Apple's Holiday App Store Promo

Holiday App Store Optimization – Capitalizing on the Rush

The holidays are almost here, and the influx of new phones, tablets and gift cards that comes along with them will undoubtedly bring a wave of revenue to the App Store and Google Play. Whether or not last year’s record-breaking $1.1 billion in App Store spending can be beat remains to be seen, but regardless app developers would be wise to plan ahead for the holiday season.

A well-optimized app needs only a quick update to position itself strongly for the holidays. New creative assets, keywords and a blurb in the description can be enough to capitalize on holiday attention for an app that already has a dedicated fan base.

But what about apps that have yet to be optimized? The influx of users that occurs each holiday season can only be fully capitalized upon if your app is appropriately optimized. A strong optimization will increase the number of search terms your app ranks for, and during the vital holiday season, this change alone can make a huge difference.

On Apple, that means tailoring your title, keywords and description towards your target audience. Your app’s title should be descriptive and to the point, with a subtitle utilizing highly searched terms to flesh out your rankings and quickly explain your app to users. You only have 50 characters to work with, so be certain to focus on words that will improve your rankings. You want to target the most popular searches in the App Store while describing your app’s features at the same time.

Your keyword bank is where you have more room to experiment. Of course, you will still want to use highly searched words in your keyword bank, as these have more potential for putting your app in front of the most users. Focus on words that are relevant for your app and searched the most by users. You may also target competitor apps in your keyword bank, but be careful in doing so – many apps in the store target competitors in their title and keyword bank, but only a few are deemed relevant by Apple. In order to be deemed relevant, your app must have notable similarities to its competitor, and you must position your app’s description in a way such that those similarities seem reasonable. Smaller companies often have difficulty landing large competitors, too, so watch out for that.

On Google Play, optimizing your app works a little differently. Your app’s title is still important, but most notably, you don’t have a keyword bank to work with. Instead, Google crawls your app’s description for words that may be relevant to your app. Words that are placed at the front of sentences, or grouped together near similar words, are deemed especially important. That means the best way to optimize your app on Google Play is to create a description that features a bulleted feature list, almost like an outline, that details like features together with one another.

Another important element of a Google Play optimization is your app’s Short Description. This is an 80-character field that exists to give users a clear, concise description of your app. The words placed here are especially important for establishing rankings and guiding users to your app’s most important features.

By optimizing your app separately for each storefront, you can capitalize on the unique searches and trends that occur in each. And during the holiday season, with potentially over $1 billion being spent over just a few weeks, a strong optimization is more important than ever. If your app hasn’t been optimized yet, now is a great time to start.

Google Play 2017 Trends: More AR, More Face Swapping

Google Play 2017 – What We Can Learn From Google’s Top Trending Games of 2016

On December 2, Google announced their top trending apps for 2016. Included were games like Pokémon GO and Clash Royale, as well as apps like Face Changer 2 and Castbox. The popularity of these titles won’t surprise most who work in the apps industry, but Google’s announcement is still worth looking into for the sake of determining trends that have influenced the Google Play market this year – And may continue to do so throughout 2017.

For starters, Google’s Top Trending Games of 2016 were:

  1. Pokémon GO
  2. Clash Royale
  3. Traffic Rider
  4. slither.io
  5. Dream League Soccer

Meanwhile, their Top Trending Apps were:

  1. Face Changer 2
  2. Lumyer- Photo & Selfie Editor
  3. Castbox – Podcast Radio Music
  4. Emoji Keyboard Pro
  5. MSQRD

Let’s start with the games.

Pokémon GO became the fastest app to reach $600 million in revenue just three short months after its launch in July 2016. The app rode a wave of nostalgia and social media buzz to a massive launch, but that wasn’t the only thing that made it a success.

