Tag Archives: iOS

App Store Search Ads are a great complement to your ASO strategy

How Search Ads and ASO Go Hand-in-Hand

Apple launched their Search Ads initiative just over two months ago, taking the world of App Store developers by storm. Many developers feared that these new ads, placed prominently at the top of search results, would nullify or somehow contradict the ASO work they had already done. In fact, the opposite is true – ASO and Search Ads go hand-in-hand.

To understand how best to incorporate Search Ads into your existing ASO strategy, you must first look at how the ads work and what Apple wants to achieve with them.

Why Search Ads?

When the App Store’s title limit was 255 characters, thousands of spammy apps cluttered the store. These apps crammed keyword after keyword into their titles and descriptions, attempting to manipulate Apple’s rankings system by targeting often-irrelevant high-volume phrases. These apps weren’t just sloppy, they looked sloppy on the storefront, too. It was the opposite of Apple’s clean, sleek aesthetic.

By removing apps with titles longer than 50 characters and introducing Search Ads, Apple has forced spammy developers to clean up or leave the App Store, without denying legitimate developers a way to increase their rankings in the absence of a long title field.

This motivation extends out past Search Ads. Everything Apple does in the App Store, they do to create a more streamlined, friendly experience for users.

How ASO Can Help

That said, Search Ads on the App Store work a little differently than other keyword-based ad platforms. While many ad platforms award placement to the highest bidder, Apple also takes an app’s relevancy into account. It is incredibly difficult to have your app featured number one in a Search Ad for a term it is completely irrelevant for.

This comes from the same philosophy that led Apple to remove long titles from the App Store. For Apple it’s all about user experience, and that means for Search Ads it’s all about relevancy. If your app isn’t relevant for a keyword, you won’t have any luck targeting it in an ad.

ASO is all about creating that type of relevancy. A standard keyword optimization always takes into account which words and phrases your app is relevant for, and which of those phrases are being searched most by users. ASO then becomes all about selling Apple on the relevance of your app to those phrases.

A similar process can be used to create relevancy for keywords that you wish to target in Search Ads. It’s all about creating context for why your app is relevant for the terms you wish to target.

Because a standard optimization already creates relevance, and App Store Search Ads require and thrive off of that relevance, ASO and Search Ads work together to bolster one another. It’s just another way in which all mobile marketing is beginning to center around ASO.

iOS App Titles – Apple Cracks Down

For the first time since in its eight-year history, the App Store’s title field will be shortened from the previous 255-character limit to a new, concise 50 characters. Apple made the announcement to developers early on September 1st, sending shockwaves through the development community as many apps will be forced to alter their titles.

Starting September 7th, all app titles will be limited to 50 characters maximum. Live apps with titles that exceed 50 characters will be subject to warning from Apple. If within 30 days of receiving a warning the offending title hasn’t been updated, the app will be kicked off of the store. Apps that crash on launch will be removed from the store immediately.

This new initiative by Apple means more than just a cleaner-looking App Store, though. The title field is widely considered one of the most important components of App Store Optimization, as it sends a clear signal to Apple of what your app should be ranking for.

During the process of ASO, both an app’s title and keywords will be optimized to encompass the widest possible array of popular, relevant search terms. Words from an app’s title and keyword bank can combine to create phrases, meaning developers who add complementary words into their title and keyword bank will often have an advantage when it comes to organic discovery via search. This is why many apps use “title tags”, descriptive keywords which serve to inform the user (and Apple’s rankings system) of the functionality of an app.

Take the Google Maps app, for example. The app’s current title is “Google Maps – Real-time navigation, traffic, transit, and nearby places”. Words from their title can contribute heavily towards their app’s rankings. Consider words such as “traffic”, “transit” or “nearby places”. Alone, these are highly trending searches. Combined, they create a strong rankings portfolio for Google Maps, without ever taking up a character in the keyword bank.

