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Marketing Your App for the Holidays with ASO

As the holidays approach, many developers are launching updates to take advantage of the shift in seasonal search trends. Properly researching, preparing and launching updates tied to these trends can help apps stay competitive with what’s trending, while maintaining the app’s core rankings.

End-of-the-year holidays provide a unique opportunity for apps across a wide range of categories. It’s always important to analyze how an app is performing and adjust accordingly. With the holiday season, however, comes specific opportunities for apps like shopping apps, games and even local restaurant discovery guides. These types of apps can benefit from eager users searching the app stores during the holidays, but can only successfully convert these users by incorporating ASO.

Keywords – Be Relevant for the Holidays

Apple and Google’s algorithm won’t simply index apps for search terms specific to the holidays on their own. Developers need to target the appropriate keywords, and longer-tail relevant keywords like “holiday shopping,” “holiday games,” “holiday recipes” and more.

Shopping apps in particular target keywords specific to Cyber Monday, and even deals extended into December to catch shoppers throughout the month. Roughly 60 percent of shoppers use their mobile device at some point of their shopping experience. Since so many users are checking their devices, it means that mobile app sale figures from companies have increased in recent years. Huge companies like Target, Walmart and eBay have consistently reported increases during this time of year, and are only anticipated to continue rising as the holidays inch closer and closer.

Apps need to use App Store Intelligence Software like DATACUBE to help them understand which relevant search terms have enough volume to be advantageous for the app. These keywords will then need to be integrated within their app’s metadata.

Engaging Creatives – Get in the Holiday Spirit

Simply targeting keywords specific to the holidays won’t be enough to help developers convert users. They will also need to take into consideration what is visually appealing to users and display engaging creatives that catch their eye.

Take for example the on-page creatives of Shutterfly, Ebates and Food Network Magazine.  These apps have seasonal creatives which illustrate to potential users how they are relevant for the holidays and even Cyber Monday/Week. A user searching for “holiday,” “foods,” or “Cyber Monday deals” can instantly understand how these apps are relevant for their search term, leading to a higher potential for conversion on these trending terms.

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Apps like Food Street and Farmville 2 take advantage of the winter holidays by updating their app icons accordingly as well. They make sure to incorporate specific holiday elements such as Santa Hats or decorative foods that are well-known and recognizable to users. Adding these elements can help with not only conversion on targeted seasonal keywords, but being placed in featured seasonal categories by Apple and Google, increasing their visibility even further.

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Key Takeaways

There are always seasonal opportunities for keywords and creatives. That being said, the end-of-the-year US holiday season provides a unique and more widely spanning opportunity for developers of all genres to target trending seasonal terms. Developers need to monitor how users are searching along with any specific seasonal trends that can be targeted in their keyword bank.

On top of targeting high-volume keywords tied to the holidays, developers should also launch creatives that match the terms they are targeting. Keep in mind that incorporating keywords and creatives tied to the holidays means there is the potential to be featured in curated content sections on the App Store and Google Play Store for further visibility. If developers start now, they are taking advantage of the season and are one step ahead of their competition.

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5 Reasons Why Your Search Ads Campaign is Failing

It has been just over one year since Apple has rolled out its Search Ads platform, something that piqued the interested of developers interested in quality install channels world-wide.

Search Ads is Apple’s tool that helps developers bid on certain keywords at varying costs, allowing them to compete against other competitors in their market for their relative “hot keywords.”

To this date, developers, agencies and marketers have spent upwards of $580 billion, according to a recent report by eMarketers. From a marketing perspective, it would only make sense to start spending it where millions of mobile users are browsing for the next big app.

If you’ve got your campaigns all set up, how are they looking? Are you seeing the ROI you were hoping to see straight off the bat with your new investment in Search Ads?

Hopefully your answer isn’t “no.” If it is, then you may want to consider these five reasons why your Search Ads campaign may be failing:

1. Your Metadata is Irrelevant

Make sure you fine tune your app’s metadata (title, subtitle, keywords, description) to make your app relevant for your most important terms in Search Ads.

