ASO Tip #5 – The Importance of Reviews & Ratings

ASO Tip #5 - Ratings and Reviews

Welcome back to the last of our 5-part series of App Store Optimization (ASO) tips.

The goal of this series was to help app publishers and developers with a critical part in the app ecosystem: the app store product page. So far we have covered off improving your name; looked at how important it was to get your icon right; reviewed what to do to improve your screenshots; and, last week, revealed the secret formula to writing a successful product description.

This week we focus our last tip on the importance of reviews and ratings especially as it relates to discovery and downloads.

We all know how important customer feedback is. Comments and ratings provides invaluable information direct from the consumers of our applications. This is obvious a great source of learnings which can be taken back to influence the application’s product roadmap whether its through a bug fix or feature enhancement.

What might not be well known is how important ratings and reviews factor into discovery and download of your app.

From a Discovery perspective: ratings and reviews are considered as metadata for search and can even help to categorize your app in search results according to news which broke this week on TechCrunch on possible enhancements Apple is making from their recent acquisition of Chomp, a leading app search engine, which uses customer feedback to influence discovery. If this is true, then gaining reviews becomes key for app publishers not only to get valuable feedback but also to ensure that their page is rich with keywords which can help them be found in search results.

From a Download perspective: ratings and reviews could mean the difference of a potential user downloading your app over a direct competitors – especially in list view on the device. We covered how important it was to stand out from the crowd with a great name and especially a killer icon. Well those little stars that get lit up when you get a rating and the numbers that grow when reviews are written are another way for your app to get noticed. If there is an app in the list that is similar to yours and you have stars (any stars) and more reviews, you are much more likely to be the one that is tapped on to continue forward and downloaded. Of course, when you start to be compared to others that also have many reviews and ratings, the importance of what your star rating and how many positive reviews you have become a factor.

So what to do? How do you get reviews and ratings? Here are a couple of ideas to get you started

  • Ask for them! Have a call to action to “Rate and Review Our App” on your product description, in your marketing materials, your emails and newsletters, your social networks – wherever it makes sense
  • Use pop-up notification reminders in your app to ask for active users to give their feedback
  • Build a resident area in your app, like in your menu, which prompts users to rate and review
  • Hold contests and promotions to gather feedback leveraging your social networks and databases

We hope you have enjoyed the ASO (App Store Optimization) Series. Please feel free to reach out to us directly at info@app-promo.com if you have any questions or keep the conversation going on our Twitter account @AppPromo.

 

ASO Tip #4 – The Secret Product Description Formula

App Store Writers BlockWelcome back to the ASO (App Store Optimization) article series.

We have covered so far in this series ensuring that your name and image assets: icon and screenshots are working hard to sell your app within the app store environment. Today we tackle the product page element which usually takes the most time to complete and because of this work effort is often left untapped – the product description.

App stores provide developers and app publishers with 4000 characters to tell potential downloaders in words what their app is all about. Since often marketing copy is not there forte, we find app descriptions with a few lines, incorrectly focused on providing support and FAQ or even left blank.

Product descriptions are powerful marketing opportunities for two reasons:

  1. They spell out what your app is and why the consumer should download it (in this way they are the word counterpart to your screenshots). A great product description will convince users who have tapped onto your app for more information to download.
  2. Descriptions, if done correctly, will also be keyword rich making them a powerful tool for search engine results helping fuel additional discovery.

So why do app publishers often resort to not utilizing this area properly? Bottom line is that they are often overwhelmed and don’t know how to begin writing it. In essence they get app store writers block.

To help you move past this block and to ensure that your app description is written to maximize conversions and search discovery, we break down our secret formula.

  • Start with your Elevator pitch – what is this app and why should the user download it (USP/Benefit)
  • Move into reconfirming your price or use this area for price promotions
  • Highlight ratings/reviews/awards/press – keep this area updated as you receive these
  • List Features make sure to include all core features and avoid being too technical
  • Wrap up with a final sentence which reconfirms why the consumer should download the app
  • Provide additional contact points – links to your Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and your website
  • Remind users to rate and review your app

Download our Cannes Lions 2012 Workshop “The Secrets of Being a No. 1 App”

A big thank you to the Cannes Lions festival organizers and the 250 workshop participants who joined us today in learning The Secrets of Being a No. 1 App. We are extremely pleased with the attendance and are happy to see such a positive response from the creative community after participating in our sessions today.

