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Promotional Artwork for iOS vs Google Play’s Feature Graphic

Any developer that has been featured on the Apple App Store can tell you how excited they were when they received the, “App Store: Promotional Artwork request for…” email. While the anticipation around this email is electric, the realization that Apple’s pressing requirement for additional creative assets starts to set in quickly.

One of the key assets Apple needs is the Promotional Artwork. This piece of artwork is displayed at the very top of an app’s product page and has been equated to Google Play’s Feature Graphic.

While the promotional artwork and feature graphic are both additional pieces of artwork that can help convert users, they are inherently different for just a few reasons.

Promotional Artwork vs Feature Graphic

You may be asking yourself, “So, what are the differences between the Promotional Artwork and the Feature Graphic?”

To start, the Feature Graphic is available to all Google Play developers. There is no waiting for a golden ticket, as it’s considered to be just another creative asset in addition to icons and screenshots. Located at the very top of an app’s product page, the Feature Graphic is the very first visual element aside from the icon that potential users will see. The Feature Graphic should be treated as an app’s “first screenshot” as the majority of users downloading an app on Google Play visit an app’s product page first. If there is a video, a play button is displayed in the middle of the Feature Graphic, so users can immediately tap to start watching.

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The Promotional Artwork, however, is more “special” in a sense because Apple is more exclusive about which developers and apps are able to display one on their app page. So far, it appears that Apple has contacted only top developers with a certain number of downloads for this additional asset. Unfortunately, like all things, Apple has been rather secretive about which developers they request Promotional Artwork from.

Just as a word of caution, when Apple asks for these source files, they can adjust or change the files however they want.

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While the current number of apps that have Promotional Artwork is small, it’s gradually growing since the launch of iOS 11. As Apple took the extra step to make a separate upload form, it’s likely that Promotional Artwork will become more prominent for well-known apps.

Promotional Artwork Guidelines

If developers receive that coveted email from Apple, they should immediately start creating their Promotional Artwork. However, they’ll have to ensure that they do it according to Apple’s guidelines.

Do Not Include:

  • Marketing taglines
  • Website addresses and URLs
  • App icons
  • Any reference to pricing
  • Third-party trademarks
  • “App Store,” “iTunes,” or “Apple Inc.”
  • Hardware and devices

If any of the above are included, the submission will be rejected. On top of making sure that they don’t include anything that could possibly get their Promotional Artwork rejected, developers will have to remember to follow the seven Dropwells. These essentially exist to make the process easier for apps and games when they are chosen to be featured.

Best Practices

Despite having to follow Apple’s guidelines, developers can of course still utilize most of the ASO best practices that apply to screenshots when creating their Promotional Artwork.

Incorporate:

  • Brand colors
  • Concept or character art
  • High contrast with open spaces

Additional tips that developers can consider are:

  • Creating a seamless flow between Promotional Artwork and product page
  • Images that are relevant and memorable

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Unfortunately, unlike screenshots, developers cannot localize their Promotional Artwork for every country their app is available in, as it is not country-specific.

Key Takeaways

If you’re a developer that has received an email from Apple about Promotional Artwork, it’s highly recommended to jump at the opportunity for the potential uplift of installs to your app. This piece of artwork is another chance to convert users and drive traffic to your app.

Make sure that you follow Apple’s guidelines before creating Promotional Artwork, as no one wants to get rejected. It’s also wise to consider some ASO best practices when creating your Promotional Artwork to create an image that will truly captivate users.

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Update Your App’s Creatives Throughout the Year

As the seasons change and new apps hit the market, it’s fundamental that developers make captivating changes to their creatives to curate a unique app store experience. Users definitely do notice and appreciate when apps put the extra effort into making graphics relatable to the upcoming season or holiday.

On top of highlighting an app’s features and functionality in current app store graphics, it’s recommended that developers apply seasonal changes to attract users. This can help set their app’s creative apart from other relevant apps in the space that don’t incorporate seasonality into their graphics. By utilizing App Store Optimization (ASO) best practices, developers can create stunning, one-of-a-kind creatives (icon, screenshots and preview video) that encourage users to download year-round.

Convert Users Year-Round

Apply the same mindset that businesses apply when decorating their stores to match the time of year: it’s important that developers make changes that are relevant to their app in relation to the season and current trends. By understanding what attracts consumers from season-to-season, developers can incorporate key elements into their app store graphics that are likely to make users convert:

1. Icon

The icon is the first visual representation that users will see. If applicable, it must immediately reflect the current season. Creating a variation of the current icon with a bit of holiday flare will help an icon stay current while also voicing relevancy to the season. In the same way, icons should be memorable and easily recognizable. Take for instance the icon below.

