Apps have fast become a powerful way to interact with customers in real-time. They’re also a great marketing channel that can win you high LTV (life-time value) customers. However, to get these and more benefits of having an app for your B2B brand, you must ensure your app is easily visible on major app stores.

You need to implement a robust app store optimization strategy (ASO).

A bar graph showing the number of apps in app stores.
Number of apps available in leading app stores as of March 2022

This is where app store optimization comes in.

What exactly is ASO?

App store optimization is the practice of improving the quality and quantity of traffic to your app from app stores. It focuses on improving the visibility of your app and increasing click through rates (CTR). 

Effective ASO requires a deep understanding of your target audience. This includes the keywords they use to find similar apps and the intent behind the search (search intent). This data will help you fine-tune your app store optimization strategy to grow your user base.

And no, you can’t use your SaaS SEO strategy for your app store optimization. The environments are different and require different strategies.

Should I Care About ASO to Grow My App?

If you build a fantastic app that scratches a real itch, you’ll enjoy a gazillion downloads, right?

A big fat NO!

Remember, over 5 million apps compete on the two biggest app stores. Many of them are your direct and indirect competitors.

No matter how great your app is, you still need to care about app store optimization.

Why?

I’ve already mentioned the visibility and CTR aspects. But there are more reasons why ASO should be an integral part of your app marketing strategy. 

Also, while different app stores have different environments, the basic optimization strategies work on all of them. Implementing them will benefit you in many ways, with some of them being:

Long-Lasting Results 

One of the most important reasons for investing in ASO is that it gives you a competitive advantage. Sure, you can use paid means to boost your user acquisition (UA). However, once you run out of advertising budget, that’s it — the traffic to your site stops flowing.

On the other hand, with app store optimization, you can reap the advantages forever. 

Lower Acquisition Costs

Because ASO leads to searchers finding your app organically, it helps reduce your user acquisition costs. Getting your ASO right results in you relying less on paid campaigns. FYI, research shows that the average app install cost per Facebook Ad is about $3.50. That’s a pretty high customer acquisition cost (CAC)!

While paid ads are essential, they should only supplement your organic reach. Especially since studies show that 90% of global app installs are organic.

Helps You Tap Into the Largest Distribution Channel for Apps

Another reason to focus on ASO is that app stores are the largest app distribution channel. Research shows that over 70% of mobile users utilize the search function in app stores to find new apps. In addition, the same study reveals that over 65% of app downloads occur immediately after a search on an app store. 

What does this all mean?

App store optimization is crucial to reaching your market and increasing your user base. 

Improves Retention Rates  

One of the biggest challenges plaguing mobile marketers is the rapid decline in app retention rates. However, despite retention rates being poor, research shows that the retention rates for organic installs are 25% higher than that of non-organic installs.

9 App Store Optimization Best Practices to Get You Started

Because apps are a powerful SaaS marketing tool, most businesses rush to create an app. Of course, this results in the competition becoming stiffer. While SaaS SEO can help you promote your business on the web, you’ll need strategic app store optimization to rank on the different app stores you list your site on.

Here are some app store optimization best practices to help you get started:

1. Optimize Differently for Different App Stores

Different app stores have different environments. That’s why one of the first steps to effective ASO is to know what each environment requires and optimize your app accordingly. 

For instance, certain factors that are a priority on Google’s Play Store aren’t necessarily a vital ASO factor on the Apple App Store. So, if you want your app to rank well in both stores, you have to study these differences. 

Let’s briefly look at an example, screenshots. On the Apple App Store, the screenshot gallery takes up about 60% of the screen on any device.

A preview of the app store.

On the other, screenshots only take up about 25% of the screen on the Google Play Store. 

A preview of the app store.

This means the way you optimize your screenshots is different for each platform. 

2. Set Up Analytics Tracking Between the App Store and Website

One of the most crucial steps to effective app store optimization is setting up analytics tracking between the app store and your website. The main reason for this is that it helps you see your ASO’s performance. As a result, you can better hone in on elements that need more tweaking.

Examples of analytics tools you can use include Data.ai (formerly AppAnnie), App Radar, and others.

3. Conduct Keyword Research and Use Them Properly

Keyword research plays a huge role in ASO across all app stores. However, the way they’re handled is different. For example, the Apple App Store only allows you to include up to 100 characters of keywords within the keyword field. On the other hand, Google Play Store indexes keywords within all content elements.

A screenshot of installs per keyword as it relates to app store optimization.

How do you choose the right keywords to use?

  • Use an app store optimization tool: Tools like keywordtool.io, AppTweak, and many others are excellent tools that give you specific keywords app store searchers use in their queries.
  • Understand search intent: Don’t just focus on keywords that drive traffic. Instead, focus on those with high intent and relevance as they convert better.

The right keywords can help you easily reach your target audience and drive downloads on every app store.

4. Perform Competitor Analysis

Another essential aspect of ASO you mustn’t neglect is competitor analysis. Your competitors are a wealth of information and data for your app store optimization.

Competitive analysis is the practice of monitoring apps that are similar to yours or those that target similar keywords. Doing so enables you to glean insights into their app marketing approach. Some elements of competitor research to focus on include:

  • Identify your competitors
  • Study their creative assets
  • Note the keywords they use

Competitor analysis will also help you identify and highlight your unique value proposition (UVP). Doing so enables you to leverage your competitive edge. 