Our workshop took participants through a series of exercises focusing on the topics of:

  • App Store Optimization
  • App Marketing
  • App Monetization

The goal of the workshop was to teach participants tactics and techniques to help them better market and monetize their applications.

DOWNLOAD THE PRESENTATION: For those of you who were unable to attend or for those that attended and would like a copy, you can download the slides to our presentation in PDF format by clicking on this link: The Secrets of Being a No. 1 App.

We welcome feedback! Contact us and let us know your thoughts? Interested in App Promo performing this workshop at your event, contact us to discuss.

ASO Tip #3 – Screenshots Sell Your App

Welcome back to the App Store Optimization Series (ASO).

In this series we are focused on better positioning your app within the app store environment to increase the saleability and discovery of your app which will ultimately help you succeed. We’ve covered improvements on your app name and tips to better your app icon and in today’s post we will tackle selling with screenshots.

Like your app icon which is another illustrative asset on your product page, your screenshots go along way in telling prospective downloaders what your app is all about, even moreso than what you explain in words in your product description.

Here are 3 things you should be considering when creating your screenshots to ensure you are representing your app in the best way possible to help it gain downloads.

1. Start by showing the “meat” of your app

If your app is a game, start with a screenshot of game play. If its a recipe selector, start with a screenshot showing how a recipe is selected. Whatever your app is, your first screenshot should focus on the “meat” or the core action the app has to offer. Often times prospective downloaders scroll to the bottom of the page to review screenshots and don’t bother to scroll left and right to see more than what the few that are immediately available leaving your first screenshot with the heavy burden to depict your app in one still image enough to get the consumer interested. Don’t waste this opportunity with a settings page, a splash or title page or a shot of your app that doesn’t resonate what your app is all about.

2. Use High Quality Images

Work with your design team to use the original design assets to create screenshots using the correct aspect ratio and sizes dictated by the particular app store your are submitting to. Stretched, low quality, fuzzy screenshots will degrade the impact these selling assets have on your product page and may ultimately detract from the download.

3. Give some context to your screenshots

You don’t have to just use a screenshot still from your app. Use this opportunity to layer on some marketing copy and branding on the image before submitting. Adding short, impactful phrases which put the screenshot in context are extremely beneficial and go along way to communicating to users what your app is all about. Additional branding elements like brand colors, game characters or fonts also reinforce the style and flare of your product to the user adding a professional and polished look to your shots.

Here are some great screenshots from our client, City King, which we worked with them to apply ASO tips to maximize their effectiveness in the app store.

City King Screenshot  City King Screenshot

App Discovery a Focus at WWDC 2012

WWDC Apple Developer Conference 2012WWDC brought a lot of great advancements both on the hardware and the software side for all of the Apple products this year. Apple announced the much rumoured iOS6 which brought us a new app, Passbook, which aggregates boarding passes, store cards, movie passes and more and also unveiled a new Map app no longer utilizing Google Maps but instead proprietary to Apple.

As experts in App Marketing and Discovery, what peaked our interest the most from this year’s developer conference was a key focus on improved app discovery tools which were being rolled out to developers to help their apps gain better traction in the marketplace.

Two major enhancements in particular brought app discovery to the forefront.

1. Facebook Integration

Last year we saw iOS5 bring Twitter integration to the iPhone. This year it was Facebook’s turn. Integrating Facebook at the operating system level will dramatically increase usage with Facebook as was proven with Twitter since iOS5 launch. According to Apple at WWDC, since October, users who adopted iOS 5 sent more than 10 billion tweets, they comprised more than 47 percent of all photos uploaded to the site, and Twitter’s adoption rate on iOS grew more than three times in the latest iOS update.