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The snowflake communicates what the current season is and familiarizes users with the spirit of the holidays while also staying relevant to the app’s branding.

2. Screenshots

Similar to the app icon, developers need to immediately display core features, gameplay, recognizable characters, and elements that reflect the season. Look at the screenshot below:

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Screenshots can be thought of as advertising posters that highlight exciting features, promotions and more. The app above perfectly captures how users can utilize their collage editor to make cards for the holidays and the New Year.

It’s common practice that developers incorporate callout texts with high-volume keywords that emphasize the app’s core features. This common practice needs to be applied to call out specific seasons and any new seasonal artwork. The combination of seasonal callout text and images will instantly let users know what different features, products, characters, etc. are available.

However, developers need to take precautions with callout texts. The callout text language needs to be clear and visually easy to glance over, or it could cause screenshots to appear cluttered and possibly confusing. If a user cannot decipher the message, then the added holiday effort will go unrecognized.

3. Preview Video

While the screenshots serve as advertising posters, the preview video is used to illustrate the game in action. If an app is currently featuring summer deals on in-app content or products, the preview video is a good creative asset to reflect such seasonal changes.

Despite the auto-play feature for preview videos on devices running iOS 11, the poster frame is still a valuable creative space. This image needs to be reflective of its core features and the changes the app has seen tied to the season. Developers can even incorporate high-volume keywords that emphasize the time of the year to encourage users to click “get”.

Importance of Seasonal Creatives

Developers must always consider changing their creatives as seasons come and go, and incorporate ASO best practices while developing other creative assets. The icon, screenshots and preview must clearly address the app’s core features and the current time of year to successfully convert users.

Without ASO, developers are less likely to entice users with seasonal elements that reflect what attracts them. Make sure to follow ASO best practices to create visually appealing creatives to reflect the current season and to surely impress users!

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Reputation Management Best Practices

Apps thrive off their users. Understanding the current user experience is a top priority. As a developer, you want to make sure that users are enjoying your app and saying positive things to help with the app’s overall rating. The easiest way to understand their experience is by monitoring user reviews.

Monitoring and managing user reviews can help you understand their current experience and help boost retention and conversion rates. Since everyone wants to boost their numbers, it’s important to monitor and respond to these reviews to engage with a majority of the app’s audience. Establishing a constructive developer-user relationship that shows you want to give them the best possible experience.

By adopting one of ASO’s many facets, Reputation Management, developers turn negative reviews in positive ones.

Negative vs Positive Reviews

Similar to buying a product, users will turn to reviews to see what others are saying about it. If they see an abundance of negative reviews, they are less likely to buy or download that app.

While there can be stark differences among negative and positive reviews, ultimately, it’s important to read and respond to both. Some examples of negative reviews can be:

  • A user saying something positive but giving a low star-rating
  • Possible bugs or glitches
  • Issues regarding navigation
  • Being upset that the app doesn’t have specific features

Negative reviews tend to have a negative or low star-rating (3 stars and below), but positive reviews aren’t always good feedback. They can also present possible issues that are masked by a positive or high star-rating (4-5 stars). Positive reviews can be:

  • Useful feedback regarding the app and its features
  • Suggestions on possible features
  • Encouraging feedback that addresses possible bugs/glitches

By taking the time to respond to both positive and negative reviews, developers can engage with their audience and quickly address any feedback and issues. Developers should not only respond to reviews, but should also have a strategy for responding to them. Below are reputation management best practices so developers can to stay on top of reviews.

Reputation Management Best Practices

1. Respond to the Majority of Reviews

It’s necessary to take the time to carefully read all reviews. From there, they can take the time to select which user reviews they want to respond to.

Developers need to respond to every negative review and choose a select group of positive reviews to respond to. Developers need to ensure that when they choose this group of reviews, they don’t take too much time responding. Some issues are time sensitive like login issues or possible charges, so it’s best to respond to those in a timely manner.

2. Discover the Source Behind Negative Comments

If there’s an influx of negative reviews, developers need to understand why their users are upset and resolve the issue as fast as possible.

Take into consideration what the reviews are saying to quickly identify the source. Was there a recent update? Are there glitches within the app? Does the most recent update have bugs? Is a feature of the app no longer working?

These are all valid questions to ask internally to swiftly assess the situation and strategize how to respond to users. If users are reporting glitches and bugs in their reviews, let them know that the team is working to find a solution for the problem. Once the issue is patched up or resolved with a new update, go back to those reviews and let the users know.

Going back later to let them know the issue has been resolved shows that the developer cares about their experience. Responding to these types of reviews also encourages users to later go back and update their review with positive feedback and a higher star-rating.

