DEV’S GUIDE TO APP STORE OPTIMIZATION
App Store Optimization helps your game get discovered
App store optimization (ASO) is a lot like the mobile game Rules!—each time you learn a strategy, another rule is added to an already lengthy list. For mobile game devs, the ever-changing “rules” when it comes to app store optimization strategy are things like the game’s app icon, app name, app preview video, screenshots and app description.
Apple and Google continue to make app listings more complex, but they do little to help developers figure out where to focus for prime optimization. So what are devs to do? Test, of course.
The first step to testing app store listing assets (be it an updated screenshot or an altered description) is to run it by coworkers, friends and beta users. The next step, assuming the smaller test is a success, is to live test.
Google Experiments is the leader in app store testing. Besides being free, it also uses traffic from the app store to inform devs on their tests. The drawback of Experiments is that it takes time to get results, and in the meantime, the test could be negatively impacting downloads. Another option for live testing is to use an app store optimization service that directs paid traffic into listings and costs about about $750 for a test with two variants.
Whichever route devs take, it’s important to understand which areas of the listing to optimize—a process that usually involves split testing multiple versions of an asset. StoreMaven, an ASO service that simulates app listings for devs, has some tips to help optimize the overwhelming number of data points and priorities for a listing:
Although decisive users may sound like an easy win, the “explorers” are likely more valuable, because their engagement is higher. Explorers will look through a listing—sometimes extensively. According to StoreMaven’s CEO, Gad Maor, top game companies will often address decisive users with great initial assets, but spend more time optimizing the assets that decisives never see, seeking to entice more of the valuable explorers to download.
Many developers try to choose their app icon by running ads in Facebook with icon variations. Maor suggests that this method is flawed. “The problem with this is the metric you’re tracking is click-through on ads,” he cautions “In many cases, there isn’t a correlation between the ad click-through and the conversion rate.” A better test involves coming up with major icon variations (“Users don’t care about minor changes,” Maor says) and testing them directly in the store.
A game’s title can still be tweaked in soft launch or even after launch. The catch is, even Google Experiments doesn’t allow for changing your game title. You’d have to use StoreMaven or another ASO service.
Finally, it’s important to note that devs shouldn’t just build a “perfect” listing and leave it stagnant. In parallel to paid advertising, conversions in a given store listing tend to decrease over time. This may be caused by shifts in the type of audience viewing the listing over time or the search algorithms in each app store. It’s often good practice to tweak marketing along with major game updates.
This article was originally published on Chartboost.