In Part I, I talked about the importance of having a good ASO strategy for your app. Part II presents some other options we have to gain more visibility for our app. All of them work much much better if we have a good ASO strategy in place.

See Part I  How to increase your app’s visibility

Search Ads

Apple Search Ads

Apple launched app-store Search Ads in October 2016. Right now they are only available in the US, UK, Australia and New Zealand. According to Apple, on average, Search Ads have a conversion rate greater than 50 percent, and the average user acquisition costs are $1 or less. However, the CPI vary widely by geography and app category.

The beginning of a new campaign is critical because early performance determines how often your ad will be shown in the future. If Apple decides your ad is not interesting enough, your ad will be displayed less. In order to succeed with Search Ads, you need to have a strong ASO strategy in place.

The two main factors that Apple takes into account when deciding which ad will appear for a particular term are relevancy and bid price.

Relevancy. Your app must be relevant for the term you are targeting in your ad. When it comes to relevancy, ASO and Search Ads can help each other out. App Store Optimization is about optimizing your app for relevant terms. Use your ASO strategy to show Apple that your app is relevant for the terms you are targeting your Search Ads for.

Search Ads are built from your app store listing. They don’t support custom ad creative. Apple uses the metadata (especially focus on keyword relevancy) and imagery from your App Store listing to create your ads. This is where your ASO strategy will set you up for success. To increase relevancy for terms you want to target use them in the first two sentences of your app’s description and on the app’s feature list.

Search Match is a feature where  Apples automatically matches your ad to relevant searches in the App Store. Apple uses the metadata from your app store listing, information about similar apps in the same genre, and other search data to work out whether your ad should be shown to a user. This feature can be turned on and off. By default is on, so if you want to target keywords of your choosing turn it off.

Apple Search Ads best practices

  • Don’t duplicate keywords across campaigns and ad groups because they will compete against each other.
  • Free apps work better. If you have a paid app that has a free version, use the free version first.
  • Test campaigns with “All Users”. When targeting, you can choose which customer types to target. The options you have are: 1) All users, 2) have downloaded my other apps, 3) have not downloaded the app, 4) have downloaded the app. With “All Users” you can engage inactive users and those that may have upgraded their device and not transferred your app over.
  • If you use the Search Match feature, add a list of comprehensive negative keywords so it does not duplicate keywords from other campaigns.
  • Before running a campaign, ensure you have a strong current star rating. A low star rating affects your Search Ads campaign with low TTR (Tap Through Rate) and CVR (Conversion Rate). TTR is one of the KPIs that determines your ad rank and your eligibility to participate in Search Ads auctions and serve impressions. Remember that after releasing a new app version, your star rating will reset which can affect your conversion rate.

Google Search Ads

Google introduced ads in the Play Store in 2015. There are three types of app promotion campaigns:

  • Universal app campaign (UAC)
  • Mobile app installs
  • Mobile app engagement

The Universal app campaign allows developers to run a single app install campaign across Google Play, Search, YouTube, Gmail and the Display Network.

Images and other information are gathered from your app store page. For this reason, it’s important to have a good ASO strategy in place. Keywords are very important and Google recommends using also the term “app” in the description since a lot of users search for “feature + app”.

Univeral app campaigns

Burst campaigns

A burst campaign is a mobile marketing technique that increases app installations dramatically in a short period of time (48 to 72 hours) with the goal of acquiring as many users as possible. With this, you gain instant placement at the top of Apple App Store and Google Play Store. The app stores have top charts with leading apps in each category. If your app is there, the visibility and the install rates increase. One of the main factors in getting your app to the top charts is the number of installs received. The increased visibility leads to a higher number of organic installs

There are two major types of burst campaigns: incentivized and non-incentivized CPI (Cost Per Install) campaigns.

Incentivized CPI campaign. You offer users to install your app in exchange for a free reward. The traffic you get is not always qualitative. The user value tends to be lower than in a non-incentivized campaign just because of the free reward. Also, it’s not enough to stay at the top of the app store for only a few hours. You will need other ways to maintain a large number of daily installs to hold that position.

Keep in mind that incentivized ads have a bad reputation and Apple has rejected apps that have utilized this type of ads.

Non-incentivized CPI campaign. These are ads targeted to other app users in the form of “install this app because…”. This type of campaigns tends to generate higher quality traffic and longer user LTV.

