apple iOS 10.3

Apple iOS 10.3 Adds Review Replies for Developers

It is the worst feeling when a new app crashes and there is no way to solve the issue. Many users want to talk directly to developers, but that’s not how the App Store works.

Apple has added many improvements recently, including App Store Search Ads that target popular terms that developers can now bid on, similar to Google’s Ad Words platform.

In Apple’s newest software update iOS 10.3, it will allow app developers to respond to reviews. To create more interactive storefronts, developers will now be able to respond to any posted review, making it visible for all other users to see. Moreover, with the addition of the SKStoreReviewController API, users will be able to review an app without sending them back to the App Store.

Behind the scenes of the App Store, users are unware if the developer is reading their reviews or if it is being ignored. Apple can look forward to users feeling more informed and supported, along with possible increases in conversion rates. Developers replying to reviews is a new way for people to fix issues faster, and connect with their users.

Android users have already had the luxury of getting responses from the developers. This has cleared up confusion and been incredibly informative to users on what to look forward to next in upcoming updates. Google Play created a dialogue that brought more popularity to apps that users see developers responding to.

Apple hasn’t released too many components detailing the kind of interaction developers would have with their users, but if it’s anything like Google Play’s response system, iOS developers will need to keep up with what users are saying. There are some tips based off Google Play’s practices on how to improve conversation rates and what kinds of reviews to reply to.

Tips on Replying to Reviews

  1. Every app wants to be unique and stand out, and developers want to improve ratings and have more downloads. Quick responses let users know what is going on, and is more likely to improve ratings, downloads and conversion rates.
  2. Any bad experience needs to be improved immediately and resolved in a way that satisfies the user and the developer. By providing specific, clear information, developers can fix many of their issues quickly and effectively.
  3. Always let the user know that the problem is being solved and what steps have been taken to fixing the issue. If giving users tips or FAQs is the best fix, at least the next step has been taken and the developer reached out.
  4. Not every review can be responded to. By replying to reviews that point out specific criticisms of the app, it creates dialogue between the developer and the user. Developers do not want to only respond to the angry reviews. Take the time to talk to those that are happy with the app but still see room for improvement.

Keeping up with users’ reviews in the App Store could have huge effects on an app’s conversion rates. If users see negative reviews without action from a developer, they may be less inclined to download an app. Ultimately, users want to interact with developers when there is an issue. iOS 10.3 gives developers the opportunity to create dialogue in efforts to increase downloads and conversion rates.

gdc 2017

What to Expect for Mobile From GDC 2017

The annual Game Developers Conference has become the premiere hub of knowledge for experienced and up-and-coming game developers. The expansion of the conference into the mainstream has coincided with the massive growth of mobile gaming on iOS and Android, making GDC the perfect place to top-up on mobile knowledge.

Last year’s GDC focused heavily on VR, with the announcement of the PlayStation VR device dominating the show. Even so, many impactful announcements were made for mobile, including the Indie Corner for Google Play, updates and figures for the Unity engine, and marketing insights from major figures at Spry Fox and EA.

GDC 2017 promises to be bigger than ever for mobile. Here are some major items to expect when the conference rolls into town this March.

  1. Revenue Forecasting Panel

Revenue forecasting is essential for any business. Without a proper forecast of how much your app could make at both the low and high ends, you won’t have an understanding of whether your app is worth developing in its current state. Mike Gordon from Iron Horse Games (hired developers on Tap Hero, Solitairica and more) will lead a panel on how to forecast revenue for your app. If you aren’t familiar with the concept, this is an essential first step in the development process.

  1. Eastern Expansion

China represents the world’s largest gaming market, with $99.6 billion in revenues last year. A whopping 37% of that money came from mobile games. ZPlay’s Randy Barenscott will lead a session discussing how to work better with developers in China. This includes how and when to work with Chinese publishers, how to improve monetization in Asia, and why Chinese companies want to work with companies in the west. If your company is interested in eastward expansion, this panel could be essential.

  1. Tons of Indie Stories

Independent gaming tends to rule the panels by sheer numbers at GDC, and this year will be no exception. If you are considering going into independent game development on mobile, there are a number of panels you may wish to attend. During multiple Indie Mobile Game Dev Stories panels, you will hear stories from indie studios like PikPok (Rival Stars), Taco Illuminati (Looty Dungeon) and more. Elsewhere, you’ll learn how independent studios can make their mobile games go viral with a limited budget.

  1. Focus on Retention

Mobile developers have long focused on acquiring users, but not as many are as concerned with retaining players. Retention will be a major topic for mobile at this year’s GDC, with Tamalaki Publishing (Shards of Memory) owner Martine Spaans leading a panel specifically focusing on retention tactics. Spaans intends to apply tactics from Tinder and Wish, among others, to the gaming industry. Outside of this panel, expect design workshops to begin emphasizing retention tactics a little more heavily.