3. Apologize & Sympathize

When users present an issue, they want it to be taken care of in an effective way. Sometimes responding with, “We’re looking into your issue,” just doesn’t suffice. Developers need to be apologetic and sympathetic to show that they care about the issues at hand.

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If the complaint is regarding a technical issue, they can try directing the user to additional support so the matter can be handled in a one-on-one setting. This shows the user that the developer cares about resolving their issue quickly, and effectively.

4. Short, Sweet & To-the-Point Responses

Responding to reviews doesn’t need to be long-winded. Users want a solution, not an explanation. Make sure that the response you give is short, sweet and to-the-point while effectively addressing the issue.

If the response is long and doesn’t really aim to rectify the user’s experience, they are less likely to continue using that app or even come back to update their review positively. Give a simple response that addresses the feedback and temporarily satisfies the user.

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5. Treat Every Review Individually

Sometimes when there is an abundance of similar reviews, developers allocate blanketed responses to cover all their bases. If users see the same generic response of, “Thanks for using our app!”, they may interpret the response can come off as templated or insincere.

Each review, negative or positive, should be handled individually and given an appropriate response that addresses what the user mentioned. Take the time to pick out a point that the user mentioned in their review and elaborate on why you’re happy that user is enjoying your app.

Key Takeaways

Developers need to take the time to engage with their users and establish a productive developer-user relationship. By following reputation management best practices, they can easily identify the types of reviews they should respond to and create a solid response strategy.

Don’t leave users in the dark if there are issues with an app. They are more likely to simply uninstall if their questions go unanswered. Take the time to respond to users and make sure they know that you’re working on making their experience the best one possible.

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How User Reviews Can Help or Hurt Your Conversion

Imagine you’re a user browsing through either the App Store or Google Play Store and an app catches your attention. While some users instantly tap ‘Get’ without reading the description or even looking at the screenshots, you want to dive deeper into this app and understand what other users are saying about it.

You start reading reviews only to realize that the app’s star rating is low and many users are upset because of various bugs or crashes. Thanks to these user reviews, you move onto the next best app you can find.

Bad reviews tend to have a negative effect on the decision-making process of users. If they see an app that is riddled with negative reviews, they are less likely to convert. User reviews can be a major deciding factor, so what can developers do to make sure their reviews don’t negatively affect their conversion rate?

Developers can focus on monitoring and responding to user reviews, which is an important facet of ASO best practices.

Before we get into responding to users, let’s first break down why reviews are important.

The Importance of User Reviews

Having lots of reviews help to make your app stand out. It means that your app has higher visibility and is more likely to be found and downloaded than ones with fewer reviews. Reviews even help an app rank better for keywords that appear often within them.

While it may seem like user reviews only benefit other potential users who want to understand the type of experience they’ll have, they are also extremely important to developers. They can use reviews to tackle any questions or concerns that might arise and help users understand how to navigate the app simply by responding. This gives developers the opportunity to engage with users and create an important user-developer relationship.

Because the user-developer relationship is so important, Apple and Google both allow developers the ability to respond to user reviews. While Apple didn’t start this capability until February 2017, developers have been able to reply to users on the Google Play Store since May 2013. Google has even made major changes to their search algorithm in August 2017 to hide low-quality and glitchy apps based on their reviews.

Ultimately, user reviews are incredibly important to how users perceive an app and can detrimentally damage conversion if not monitored. Developers looking to improve their conversion rates can adopt the concept of Reputation Management to monitor their reviews on a daily basis.

Responding to Reviews

While every user review is important, not all of them necessarily require a response. Developers need to understand that user reviews are a way to engage with their audience and show their users that they care about the current experience. However, some reviews are more important to respond to than others.

Developers should respond to:

  • Most negative reviews (3 stars and below): Negative reviews that should be responded to can range from a user accidentally hitting a low star rating or users that have a serious problem. Timing is everything, so it’s important to respond to lower star/negative reviews first to make sure the issue is handled in a timely manner. Negative reviews that are obviously meant to cause problems or don’t make sense at all can usually be ignored.
  • Select positive reviews (4-5 stars): Just because a review is positive doesn’t mean it can be ignored. Positive reviews deserve just as much attention as negative reviews but can be selected sparingly. Engaging with users that left positive feedback shows that you care about their experience and want to help if an issue ever does arise. When deciding which positive reviews to respond to, concentrate on ones that call out specific features, include feature requests, or you can tell they really put thought into what they wrote.

By engaging with reviews, both negative and positive, it encourages users to take the time to think about their experience and later update their review/star rating. A good example of this would be an app with a well-known crashing issue. If a developer were to respond to users affected by the issue, those users would be more likely to continue checking the app and later update their review once the issue has been resolved, all because the developer took the time to respond.