One of Apple’s first announcements was that your app would need to be as relevant as possible for all of the keywords you bid on. One of the largest pillars of App Store Optimization, relevancy can be built the following ways:

a) Including the Search Ads keywords in your app’s title

b) Including the Search Ads keywords in your app’s subtitle

c) Including the Search Ads keywords in your app’s promotional text

d) Including the Search Ads keywords in your app’s description

Your ability to incorporate these keywords into your app description helps Apple determine how relevant you are for these keywords. This is not to say that you should keyword stuff- building contextual relevance for your targeted terms will help.

The more relevant you are, the more likely you’ll appear and the more likely you’ll convert.

2. Your App Has Low TTR Compared to the Competition

If your tap-through-rate isn’t as high as you’d like it, your creative probably aren’t helping. If users aren’t compelled by the app’s creative in the overall Search Ad, they will likely pass over the add to the next app that appears in search.

Your app’s promotional text can also appear in the Search Ads. Pay attention to what’s being used in the 170 character space. An app’s promotional text appears as one of the display options that Apple provides to developers.

As these can be updated outside of a build release, start to test different messaging and monitor Search Ad Performance. Swap these out and see which one performs best.

Additionally, take advantage of the keywords that are performing well. Incorporate these keywords into your app’s creative to help with TTR on your Search Ads, and even CTR in organic search

3. You’re Relying on Search Match/Broad Match

There are thousands of keywords that you can be looking into and bidding on to help improve your Search Ad performance.

Look at what the market is doing. There are probably hundreds of additional keywords you can start to bid on if you think of your app on broader terms. Extend your overall visibility past your immediate features and work towards broadening your overall funnel.

See what keywords you’re ranked for, too! Beyond your immediate target keywords, a tool like DATACUBE can help you see what Apple is finding you relevant for- some may be outside of your original scope.

4. The Cheapest Keywords Aren’t Always the Best

Cheap keywords in the Search Ads platform don’t necessarily mean quick wins- these keywords are cheap because there’s very low competition. If no one is searching for those keywords, there’s very little chance you’ll gain more than a few impressions.

Re-adjust your budget to allow you to bid on bigger, competitive keywords. Chances are, if your app is relevant, you’ll appear and have more of a chance of gaining more visibility through those keywords.

5. Have Patience!

Search Ads is a learning platform. Give the first run-through of your campaigns at least 10 days before making any changes. Performance will always be volatile at this time as Apple learns and readjusts your app in various ad cycles. Give it time and you’ll be able to see accurate results.

Poke around and see what you can do with Search Ads. There are tons of way to get started on your app’s paid search marketing, with Search Ads being the tip of the iceberg. Avoiding any of the five pitfalls above should get you to a good place, and hopefully even seeing return on your Search Ads investment.

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ASO Tips – How to Localize for the Holidays

The holidays are just around the corner and app developers all around the world are updating their app’s metadata to let users know they are ready for the holidays. One thing developers have to consider when preparing their app’s metadata is how different territories celebrate the holidays.

App developers that have their app deployed in multiple territories already know the importance of localization. What they might not know is how users in different territories take part in the holiday season. Some territories celebrate their version of Thanksgiving at different times, while some don’t celebrate it at all.

IMG_E377F7174CCA-1As we move into December, many developers are looking to target Christmas, a holiday that some territories don’t celebrate or celebrate differently. Developers need to pay attention to the differences among territories. For instance, Japan celebrates Christmas Eve more than Christmas Day, and part of India celebrates Christmas by decorating banana and mango trees.

It’s differences like these that developers need to pay attention to when localizing their apps for the holidays. If any developer is worried or unsure about where to start in the localization process, they can follow our tips to aid them this holiday season.

Tips for Localizing During the Holidays

1. Know the Audience

For every app, there is a specific audience. The first step of any localization process is to first examine the audience, or more specifically the user trends and behavior. Developers need to note specific differences among territories to know whether they should address recognizable holiday icons by different names.

Let’s say developers used the same metadata across the US and UK. While both are English speaking territories, they have different spellings and each celebrates the holidays differently. Developers need to understand differences like whether to use Santa Claus, which is more common to the US, or Father Christmas, which is more common to the UK.

