Sell Your App Through Screenshots

ASO 5-Part Series: Part 4 – Screenshots

Outside of your app icon, the most powerful visual element of your product page is your screenshots. People are more visual in nature and so when a user visits your product page or any other product property you have online (landing page, social network etc.) they will gravitate towards your icon and screenshots before reading any copy describing your app. Since this is the case, it is a missed opportunity if you are just taking random screenshots of your app and submitting them when you’re ready to go live. You must be strategic with the selection of your screenshots in order to maximize their effectiveness in your marketing.

The three most common mistakes that developers make with their screenshots are:

  • Not using all of the available screenshot spots provided by the app store
  • Using poor quality screenshots
  • Using screenshots of the app that don’t speak to functionality or features

To avoid making the first of these mistakes its simple. Use all available spots provided by the app store for your screenshots. Leaving any of these blank is a missed opportunity.

For the second issue, we recommend that you use the proper tools to take screenshots to avoid degradation in quality. More importantly, you shouldn’t be afraid to edit the screenshot to make it look as professional as possible – this includes removing the carrier and battery information if it is included. It is suggested that you use Photoshop or other photo editing tools to ensure that the file quality and image will represent your app well within the store. Also, we suggest that your screenshots are taken on the device that is being featured in the app store. Using mobile screenshots when the platform for your app is a tablet will just confuse users and may give them a reason to decide not to download.

Finally, it is extremely key to select screenshots that articulate what your app is all about. Many app developers select their title screen of their app as one of the screenshots and which is not the wisest choice. The title screen doesn’t show your app in action and this is what is going to convince the user to download. If your app is a calculator app – show the 5 key features and functions of that calculator – one in each screenshot, for example. The point is that users should be able to see what your app is all about in your screenshots. Selecting those that show your app in action will do the best job.

To make sure that users clearly understand what is being depicted in each screenshot, you can also update your screenshots with headlines, taglines or captions. To do this, you will need tools like Photoshop to create an overlay to add captions and even designs to your screenshots. Be sure to keep captions short and to the point – this is a great time to go back to your list of keywords you developed when creating your name. Although this is a great addition to your screenshots, remember that the focal point should still be your app in action so whatever is added should not detract from this.

In addition to adding captions to your screenshots, you can optimize their use by making sure that they are prioritized and displayed in the proper order.

Selecting the right screenshots is an important aspect of ASO. Like many of the ASO activities, you will benefit from improved screenshots both in and outside the app store and are one step closer to improving the success of your app.

App-Promo is proud to be Advertising Week Certified. See you in NYC- Sept 23-27, 2013


App-Promo is very proud to be selected as an exhibitor for Advertising Week 2013.  App-Promo will be exhibiting in the Mobile Showcase on Monday September 23rd, 2013 at the Times Centre in NYC. App-Promo also be attending the seminars and booking meetings for the week of Sept 23-27. Looking forward to meeting clients new and current as well as friends so please tweet out to us @Apppromo to book time with our team!

AWE_seal_exhibitor

The Power of An App Icon

ASO 5-Part Series: Part 3 – Icon 

If a picture is worth a thousand words then your app icon is worth more than any other asset for you mobile application. Your app icon is the most evident element of your branding both on the home screen of the users device and in the app store where they make the decision to download.

Users are making app purchase decisions based on icons similar to how they often judge a book by its cover. With mobile download behavior being very impulsive it is extremely important to be able to stand out from the crowd and convey as much about your app as possible in an instant.

How compelling and clear your app icon is for a user will help with conversion to download and may also play into the decision making process for a user to consider which app to open from the device home screen – impacting then both your downloads and usage.

It’s for this reason that App Store Optimization exercises tackle the quality and effectiveness of your app icon.

The first step is to look to your competitors. Go to the App Store and search for other apps similar to yours in the App Store. Take note of the colors, the design, the style and the characters or icons that they are using and make a list of these to inspire your deisgn.

It’s best to keep your app iconic. Avoid being overly wordy. In fact avoid words at all. Using objects, symbols or letters is best to achieve a clear and easy to digest icon. Consumers should see your icon and be able to identify the imagery you are illustrating. But beyond recognition, they should get a sense as to what your app is all about or what type of app you are providing from your icon.

Keep your design simple. Clean, high quality icons will present your brand and product as a professional offering in the marketplace. As real estate in an icon is at a minimum you want to avoid cluttering your icon that will only confuse or frustrate consumers.

Don’t be afraid to be different or bold, remember you want to draw attention to your app amongst a sea of applications in the storefront. Use strong colors. Choose imagery that conveys a mood, tone or emotion indicative to your app’s purpose.

Give yourself choices by creating a couple of concepts for your icon before selecting the one that you will go forward with. Socialize your concepts with colleagues, business partners, family and friends and get their honest feedback. Getting an outside opinion is extremely important seeing that this icon is being created for your audience’s attention and not your own, so be sure not to skip this step.

Be open to any feedback you may receive regarding your app design – good or bad. Being overly committed to your app icon too early on could blind you to some much needed opportunities to make your app better. It’s never too late to make changes or start over. Since icons are what users will look for to identify their app on their home screen, icons are rarely changed, so you will want to make sure you get it right the first time.