The problem? Google Maps, along with thousands of other apps, has a title that comes in at over 50 characters. In the Top 100 Free Apps alone, there are 13 apps with titles longer than 50 characters as of this writing. These apps will have to consider how to shorten their title and re-optimize their keyword bank so as to maintain the highest possible number of words and phrases in their rankings.

 While the title field is changing, the concept of ASO itself is not. Combining words from the title and keyword bank will still be a way to gain more rankings for your app for the foreseeable future. The challenge now becomes to determine which words and phrases are most valuable to your app.

Search Ads – How Paid Search Will Impact iOS Developers

This Fall Apple is preparing to initiate the biggest shift for App Store search yet in the form of Search Ads, sponsored app placements that will appear at the top of certain searches within the App Store.

Apple’s developer page bills Search Ads as “an efficient and easy way for you to promote your app within the U.S. App Store search results, helping people discover or reengage with your app at the very moment they are searching for apps like yours”. Sounds helpful, but to developers who make their living from apps, any change in the App Store can seem worrying. How will Search Ads impact the store’s ecosystem? Nobody knows for sure, but we can make a few points with confidence that show Search Ads may be the next great thing for developers.

To start, let’s talk about just what a Search Ad will look like in the App Store. When a user types in a targeted search term (“photo filters” is the example used by Apple), if a developer has bought an ad and Apple deems the app relevant for that term, it will appear at the top of the search results above the first organic search result. That means the ad will now be the first app users see. However, top ranking apps don’t have to worry about being pushed off of the front page, because Apple has designed the search ad to be smaller than a traditional search result. This means that both the ad and the top organically-ranking app will be visible to searchers right away.

A Search Ad also differs from a traditional listing in the number of screenshots shown. There are many different display options when your search ad goes live. Portrait ads generally seem to display three screens, at a smaller size than a standard App Store search result. Screenshots can also be displayed in landscape, or even not at all. Potentially, though, apps advertising through Search Ads will have one more chance at converting a user than traditional app listings.

A small blue “Ad” notification will appear next to the developer name, indicating to users that this is not a standard organic search result. Pertinent information such as an “Editor’s Choice” banner can also be displayed, should your app have received the honor from Apple in the past.

Aside from these differences, it’s business as usual for Search Ads being displayed in the App Store. The app’s title, visual elements and developer are all displayed front and center. The “Get” button is the same as well, meaning that users will be able to download advertised apps with one tap.

According to Apple, “various targeting features will enable deeper discovery of apps, including lesser known or niche apps”, and “by default a user won’t see ads for apps they already have downloaded”. Similarly, a Search Ad for your app will be shown when Apple deems your product to be relevant for a user’s search, so you won’t have to worry about your app only appearing for users who type in one specific phrase.

Continuing on that theme, Apple will by default automate much of the process of buying the ad for you, should you choose. When you buy a Search Ad, Apple will automatically match your app to relevant user searches in the U.S. store. You don’t have to type in any terms off the top of your head or search up the most popular terms, by default at least. If you do want that granular level of control, Apple will allow you to target specific keywords and audiences, and provide APIs for campaign creation, management and reporting.

Once your ad is live, payment will function similarly to a Google Adwords campaign. Purchasing an ad plays out like an auction, and you only pay when a user actually taps on your ad. There’s no minimum amount to spend and no contracts, so it seems as if Apple is keeping things flexible, for now at least. This also means that anyone who has spent time with Google Adwords should be able to pick up Search Ads relatively quickly.

Apple’s insights suite offers buyers a chance to track the impact that their Search Ad is making on their product. The Attribution API breaks down results by each keyword bid upon, and supposedly emphasizes privacy for both you and the user as information lookup occurs exclusively on the user’s device.

All of that sounds great, but how will Apple’s Search Ads actually play out when millions of apps potentially have access to them? To find out, we’ll turn to Google’s Search Ads as example. Google released Search Ads for the Google Play storefront a year ago, and were met with a similar mixture of excitement and trepidation from developers.