When users update their reviews/star ratings, it helps the app’s overall rating improve and show potential users that the developer cares about the current experience. In turn, users are more likely to convert when they see positive updated reviews.

It isn’t just new users who are affected by responding to reviews. When a current user has an issue and sees that others are also having the same problem without any response from the developer they are more likely to leave a negative review. However, seeing a developer respond will make them continue to have confidence in the app and keep using it, or come back to the app once the issue is fixed.

Maintaining the Review Funnel

Just like any good ASO strategy, it’s important to stay on top of user reviews and make sure that they are being responded to every day, or at least whenever new ones come in. It’s good practice to start dedicating some time each day to respond to reviews so you understand the current user experience, as well as learn about any problems the app may have.

If you start slacking off and stop responding to reviews altogether, you’ll become unaware of what users are saying, breaking that user-developer relationship. Start responding to reviews, both positive and negative, and take control of your conversion rate today to see improved success in your app’s performance.

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Why Apps Need ASO Even if They’re in the Top 10

When it comes to getting an app seen and downloaded, reaching the top 10 list in the app stores is like reaching the holy grail. For most people, it takes a momentous adventure through proverbial caves, dodging competitors, and working hard (on their App Store Optimization strategy) to reach their goals. However, for some, reaching the top 10 happens without much effort.

Reaching the top 10 is a numbers game that takes into account the amount of downloads over a certain period of time. It can be a great way to jumpstart an app’s claim to fame, but without proper ASO, an app will start to lose steam and drop from the ranks faster than a boulder falling from the sky.

Before we jump into why ASO is so important even if an app is already ranking in the top 10, let’s go over what it actually takes to reach. The top 10 list requirements vary for different app stores, and even for different categories within an app store, but the concept is the same. If an app is able to get more downloads over a set period of time than another app, it ranks higher. To reach the top spot in a category, or overall, the app must have more downloads over the same time period as the app in the second spot.

The Luck of The Top 10

The idea behind it is pretty simple, but actually making it happen isn’t. Most downloads are keyword driven, meaning that users find an app based on a certain keyword or set of keywords. While choosing the best keywords are part of a strong ASO strategy, it isn’t the only thing to consider.

Here are a few reasons apps can reach the top 10 without strong ASO.

  • Popular Brands: This one is simple. If the brand is already known, especially by an already established fan base or a large social reach, their fans will be waiting in line to download the new app.

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  • Reinventing the Wheel: These apps take a concept that is already popular and creates a new app around that, often times relying on gimmicks rather than solid innovation. They are usually not as well developed as the original but they often get a lot of downloads quickly.

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  • Right Place at The Right Time: These types of apps are usually from unknown developers who publish the right app at the right time. Their app is most often basic, but stable. However, since this relies on either correctly predicting upcoming trends or getting lucky, it’s pretty rare.

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  • Self-Fulfilment: These apps are usually created for personal use, or internal use within a company and then offered to the public. A lot of finance apps are created this way.

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Reaching the top 10 without a solid strategy, one that evolves over time, is mostly about luck, or having a pre-existing community. In almost all cases, without proper ASO, apps that fit under these categories will drop from the top 10 list just as fast as they reached it.

ASO For Long-Term Stability and Growth

Whether an app is one of the lucky ones that reached the top 10 without much work or one that has been optimized, a strong ASO strategy that adapts to the changing market, as well as current trends, can mean the difference between failure and long-term success.

By looking at the top 10 on any app store under any category, many will start to notice a few trends. These trends are often optimized titles, descriptions, and creatives. These ASO tactics will help apps organically rank higher in search and allows for the app to stay fresh and up-to-date on current trends. Apps that follow these tactics to tend to see not only an increase in downloads, but also more loyal users that increase their retention rates.

While the above tactics are the positives to having an ASO strategy, there are also negatives that can occur. Falling prey to common ASO mistakes can break apps just as fast as it can make them. A poor ASO strategy can mean essentially handing competitors new business, even if the user was originally looking for a specific app. Developers need to make sure that they avoid common ASO mistakes to ensure that their app can hit the coveted top 10 sooner rather than later.

One last thing to consider is that if an app’s marketing campaign includes Apple Search Ads, ASO is especially important to get the best results. With the exception of your keyword bank, both the Basic and Advanced versions of Apple Search Ads use pre-existing metadata that is already established within an app’s listing. This means without optimizing the app’s metadata, even an app in the top 10 would be throwing away money with paid search.

Takeaways

A solid ASO strategy that takes advantage of the changing market and current trends is essential for any app trying to attract new downloads. Just simply reaching the top 10 or having a pre-existing audience isn’t enough to keep the app going. Optimized titles, descriptions, and creatives are important in order to compete with other apps. Developers need to focus on bringing in new customers with a winning strategy such as ASO.