5. Craft Irresistible App Titles and Descriptions

Your app title is the first thing searchers see. So take time to craft one that speaks to your target audience. 

A screenshot of QuickBooks' app.

If possible, include your keyword in your app title. Also, make sure it clearly explains what your app does. This requires strong copywriting chops as you’re usually limited to 30 characters.

Besides the title, your app description is another element of copy you need to craft carefully. Your description should clearly sell your app’s benefits and describe what your app does. All this must be done using engaging and compelling language.

6. Design an Eye-catching App Icon

Another eye-catching element you must focus on as part of your ASO strategy is app icon optimization.

An eye catching app icon.

Your icon is a critical part of app store optimization because it is the visual representation of your app. With so many apps appearing on the results pages, you want to ensure that your icon stands out to users. 

This is where you need to think like your customers and design an icon that appeals to your target audience. One way of doing this is designing different icons and A/B testing them. You can even poll your target audience on social media.

Besides a design that pops, another way to optimize your icon is to design it to portray the main topic of your app. This helps users immediately identify the purpose of your app just by looking at the icon.

7. Encourage Users to Leave Reviews

Reviews and ratings are a major app store ranking factor on every app store. Besides boosting your app’s ranking, they’re also a strong trust signal that helps boost your conversion rates. 

A screenshot of an app store review.

While you don’t have total control over this, you can try to encourage users to leave a review. Timing is everything when asking for reviews, as it impacts how users respond. The best time to ask for a review is when users reach a certain milestone or achieve a goal using your app.

As reviews come in, don’t get discouraged by negative ones. You can still leverage them by responding to user concerns and improving your app. Doing this also shows users that you care about them and value the experience they get from your app.

8. Build Relevant, High-quality Backlinks

When optimizing for Google Play Store, backlinks are an essential ASO factor to consider. This is because Google sees backlinks as a vote of confidence that the entity being linked to (in this case, your app) is trustworthy and satisfies user intent.

For backlinks to be effective, they must be from a high DA site and a topically relevant page. A few ways to build backlinks to your app include:

Leverage every opportunity you can to build backlinks to your app. Not only does it help with ASO on Google Play Store, but it also helps drive awareness. This will lead to more downloads, reviews and, ultimately, better ranking.

Use High-quality Screenshots and Videos

Screenshots and videos are an excellent way to enable users to experience your app before downloading it. Using high-quality ones is a great way to increase engagement and encourage downloads. It’s also vital to gain users with high LTV (lifetime value).

A screenshot of the QuickBooks app.

Here are a few tips to consider for image ASO:

  • Only use images from your app
  • Use a storyboard to drive engagement
  • Optimize images for speed and clarity
  • Keep your videos short (15-30 seconds)

All your visual assets should help tell a story and position your app as the hero in the user’s story. 

9. Don’t Over-optimize

As much as you may want to optimize your app for visibility and conversions, don’t fall into the trap of over-optimizing. One reason for this is that over-optimization can lead to you being penalized. It can also lead to a poor experience for users, leading to them ignoring your app.

3 Examples of Apps Winning on App Stores (For Your Inspiration)

Now that we’ve looked at the importance of app store optimization and how you can implement best practices, let’s briefly look at some examples for inspiration.

Todoist

Todoist is a fantastic productivity app that helps users organize their personal and professional lives.

Todoist in the app store.

A couple of things the brand does well with the ASO include:

  • Proper use of keywords in the title
  • Meeting search intent in the title
  • Creating a screenshot gallery that walks the user through the main aspects of the app
  • Crafting a compelling description that leverages social proof

With many people looking for apps to help them stay organized, it’s no surprise that Todoist is one of the most downloaded on the Google Play Store.

Canva

Canva is a graphics design that promises users the easiest way to create eye-catching graphics for any project.

A screenshot of Canva.

What can we pick from Canva’s ASO strategy?

  • Let your product do the talking: Canva uses stunning visuals that reflect the power of the tool and what you can achieve with the app.
  • Craft benefit-driven descriptions: Canvas description is all about the user and what they get. This helps drive conversions.
  • Simple icon: The simplicity of the icon is a masterpiece. Cluttered and noisy icons cause brain freeze, which, in turn, puts searchers off.

OnePage CRM

OnePage CRM is a cloud-based sales customer relationship management (CRM) solution designed to help small businesses manage their leads and sales better.

A screenshot of the OnePageCRM, optimized in the app store.

Because describing what the app does can take a long time, OnePage decided to include a video on their app page. Not only does this drive engagement, but it’s also an excellent way to help prospects experience the app.

App Store Optimization — Driving Downloads and Boosting Revenue 

ASO is all about maximizing the impact of your app on app listings. Make sure your app appears in the right category and for the right keywords. But most importantly, design your listing to appeal to users. This is the perfect combination for high-converting apps. 

App store optimization is the key to driving downloads and boosting your revenue.

Need help with your ASO?

RevenueZen is a proven SaaS SEO agency, and we’ll help you craft and deploy an effective app store optimization strategy.

Ken “Magma” Marshall is the Chief Growth Officer and a Partner at RevenueZen. He’s been battling Google / obsessing over helping brands grow through sustainable SEO & content strategies for the last 7 years. Husband, coffee addict, recovering foodie, mini Australian shepherd puppy dad, and serial entrepreneur (mostly failures, lots of lessons).