Indie Dev and ASO – App Marketing Starts Here

As an indie app developer – the main focus is often building a great  mobile game, but the ultimate goal of serious game developers and publishers is to build a game that is played, and generates enough revenue for continued development.

Investing to make a game better is hard if there is no ROI in sight.

Revenue comes from engaged users.

It takes time to optimize a game for engagement, but a great game solves the “engaged” part.

Wait – where do the users come from?

How do mobile apps get discovered?

The answer is “mostly from app store search“.

Which means the answer is also “marketing”.

Specifically app store optimization, the art and science of positioning an app for maximum exposure and conversion for relevant app store searches and installs.

But – most developers I know really just don’t like marketing.

It is more than “uninterested”.


The impression is that marketing represents a huge distraction from making a great game.

It’s confusing and can be expensive with uncertain ROI.

And maybe just feels a little inauthentic.

Marketing and selling are kinda gross


You are trying to convince people you don’t know to try your game.

Worse – you have to explain to them why it is so cool.

They should just “get it”…. and maybe they will….

But marketing is more than selling your mobile game.

They need to know it exists.

In fact – any mobile app marketing effort should start with positioning your game for discovery.

Discovery by people who may be actively searching for games just like yours.

Until the LTV (life time value) of a user exceeds the CPI (cost per install), investing in advertising can be an expensive way to acquire users.

Insanely expensive.

But positioning your mobile game so that people searching the app store for your app, or apps like yours, find your app – means acquiring organic downloads from an ultra-relevant audience.

ASO starts to make sense as the essential marketing investment for an indie game.

“If you build it, they will not come” is the oft-repeated, but perfect way to capture this idea that permeates developer circles.

If You Build it They Will Come... Just Kidding...

Build it, and help them find what you built.

That’s ASO.

And it should be part of every indie developer’s plan.

Check out our guide to ASO, and other help tips here.

To check out how our software can help your game be discovered, request a demo here.

Apple Passes 63 Billion Mobile App Downloads From Store Search

The Moscone Center in San Francisco has been busy, and one of the key takeaways from WWDC 2015 is the importance of ASO.
After playing host to Google’s annual developer conference “Google I/O“, Apple held their Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) this week.
While missing some of the splash of previous WWDCs, the 2015 version still delivered.
From Apple’s perspective – announcing Apple Music was the big reveal.
Some of the loudest applause came in an unexpected place, when Craig Federighi mentioned in (almost) passing that Swift would be opened-sourced.

100 billion apps downloaded in 7 years

When Apple CEO Tim Cook hits the stage, he is generally sharing macro-data and macro-strategies, and then letting others come up and dig into specific details of new products, services and releases.

While on stage – Cook shared a simply amazing statistic:

Apple has passed 100 billion apps downloaded

That’s 100 billion downloads from Apple’s app store in 7 years, with 1.5 million apps now in the store.

As recently as May 16th, 2013 Apple announced 50 billion downloads.

That means an additional 50 billion apps have been downloaded in just over 24 months, or 70 million apps per day.

According to a Nielsen report, and supported by other studies, app store search is the biggest driver of app downloads by a large margin – 63%.  This is a huge sign of ASO importance.

63% of apps found via search

Studies show a range of 50-65% of apps downloaded from app store search.

Using Nielsen’s 63% means every day almost 44 million apps are downloaded by users searching in the app store.

Increasing App Visibility in App Store Search Results

Identifying and connecting to your audience in the app stores has never been more important.

Cost per install (CPI) continues to rise across geographies.

Competition is expected to increase for mobile ad inventory as brands allocate more of their advertising budgets to mobile, driving mobile ad costs up even higher.

Organic app installs driven by app store search optimization is still the most effective long-term strategy for mobile app growth and adoption.

Learn more about how Gummicube helps our clients gain market share with a complete app store optimization strategy here.

For more on Apple’s WWDC 2015 – see our wrap up post here.

Apple WWDC 2015 – Proactive Siri and Native Apple Watch Apps

The big news from WWDC 2015 was the release of Apple Music, new Mac OS El Capitan, and the announcement of iOS9.

Our favorites – new OS for Apple watch that allows for native apps, and an expanded Siri.

Similar to Google’s Now on Tap announcement at their recent developer conference,  a more contextually aware and thus useful and proactive Siri was revealed.


The implications to mobile marketing and mobile apps are significant as both Apple and Google (and Facebook) have made it clear they recognize the market loves apps.

Siri is just one end point for a user to access search. Spotlight being another.

Apple wants to be sure users can reach the value in the mobile apps on their device with deeper integrations with content in the “mobile app silo”.

Enabling users to access content in an app from another app.

Enabling users to search (via Siri or Spotlight) with results that include app content.

Federighi said Siri — “has quietly become popular.”

Each week, Apple’s voice recognition software answers more than 1 billion requests.