Even during the beta period, though, Search Ads were found to be a great way of converting high-quality users. Nordeus CEO Tomislav Mihajlovic, for example, told TechCrunch that his company saw “significantly more app installs from Search with the addition of Google Play inventory for [their] game Top Eleven”. Other developers, like Uber competitor Honk, claimed that Search Ads through Google cost as little as one-third the price of a Facebook ad campaign.

History shows, then, that Apple’s Search Ads could very well be a boon to developers in the App Store.

The Apple Search Ads beta is available now for curious developers out there.

IOS User Interface Guidelines

How To Design An IOS User Interface That Fits Apple’s Guidelines

If you intend to design an iOS app, you must abide by Apple’s user interface guidelines.

The most important iOS human interface guidelines include:

App Anatomy

According to Apple, almost all iOS apps use the components defined in the UIKit framework. In general, the UIKit user interface elements are broken down into the following four categories:

Bars

  • This component consists of contextual information that keeps app users aware of where they are, how to navigate, and how to initiate certain actions.

Content views

  • This element should contain app-specific information and allow users to perform actions such as deleting, inserting, and rearranging content or app elements.

Controls

  • Users should be able to perform app-specific actions or display content.

Temporary views

  • The app should briefly show users key details, functionalities, or content that they can access.

The UIKit also covers the objects that you can incorporate into your app to enhance gesture recognition, accessibility, support printing and support drawing functionalities.

You can think of a UI element/component as a type of view that responds to user interaction.

This means that content, sliders, buttons, text boxes and tables are all types of views.

The best way to offer a seamless hierarchy of views inside your app is by using a view controller. This component allows you to manage a transition from one screen to another, displaying available views and implementing user-based interactions and functionalities.

iOS Themes

Your iOS app must embody the following UI themes:

1. Clarity

Clarity refers to legible icons and text as well as easily recognizable user interface controls such as sliders and buttons. These must be precise and have a sharpened focus.

One way of enhancing clarity is by leveraging the power of negative space to make content stand out and be more noticeable. A good example is the way messaging apps use space to separate incoming and outgoing content.

You can also use a suitable system font such as San Francisco to make letters and words easier to read by adjusting letter spacing and line height automatically.

Luckily, the iOS system font works well with Dynamic Type. A third way of enhancing clarity is by using borderless buttons. Of course, you can create a content area button with a thin border to make it stand out from the surrounding elements.

2. Depth

Apple recommends using realistic motion or visually appropriate layers to enhance the attractiveness of your app’s content as well make it easier for users to understand it.

When implementing depth elements, you should convey hierarchy and position.

For instance, you can use 3D touch functionality to allow app users to explore content in a more interactive way. You can also implement a translucent background element to make content appear to float above other app elements.

Other depth elements that you can deploy include enhanced transitions and zooming functionality.

3. Deference

Deference refers to the UI component that enables app users to interact with and understand content without overshadowing it. You can easily achieve this goal by creating a crisp UI that can transition fluidly across views.

For example, you can use translucent UI elements to give app users a hint of the content that is behind the current element.

However, you should be wary of UI heavy elements such as drop shadows and bezels because they can overwhelm and turn the attention of app users from the primary content.

For the best results, you should cast such elements in a secondary/supporting role.

Standard Gestures to Support

Your app should support standard gestures that mobile device owners have become used to including tap, drag, pinch, swipe, flick, double tap, shake, as well as touch and hold.

Additionally, you can include gestures that allow users to perform system-wide actions such as accessing the main menu or reaching the notification center.

However, you should avoid using standard gestures to implement different app-specific actions because doing so will lead to confusion.

Moreover, you should not define and implement new, non-standard features unless your app is a game. This is because such features may make your app harder to use and compromise the user experience.

If you intend to create complex gestures, only do so as a shortcut for executing a specific action much faster, not the only way to perform it. This will make it easier for users to select functionalities that suit their needs.

