App Preview Videos: Tips for iOS App Previews

You’ve perfected your description. Your icon looks great. You’ve uploaded all of the screenshots you need in every required size. Now all that needs to happen is the end-user tapping “GET.” Is there anything else you can do?

You can increase your odds with Apple’s new App Preview, a 15-30 second video you can create to get users excited to try your app.

 

Why do I need an App Preview?

In today’s App Store, the App Preview video shows up before your screenshots. App Previews are one of the first things you see when you search for a new app in the App Store.

As a developer, the App Preview gives you a chance to make a much more engaging pitch to get users to download your app as opposed to static screenshots or sifting through a description. Once a user taps to play, a 15-30 second video will be far more powerful than a few screenshots and lines of text.

 

How do I make one?

Creating an effective App Preview doesn’t have to be hard! It’s easy if you follow this basic guideline:

Once you have a video captured of your app in action and open in your video editor:

  • Incorporate interesting art assets or instructional text overlays to both excite and educate the user
  • Be sure to include a frame or text overlay that discloses In-App Purchases
  • Ensure transitions between scenes don’t imply functionality that your app doesn’t have

When exporting, don’t forget:

  • Your App Preview can’t exceed a file size of 500mb.
  • .mov, .m4v or mp4 format only.

Doing this for one device and dimension is simple enough, but be sure to include feature & gameplay videos for all dimensions of the devices you support.

 

What dimensions should I use?

Just like screenshots, App Previews must be in different sizes for different devices. You are allowed to upload a preview for every available device, except for the 3.5-inch iPhone 4 and 4S.

  • 5 Series: 1080 x 1920 or 640 x 1136
  • iPad: 900 x 1200
  • iPhone 6: 750 x 1334
  • iPhone 6 Plus: 1080 x 1920

Don’t forget to ensure your App Previews are up to Apple’s basic video specifications.

 

What should I say with my App Preview? 

What’s in the video is up to you as the developer: Choose what you want your users to see and experience! It’s important that the content you do choose to use shows the user how the app looks and works.

Apple also requires developers to disclose In-App Purchases in the preview, either through the video itself or as text superimposed on the video.

Screenshots do provide some sense of how your app works, but App Preview could entice the user into their next download or purchase.

As with screenshots, be sure your App Preview is honest to the app’s features or gameplay.

 

What shouldn’t go in an App Preview?

Everything featured or seen in your App Preview should be your own content or things you have the rights to. Be careful not to use music or footage from other apps or videos that do not belong to you.

There are also some basic things you shouldn’t do for your videos:

  • Only use touch hotspots (not animated hands) to demonstrate touch gestures if necessary
  • Avoid objectionable content, violence, adult themes and profanity
  • Previews may not contain ads, platform logos, pricing or timelines.
  • Stay within the app! You don’t have to show people interacting with the app, or show over-the-shoulder angles or fingers tapping the screen.

App Previews you upload for your app are seen across all region iTunes stores. It’s recommended that you avoid voiceovers and including a lot of text in App Previews so that other users from other territories aren’t deterred.

Unlike apps in the “Games” category, which can have action and art packed in every second, text-heavy categories like “lifestyle” will be under a bit of a disadvantage when it comes to creating an exciting preview video. Don’t fear though- as long as your video is informative, engaging and educational, you can create a great App Preview.

 

What does a good App Preview look like?

The developers of Geometry Dash used the App Preview to show off the gameplay with short captions while at the same time some of the character options users have in the game.

app-preview-video-1

Another example of a great App Preview is the preview used for FaceTune. Instead of animated hands floating around the screen everywhere to show you where things are, the preview quickly goes through the basic functions of the app with a single touch hot spot for the user to follow.

app-preview-video-2

Most importantly, these videos contain the necessary information to get a user excited about the app- they aren’t too fast and they don’t drag on too long.

 

What does a bad App Preview look like?

One of the App Store’s more popular games, Blek, released a trailer through YouTube that uses a real hand to show the user how the app works and also does not disclose In-App Purchases.

app-preview-video-3

Apple wants to keep all of the App Previews uniform. It’s important to show how your app works, but without other distracting factors like having animated hands or real hands use the app for you in the video.

Keep in mind- if you lose a user’s attention for even a second, they may turn off your preview video and leave without downloading your app.

