Tag Archives: screenshots

App Store holiday updates are coming - Update app icon & screenshots to match.

Holiday App Update – Position Your App for Success This Winter

The holidays are a prime time for developers to update their creative assets on the App Store and Google Play. As we approach the end of the year and the impending App Store shutdown, be sure to take the time for a quick app update in this busy season – it can ultimately be worth a lot.

App icons and screenshots have been an integral element of conversion optimization ever since the App Store first debuted. Having a crisp, appealing and evocative app icon can make all the difference when users browse through the App Store’s home and search pages. After all, there are millions of apps out there, so yours should stand out.

Similarly, screenshots are crucial for converting users and communicating the core features of your app. As you update the features of your app, you can also update your screenshots to communicate those new features to your users quickly and efficiently.

As the holidays approach, developers have multiple opportunities to update both the features and the presentation of an app in the App Store.

Many app developers choose to implement new features or promotions over the holiday season. Shopping apps, for example, often run deals or promotions. Many games run specials on in-app purchases, or create unique events that have users coming back to the game. See Pokémon GO’s Halloween update, for instance.

When your app runs a promotion for the holidays, it is a crucial moment for increasing conversion and bringing back lapsed uses who dropped off of your app. This, coupled with the excess of free time around the holidays, makes the winter period perfect for drawing users in.

You will want to broadcast your promotions loudly – Use your screenshots to show off your promotion with an updated image featuring both a picture of the promotion and a quick text callout drawing users to it.

Even if your app is not undergoing a holiday-specific update, it is still in your best interest to update your app’s icon for the holidays. This has several effects. First, it shows users that you are on top of updating your app. When users download an app, they want to know that it will continue to be supported into the future.

Second, this opens you up to any promotions that Apple or Google may run over the holiday period. Oftentimes, apps that have relevant features are promoted around holidays. Dating apps, for example, get the spotlight around Valentine’s Day. Travel apps, shopping apps and games are just a few of the types of apps that are more likely to be promoted around the holidays, so update your icon to a holiday version to show Apple and Google that you’re doing all you can to get the holiday spotlight. After all, your users aren’t the only ones who want to see that your app is still being updated; Apple and Google tend to promote apps that get more frequent updates, too.

With a simple update to your icon and screenshots, your app can find new life over the holiday season.

PokeGo

Pokémon Go – Why the Hit App Needs ASO

Pokémon Go – It seems like all anyone can talk about lately. And why not? It became the top grossing app in the US within 13 hours, raising Nintendo’s market value by $9 billion in five days. 21 million users play the game daily. Between four and five million more download it each day. And with well over $1 million daily setting the app above competitors like Candy Crush and Clash of Clans, it seems like The Pokémon Company and Niantic are on top of the world.

It might come as a shock, then, that Pokémon Go is in desperate need of ASO.

Beneath the sheen of the Pokémon brand, surprisingly little has been done to market Pokémon Go to mobile users. And while brand recognition and online chatter have contributed significantly to make the app number one on the charts, those factors can only take a game so far. As of now, when the social media masses move on to the next big craze, Pokémon Go won’t have a leg to stand on.

Let’s start with the app’s most crippling weakness – its keyword rankings. As expected, Pokémon Go ranks for multiple Pokémon-related terms, such as “pokémon games free” and “pokémon RPG”.

However, many of these rankings fall well below what you might expect. For instance, as of this writing the app is only rank 8 for “pokémon games free” and a whopping rank 600 for “pokémon RPG”, a shocking figure given that Pokémon Go is, for all intents and purposes, the biggest Pokémon role-playing game of all time.

The rankings only get worse from there. A series of surprising oversights means that users who may connect with Pokémon Go will likely never find it through search. For example, the app does not rank at all for Nintendo, a brand closely associated with the Pokémon legacy. Similarly, the app doesn’t register for its world-famous mascot, Pikachu. Nor does it rank for other famous creatures like Mew, Mewtwo, Squirtle, Charmander or Bulbasaur.

Even generic phrases are missing from Pokémon Go’s keyword rankings. Core words and phrases that are extremely relevant and could help the app grow by leaps and bounds are outright missing, such as:

  • Collect
  • Catch
  • Raise
  • Breed
  • Trade
  • Dragon/s

The list goes on and on. Just take a look at the snippet of Pokémon Go’s ranking report below.