The game was the first major title to use augmented reality to enhance the game experience. Users were asked to go out and catch monsters in the real world, and the unique flavor of the gameplay made it a big hit. Augmented reality isn’t going anywhere in 2017, either. Just look at Google’s own Tango to see that Google Play 2017 will feature more of the AR gameplay that made Pokémon a hit.

Clash Royale, meanwhile, shows that real-time strategy games still have room to expand. With strategic online multiplayer games becoming more readily accessible through the mobile market, games like Clash Royale that offer real-time online multiplayer will be more attractive to the gaming market, in a similar way that online multiplayer has evolved the console gaming market.

Other games, like Traffic Rider, Dream League Soccer and sliter.io, serve to reassure game developers that arcade action and sports games aren’t going anywhere in 2017. These genres remain immensely popular, if crowded. Expect the usual growth spurts for sports games as the football and basketball seasons hit their peaks next year.

Google’s Top Apps, meanwhile, reveal a continued fervor for face changing and enhanced expression.

Of the top five, only two (Castbox and Emoji Keyboard Pro) are not related to photos. While these trends show that photography apps remain popular, there are tons of apps in these categories, and your app will need a fun hook to stand out. Face Changer 2 focuses on warping photos into funny facial expressions, while Lumyer has high-quality video effects and MSQRD has a wide array of face stickers. It’s safe to say we’re in for more face changing and video editing in 2017.

Google’s Top Trending Apps of 2016 reveal an interesting set of trends that will no doubt carry over into 2017. Look out for the above and more as we welcome in the New Year.

App Store holiday updates are coming - Update app icon & screenshots to match.

Holiday App Update – Position Your App for Success This Winter

The holidays are a prime time for developers to update their creative assets on the App Store and Google Play. As we approach the end of the year and the impending App Store shutdown, be sure to take the time for a quick app update in this busy season – it can ultimately be worth a lot.

App icons and screenshots have been an integral element of conversion optimization ever since the App Store first debuted. Having a crisp, appealing and evocative app icon can make all the difference when users browse through the App Store’s home and search pages. After all, there are millions of apps out there, so yours should stand out.

Similarly, screenshots are crucial for converting users and communicating the core features of your app. As you update the features of your app, you can also update your screenshots to communicate those new features to your users quickly and efficiently.

As the holidays approach, developers have multiple opportunities to update both the features and the presentation of an app in the App Store.

Many app developers choose to implement new features or promotions over the holiday season. Shopping apps, for example, often run deals or promotions. Many games run specials on in-app purchases, or create unique events that have users coming back to the game. See Pokémon GO’s Halloween update, for instance.

When your app runs a promotion for the holidays, it is a crucial moment for increasing conversion and bringing back lapsed uses who dropped off of your app. This, coupled with the excess of free time around the holidays, makes the winter period perfect for drawing users in.

You will want to broadcast your promotions loudly – Use your screenshots to show off your promotion with an updated image featuring both a picture of the promotion and a quick text callout drawing users to it.

Even if your app is not undergoing a holiday-specific update, it is still in your best interest to update your app’s icon for the holidays. This has several effects. First, it shows users that you are on top of updating your app. When users download an app, they want to know that it will continue to be supported into the future.

Second, this opens you up to any promotions that Apple or Google may run over the holiday period. Oftentimes, apps that have relevant features are promoted around holidays. Dating apps, for example, get the spotlight around Valentine’s Day. Travel apps, shopping apps and games are just a few of the types of apps that are more likely to be promoted around the holidays, so update your icon to a holiday version to show Apple and Google that you’re doing all you can to get the holiday spotlight. After all, your users aren’t the only ones who want to see that your app is still being updated; Apple and Google tend to promote apps that get more frequent updates, too.

With a simple update to your icon and screenshots, your app can find new life over the holiday season.

App Maker joins Google's GSuite lineup

App Maker – Google Introduces New App Creation Suite

Yesterday Google revealed App Maker, a relatively low-tech way for developers to compile simple applications for Google Play. With the goal of simplifying the iteration process and opening app development up to a wider swath of creators, App Maker seems poised to do for Google Play what Apple’s investment in Swift has done for the App Store.

