Performance marketing as we know is great. Advertisers get to determine their budgets, the actions that they will pay out on and the audience they want to see their message. This however is all dependent on partners willing to work with them, and their ability to make money from their co-operation.
In recent years a number if factors have combined to make performance marketing more complex. Saturation in the smartphone market where nearly everyone who wants one and can afford one owns one, means that we do have the number of new entrants to the market we had a few years back. Increase costs of acquisition through ad networks and Facebook, means that it is becoming trickier to achieve a positive ROI on campaigns.
With these growing complications, what are the options for the advertiser? Well one is to partner with a mobile performance expert like Papaya who can help manage expectations and results. Another is to look at alternate routes to market such as App Store Optimisation.
In order to explore what App Store Optimisation is and how it can work in tandem with performance marketing campaigns we caught up with Rory Mudie, CEO Director and Chief Executive, Redbox Mobile one of the leading practitioners in the field and put a number of questions to him.
1. What is App Store Optimisation (ASO)?
ASO is the very simple process of getting your app to rank highly in the app store for relevant keywords. Also known as ASO in the industry, app store optimisation is what SEO is for the web.
App Store Optimisation makes sure that all of the component parts of your app store pages on Google and Apple are as good as they can be in order to drive sales/conversion. Key components typically include your icon, name, sub-titles, keywords, descriptive text, screenshots and videos.
2. What is the difference between this and opportunities like Apple search advertising
ASO and Paid Search are two separate practices that need to work together in harmony. However, one is paid and the other is free. Search advertising or Paid Search as it’s more commonly known, is buying the space at the top of the app stores for both Apple and Google. The other, ASO, is concerned with organic search results from users typing in a keyword into the app store and does not involve making any payment to Apple or Google. If you are using Paid Search yet your actual ad isn’t up to scratch, you will be spending money on clicks and impressions but won’t be converting your users, resulting in a lot of money down the drain.
3. Does ASO operate the same way across both the Apple app store and Google Play
There are some key differences between the two sites, for example, the lengths of the title, subtitle and long description vary between Apple and Google, with Google’s meta-data being longer in all senses. However, the concept is the same both aiming for relevance and conversions.
Keywords are plugged into a third party organic data provider and then ranked by the following Search Score, how often the keyword appears. Chance, the likelihood the app is going to appear from that keyword. Total apps, how many apps are currently ranking for that keyword and finally current rank, how your app is currently ranking for that keyword.
The ideal situation for both Apple and Google is to find keywords with a high search score, high chance score and a low total number of apps.
The rest of the strategy is using these carefully selected keywords together to make full sentences that describe the app the best within the character limits. Also important in ASO for both Apple and Google are the visual aspects. The app icon, screenshots, video and other factors, have different prominence on Google and Apple. For instance, Apple requires one to ten screenshots while Google requires a minimum of two screenshots and a maximum of eight. Along with this, we will always push screenshots for Apple clients more than Google clients due to the fact Apple’s screenshots being above the scroll line and therefore having more of an impact on users. The differences between the two stores are important and must be considered carefully, it’s vital not to apply the same, ASO to both stores.
4. What are the benefits to app developers of using ASO and how does this compare with more traditional advertising routes to market
ASO is totally free and is the most impactful marketing strategy that you can do. In fact, 65% of downloads come from people searching within the app store. ASO doesn’t compare to other marketing strategies because you already have a user base that is ready to buy because you are exactly what they are searching for. Conversions, engagement and customer lifetime value is considerably higher in the App Store compared to traditional advertising routes.
5. Can ASO spend be tracked/attributed in the same way as other advertising spend
Like for like, ASO spend can’t be tracked due to the fact it’s free. However, you can track the general progression of your app. Third party data providers allow you to access your current ranking which means you can track your progression before and after ASO has been completed. It is also important that when paying an agency to do your ASO the spend is accounted for by acquiring valued users.
6. What trends do you see in ASO over the short to medium term and how will this affect customers
ASO has been around for six years we have been applying it for five and the changes in that time have been pretty big; it used to be a lot easier. ASO is now based not just on what people think but what gets the best results and are most relevant to keywords. One example of this is Google recently admitting to altering their algorithm in order to allow higher reviewed apps to rank higher on the app store. We anticipate more changes like this that make ranking fair and more in-depth. We are also hoping that the algorithm delves deeper into apps, pulling results for apps that are relevant, not just by their metadata but also what is inside the app. This would move more towards the sophistication of SEO.
So the answer is ASO offers a different route to user acquisition from performance marketing, and taps into user acquisition at a different point in the funnel. To me this suggests that ASO and performance marketing can be used in a complementary fashion to achieve better results. We look forward to examining other alternate routes to market in future pieces. Thank you for reading.