Datacube Pokemon Go Rankings 5

As you can see, the app ranks well for some generic terms like “mobile games”, but lacks rankings for crucial relevant terms that could help more users find the app organically. Just look at how mixed the app’s ratings for Pokémon-related terms are, with most Pokémon rankings falling in the high hundreds or worse.

It’s not just the app’s metadata that’s suffering, either; Pokémon Go’s store page is surprisingly lacking, too.

For starters, the app is completely lacking a preview video. Thousands of users have taken to the Reviews section to complain about a lack of clarity in Pokémon’s features, and the absence of a preview video only compounds confusion around the game’s feature set.

Without a preview video, the task of convincing a user falls to the app’s screenshots. The first screenshot is simply a digital Charmander standing against a barren street corner. There are no feature callouts, no explanatory text to guide users, just a barren and boring image.

The same can be said for each of the following screenshots. Each image is simply a capture from the game, with little to nothing to offer context to the user about what they are seeing. There’s even a low battery shown atop several of the screenshots, highlighting a common complaint from users that the app drains battery too quickly. Next to the battery percentage a charging symbol can be seen, giving the impression that the developers were rushed in creating the screenshots and didn’t have the time to take captures at full battery or edit the images before they were uploaded.

With the massive success of Pokémon Go, it can be easy to overlook just how many ASO best practices the app completely ignores. While the brand’s worldwide recognition has already been enough to launch the app to massive success, once the fires die down on social media, Niantic and The Pokémon Company will need to make sweeping changes to their App Store presence in order to keep their spot at the top.

Screenshot App Marketing

Screenshot App Marketing Tool Roundup

With so much effort invested in increasing the visibility of an app in app store search, attention to converting app store views to installs and users can take a back seat.

Just a reminder – this is how search results look when searching Apple’s App Store:

screenshot-app-marketing-tool-example

Notice the 1st two screenshots make up the majority of the app listing in search results?

Screenshots have a huge impact on converting app store viewers into installs and users.

We’ve covered best practices for creating screenshots, and screenshot tips for Google Play and Apple specifically.

Here we introduce tools for building app screenshots – without a designer.

App Screenshots for the App Store

Screenshots tell a story like words just can’t.

Take a look at the screenshots Clash of Clans uses for the Apple App Store:

clash-of-clans-screenshots

Screenshots like this require a designer, and have likely been tested on focus groups, A/B tested and optimized by geography.

But take a look at the 13th ranked, free app in the US app store – Spotify:

spotify-screenshots

Much more simple – various screenshots from the app displayed on a modern device with a clean background and text describing features/benefits and calls to action.

The tools below can help you create app screenshots similar to those used by Spotify and many other popular apps.

Even if your team has designers dedicated to your company’s mobile projects, it can be helpful to have a few do-it-yourself options for creating app screenshots.

All of these app screenshot tools are super easy to use, produce professional screenshots and are free or close to it.

PlaceIt

The team over at PlaceIt have continued to invest and improve their offering over the last few years.  This tool allows npn-designers to take screenshots from their app and add them to a wide range of devices and scenarios.

placeit-screenshots

Create screenshots for multiple devices, and output your new designs in every format your app supports.

As an example – you can create 5 screenshots using an iPhone 6s as the device in the image, then output the 5 screenshots in the right dimensions for app listing viewed from an iPhone 5, 6,  6 Plus and iPad.

Seb Hareng over at App Marketing Lab recorded a demo of PlaceIt and another screenshot app marketing tool that is worth watching.

LaunchKit Screenshot Builder

If you are looking for a super simple tool for adding your app’s screenshots to a device and adding text – the Screenshot Builder from LaunchKit is free and produces great results.

launchkit-screenshot-builder-tool

Drag and drop your app screenshots into the builder, add text, change background colors and export in every dimension you need.

I made these screenshots in 5 minutes:

screenshots-launchkit

This is a good tool for creating and testing multiple calls to action, without involving designers.

