Growing App Installs Without App Store Optimization (ASO)
As many of my friends and colleagues have noticed lately, marketing mobile applications has really piqued my interested over the last six months or so and I’ve been doing a lot of work in the mobile space. I, along with many marketers believe that mobile is the future. I mean, I use my iPhone and iPad for everything. Looking up movie times, restaurants to eat at, finding store hours & phone numbers, purchasing just about everything I currently own and the list can go on and on. I’d say in most cases, it really isn’t much different for mobile applications.
I’ve noticed that over the last year or so, I’ve been doing most of my research on apps to download to my devices via the search engines versus the Apple App Store. There are several reasons for this, some of which I’ll get into in the meat of this post. Unfortunately, I see this trend growing (see two images below) and if you’re only relying on the app stores to generate new installs, you’re missing out on potential revenue, probably captured by your smarter competitors.
So let’s jump in to the problem with app store optimization and how it’s just not cutting it these days and some alternatives to growing awareness and generating more installs for your app.
The Problem With ASO
Let me first preface this section with the statement that app store optimization isn’t bad. You need to do it (here’s a resource to help you get started), but over the last year or so, it has become increasingly difficult to gain traction in most verticals for two reasons. First, everyone is optimizing for the app store and it’s leveling the playing field. Optimization just isn’t enough to get you there anymore. Second, apps with bigger marketing budgets tend to dominate the app store. The more buzz your app has (creating buzz often times costs a lot of money), number of installs grows, install velocity increases, and if your app is good, the more reviews you get. You see how it works… it’s just hard to compete these days.
So you’re probably thinking, dang that sucks, what are my options? Well, you have a few and you need to remember, ASO doesn’t operate in a silo, marketing in other channels directly impacts results in the app store. So, as you’re building external buzz and growing downloads, building trust with your user base and asking for/receiving reviews, your ASO will start to kick in and you’ll generate additional visibility in the app stores.
Landing Page Optimization
Alright, you’ll need put put on your SEO cap here. It’s time to go back to the basics. As I mentioned and displayed above, people are using the search engines to find great apps to install on their devices. If you don’t have a website for your app, or at least a landing page, you’re missing out on some potential visibility. Here’s what you should focus on when optimizing your landing page:
Title tags are still a huge signal to the search engines of what a page is about. When writing your title tags make sure they read naturally and include your keywords in addition to mobile application and whatever operating system it is compatible with. Here’s a great title tag: Task Management Mobile Application For iPhone & iPad.
The content on your landing page is also an important signal to the search engines and important to help sell the idea of installing your mobile app. Create compelling content that is keyword rich and unique to your application, stress the benefits that come from installing your app, and seal the deal with a few reviews or testimonials from current users. Then, send them over to the app store to download your app.
Leveraging Rich Snippets
While creating the content for your landing page, one way to set yourself apart from the competition is by leveraging rich snippets. Yes, you read that right, you can mark up your content with schema and draw more attention in the SERPs. Here’s more info from Google about rich snippets for all kinds of applications. Do it… you’re competitors probably aren’t!
When you’re done marketing up your content, make sure to run it through Googles structured data testing tool!
Next, as with any online marketing campaign, you need to generate some awareness for your application. Most times, unless your app addresses a very specific problem in a very specific niche, you aren’t going to just start showing up in the search engines. So, lets give it a little push through the following strategies:
I don’t care what anyone says, highly optimized, direct to consumer press releases still generate awareness and drive traffic to landing pages. Most of the time it’s awareness for long tail search queries, but who cares, it’s awareness! So take some time to draft an extremely well written, interesting, and keyword optimized press release and submit it via PRWeb or PRNewswire. You’ll be surprised what it will do for you!
Believe it or not, there are some well respected sites that perform reviews of new mobile applications. CommonSenseMedia.org for example is a site that performs such reviews for kids apps. These sites find new apps to review several different ways. Some find them through PR efforts (that’s weird :)), some through pure research on their end, some through non-paid outreach, and some accept payment to review your app. So what you should do is create a list of sites you’d like to be reviewed on and figure out how they determine which apps to review and reach them through those avenues. You’ll be glad you invested the time to research and execute.
Video is powerful, I mean, YouTube is the second largest search engine on the internet, so why not take advantage of video?
Take some time to create app demo videos, optimize them, and submit them to YouTube. Most of the time, that will be enough to get some quick visibility because most marketers aren’t leveraging this channel to promote their app. Sometimes, it might take some some YouTube ads to get the ball moving, but regardless, video is a fantastic way to generate awareness!
Did you know that there are millions of mobile content publishers and mobile apps looking for new and better ways to monetize their user base? Because of this, companies like youAPPi have come up with ways to monetize mobile and are killing it for their clients by serving up recommended apps to download through their publisher network. It’s a brilliant way to quickly generate more awareness and downloads.
There are other great ways to create buzz that I’m not going to get into such as PPC, REAL guest blogging, and social media marketing. So don’t get discouraged that your ASO isn’t getting you the results you were hoping for… there’s still hope for your app! It just takes a little elbow grease.
About The Author
Greg Shuey is a digital marketing exec for Stryde where he helps strategize and execute holistic marketing campaigns for large and small businesses around the world. He also loves performing technical website audits and helping businesses with internal marketing teams fix glaring problems and succeed online.