager to capitalize on a strong/popular brand that has taken a herculean effort and many resources to build.
Search Ads are effective at driving highly relevant installs, but that’s not all. There are two additional benefits of using Apple Search Ads when it comes to organic App Store Optimization (ASO):
In research we conducted, 83% of respondents in the advanced ASO community use ASA for driving their organic ASO strategy It’s used by experts, but before working with us, not one of AppAgent’s clients did so.
This demonstrates to us that not everyone is aware of how to effectively use Apple Search Ads. So, within this blog, we will share with you several app store optimization best practice processes that you can use with Apple Search Ads on iOS.
We will also cover how to use keyword volume estimator (popularity score), to provide useful metrics that you can use to analyze and understand the relevance of keywords for your mobile app; how to measure the value of each keyword; and how to test app videos and app screenshots with ASA.
Compared to Android, App Store Optimization on iOS is easier because the algorithm is less advanced. The ultimate goal for keyword optimization is to use the most searched for, relevant and least competitive keywords in your app title, subtitle and keyword field. It’s essential that you create as many combinations from these keywords you can to target long-tail phrases. (You can read more about how this works this in a previous post)
For that purpose, at AppAgent we combine data from ASO tools like Apptweak with the search traffic information available in Apple Search Ads – where search volume is represented by a blue bar, on a scale from 0 to 100, that measures the traffic for each specific word.
You question why we don’t use the popularity score available in ASO tools. We have discovered that, from time to time, the value differs – making the data unreliable. As a result, we prefer to invest extra effort in double checking the volume in Search Ads.
The great thing about Apple Search Ads is that you can use the Search Match function to identify new keywords. With Search Match on, your ad is automatically matched to new search terms based on the metadata from your App Store listing, information about similar apps in the same genre, and other available search data.
The ability to check the relevance of keywords is where Apple Search Ads proves invaluable. Within just a few hours you can fully understand which keywords to optimize in your ASO efforts simply by running a small test campaign to collect data. By analyzing the Tap Through Rate (similar to Click Through Rate on the web), the conversion rate in the store, and the actual number of downloads you can begin to develop a more effective ASO strategy. Also, you can explore LTV per keyword using an attribution tool for campaigns analysis.
ASA can help you narrow down your ASO strategy, but it’s not a goldmine. ASO is a long-term strategy and your goal should be to constantly increase organic downloads. A key learning point is look at ASA data from a longer perspective so you can see the true trend and performance of each keyword.
Earlier this year Apple introduced Creative Sets which can be used – to some extent – for A/B testing your store listing. These are basically fake HTML App Store landing pages, after which the user is redirected to the real store, for A/B testing.
The Creative Set is limited and only allows you to test app previews and screenshots. You’re unable to test app icons, promotional text or app descriptions. The number of A/B tests you can do isn’t limited, but all assets which you want to test must be submitted with a new version of the app in the App Store Connect and pass the review process. This means that all submitted assets will be visible in the store to any user visiting the app page, so beware!
Also, screenshots and app previews are not testable on brand keywords as Apple only delivers the text version for 99% of times. So in other words, you could test new creative set only for generic and competition terms.
Once you pass the review process you can use approved assets in your Search Ads Ad Group, where you can monitor the performance of different groups. The order in which you upload assets is fixed and you can’t change them for the purposes of an A/B test. After the test is completed, low performing assets could be removed again from the store page in the App Store Connect.
Personally, I would highly recommend testing your app preview videos using Apple Search Ads Creative Sets. App previews on iOS are such a big deal when it comes to the impact on conversion rates that you need the most accurate data when A/B testing them.
We have found that 3rd party services are unable to match the lightning-fast video playback speed users experience on the App Store. Any delay in the loading time on a fake HTML page would have a major impact on user behaviour, and negatively impact the result of the A/B test.
That’s all for today. I hope that you have found some interesting information that will be useful for your mobile marketing efforts. If you would like to be the first to receive new articles and updates from AppAgent then don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter.
Successful mobile app marketing, and namely app store performance, requires a holistic approach covering all bases. The collaboration between the ASA and ASO team is particularly crucial: it can either help or damage organic visibility. If managed correctly, it will provide a fuller understanding of an app’s performance. Another constructive tactic would be to push keywords with high CVR in ASA to help increase the app’s CVR and measure the effect on its organic performance. However, it’s important to recognize that if not managed carefully ASA can have a negative effect on organic performance.
ASA is just one of the many tools that factors into a successful ASO strategy, including helping to direct higher quality and converting traffic to your app.
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