If you are not a designer and have the budget, seek professional help. Find a graphic designer who can help walk you through their process. A good graphic designer will meet with you to discover what your business is all about, who you are, what your app’s objectives are and what existing ideas or brand elements you may have already accomplished. Be sure to select a designer you trust. You will want to rely on them completely as your counsel in this field and in some instances you may not see eye-to-eye so someone you know is an expert in their field will be necessary.

Regardless of what you do when it comes to your optimizing your app icon, make sure it is not an after thought. It may be small, but this icon could make or break the success of your app in the marketplace.

What’s in a Name? Everything!

ASO 5-Part Series: Part 2 – App Name

It goes without saying that the name of your app is extremely critical. It is the first place metadata is collected for all search engines and will be the branding for your product for its existence (unless you are brave enough to risk a rebranding which could result in a loss of users). It also factors into the decision making process a potential downloader uses to decide whether to get your app

Naming your app is one of the most exciting steps of application development. Often publishers have an idea of what they want to call their app even before it is developed. The initial reaction with a name is to get creative and make it personal but this is the exact opposite of what you should do if you wish to optimize discoverability for your app.

When determining the name for your app you will want to be less emotional and more logical. You will also want to err on the simpler and straightforward side of things. Your name should reflect the functionality of your app in some way.

The best place to start when considering a name for your app is to make a list of search terms your potential users will use to find an app that has functionality like yours. You can create this list of keywords by doing some research yourself and leaning on some digital tools for some help.

Research Resources

  1. App Store Search – Go to the app store and search for apps that are similar to you. What words do you find yourself using? What terms are bringing up results?
  2. Google Search (or other Online Search Engines) – Similar to the app store search, use online search engines to help you determine what search terms you are using and what search terms produce results for brands and sites and apps that are similar to yours.
  3. Ask People – Ask people what terms they would use to search for your app. Also ask them to describe your app and even go as far as ask them to give it a name. Be sure not to just ask friends and family but other people in your network.
  4. Competition – Look to the competitors in your category to see what terms they are using and use them as inspiration for your potential name list. Look at both their names and their product descriptions.

Online Tools

  1. Google Keyword Tool – Using the Google Keyword tool you can either enter the URL of a company or brand that is similar to yours to be presented with possible keywords or enter a starting term to get some suggestions in return.
  2. AppStoreRankings.net – AppStoreRankings is a great resource to use for creating metadata for your app. This premium online tool let’s you spy on your competitors and also helps you understand which keywords will perform best in the app store environment by associating a traffic score to each.
  3. AppNique – Like AppStoreRankings, this company offers premium services to help provide suggestions for search terms for your app.

Starting with a list of keywords will help ensure that your app is rooted in search – a key discovery method for users. It will also help make sure that your app name is incorporating terminology which people attribute to your app’s main functions. In addition, you will be able to leverage this list for your product description which we will tackle in a later article in this series (Part 5).

Once you have this list of keywords, you can use them to create a name. In some cases, using some of the actual keywords in the name will make better sense. For example, if your app is a calculator app then you will most likely want to include the words calculator or numbers or math in the app name. For other app categories, like in the case of games, you may wish to use these keywords as more of a sub-title. For example Move and Shake – a Puzzle Game for Kids.

Using a sub-title in your name is a great strategy to include more metadata for your app but will also help to clarify an app that is given a more creative name for branding purposes.

Choosing the right name is a critical component of application development. With the help of this ASO exercise, you will improve your chance of selecting a name that will work for you rather than work against you.

The Little App Developer That Could [INFOGRAPHIC]

The results from this year’s Annual App Developer Survey showed the tenacity and long term success of app developers.

81% of app developers said that they would not abandon their app despite the same amount not making enough money to support a standalone business. Like last year, app developers are having a hard time breaking even with their app, but we saw that those developers that stick it out and market their app (3 years+) are seeing some great success, some earning over $500,000+.

The tenacity and long term success reminded us of the story the Little Engine that Could which inspired this year’s Infographic found below.

For a full review of results from our 2013 App Developer Survey, download our Free white paper “Slow and Steady Wins the Race”.

The Importance Of App Store Optimization

ASO 5-Part Series: Part 1 – What is ASO

Discovery is one of the major challenges for any app developer regardless of platform. Being able to be found and stand out in the sea of applications is critical to success for an application. This is getting more and more difficult as more and more apps go live each day.

The app stores were created to aid developers in discovery of their applications but as app inventory continues to grow at a rapid pace, they are unable to assist all of the applications in the same way they did when smartphone and tablet apps first launched back in 2008.

It has become more and more important for developers and app publishers to take matters into their own hands and market their applications to increase visibility to improve downloads for their application.

One of the ways that app developers can better the discovery of their app is through optimization of their product page within the app store. This is called ASO or App Store Optimization. The goal of ASO is to enhance the major product page elements to improve search discovery, increase chances of standing out in a list view and better the salability of the page to convert to download or purchase.

App Store Optimization touches upon all elements of your app’s product page – your name, category, icon, screenshots and even the product description & keywords you use to describe and sell your app.

