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.

Android_Pay_AMEX.0

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…

nowtap2.0

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.

Mostly Mobile – Facebook, Google and others are now predominantly mobile companies

Quick – Is Google a mobile company?

“Sure” you might say, “But mostly web search and web apps.”

Apple?  Sure but they sell Macs too.

We know Instagram, Uber, WhatsApp, SnapChat – all mobile first.

What about Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook and Pandora?

According to the mobile app statistics, including the latest revenue and usage data – all of the above are generating more revenue, more growth and have more usage as mobile apps and/or mobile platforms.

Some of the biggest names in the internet are now mostly mobile.

And companies like Microsoft, Amazon and Yahoo all wish they were too.

Here is a snapshot of the largest social networks – by time spent via mobile or desktop.

20140403_Mobile_Social

And here is what Google web search is looking like:

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  • The majority of email in Gmail accounts is opened on mobile devices

Usage only tells part of the story

73% of Facebook’s ad revenues come from mobile – up from 14% 2 years ago.

Facebook-Mobile-MAUs-Ad-Revenues-Q12013-Q12015-Apr2015

In 8 quarters, Facebook went from barely addressing the advertising opportunities for their mobile users, to generating 73% of their ad revenues from mobile.

The macro perspective of the mobile advertising space

2013

20% of time spent in Mobile, 4% of ad spend (US only)

Internet Trends 2014 Slide 15 copy

 

2014

24% of time spent in Mobile, 8% of ad spend

Screen Shot 2015-06-05 at 10.29.18 AM

According to the above chart, mobile advertising spend doubled, and still couldn’t keep up with the increase in time spent in mobile.

The rise of messaging apps

You may be very aware of Whatsapp ($22b) and Snapchat ($19b), if not a daily user.

How about LINE ($10b), KakaoTalk ($2b), Tango ($1b) and WeChat owner Tencent ($100b).

Top-10-Fastest-Growing-Social-And-Messaging-App

 

This is all happening fast, and there are leaders and laggards.

It is time to add fuel to your mobile marketing investment!

What to watch for next

It sure looks like the Apple Watch will have its own app store.

Applinks/Deep Linking will continue to expand as Apple tries to increase the value of Spotlight Search and Siri, while Google tries to index the content in the app silo.

The list of mobile first businesses with $1b valuations continues to expand.

Updated Google Play Description Guidelines

Over the last several months, Google Play has been making several changes to Google Play app promotion, the requirements for app listings and the approval process.

Working with our clients on writing optimized descriptions, we discovered another restriction for the Google Play description:

Your app description should avoid excessive detail and references to your other apps or products.

For example, you should not list all of the details of content included in the app or its various components, as shown in the example below.

Also, the description should not include any references to other apps that you’ve published. – support.google.com

Breaking this restriction into two parts:

Do not attempt to keyword stuff your description by detailing all of the content

excessive detail

Do not reference other apps in your portfolio

Listing Apps

The focus of the recent changes in Google Play seems to be combatting “keyword stuffing” in app descriptions.

The back and forth between aggressive mobile app publishers and Google continues.

First, Google Play description guidelines were updated to reject descriptions that referred to other apps.

The idea being, if a publisher wanted to show up in Google Play search results for “Candy Crush” – the publisher would add:

If you liked Candy Crush – you will love this game!

Then publishers started “hiding” the references to other apps in reviews for the description:

“If you liked Candy Crush – you will love this game!” – Sally

Google was quick to address this and continues to find and restrict more of these types of hacky description writing.

The approach at Gummicube has always been to write descriptions that position your app for maximum discovery in the app stores, without being spammy or turning potential users away.

Take a look at how Gummicube can position your app portfolio for long term success or contact us at info@gummicube.com.

Facebook Enables Deep Linking for new App Installs

Imagine you are sharing your thoughts on a hot topic in one of the groups you are in on Facebook, and you see an ad for a recipe for gluten-free home-bake dog treats.

The recipe is exactly what you have been looking for (Facebook knows!).

The recipe is one of many recipes in the new “Bow Wow Home Bake Dog Recipes” mobile app.

Until recently – you would click the link, which would take you to the app store of your device (Google Play or Apple) to install the app, and wala – nada.

You now have an app but have to go through and “re-search” to find the recipe you wanted from the start.

If you already had the app installed, the link may have taken you right to the recipe – which is what Facebook deep linking, or App Links has supported.

But in the many instances where a user wants access to the content, but does not have the app already installed – they had to go through this crazy process.

Because of the explosion of mobile apps, Facebook and Google specifically are extremely interested in “unlocking” the content in mobile apps that are essentially hidden from web spiders and web cookies.

Facebook deep linking commitments started when App Links was introduced at f814, and doubled-down on App Links at f8 2015 by introducing app to app linkages via the App Links protocol.

Facebook is now enabling deep linking for new app installs as well. 11057196_1623083497928325_834080577_n Facebook is becoming a larger/leading player in not only mobile ads, but mobile ads in mobile apps (not just on Facebook).

Enabling a more streamlined user experience for Facebook users, Facebook’s advertising partners can target and drive ultra-relevant results and deliver ultra-relevant calls-to-action in their Facebook ads – not only for re-engagement but for acquisition.

This was expected, but is great news for mobile as a whole – users, advertisers, publishers and Facebook. You can learn more about Facebook App Links and their deep linking strategy here.

App Store Optimization (ASO) Blog | Mobile App Marketing