As GDC approaches, it’s clear that there are numerous important topics for mobile developers to address. This year’s conference should be bigger than ever for mobile games, so if you’re a developer or considering entering the field, pay close attention.

Let us know if you’ll be headed to GDC this year!

App Store Search Ads

App Store Search Ads – Top 5 Strategies for the Best Search Ads

Apple’s new Search Ads initiative has opened up a whole new route to the top of search results. Bidding on a Search Ad is easy, but don’t think that just because you paid the highest amount you’ll suddenly see a huge increase in downloads. To fully take advantage of App Store Search Ads, your app needs to be optimized.

Here are the top five strategies for creating a successful App Store Search Ad.

 1. Target Popular Terms

Deciding which terms to target should be the first step for each of your App Store Search Ads. While it might seem simple to pick and choose terms that are relevant to your app, stop for a moment to consider what exactly your potential users are searching for in the App Store. The terms most closely tied to your app may not always be the terms that will drive the most high-quality traffic to your page. The idea terms are both relevant to your app, and frequently searched by users in the App Store.

2. Establish Relevance for Your Terms

While you do want to target frequently searched terms, remember that Search Ads are ultimately based on relevance. That’s why Search Ads and App Store Optimization often go best together.

Say you have a workout coaching app. The most relevant terms for your app would primarily be fitness and health related – you could get away with targeting “free workouts” or “personal trainer”, for instance. On the other hand, don’t expect to land any terms that aren’t related to your app, like “free games”.

Some terms fall in between, though. The term “run”, for example, could refer to either a game or a fitness app. If you find that it is in your best interest to target a fringe term, or a term that isn’t explicitly discussed in your app description, you will need to create relevance for that term by optimizing your app listing. This involves establishing relevance through your description, among other things.

3. Show off Your App in the Best Light

When it comes to displaying your Search Ad, Apple affords you numerous options.

You can opt to show off merely a small Ad featuring only your app icon, title, developer and ratings, or you can include screenshots in a variety of layouts.

If you opt to include screenshots, the orientation does matter. Just like in traditional App Store search results, the best layout for your App Store screenshots depends on the layout and features of your app itself. You’ll get three times the number of screenshots in your Search Ad if you opt for portrait, but landscape is ideal for apps that are naturally landscape and need that space to show off additional information.

Similarly, make sure that your icon is polished and your reviews average is solid. Even if your app is placed on a pedestal at the top of search results, fewer users will bother with your app if they don’t like the look of the ratings or can’t tell what it does.

4. Optimize Your Screenshots

On that line of thinking, should your Search Ad include screenshots it is necessary to optimize them for conversion. This will enable users to see clearly and precisely what your app does and whether or not it is of interest to them.

Just as in traditional App Store search, your screenshots are essentially your advertising banners. Use this space to show off the key functions of your app.

There are several key differences in the presentation of Search Ads versus traditional search results that necessitate a few addendums to the classic rules. First, using portrait screenshots in a Search Ad affords you with three screenshots to show off instead of two (this includes your preview video, if you have one).

While this does put you at an advantage compared to traditional search results, consider how this difference affects the size of your screenshots on a user’s mobile display. Even with an iPhone 7 Plus, your screenshots will be smaller than they would look in search results.

Cluttered screenshots can lead to confusion on the part of the user as they try to make out what is happening in each image. Make sure that if you intend to use screenshots, the imagery and text in them is legible to users on both standard and Plus-sized iPhone screens.

5. Track Trends

Remember Step One, where you plucked out the search terms with the highest growth potential for your app? Chances are, those terms won’t always reign supreme.

Trends change all the time in the App Store, whether as a result of new app releases or external events. Consider a few trends that came and went in 2016 – from politics to Pokémon, many terms reached an astronomical peak before settling down to a more reasonable, albeit still often highly-searched, position. Your goal is to have your Ad at the top of search results when those terms peak, not afterwards when other developers are also scrambling to purchase Ads.

Whether you use software or simply devote time every day to tracking trends, be sure to stay on top of what’s hot in the App Store and how it can be relevant for your app.

ux in mobile

UX In Mobile – UX Trends of 2017

User experience design is constantly evolving, and there will no doubt be many advances to the field in 2017.

UX in mobile is one of the most crucial elements of user monetization and retention; spurred on by Apple and Android’s elegant designs, users expect a similar level of finesse from their app experiences.

Here are a few ways you can expect to see UX move forward in 2017.