This notwithstanding, complex and non-standard gestures can enrich your app’s functionality and user experience greatly if properly implemented.

Conclusion

When designing an iOS app, you should pay attention to Apple’s UI guidelines. This includes ensuring your app has all the UIKit framework components, embodies UI theme elements and supports standard gestures.

enterprise-mobile-apps

Enterprise Mobile Apps and Mobile’s Move into Business

In Tim Cook’s introduction of the new iPad Pro during Apple’s fall event, and in subsequent interviews – the message was clear – the iPad Pro is to be a business laptop replacement.

Apple makes the majority of their revenue from selling hardware. Public partnerships with IBM, Cisco and other enterprise app publishers support the narrative – Apple is aiming to sell more hardware in the enterprise and they are driving demand for their hardware via apps.

The implication for mobile app publishers and marketers is the potential for a much larger audience for your apps as Apple leads the charge of the mobile ecosystem replacing the WinTel environment represented by the desktops and laptops used across the enterprise today.

Apple and IBM announced their unlikely partnership mid-year 2014. 18 months later IBM is showcasing 100+ iOS apps.

SAP has 67 published to the Business > Enterprise category of the app store alone.

enterprise-mobile-apps-SAP

The mobile platform wars are essentially over, with Android and iOS claiming a shared victory.

This settling even spurred Microsoft into action – as they hadn’t released a dedicated iOS app for Outlook until January of 2015.

The implication for mobile app publishers and marketers is the potential for a much larger mobile ecosystem and audience for your apps…

Enterprise mobile apps market

It is important to note that enterprise mobile apps can be custom-built for internal use, or built by app publishers targeting enterprise business users.

This is not unlike the difference (for example) between internal, proprietary CRM software and enterprise cloud software like SalesForce.

Red Robin is a good example of a large company (over 500 casual restaurants in the US) that has embraced custom mobile apps for their specific needs – building both a training app and a custom app for managing the waiting list – used in their restaurants with iPads.

Opportunities for developing and deploying custom enterprise apps is enormous, but mobile apps built and sold to enterprise clients to solve common business challenges drive hardware sales at scale.

Not surprisingly, the leaders in enterprise cloud software – Salesforce, Oracle, SAP, IBM, Cisco – are also the leaders in enterprise mobile apps.

Apple has formal partnerships with each of these industry leaders – with Adobe and (gasp) Microsoft publically demoing their apps built specifically for the new iPad Pro during the Apple release event.

Enterprise mobile apps examples

Mobile apps from Salesforce can be promoted to almost 4 million sales reps, encouraging ditching the laptop for an iPad Pro – huge.

There are also business app publishers that may not be household names likely to have a large impact on Apple mobile hardware sales and the migration to a mobile ecosystem in business.

Box

30m paying users that have all the functionality of the web app on their mobile device.  Add in their technology partners and the network effect  starts to come into focus.

When the limits of mobile devices for business (lack of enterprise apps) disappear – the PC’s lack of mobility/portability is too big of a limitation to ignore.

box-enterprise-app-partners

WebEx (Cisco)

Two of the primary drivers of a formal Cisco/Apple partnership have to be the proliferation of BYOD and the obvious mega-use case of mobile video-conferencing.

Cisco has around 40 mobile apps for iOS, but their most popular is WebEx – the uber-popular video conferencing and webinar hosting tool.

enterprise-apps-cisco

Why would mobile professionals lug around a laptop and deal with powering ons and offs when an iPad Pro delivers apps like WebEx?

Enterprise mobile apps in 2016

The top free, paid and grossing business apps in the app stores are predominantly productivity apps, consumer-related business apps (job search apps/LinkedIn) and apps targeting small business users.

No matter how enterprise app distribution develops, via the app stores or via a centralized volume purchasing program – the investment from the world’s largest software companies into mobile apps and specifically iOS apps may be the fuel the mobile ecosystem needs to make serious dent in the enterprise space.

Which is good news for all mobile app publishers.