App Store Optimization is essential, but you should start optimizing and marketing your app before it hits the store. Before you launch your app, here are the steps you should take to ensure a successful launch. Know Your Audience and Competition Your app should have a target audience, and once you know the kind of user you’re targeting, you’ll be able to design your creative assets around them. Think of who you want to target down to their age, gender, hobbies, income (in some circumstances), knowledge of the app, values, worldviews, and so on. When you have a clear idea of your audience, you can focus on appealing to them. Look at the user interface and visuals the app uses and see how they will appeal to intended users – do your choices appeal to your key demographic? Focus groups and tests can help you ensure you’re appealing to the right audience, so you’ll be able to reach them as soon as the app hits the market. However, it’s also important to understand what apps you’ll be competing against. Know who your competitors are, who they’re targeting, what keywords they rank for, and why they’re popular. While you can target competing apps by using the same keywords, you also need to think of how your app will differentiate from them. What makes it unique, and why would anyone download yours over the competition? You shouldn’t copy their strategy verbatim, but instead should take the time to understand their audience, what keywords they rank for, and how well they’ve succeeded. All these factors will help you understand how to market your app and learn from your competition’s failures. Prepare to capitalize on the benefits your app has over a competitor’s, so you’ll be able to stand out. Know the Market In addition to understanding your target audience and competitors, you’ll want to research the state of the app market and ecosystem, especially in regard to the kind of app you’re marketing. Competitor research should give you good insights into what kind of apps people are currently looking for, what keywords they’re searching with, and what features are popular. Are there any new innovations in the app market that users are excited about? Learn how you can utilize the latest app trends to catch your audience’s attention before they turn to a competitor. If you can target the trends and features people are starting to search for, you’ll have an edge from the moment your app goes live. Marketing & Building Buzz Once you know exactly who you want to target, it’s time to put your marketing plan into play. There are multiple marketing strategies you can undertake before your app’s launch to ensure your audience knows about it. A having a website is still helpful, and good landing page can convert visitors to users, with some success stories showing a 27% conversion rate. These are what users will find when searching the Internet, rather than the app stores. There are also websites designed for alerting users of apps due to hit the market, which helps build awareness before the app’s launch. Start advertising on social networks and relevant websites. If your app has the budget for influencer marketing, use it to start reaching your target market and building hype. Even making a Facebook page can help reach potential users and get them interested, and having a page for them to follow means you can notify them as soon as the app goes live. Once your app is live, you can start utilizing Apple Search Ads or Google AdWords to create paid search campaigns. These will help make your app more visible to your intended audience and drive in installs. Start Optimizing Even before your app hits the store, you should have an ASO strategy in mind. All the steps you’ve taken up until now have provided you with the information you’ll need to optimize your app – the target audience, competition and state of the app market will help determine the steps you need to take for optimization. Know what keywords you’ll want to use, have strong creatives, write an effective description and make sure you follow ASO best practices so that your app will be off to a good start. However, you shouldn’t think that ASO is a one-and-done process. It takes constant refinement and testing, as well as maintenance to keep up with changing consumer behaviors and trends. However, if you have an ASO strategy in place when your app is ready to launch, you’ll be one step closer to success.