Outside of Facebook use on the device, Apple made a point of highlighting that the App Store will too be updated with Facebook integration. Users will be able to recommend, like and share apps directly from the App Store to their Facebook page and their friends feeds. This update will increase the virality of applications and will go a long way in spreading word on apps that are worthy to mention to your networks.

2. Smart App Banners

Probably the most important update related to app marketing and discovery was in Safari which will identify mobile sites that also have an app and show a Smart App Banner which will either send the user directly to the App Store to download the app or link directly into an app that is already downloaded. In this way, users who weren’t aware that their favorite mobile destination has an app will more prominently be sold on this product if available.

 

E3: 3 Things We Took Back From This Years Show

E3Another E3 is over. We are back from LA and are still processing everything that happened at this infamous gaming industry show. From software to hardware, mobile and consoles there was a lot to take in this year but one thing is for sure – the gaming space is growing and thriving.

Here are THREE things that caught our eye at this year’s event.

1. Playing the Odds with Mobile Gaming

We talked to a number of gaming companies and found that there is a definitive emphasis on developing games for mobile platforms. What we heard was that due to the cost effectiveness of developing for mobile versus traditional consoles and because of the more immediate measurable reaction to the games – gaming companies are developing and launching a large number of games for mobile in order to test out what works and what doesn’t in the marketplace. Mobile’s low cost of entry compared to consoles and its fast and efficient distribution system to reach the market has made it the perfect sandbox to figure out which game is a winner with users for gaming companies something not available with the traditional console.

2. Ubiquity of Gaming and Emphasis on a Second Screen

There was definitely a common focus by the top game publishers – Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony, on ways to play games anywhere you are with on any screen. Microsoft Xbox’s SmartGlass exemplified this the most with their app which allows Xbox users to take the game they are playing on their TV and transfer it to any smartphone or tablet that is in front of them. The app can do the same for other entertainment like movies or TV that you are watching on the Xbox. Users can pause anything they are doing on the Xbox and resume on a tablet and smartphone freeing the user up to continue the experience anywhere they want to go. IGN did a great recap of SmartGlass in their article which covered Microsoft’s announcement at E3 which you can read here.

3. New Gaming Console Hardware from Nintendo

With most of the emphasis at the show on software whether it be actual games or gaming console applications, Nintendo’s new next generation Wii U console stood out as one of the very few newsmakers on the hardware side of things. Where Microsoft took the approach of making any tablet or smartphone be a second screen using software/app, Nintendo created their own physical second screen with the Wii U GamePad controller. A great infographic summary was published by Nintendo Wii U Facebook on there new product highlighting among many things the GamePad’s motion sensors and the consoles IBM Power-based multi-core processor.

 

ASO Tip #2 – An Icon is Worth a Thousand Words

App Store Optimization Tip #2 - Icon

Welcome Back to our App Store Optimization (ASO) series.

Last week we took a look at how to improve discoverablity of your app by using keywords in your app name. This week we will focus on another key branding element of your app, your icon.

As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. The impact of your icon, being an image or picture, is extremely powerful. In many ways, your app icon is even more important than your name is as it is the first thing a user will notice in the list of applications and is often the element of your app branding that is most remembered by a potential downloader. This shouldn’t come as a surprise seeing how much real estate and prominence app icons get both in the store and on device.

Your app icon is like the packaging for your app. It is there to catch people’s attention and communicate in seconds what your app is all about. Its in those seconds that a potential user will make their decision as to whether or not they will want to download or pay for your application.

In our experience a potential user is factoring in the following when they look through a list of app icons to decide their next download:

Design: Is the icon overcomplicated or crowded? Is there text or an image that is hard to make out. Your app icon is pretty small so don’t try to fit the entire app in it. Avoid just using a screenshot and if you have a long title don’t even bother trying to squeeze that in. Work with a graphic designer to create an eye appealing icon that is easy to read and even more importantly recall.

Color: Are the colors of the app appropriate for the genre or subject of the app? Do they stand out from the crowd? Are they too dark and bland? Choosing the right colors is just as important as the right design. You want to make sure that your app stands out from the crowd while not selecting colors that take your app too far out of the genre norm.