Developers also need to know what territories don’t celebrate the holidays to avoid accidentally deploying metadata that is not relevant to a territory. For example, deploying a Diwali-themed icon in China would probably not have the same conversion impact as a deployment in India.

Understanding elements that are specific to each territory will help developers know what their users are interested in. This knowledge will also help developers determine which high-volume keywords to target and creatives to adjust during the holiday season.

2. Target Keywords Relevant to Each Territory

Developers can’t magically make their app more discoverable for the holidays. They need to incorporate high-volume, relevant keywords throughout their app’s metadata to become more relevant to user searches.

The targeted keywords shouldn’t all be exchanged for ones that relate to the holidays, but developers should make sure they integrate some keywords that are relevant to their app’s core features. Let’s say there’s the same travel app available in the US and AU. While the developer can target similar keywords across both territories, they’ll need to make sure that each set of keywords is relevant to that territory’s audience, vernacular and celebrated holidays.

If the developer wanted to target the keyword “holidays and vacations,” App Store Intelligence Software like DATACUBE can help them understand the potential impact of that keyword on a territory-specific basis. From our research, “holidays and vacations” doesn’t have much volume in either territory, but does have moderate-volume in the US as opposed to low-volume in AU.

Knowing which keywords have the most potential within a given territory can help developers understand what keywords to target and where. Trying to target the same keywords across all territories leaves missed opportunities on terms that may be relevant in one area, but irrelevant elsewhere.

3. Localize Creatives

Creatives, which are the app icon, screenshots and preview video, need to be localized per territory based off user trends and behavior specific to the territory.

Since each territory celebrates the holidays differently and has specific elements that are more recognizable than others, developers need to make sure that they are targeting territories accordingly. Depending on the territory, a different icon, set of screenshots or preview video may engage with that territory’s audience better.

If we compare the Walmart icon for the US and China, we can see that each one is different.

Screen Shot 2017-11-21 at 2.35.45 PMWalmart’s iOS app icon is custom tailored for the busy US holiday shopping season, complete with imagery of a gift box for Black Friday and the holidays. In territories like China, where Christmas and Black Friday are less popular and do not have the same associated high-volume keyword terms, the icon is unchanged. This allows Walmart to capitalize on current seasonal trends in the US, while maintaining their audience in other territories.

4. Make Sure Paid Campaigns are Ready

Developers can turn to paid campaigns such as Apple Search Ads or Google UAC to help give their app a competitive advantage at becoming more visible in the app stores.

If developers are using Search Ads, they will need to take extra care with holiday updates. Apple’s algorithm does look at the app’s metadata to determine if it may be relevant for a targeted Search Ads keyword. Without this, simply targeting “holiday game” may not have an impact on how often Search Ads appear.

Be Prepared & Localize Now

Developers need to start getting their app’s metadata together for the holidays. If they have apps in multiple territories, they cannot have the same metadata and instead need to take the time to monitor user trends, behavior and keyword volume tied to the holidays per territory.

No one wants to make the mistake of adding holiday elements that are not relevant to specific territories. Developers need to take the time to monitor what engages best with their audience per territory to successfully localize their app for the holidays.

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5 Ways to Improve Your App Preview Video for iOS 11

With the release of iOS 11, developers everywhere are double checking their ASO checklists, especially in regard to their app preview videos.

Developers mustn’t forget that Apple has made recent changes to preview videos that cannot be ignored. These changes, which include the ability to submit up to three preview videos per app and the app preview video auto playing while in search, have an impact on conversion.

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Developers need to make sure that their preview video, whether they only have one or opted for the maximum of three, follows ASO best practices. In order to convert users and convince them to tap “GET”, developers need to make sure that they have optimized their preview video by following these 5 ways.

1. Emphasizing the App’s Core Features

As previously mentioned, preview videos are by far one of the most important aspects of converting users. The preview video needs to entice users to click on an app listing so they can see all the app in action. The preview video also needs to reflect the app’s core feature within the first 10 seconds, pan out in a logical progression and pace, while also visually understandable without music or sound.

It is all too easy to get caught up in the unique features an app has to offer, but the first preview video must really emphasize the app’s core features to convert users. Take for example, PAC-MAN’s preview video:

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It clearly shows users what they want to know about the classic game’s features, mechanics and more. That first preview video needs to undeniable convey the message of the app’s core features. If users see images that strongly correlate with the functionality of the app and that the app’s name, they are more likely to convert.