UX Gets Personal

For years, UX has emphasized simplicity and responsiveness above all else. Elegant interfaces are king, but sometimes they don’t leave a lot of room for personality.

As phones become smarter and more autonomous, UX designers must take care not to make the end design feel too inhuman. The growing trend, then, has been for designers to intentionally build in more personality and charm into their feedback mechanisms. Author William Gibson calls these personal flourishes “Tamagotchi Gestures”.

As 2017 winds on, UX designers will begin utilizing Tamogatchi Gestures to imbue their apps with a warm, human touch.

AI Communication

iPhone users have been talking with Siri for years, and Android users are also familiar with Google Now. Windows devices have Cortana, and Amazon has Alexa.

Simple AI assistants have officially achieved mass penetration, but the functions they perform are still relatively simple in scope.

Individually, Apple and Google have taken steps to improve their AI experiences. For instance, last year Apple made Siri compatible with certain apps with the launch of iOS 10. However, almost none of these individual assistants are made to work together.

Some apps, like astra, allow users to communicate with Alexa from an iOS device, but further compatibility updates are certainly coming. At the moment, there’s just too much redundancy and incompatibility between the different AI assistants, encouraging users to stay within their bubble.

Hapnotic Feedback

 This is one of the more experimental trends in UX design, but potentially one of the most interesting too.

The term “Hapnotic Feedback” is a combination of “hypnotic” and “haptic feedback”. The idea is that by utilizing certain patterns or sequences of haptic feedback, designers may be able to guide users towards certain interactions within apps.

Take a shopping app for instance. If the user has added items to their cart but is stalling on proceeding to checkout, Hapnotic Feedback may be able to guide the user towards checkout with subtle vibrations.

It’s still a pretty new idea, but one that could have a lot of potential for UX designers as it continues to evolve over the year.

Want to know what mobile trends 2017 holds in store?

Mobile Trends 2017 – What will Hit in Q1?

The New Year is here, and with it comes a whole new batch of trends to stay on top of.

With regards to mobile trends 2017 has the potential to be a unique year. Last fall Apple shook up the world of mobile in a major way by shortening their Title field and introducing Search Ads. This quarter, expect app developers to refine their technique when it comes to mastering the new App Store ecosystem.

Look out for these trends in Q1 2017:

Search Ads Get Refined 

As the year moves on, more and more app developers will begin to discover what performs best for Search Ads. Look for major developers to hit Search Ads even harder in an attempt to expand their search footprint into any relevant keywords.

Similarly, as more developers begin to target wider swaths of Search Ads, they will also refine how to best convert users from Search Ads.

As the New Year begins, make it a priority to learn the best practices for landing and converting from Search Ads.

Services Continue to Grow 

App Store Services picked up major traction in 2016. Expect that trend to continue as 2017 winds on.

Service subscriptions have traditionally been confined to service-based apps like Netflix and Spotify. However, games like Boom Beach have also experimented with subscription plans, showing that recurring payments can be molded to work in a number of formats.

Services have been popular for Apple, too. Service revenue grew by 24% in the fourth fiscal quarter of 2016. Earlier, Apple had announced they would be offering successful Service subscriptions a more favorable revenue split of 85-15, as opposed to the usual 70-30. In order to qualify for the new split, developers would simply need to maintain a user’s subscription for one year consistently.

Superbowl LI Drives Sports Searches

Sports apps will have a field day with February’s Superbowl LI. News apps, fantasy apps and football games stand to benefit the most directly. If your app is relevant for “football”-related terms, update your metadata and creative to reflect this.

Cards, Dates and Flowers Go In Demand 

The first major holiday of 2017, Valentine’s Day will be accompanied by a surge in searches for dating, events, shopping and gift apps.

Whether your app offers gifts for couples, flowers for the parents or in-person meetup opportunities for everyone else, you can capitalize on Valentine’s Day by including relevant keywords and expanding upon them in your description and creative.

Following Valentine’s Day, some apps may want to look ahead to Easter. While the holiday falls in early Q2, apps that offer relevant services (flowers, gift baskets, candy, etc.) will want to pivot towards Easter sooner than that. Change out your Valentine’s Day marketing language and keywords for Easter by early Spring.

While gift apps will have a field day, games can get in on the holiday fun too. The later winter to early spring season is often a popular time for game developers to run special events, like last year’s Angry Birds Epic mini-campaign. This event introduced a miniaturized version of a standard Angry Birds Epic campaign for Valentine’s Day, featuring new levels, special items and more.

If your app can be positioned as relevant for winter and spring holidays, be sure to have your metadata and creative updated in advance so that you have already begun indexing by the holiday.

App Store Optimization (ASO) Blog | Mobile App Marketing