Quality: Is the icon fuzzy? Are the images pixelated? Are the colors faded? A poor quality app icon can make or break a decision against you and your competitors. Take the extra time to create high definition icons that are crystal clear and meet the specs of the devices that are out there. Keep this updated as screens improve. It will go a long way to selling your application.

Context: What is this app all about? Does this icon make sense to the user in context to the category they are in and in reference to the name that you have given it? Often times users make their decision right at the list view so you will not have the chance to explain yourself like you can when they hit the product description. You will want to make sure that your app icon relates to the core features of your app so that there is no confusion what this app is all about.

 

 

3 App Discovery Points Every Android App Publisher Must Know

Android App Discovery PointsWhere fragmentation is an app publishers worst nightmare on the technology side with various hardware and operating systems, it becomes a powerful opportunity for app discovery with more than one distribution center available for publishers to use to aid them in their mission to gain app sales.

Google Play is a give-in but to really take your app to the next level you need to be looking outside this store to maximize your reach. Three discovery points every Android app publisher must have on their radar at this point are: Amazon, Facebook and YouTube. We’ve broken down what you need to know about each of these discovery powerhouses including the reason why your app needs to be there.

Amazon AppStore for Android

Launched back in March of last year, Amazon’s AppStore for Android now has over 25,000 applications in their inventory according to their February 2012 report by leading app store analytics company Distimo. This may be quite small compared to the 400,000+ apps in Google Play but this app store  packs a punch when it comes to making money for developers. The same report concluded that out of the top 110 apps that appear both in Google Play and in the Amazon AppStore for Android, 42 of them make more money on Amazon then they did in Google Play.

If you are a paid application then Amazon is definitely the place for you. Distimo said that paid apps in the Amazon AppStore made up over 68% of all apps in this marketplace while in Google Play this percentage is 38% and dropping.

Revenue may be easier to gain in this store because, like iTunes, Amazon is a well known and trusted online/mobile shopping destination. With books, clothing, furniture, music and more in the same location as applications, the Amazon store is sure to attract a large audience who are already connected to purchase anything Amazon recommends to them

Facebook App Center

The most recent app store to be announced by a large industry player, Facebook threw their hat into the ring of mobile applications May of this year. Although this store isn’t ready for primetime, we urge that any app that has Facebook Connect or uses Facebook APIs prepare for its unveiling by creating an App Detail page and Submitting Your App.

With over 800 million active users according to Facebook itself, this app distribution center is expected to have a lot of eyeballs when it launches and with over 10.5 billion minutes spent on Facebook online only (this doesn’t even include mobile) this is one opportunity that you don’t want to miss out on for your app.

Facebook’s App Center will be well equipped to serve your app well. It will even support paid applications to help earn you revenue and it was recently unveiled that it will handle the tricky part of getting the app to your phone with their streamlined app install and launch experience via  “Send to Mobile” which will use Facebook notifications when you are on a desktop and find an app that you want to install on your device.

If you don’t have Facebook APIs running in your app and you have been thinking about it, now is a good time to prioritize this on your product roadmap. No word yet on when App Center is about to launch but word on the street says that it is soon.

YouTube

Although not an app store, YouTube, being the second largest search engine according to comScore, makes this discovery point extremely valuable to Android app users. We strongly suggest to all of our clients the creation of a 45-60 second marketing YouTube video for their application as part of their marketing collateral. Not only can you utilize this video as part of your product page within Google Play to enhance the saleability of your app; having this app live within the YouTube environment will allow app publishers to take advantage of the search results.

It is extremely important that any YouTube video you send live be well equipped with keywords and calls to action in order to maximize conversion of video views to downloads of your app. App publishers should maximize the use of the video title, description and tags by creating copy that is chock full of keywords geared towards search engine optimization.

In addition, a link to your app should always be evident in your description for all of your apps. Publishers should also utilize the Call-To-Action Overlay which YouTube makes available for your video which allows for a transparent ad unit to appear during viewing which can be used to illicit downloads of the app.

Above all else, however, your video should be high quality, engaging and relevant to your target user in order to be effective.