The key concept behind ASO is to take a look at these elements from a user’s perspective to ensure that they are working hard to market and sell your app. In essence, ASO makes sure that your product page elements are clear, convincing as well as creative. It strives to remove any ambiguity in what your product offers and attempts to cut through the noise around you to ensure that your app can rise above the rest whether a user finds your app in search results or views it in a category list.

To perform App Store Optimization you need to look to your competitors, your users and employ the use of some key app tools. In this 5-part series, we will be breaking down the steps to perform App Store Optimization to improve the performance of your name, app icon, screenshots and your product description.

The benefits of ASO are great:

  • Improve search results and immediate app comprehension within app store lists with an optimized name
  • Take advantage of app ranking opportunities through our category and sub-category recommendations
  • Improve brand recall and rapid app comprehension and increase conversion with icon & screenshots suggestions
  • Increase salability and improve search discovery with a SEO focused Product Description

We hope to get you thinking about your product page as not just a bunch of last minute elements required to get your app live upon submission, but rather some key and free marketing opportunities which you have at your disposal to better the chance of app success.

2nd Annual App Developer Survey – On Now till May 5, 2013

Our 2nd Annual Developer Survey will look at how developers are financially performing (including by platform) with their app and is now open and running until May 5, 2013.

Click on this link to get started: http://svy.mk/ZcQutE

Last year we found that nearly 60% of app developers are not breaking even with the money they are generating with their apps. This news was illustrated in our “Wake Up Call” infographic which was picked up by the likes of Mashable, Into Mobile, Read Write, Venture Beat and more and our white paper summarizing all of the results has been downloaded over 2,100 times since its release.

This year, we hope to uncover some new powerful stats about the app publisher and developer community as well as to follow-up with app owners to see if more are seeing success with their apps.

We will be creating an infographic and white paper to publish these results which will be made available at the end of May of this year. If you aren’t already signed up for our newsletter to receive these results, you can do so by providing your information on the last page of the survey.

The survey runs from April 15 through to May 5, 2013. Please share it with your colleagues! Results will be made public the end of May 2013. As a thank you for completing the survey we are giving away the chance to win $1,500 in App Store Optimization services by a member of our team.

Thank you for all your support!

App Promo Wake Up Call Infographic 2012

 

What is Split Testing and How Do I Use It?

If you are thinking about purchasing paid media to advertise your mobile application to increase downloads, you are definitely going to want to spend your dollars wisely.

To ensure that you are getting the best bang for your buck, you will want to employ a common technique in the digital ad space called Split-Testing. By employing this technique you will drastically improve your app marketing efforts.
What is Split-Testing

Split-testing also known as A/B testing or bucket testing is a marketing technique to test out variations of an ad in order to compare results to determine what ad elements works best to get maximum results.

Basically, split-testing is when you run two ads competing against one another to determine which one produces the best results and is ultimately the one to continue trafficking.

To properly split-test, you will want to create variations of your ad that include changes to elements such as copy, images, font style and size, colors and layouts. Comparing results between the ads will confirm whether your change has made a positive or negative impact. You will want to continue with the ad that is doing well and stop with the ads that are performing less.

Split-testing is done to help you better your results from your ad campaign. By better understanding what is working and what is not with your ads, you can make immediate adjustments to improve results and your ultimate return on investment.

 

How to Split-Test

To split-test you will need to first start with an ad. Create an ad for your campaign that is compelling and conveys your messaging in an effective, easy to understand and powerful manner.

Take a look at this ad and create a variation on one of the elements. Perhaps you will use a different image or change a word in the copy or bold the call to action. Whatever you do, keep the changes effective but to a minimum as too many changes will not allow you to determine what modification has produced different results.

Run both of your ads with the same configuration in your network and watch the results of both. You will want to let your original (control) and variation (test) ads run for a fair amount of time to really start to understand how the audience is reacting to them. You will also want to make sure that a significant amount of the audience has been exposed to the ad before making any conclusions.

The amount of time you take to make the decision on which ad to continue with depends on the data that you are receiving but you should be able to start to make a decision within a couple of days.

Once your ads have had some time to live on the network, you will want to look at the data gathered during that time to decide which ad is doing better. For the most part, the metric you will be looking at here is the CTR or click-through rate. But if you are able to (as some networks have this capability), for mobile application advertising, your key metric should be downloads of your application.

Regardless of the metric you choose, compare results between the original ad to the test ad and continue with the one that produces the best results.

Depending on the length of time of your campaign, you will want to continue the split-testing process, creating variations off of the ad that produces the best results from the previous test.

 

Why Split-Test

Split-testing is definitely proven to help you produce the best results from your ad campaign but using available data from ad network reporting to gauge the impact of small variations to your ads.

It is obvious that as you take the time to improve your ad based on actual data you will only be left with higher conversion and click through rates for your campaign overall.

But beyond increasing immediate results, the learnings gained from the split-tests you perform in your campaigns will start to educate you on what direction to take your future advertising for the same audience. This information is invaluable as it will help to elevate your future ad decisions right from the start of the campaign. Of course, no campaign is ever the same but the more tests you run, the wiser you will be.

 

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