App Maker boasts “features like built-in templates, a drag-and-drop UI editor, and point-and-click data modeling [to] accelerate app development”. In other words, Google is attempting to democratize app development.

This raises several questions for app developers and hobbyists alike. How will the introduction of App Maker help want-to-be developers who have been turned off of development by the complexity of programming? Will existing developers see a shift in competition on Google Play?

Let’s start by addressing new creators looking to get into development with App Maker. While the promise of a code-lite, drag-and-drop creation suite is certainly exciting, it’s important to take into consideration the limitations of such a program, too. App Maker supports coding languages such as HTML, CSS and Javascript, so depending on how simple your proposed app is, there’s a good chance you’ll still have to dip into some coding.

That said, the simple interface may expedite prototyping for simple apps. The development environment is cloud-based and intuitive, making it easy to sync with your data from G Suite applications, Google Maps, Contacts and Groups. You can also plug in other APIs to easily expand functionality.

Google’s goal here is to make it simple for teams to handle development of specific, simple apps in-house without bringing on an outside developer. Yes, there is a relatively deep IDE that lets developers tool around deeper with code, but ultimately the main target is companies looking to expand into the mobile marketplace without bringing on a whole new team. On that same train of thought, App Maker likely isn’t going to become the go-to for developing complex games or other feature-dense applications.

For existing developers, however, App Maker will likely mean a slight increase in competition on Google Play. A lower bar to entry for developers means more developers will be able to create high-quality apps that can compete in the Play store. With Google targeting enterprise companies, those who already have such apps in the store can expect more competition around related search terms. It will be necessary to monitor the Google Play store more closely, tracking trends that may be influenced by an influx of new apps. Just as in a standard optimization, app descriptions and creatives should be adjusted slightly to cater to these new trends, without completely reindexing your app. Use your current title, description and short description as a base, and make edits from there.

With App Maker, Google is attempting to lower the bar to entry for corporate developers on the Play store. How successful they will be, and how many apps will come from this effort, remains to be seen, but App Maker is certainly worth keeping an eye on for both new and experienced developers – especially companies in Google’s target market.

Google Gets Tough on Fake ‘Top Charts’ Apps

Google announced this week that they would be cracking down on apps that try to fake their way into the Play Store’s top charts. Through the use of a new detection and filtering method, Google will remove apps that utilize fake or incentivized user ratings and installs to get a boost, and will even remove apps outright from the Play Store.

This isn’t anything new for Google – the company made a similar pledge to remove fraudulent top apps a little over a year ago – but what has changed is the method of detection. Google has introduced a method of detection which will supposedly “detect and filter” apps that utilize suspect methods of ascent. Apps that are found to be utilizing these means will be removed from the top charts in an effort to “make Google Play the best platform for enjoying and discovering the most innovative and trustworthy apps”.

The big news for many developers is that Google will actually remove apps from the store for violating this principle. Google warned in a blog post that “developers who continue to exhibit such behaviors could have their apps taken down from Google Play”. It’s not as wide-spanning a threat as Apple’s recent title limit change, but the removal of a popular app (even one that only became popular through suspect means) could still shake up the Google Play store.

Google promises than in most cases, no action will be required on the case of the developer. They also ask that should developers request marketing assistance from an outside source, they make sure the means of the marketing are legitimate.

A strong Google Play campaign doesn’t necessarily need to utilize fraudulent reviews or downloads to boost onto the charts. The strongest method of discoverability is and has always been search; most app downloads come from searches, not from the top downloads charts. Similarly, the primary determinants of your app’s keyword rankings are its title, short description and long description. A solid marketing agency will take these elements into account instead of suggesting burst campaigns or fraudulent downloads.

App Store Optimization (ASO) Blog | Mobile App Marketing