Proactively suggesting apps based on various inputs and user behavior – weather app in the morning, music app on a run, calorie tracker after run or at cafe.

Having a mobile app means tapping into how users are interacting with their devices, like a website can’t.

Native Apps for the Apple Watch


Apple Watch apps are about to take a big next step.

“Performance will be great. Responsiveness will be great. It’ll be a great new frontier for your Watch,” Apple’s Kevin Lynch

The new OS allows developers to access the watch microphone, speaker, and accelerometer.  Currently, Apple Watch apps run on an iPhone and are displayed to the watch.  

Not only does native watch apps mean much better, creative, faster apps – but more likely than not, we can expect to see an Apple Watch specific app store coming soon.

Since Apple Watch apps are really iPhone apps that are compatible with the watch, the app store has a curated list of Apple Watch compatible apps.

Expect this to change as developers start to release apps built specifically for the Apple Watch.

Another opportunity to collect and optimize app store meta data and tap into what your target market is looking for from the app stores.

A/B Testing for App Store Listing Optimization

Mobile A/B testing can be critical, even though an awful lot of discussion of app store optimization (ASO) is focused on text.

What are the best keywords to target for my app?

How should I name my app?

How do I write a description that converts eyeballs into users?

It is hard to convert potential users who never see your app in search results.

So it follows, optimizing the visibility of your app in Apple’s App Store and Google Play search should be the starting point of any comprehensive ASO effort.

Both Apple and Google create their search results based on (among other things) your app name/title, your keywords field (Apple), or the keywords used in your description (Google).

But how can you increase the conversion from app views to app installs?

Apple’s recent release of their analytics module – while not perfect – provides some insight into how well your design elements are converting from search results.

Design elements like your App’s

  • Icon
  • Screenshots
  • Promo videos

Even the first few lines of your description can have an impact on whether a potential user installs and opens your app, or if they simply scroll to the next app.

If optimizing visibility in search results is 1 big part of ASO – optimizing your design elements to maximize conversion from view to install is the 2nd big part.

Harder to measure but with a huge impact

One explanation for why mobile a/b testing and optimizing design elements often takes a backseat to “keywords” when discussing and even implementing ASO is because it is hard.

Neither Apple or Google allow publishers to create multiple icons, screenshots or videos and see which generates the most or highest LTV users.

There are some workarounds including submitting two similar apps with different icons, or changing creatives on new versions – but neither provides a true multi-variate test.

We will cover this topic in greater detail as in the coming weeks, including our suggestions and how we are helping our clients optimize their creatives and calls to action for maximum relevant conversions.

Mobile Highlights from Google IO 2015

Last week Google hosted its developers conference – Google IO 2015 – at the Moscone Center in San Francisco.

This was not a mobile-only event, but because Android is a massive end-point for collecting data and reaching users, almost every announcement had a mobile focus or application.

Sure, there was an announcement about a revamped Google Photos that comes with unlimited storage for pics and videos.

But the announcements from Google IO 2015 that will likely have the biggest impact on mobile marketing and mobile strategies are Android Pay, Now on Tap and Project Brillo – Android for your Smart Home.

Android Pay

Despite multiple attempts at creating a digital wallet, Google is moving Google Wallet on mobile devices to Android Pay.

The challenge for Google has been and may continue to be they don’t own the hardware.

So when Samsung adds a payments app – do they pull Android Pay from their default Android OS?

What could make this effort different from previous attempts is both the precedent set by Apple with Apple Pay, and broader partnership with financial institutions.


A “Pay with Android Pay” button for mobile shopping apps should be an obvious addition as an option for shoppers.

It is expected Android Pay (and Apple Pay for that matter) should function like Paypal has for the web – my details are already stored so entering my card info is not a roadblock to a sale, or customer leakage point.

Google Now on Tap

Part contextual awareness, part knowledge graph – Google Now on Tap looks to be almost a super-intuitive assistant in your pocket.

Scenarios to explain the application include:

  • clicking home button (to activate Now), and asking “What is his real name?” for the artist you are listening to on Spotify. (This was the example used in the I/O demo – and Skrillex’s name is  Sonny John Moore – FYI).
  • texting restaurant plans, activating Now, seeing options for reviews of restaurant, option to reserve a table, a map etc…


Now on Tap potentially makes mobile devices much, much smarter, more useful and goes where Apple was trying to take Siri.

Project Brillo

A simpler version of Android specifically for the “Connected” or “Smart” home.

The promise is that Project Brillo provides a platform for hardware manufacturers and developers that is cost effective enough to use for light bulbs.

This is mobile news because Project Brillo enables a connection from a mobile app to the physical world.

It is easy to think of use cases for turning off and on lights, shutting garage door, adjusting the thermostat.

When a mobile app can control a connected physical object – not just lightbulbs but anything – we start to appreciate how ambitious this Google I/O event was.

App Store Optimization (ASO) Blog | Mobile App Marketing