 

What else should I keep in mind?

App Previews could be the final factor that pushes a user to tap “GET” on their mobile devices. Just as how your app’s description and screenshots play a huge part in how your app is seen in the App Store, the App Preview could be what pushes possible users to download your app.

For better insight into how users feel about your App Preview, try showing it to an App Focus Group. Whether it’s A/B testing a few videos you have in mind or simply gaining insight into the video currently live, users may have some insightful feedback about how to improve your video.

iOS App Submission Screenshots Help

What are App Store Screenshots Best Practices?

Adding screenshots of your app when submitting to iTunes Connect seems simple enough, right? Take screenshots, upload the files, done.  However, the screenshot area is a very important part of how users perceive your app and you should be sure to know the answers to these technical and strategic questions.

Why are there different sizes?

One of the benefits of past-gen iPhones was their single screen size.  This made it easier for developers to make an app without having to worry about a consistent user experience across multiple devices; everyone had the same sized device.

Now that there are different iPhones with different screen sizes, developers must keep them each in mind when creating and submitting apps.

Do I really need all of them?

If your screenshots are not available in the newer iOS dimensions, it’s a red flag to users that the app hasn’t been updated in a long time.  Some users may not give your app a second thought if it looks out of date.

Even if your app was designed with only the smaller iPhone screen in mind, you can still show users how it will look on multiple devices.  Having this option shows that you still care about maintaining your app in the modern App Store- even if the app itself is a bit outdated.  Updating your screenshots can be very beneficial- and it’s a lot less difficult than redesigning your entire app!

What sizes do I need?

iTunes Connect now asks for 4 different iPhone sizes when you’re preparing your app.  If your app works on iPad, it’s important to include that as well.

Remember, dimensions are displayed “width” by “height.” These are portrait dimensions; if your app is shown in landscape, just switch the numbers around.

  • * 4.7 Inch:
    • 750 x 1334
    • Used for iPhone 6
  • * 5.5 Inch:
    • 1242 x 2208 (scales down to 1080 x 1920)
    • Used for iPhone 6 Plus
  • * 4 Inch:
    • 640 x 1136
    • Used for iPhone 4 & iPhone 5
  • 3.5 Inch
    • 640 x 920
    • Used for iPhone 3
  • iPad:
    • 1536 x 2048
    • Used for all iPads

* What’s great about the 4, 4.7 and 5.5 inch screenshots is that they are all about the same aspect ratio.  Just make the largest one first and scale it down to make the other two!

What file type should I use?

When you’re exporting your images, remember to keep them high quality. Use PNG-24 or JPEG format.  When using JPEG format, don’t compress the file too much or your users will see unsightly JPEG artifacting.

Now that you’re a technical expert, what should you do with these images?

What should my screenshots say?

Calling these images “screenshots” is something of a misnomer.  Many successful apps use the screenshot area to display a mixture of in-app screenshots, text overlays and other artwork to create images that are both informative and engaging.

Have a look at what the widely popular Heads Up uses for screenshots:

headsup-screenshots

Imagine if these were in-app screenshots, rather than people using the game with instructional text.  Doesn’t sound very appealing, or informative for that matter. These screenshots tell a story about the app and engage the user.

The point of the screenshot area is not to copy and paste pictures from the app; rather, it is to grab a user’s attention, let them know what they are in for and get them excited enough to tap “GET.”

What order should they go in?

Always put your best screenshot first.  In app store search and on iTunes pages, users will only see the first screenshot- this screenshot should be able to tell a story and engage a user on its own.

phones-optimal-screenshots

The first screenshot on the left communicates how a user will use the app right away; the one on the right simply shows an out of context screengrab from the app, which doesn’t communicate much.

Make sure your first screenshot says it all.  Once a user is interested in your app and scrolling through the other four screenshots, they will have a context to go off of and you can show technical details about how the app looks.

Anything else I should know?

Along with the technical and communicative ideas to keep in mind, remember these:

Use a high resolution source image. Your source should be much higher than the final sizes you are exporting to.

Make sure the text is legible. Keep in mind users will be reading this on phones, not a computer monitor. Look out for jaggles- watch the anti-aliasing!

Have a healthy mix of art, instructions and real screenshots. You want to make your images interesting and informative, but users still want to see some in-app images so they know what they are downloading.