2. Highlighting Different Features

Now that Apple allows up to three preview videos, developers should take the time to feature different core features. The first preview video must emphasize all core features that the app has to offer. If a developer has additional preview videos, they should then highlight what makes the app different from its competition in 30 seconds.

When creating app preview videos, optimize the given space and keep the audience engaged in order to increase conversion.

One of the benefits of having three preview videos is the fact that when one finishes playing, it will automatically start playing the next video for the app below it. This gives developers a great opportunity to focus on just one core feature per video. Not only will developers have the time to show off all of their app’s features, but they’ll also encourage users to keep watching.

3. Poster Frame

Now that preview videos are on auto play in iOS 11, it’s crucial to not forget that there is still importance to having a well optimized poster frame. The poster frame will appear wherever app previews do not auto play.

On the App Store for iOS 10.3 or earlier, the poster frame will be one of the first graphical elements a user will see on the app listing in search. Developers should keep in mind for their other preview videos, that they should make sure the app’s name, callout text, etc. aren’t hidden under the play button.

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On top of that, if a user is watching another app’s preview video in app store search, any other adjacent preview videos in the listing are paused on their poster frame. The poster frame should be as enticing as possible so users will ultimately convert.

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4. Follow Apple’s Guidelines

A preview video can’t increase conversion if it doesn’t meet Apple’s requirements – plain and simple. Apple has guidelines that all developers must follow when creating and submitting a preview video. Thankfully, Apple hasn’t changed their guidelines with iOS 11.

Some basic key points to remember is that the video must have a length of up to 30 seconds and have seamless scene transitioning that doesn’t imply functionally the app does not have. The preview video must also not feature people interacting with a device that displays the app or any other external footage outside of the app.

We have found in our past research that apps with impressive preview videos can improve conversion rates up to 30 percent, while bad videos can conversely decrease conversion up to 30 percent. Apple’s guidelines genuinely are there to help app developers give users a realistic demonstration of their app.

Developers can also note that nearly every type of device and version of that device will require different video dimensions. For example, an iPhone7 landscape dimension requirements will be 1334 x 750 while an Apple TV’s requirements will be 1920 x 1080. These differences indicate that app developers must ensure their app passes Apple’s dimension requirements and prevent video submission rejection.

5. Look at What Competitors Are Doing

It’s important to constantly check out other competitor apps in the space to see what elements they are incorporating into their preview video or poster frame.

Any developer taking the time to refresh their preview video(s) to be more iOS 11 should look at what other apps are incorporating to stay on top of the competition. For example, are competitors utilizing more portrait oriented or landscape oriented screenshots? Are competitors adding copy throughout the video?  These are good questions to ask oneself when either recreating one preview video or creating more.

Key Takeaways

Even though the release of iOS 11 hasn’t made a huge impact on the requirements for preview videos, the increase of three videos plus auto playing will definitely make an impact in creatives.

Creatives in general are a key factor for conversion, meaning developers should take the time to follow these tips for preview videos in iOS 11. Always make sure preview videos clearly highlight the app’s core features and stand out against competition without compromising Apple’s requirements.

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App Store Optimization – Prepare for Black Friday & Cyber Monday

As we near the holiday season, it means that we also get closer and closer to Black Friday and Cyber Monday.  These huge events set new revenue records last year and are already trending on the App Store.

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In 2016, Black Friday boasted $5.27 billion for both online and brick and mortar sales, while Cyber Monday reached $3.45 billion. Consumers are serious when it comes to getting the best deal, especially as the holiday season hits. While retailers still advertise with traditional promotions like in-store coupons and promotional displays, many have seen success from preparing their mobile apps to specifically emphasize deals and products, driving users to shop online or in-store.

Since Black Friday and Cyber Monday 2016 were huge, it only means that retailers can expect the 2017 season to be huge as well. To take advantage of this ever-increasing sales season, retailers and app developers need to plan marketing strategies that include optimizing their mobile apps to be discovered – and downloaded – by early-bird holiday shoppers.