Burst campaign best practices

  • Equip your app with appropriate analytics before running a campaign. It is important to know where your installs are coming from and how your users engage with your app.
  • Because burst campaigns are pushing ads out at a high volume, it is important to have different ad options and rotate the creative frequently.
  • Consider when to use a burst campaign:
    • When launching a new app
    • To revive drooping apps downloads
    • Around a holiday season
  • Use multiple ad networks. Working with multiple ad networks gives you the best chance of reaching unique users.
  • Make sure you are targeting the right users
  • Know when to choose an incentivized campaign or a non-incentivized campaign.
  • Calculate ROI. ROI= Sum of Lifetime Value (LTV) of paid users acquired + Sum of LTV of organic users derived from the campaign – Cost of Ads bought

Get featured in the app stores

How to get your app featured in the Apple App Store

App Store editors decide which apps are going to be featured based on several factors:

  • Usability, appeal, and overall quality of the app
  • Efficiency and functionality
  • Apps that solve a unique problem for customers
  • Apps with high-quality and relevant localization
  • Well-integrated features
  • Uniqueness
  • Good ASO

When talking about games, they are also considering de following:

  • Gameplay and level of engagement
  • Graphics and performance
  • Narrative and story depth
  • Ability to replay
  • Gameplay controls

Make your app Universal. Make your app so it works on every Apple device (iPhone, iPad, Mac, AppleWatch).

Apple is also looking for apps that are not available anywhere else. Build and app that is exclusive to their platform. They will ask you if your app is exclusive to their platform and for how long (the longer the period, the better).

Make Apple relevant understanding what Apple is trying to promote. Apple is interested in highlighting apps that show off the latest OS and hardware releases. Fill this gap to increase your chances to get featured.

If you want your app to be featured worldwide on the App Store you need to localize and support 13 languages (English, German, Italian, French, Spanish, Japanese, Korean, Tradicional Chinese, Simplified Chinese, Brazilian, Portuguese, Russian, Turkish, Arabic). You can skip localization at launch.

Get media coverage. If someone from Apple sees an app featured heavily in the media, they’ll take notice.

Plan for big events. Apple tends to feature apps around certain events, Halloween, Christmas, Thanks Giving, New Year. Plan your marketing and launch around that time frame if you think your app is perfect for a certain time of the year.

Talk to Apple. If you want to be more proactive, go to WWDC and network. You can also try to reach developers that have already been featured on the app store and ask them for an introduction.

Be consistent. Apple will often feature the same developers time and time again because in the end is much easier for them to feature an app from a company they know and trust.

How to get featured in the Google Play Store

Google Play Store highlights two different kinds of apps in their charts: popular apps and new apps. One of the categories most coveted is the ‘New Free Apps’. Things you can do to get the attention of Google’s editors:

Build a high-quality app following the Google guidelines you find on the developer’s website.

Make the function of the app clear. Define one or two use cases at the most in the early versions.

Make use of the products released by Google every year. Implement Google tech in your apps.

Make your app Android friendly. Google really cares about app developers making full use of the capabilities offered by the Android’s platform. Follow Android’s launch checklist and support as many Android phones as you can.

Localization. Localize your app into as many languages as you can.

Be noticed by the Google Play editorial team. The best places to get their attention are on high-traffic industry platforms (Product Hunt, TechCrunch, Android Authority, Android Central).

If you want to be considered keep your ratings and reviews high (above four). This shows that your app is fulfilling users’ expectations.

Just launched

Google have launched Android Excellence (June 2017). The new collection will showcase apps and games that deliver the best user experience on Android. These apps use best practices, have great design, technical performance, localization, and device optimization. It will refresh quarterly. It can be found within the revamped Editors’ Choice section. In addition to being accessible on mobile, the new Editors’ Choice section is accessible on the web.

Android launch checklist

Read more

How to get featured on the app store – Dan Counsell  
How to get featured on the app store – Robleh Jama
How to get featured on the app store – Peter Lafferty
Implementing effective burst campaigns
Apple Search Ads: What you need to know to improve performance
Search Ads: How to increase conversion with ASO
Apple Search Ads 101: Terms & Tactics To Know
5 Advanced Apple Search Ads Best Practices