 

 

ASO Tip #1 – Use Keywords in Your App Name

App Store Optimization Tip 1 - App NameOne of the most popular services we provide at App Promo is ASO or App Store Optimization. Our App Store Optimization service includes a thorough review of how your app is positioned or will be positioned within the app store and recommendations on potential changes that would better serve your app within this environment to increase discovery and sales.

We have created a series of articles that break out 5 tips we have found to be most useful when it comes to optimizing your app within a storefront. This is the first post of the five. In this post, we will take a look at one of the critical marketing elements of your product in the app store – your App Name.

Your app name is at the core of your product brand. This along with your icon act like the cover of a book for your app. It is essential that your app name be creative, thoughtful, enticing and indicative of what your app does but often times app publishers forget that it is also critical that the name itself contains keywords which are core to your app.

The name of your app is one of the strongest areas search engines both within the store and outside the store online will use for search discovery. For this reason, it is important to think about what your user will search for when they are looking for your app and consider using some of these keywords in your name. If your app is an Apple Puzzle game that be sure to use Apple or Puzzle in your app name somewhere, for example.

In addition, as mobile app store users make most of their download decisions within the list of apps they scroll through on their device, it is essential to grab their attention with your name. Using keywords which accurately and succinctly describe what your app is all about will help users understand in the a small amount of time what your app is all about and will help increase downloads but more importantly qualified downloads of your app.

Here are some TIPS when selecting a name which is optimized to market your app using keywords:

  1. Select a name that has something to do with the core offerings of your app – don’t be afraid to state the obvious here
  2. Be creative but don’t sacrifice clarity for cleverness (again a spade can be a spade)
  3. Identify keywords for your app by thinking like a user and figuring out what they would search for and include some of these keywords in your name
  4. Look to your direct competitors to understand the format and keywords used in their app titles to learn from those around you
  5. Utilize a two part name separated by a dash or a colon to free up room to use keywords e.g. Monkey Madness – Kids Puzzle Fun

Look for the next post in this App Store Optimization article series next week at www.app-promo.com.

App Discovery a Key Focus at Mobile Web & Apps World – CTIA 2012

It was definitely a sign that the app space has matured as the focus of this year’s Mobile Web and Apps World 2012, of which we participated this year at CTIA, had more to do about the business of applications than APIs, tools and technology. And even the APIs that were discussed at the session were mainly focusing on making money as was the case with Mastercard’s overview of their OpenAPI payment platform for use by the developer community.

With an agenda full of presentations and panels on monetization, marketing &  advertising strategies it was a chock full day of what to do to succeed with an app both in terms of discover and revenue.

Discussions kicked off with a SuperSession on Marketing & Monetization of Apps led by Josh Rochlin of Xtify with panel members Ted Verani from Trilibis, Dan Lowden from Digby, Derek Ting from Enflick and our very own Gary Yentin from App Promo. The panel discussed costs, discovery, revenue challenges and ended discussing the recurring  argument of HTML5 web apps and mobile web and which is better or will win the “war”.

Fisku, a mobile marketing firm focusing mainly on media buying for apps, reviewed the top 5 Mobile App Marketing Super Practices including the importance of working with multiple traffic sources and the need for real-time tracking.  Mobile leaders, Poynt and AirPush ads, talked about mobile ad strategies that they see being effective in the marketplace. And Urban Airship, Bottle Rocket Apps and MTV formed an afternoon panel led by consultant, Chetan Sharma to discuss media consumption strategies on mobile stressing mostly the importance of a strategy to keep users engaged and using apps including the use of push notifications.

Of course, we here at App Promo, are truly excited to see such a flurry of conversation and focus on the business of applications and we expect that forums like this will continue to grow as more and more app publishers are looking to make a true business out of the products they have in market. Congrats and a big thank you to Larry Lockhart at NextVision Media for putting this session together to add the conversation at this years CTIA.

Check out coverage of MWA 2012 at CTIA in Wireless Week: http://www.wirelessweek.com/News/2012/05/CTIA-making-money-mobile-web-apps/

 

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