Tips to Increase Your App’s Bottom Line

Everyone has heard the horror stories of Black Friday, and in recent years, consumers have taken to the safety of their couches and mobile devices to complete their early holiday shopping. Mobile performance has improved year-over-year, and 60 percent of shoppers use their mobile device at some point to either research or purchase. Knowing that how many shoppers utilize their mobile device shows that they are taking advantage of websites and mobile apps instead of enduring painstaking hours of standing in the cold to save on that brand-new TV.

Cyber Monday, which is truly dedicated to shoppers on the web and mobile devices, has seen success with eager shoppers that are readily waiting on their phones for the best deals. More consumers are going directly to mobile apps to shop during the holiday season, and retailers have taken note. Below are some tips that will help retailers prepare their app before Black Friday and Cyber Monday hit.

1. App Store Optimization – Create Visibility

First and foremost, retailers should look to ASO to help their app become more easily discoverable in the app stores just in time for Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Retailers can go through the quick ASO checklist before making any other adjustments tied to the shopping season:

  • Unique app name?
  • Relevant keywords?
  • Clear, concise description?
  • Screenshots/preview video that highlights deals and shopping?

If an app doesn’t meet the criteria listed above, then it might not reach its maximum potential. Retailers need to make sure that their app clearly highlights any promotions, deals, coupons or more before the shopping season to successfully convert users and see an increase in revenue.

2. Paid Campaigns

Paid campaigns are a good way for retailers to quickly get their app above competitors. Retailers need to bid on relevant, high-volume keywords for the shopping season to so their app appears before competitors.

There are a variety of paid campaigns retailers can take advantage of, meaning they aren’t limited to just one. If they have an iOS app, they can utilize Apple Search Ads, which will appear at the very top of search and incorporate their app’s existing metadata. If they have an Android app, they can use Google Adwords to utilize UAC, place bids, and appear before competitors in the Play Store.

Social media campaigns are also helpful as consumers will be checking social media often during the holidays. Retailers can utilize Facebook or Instagram paid campaigns to appear on consumers’ social media feeds in hopes of encouraging them to convert based on specific promotions, products and more.

3. Check the Competition

Sometimes the best place to look for inspiration is at the competition. If retailers know their main competition for their specific market, they can make key adjustments to their marketing and ASO strategies.

If it’s a clothing app, retailers will already know that some of their main competition is Urban Outfitters, thredUP, Forever 21, PacSun and Tilly’s; all apps that rank within the Top 5 for the keyword “clothing.”

Retailers looking to capitalize on the keyword “clothing” will need to make adjustments to their metadata and paid campaigns to clearly highlight any clothing products or deals that are unique to their brand. If retailers don’t focus their efforts on targeting the various types of products and promotions their app has to offer, they are less likely to convert users simply because they haven’t set themselves apart from the competition.

4. Test New Creatives

Creatives are the one piece of metadata that consumers look to first to get a better understanding of how an app will benefit them. Retailers can take advantage of creatives and upload a new icon, screenshots or preview video that clearly highlights Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals.

If the creatives are updated to reflect possible deals, coupons, promotions and more, consumers are more likely to convert on that app. Make sure that the callout text clearly addresses the features specific to Black Friday and Cyber Monday to let consumers know what the app has to offer.

5. In-App Notifications

Apps that have push notifications can take advantage of consumers that have the setting turned on.  They can send out eye-catching notifications that get consumers excited about purchasing new products and make them think that they’re getting a deal.

Push notifications don’t need to be pushy, they just need to be engaging enough that they encourage the consumer to open the app. Having effective push notifications that specifically target promotions, coupons, products and more, will help consumers make their shopping decisions faster.

Be Visible and Convert Consumers

Now is the time for retailers to prepare their apps so they are visible to consumers before the shopping season starts. Retailers need to prepare their apps before Black Friday and Cyber Monday to successfully convert users and increase their bottom line.

Without making key adjustments to the app’s metadata or even creating paid campaigns that will help the app appear before competitors, retailers will not see success this shopping season. It’s crucial that retailers pay attention to their app and take advantage of eager consumers that are ready to spend in order to be part of possibly the most profitable shopping season yet.