Hope that helps!  Remember, on mobile App Store search results, the 1st screenshot takes up 50% of the screen.  Your first screenshot is going to be your best shot at getting a user interested in your app.

If you want insight into what your screenshots are communicating to end users and how they may be improved, try running them through a mobile app focus group. Sometimes the end users respond in unexpected ways!

Keyword Competition in App Store Optimization

There are many opinions in terms of how to determine the “competition” on a keyword in the App Store. Unfortunately, many of these are derived from concepts from Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and the way mobile search works is very different from web search. We’re here to help debunk all of the myths and assumptions coming from the vast corners of the web and tell you what the facts really are, from people who actually conduct optimizations all day long.

1. The number of apps listed in results for a keyword determines competition = FALSE

Many ASO tools (and bloggers) will tell you that the number of apps that are listed when you search for a keyword determines competition. The theory here is that the more apps “competing” for a keyword, the harder it will be to rank for that keyword. We understand that optically this is an easy concept for developers to understand (and an easy data concept to sell) however it is completely inaccurate.

Just like web SEO your ability to rank for a keyword is determined foremost by the relevance of your app v.s. the keyword that you are targeting. Avoiding “competitive” keywords purely based on the number of apps listed is the worst thing that you can do for your app. You’ll be cutting yourself off from traffic that you may easily obtain if your app is determined to be highly relevant.

It is possible for any app to rank in competitive keywords with proper ASO
Beating out Home Depot for “Home Improvement” keyword

 

2. Your Description doesn’t matter for App Store search = FALSE

The content of your description is a key indicator regarding the context of your application for the purpose of App Store Optimization. When Apple and Google are trying to determine whether your app is stronger than any other for a particular keyword and phrase, the description matters. Don’t discount the importance of a concise first paragraph and a detailed feature listing to justify why you deserve to be ranked for important keywords.

Reviews are also an important indicator of which keywords your app might be most important to rank for. Be sure to collect as many reviews and ratings as possible from end users, because this user feedback is weighed highest when determining context for your application v.s the keywords that you choose.

There are some great resources to increase reviews for your app organically including:

Appirater: https://github.com/arashpayan/appirater (organic, from your traffic)

Be careful not to incentivize reviews with cash or be taken advantage of by dubious services online that “guarantee 5-star reviews” because frequently Apple and Google track activity of these services and you could land in hot water. Reviews are best when they are organic and not incentivized with cash.

3.   Go broad and stuff with as many diverse keywords as possible = FALSE

Indeed, it is true that you want to maximize your keyword/phrase reach in the App Store, but stuffing your title and keyword list with random words that are perceived to have high volume is the wrong approach. When you are choosing keywords, be sure to select ones that complement each other and will clearly communicate what your top two or three priorities are for the app. Don’t forget that almost 80% of searches in the App Store are 2-3 word phrases, so build in complimentary “connecting” words.

This strategy is relevant to competition, because the way that you structure your metadata and select your keywords helps you overcome competition on quality keywords and phrases. Just like the web, where Google makes it “easier” for more relevant websites to rank – the algorithm only understands that you are relevant if you feed it appropriate data. When it is linked together, this data must make sense to the computer that is trying to understand what your app is all about.

4.   Avoid “competitive” keywords and target “lower volume” or “long tail” keywords = FALSE

This advice has no logic whatsoever. While you may get some degree of satisfaction typing a phrase and seeing your app listed near the top, if nobody else is searching for that phrase it is effectively worthless to you. Developers need to focus on making their app relevant where it counts, not ranking for sub-par keywords that won’t really matter in the long run. The sooner you get started targeting the higher volume keywords more aggressively the better you will be in the long run – as long as you know how to maintain your ASO every month.

When you take advice for App Store Optimization, it is important to keep in mind where that advice comes from. Often advice will be flavored by what a particular technology or tool can or cannot do, instead of focusing on how the App Store really works. While Gummicube is a technology company (with our own stellar ASO tools!) because we actually conduct optimizations on behalf of partners we don’t have to curb our opinions based on available features of any particular tool.

Following this methodology has helped Gummicube make 1000’s of apps successful in App Store search. Give it a try yourself or contact Gummicube today for help with your App Store Optimization!

 

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App Store Optimization (ASO) Blog | Mobile App Marketing