Davinci Apps

All of these tools make it easy to grab screenshots from your app and add them to almost any device you like, and the app screenshot tool from Davinci is no different.

daVinci-screenshot-creator

Choose from multiple devices, backgrounds and text styles or start with one of several templates.

Export your new designs in all the dimensions you need with a single click.

All of these screenshot tools export to the latest dimensions and format for Google Play and the Apple App Store, but to be sure you can check the latest Apple app listing requirements, and Google Play requirements (must be logged into your developer account).

5 Smart Strategies For App Store Screenshots

Without looking, do you know which element of an app listing makes up 75% of the view in the app store search results?

Here is what Apple’s app store search results look like on my iPhone 6:

IMG_0265 2

The first result is Twitter’s Periscope. While the listing includes the app name, publisher, icon and even ratings, the first two screenshots take center stage.

Optimizing an app listing for visibility in search results consumes a lot of what’s talked about in ASO, but converting viewers is how we actually acquire users.

And since the screenshots are such a big part of the view a potential user sees when navigating the app store – we need to make sure our screenshots are optimized for conversion.

Features First

If you have read some of our other posts on app store optimization for Apple and Google Play, you know we are big on highlighting features.

Features and brands are how users search the app stores. With your market research using an app store intelligence platform, you know which features of your mobile app are most important or differentiating.

When focusing on your app’s features, make sure the first two clearly show what your app is for and what it does.

Visiting the Periscope listing again – they have obviously decided to position the app in two ways:

  • explore the world (for those consuming videos on Periscope)
  • broadcast live from anywhere (for those making videos)

Even if you had never heard of Periscope and you saw the listing in results from a search for  “live video” or some other related search, the first two screenshots tell two different types of potential users exactly what the app is and does.

Screenshots 3, 4 and 5 go into additional features including discovery and the social features, but screenshots 1 and 2 show off Periscope’s most unique, important and differentiating features.

IMG_0266 2

Focus Group Tested

Identifying your app’s most important features is one thing, designing screenshots that are understandable and encourage action is quite another.

From the graphics used to the call to action or copy, and of course even color and font choices impact how potential users react to your screenshot design.

Testing a variety of screenshot designs with a focus group made up of your target audience can provide actionable feedback that is hard to get anywhere else.

Two benefits of working with a focus group on app screenshots designs are:

1)  testing a wider variety of design directions and calls to action

A completely different design direction that flops won’t impact actual conversion rates and installs like live-testing would.

2)  qualitative and quantitative feedback. Most A/B testing on live traffic is data driven

“Screenshot Design A” converted at a 15% higher rate than “Screenshot Design B” so let’s go with “A”. With focus groups, we can get written feedback as to why a user liked one design over another, what was confusing, what they liked etc…

Increasing conversions in app store views from 25% to 30% (a 20% increase) can mean thousands of new users each month.

Order Testing

Maybe your app has 2 or 3 features that really set it apart, and you are not sure which to lead with?

As we have discovered, the first 2 screenshots are visible in search results – so experimenting with order can have a real impact on conversion rates.

Bamboo Apps shared they saw an increase of 50% in installs from rearranging screenshots.

A/B Testing

Multivariate testing (or A/B testing when there are only 2 variations) is virtually impossible on Apple’s app store, but Google Play recently announced support for testing of all sorts of app listing elements.

Called “Experiments”, Google Play helps publishers test different icons, names, descriptions, and screenshots by country – and on whichever percent of live traffic we choose.

Since these experiments are being run on live traffic, tests should be limited to smaller variations in screenshot designs, copy and order – and limited to one test at time for the best results.

Screenshot Localization

Depending on where your current traffic is coming from, screenshot localization can provide an easy improvement in conversions.

Because screenshots are limited in scope, changing out text and graphics is much more simple than localizing an entire app.

How screenshots are localized really depends on who the app is for and what it does, but the call to action copy is generally a pretty reasonable project for those new to app localization.

A recommendation – don’t rely on Google Translate as we discussed in a previous post on app localization.


Optimization is an ongoing process of improvement where changes and gains add up.

The optimization of an app’s screenshots for conversion represents “low hanging fruit” for many app marketers and publishers.

By implementing the above strategies for app store screenshots, your app will be positioned to achieve solid gains from small efforts.