ASO in 2022: Best practices for metadata, creatives, and optimizing for conversions
In our latest guest blog, Dave Bell, Co-Founder & CEO of the App Store Optimization and mobile marketing company Gummicube, explains the importance of App Store Optimization (ASO), how it works, and how mobile marketers and developers can employ the metadata and creative strategies needed to get it right.
With increasing competition and massive industry changes, developers need to find new ways to optimize their app and empower their App Store Optimization (ASO) strategy. However, ASO is also not a one-and-done solution to organic success — it’s a process that leverages brand strength while improving visibility and conversion over a longer period of time. By following the ASO best practices we outline below, developers can more effectively enact an ASO strategy that works for them both short and long haul.
What is App Store Optimization?
ASO is the process in which an app can rank for relevant keywords, increasing potential for downloads from a more relevant audience. This process involves the optimization of both metadata and creative app store assets.
For metadata optimization, ASO serves to increase visibility and discoverability through relevant keyword indexation. Apple reports that 70% of all organic downloads come from the search bar. With such high stakes, developers must actively pursue a metadata strategy that captures user intent and maintains visibility for their core target audience.
As for creative optimization, this process in ASO is linked directly to user conversion. Unlike metadata assets, creative assets do not get included in the indexation process. This is true for both Google Play and the App Store. So, all creative assets like app icons, screenshots, feature videos and graphics serve to engage, inform, and convert the user.
ASO - Metadata best practices
Selecting the right keywords to target is imperative to metadata optimization success, so how can a developer actively capture the user at the search bar?
1. Ensure all app metadata assets are fully utilized
Often, developers forgo crucial opportunities to optimize their metadata assets on the app store. Conversely, many developers are simply unaware that some of their metadata assets are being underutilized – forgoing title tags, longer and more keyword-friendly subtitles/short descriptions, and other metadata assets.
Understanding which metadata assets play a role in indexation and visibility is one of the first steps in employing an ASO metadata strategy that is more effective at capturing users, what they search for and how they search for it. To maximize visibility potential, developers should utilize all of their available metadata assets for prime indexation opportunities.
2. Be mindful of indexation processes between app stores
Depending on the app store platform, there are variances in where and how indexation takes place. For Apple’s App Store, metadata indexation takes place in the title, subtitle, and keyword bank, and Apple strings together keywords and phrases from these areas to create the terms used in indexation. For the Google Play Store, indexation is based on the title, short description, and full description, and Google “crawls” through all of these metadata assets to gather relevant terms and phrases an app could potentially rank for.
Using the same keyword metadata strategy for both app store platforms may result in lackluster visibility growth, as indexation fields processes vary drastically across these platforms. Knowing where and how indexation takes place across both app store platforms is essential. Without it, developers could be missing out on opportunities to increase discoverability.
3. Update and Iterate
The process of ASO is not a one-and-done deal. As we mentioned before, ASO allows developers to create an organic growth strategy that enables them to boost visibility, discoverability, and conversion rates. With changing user trends and increased competition, metadata assets should never remain stagnant.
Through iterative practices including seasonality updates, developers can actively maintain and improve their visibility and discoverability on the app stores. These processes include updating targeted keywords in light of search trend changes and altering metadata terminology to capture specific features or events. These practices are fundamental in maintaining and conveying relevancy to users and app store algorithms.
ASO: Creative best practices
Creative assets speak directly to users and are responsible for the final conversion, so how can developers ensure that their creatives are effective?
1. Convey your design with purpose
Creative assets serve to inform, engage, and convert a user, and there are crucial questions all developers should ask themselves when designing their app store creatives:
What do I want to convey to the user?
What do I want the user to feel?
What does the user expect to find?
All creative assets across both app stores need to convey overall app value, branding, reliability, and relevance to the user — all at once. Since creatives speak to your users in multiple ways, it’s important for all creative elements to demonstrate these efficiently. If implemented effectively, your creative assets can spark a connection with your audience and ultimately convince the user to download.
2. Take Full Advantage of A/B Testing
With the rollout of Apple’s native A/B testing platform as part of iOS 15 and Google Play’s long-running A/B testing platform, developers can test which creative assets generate the best conversion results. However, there are limitations to these platforms that only show developers a fragment of their potential.
For example, Apple’s A/B testing platform only lets you test screenshots, promo text, and icons. On Google Play, developers are limited to icon, screenshot, video, feature graphic, and localized description testing. Despite these limitations, A/B testing allows app developers to more thoroughly understand what creative elements drive conversion. By taking advantage of these crucial creative optimization resources, developers can arm themselves with a creative ASO strategy that maintains and sustains conversion rates through trend and User Interface (UI) adaptation.
Overall: Follow the best practices, test, and adapt
ASO is a continuous process of refinement and adaptation to the trends and shifts that affect app store performance. Yet, making a lasting impression in the eyes of users is no easy feat. While notoriety and valuable app features surely help in increasing visibility on an app store, relying on them alone results in missed opportunities to reach a bigger target audience. By following these ASO best practices, developers can take full advantage of what their ASO strategy can do for their organic results, and how it can even work hand in hand with paid efforts for fully optimized success.