Stand Out in App Stores with ASO: What You Need to Know – App Growth Blog Series (Part 1)

As you may have already deduced by our company name, App Growth Network, we’re all about growing apps! So we’re excited to launch this App Growth blog series as a follow-up to our 7-part App Pre-launch blog series. 

Over the next few weeks, we’ll take you through some stages of the growth funnel based on the Customer Lifecycle “5 steps to success” AARRR framework:

  1. Acquisition – acquire users from various channels
  2. Activation– create a “happy” user experience
  3. Retention – keep your users long-term
  4. Referral – ensure users like your app enough to refer others
  5. Revenue – monetize your app

In this first week, we’ll delve into the first step: acquisition

There are various user acquisition channels based on your app’s category and your target audience, and they fall into 2 categories: organic and paid. 

The most widely used channels in both categories are:

  1. Organic Channels
  • App Store Optimisation (ASO)
  • Social Media
  • Content Marketing
  2. Paid Channels
    • Facebook ads
    • Apple Search Ads (ASA)

In this article – Part 1 of the series – we’ll focus on the first organic user acquisition channel: App Store Optimization (ASO)

What is ASO?

App Store Optimization is the process by which you set up your mobile app for success by improving its visibility in the app stores. This is done through metadata changes, targeted app campaigns and more. 

Here is a summary of tips that experts suggest for ASO:

  • Focus not only on metadata but on specific display features of your app – ASO depends on it
  • Consider iOS and Android differently
  • Automate your ASA
  • Go global & localize: leverage India, Russia, Brazil & China
  • Backlinks: stick to quality, consider cross devices
  • Get featured within the App Store/Google Play
  • Test, test, test!

To get more details about each of the factors mentioned above, check out this blog about the latest secrets of ASO of 2019.

If you want to improve ASO, you must understand what affects ASO.

Our friends at Mobile Action have contributed with helpful information by outlining what has the greatest effect on App Store Optimization:


Top 5 Factors Affecting ASO 

According to Apple, 65% of downloads come from search queries, which makes search a crucial channel for conversion. This means that increasing an app’s visibility by ranking higher in search results is a must for every app publisher. 

Consequently, organic growth is a determining element for overall success throughout an app’s lifecycle. When growing organically, it all comes down to two things: increasing visibility and increasing conversion. Although these two are related – since high visibility also increases conversion – there are different factors affecting each phase. We’ll briefly explain each one here: 

1. Keyword Optimization

Visibility of an app depends highly on Keyword Optimization, which can be considered as the backbone of the whole App Store Optimization process. The Keyword Optimization cycle contains 3 steps: finding keywords, choosing and narrowing down your keyword pool, and testing your chosen keywords.

Finding the right keywords to include in your app’s metadata will increase the rankings and visibility tremendously. 

Keep in mind that your app will be constantly evolving to reach new users and markets – which means that Keyword Optimization also needs to be consistently reviewed to stay at the top and not to miss on potential users’ needs. So, the cycle above is a continuous process to which all app marketers need to pay close attention.

2. Conversion Optimization via Creatives

Once you make sure that you’ve aced  Keyword Optimization, the next step should be Conversion Optimization. This is accomplished by optimizing the creative assets on your app’s page. 

These creative assets include your app’s icon, screenshots, and the video (if there is one). When your app appears in the Top 10 results for a keyword query, users will decide whether to tap on your app for more information within the first few seconds simply by looking at the logo and screenshots. That’s why these creatives must be optimized to be the most memorable and to reflect the best functionalities of your app. 

Videos also have a great converting capability if created effectively. There is no one-size-fits-all rules for this, but checking your competitors’ creative strategy always helps to guide ideas for your own app.

3. Reviews & Ratings 

Reviews and ratings show how an app is doing and are a great indicator of the satisfaction level of its current users. Although they don’t have a direct effect on the rankings, they are still considered an important factor because they indicate the user-experience level that your app offers.

4. Number & Velocity of Downloads

Although the weight of this factor on the rankings has lessened in both app stores, it still affects organic growth to a certain extent. When users view your app on the search results page, one of the determining factors that affect users’ decision to download your app is, without a doubt, the number of downloads. 

For a recently launched app, it’s probably a factor that can’t be improved immediately. Nonetheless, a good download number is achievable with continuous improvements and with as few bugs as possible.

5. Retention Rates

Both app stores take into account the retention rate of an app, but Google approaches it in a more detailed way, as it also looks into the retention rate drawn from a keyword. In other words, Google checks the retention rate coming from a specific keyword when calculating your app’s rank for that particular keyword. This is a precaution Google takes against Black Hat ASO tactics. To rank higher, it will always help to keep your retention rates as high as possible with a good customer support base.

The first two factors listed above – Keyword and Conversion Optimization – are the ones you can control. But the rest of the factors come as a result of either your ASO efforts or your app’s capability of satisfying the needs of your users. Regardless of your priorities in cultivating growth for your app, keep in mind these five factors when you design your growth strategy.

If done correctly, ASO is a powerful growth tool. Even just focusing on one of the factors can make a huge difference. This was the case for app, Heroes Job, that increased their organic downloads by 568% in a month by using App Store Keyword Optimization.

Stick with us this month as we share more helpful tips about the acquisition stage and continue to move on down the funnel. There’s lots more good stuff to come! 

If you’d like a free one-stop resource to all of our App Growth tips right now, download our “How To Grow Your App” e-book here!

Jennifer Sansone

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