Month: July 2016

5 THINGS YOU CAN LEARN FROM COMPETITOR ASO ANALYSIS

You’ve completed your ASO checklist, you saw steady improvements in your organic traffic, but now you’ve hit a plateau. What can you do next? Take a look at your competitors! App competition gets increasingly aggressive every day as hundreds of new app hit the stores, but there are lessons to be learned, if you know what you look for! In this post, you will find the top 5 things to look at while doing your analysis (a.k.a stalking), with some great examples of resources you can consult.

1) User Demographics

What?
User demographics are data related to age, gender, income and education level.

Why is this important?
Demographics have been known to most influence the design, features and app functionality.

What can my competition teach me?
Peanut butter and jelly (bare with me here): a sandwich that formed our childhood (and adult life). Producers or peanut butter would be interested in knowing the demographic stats for the jelly company. Complementary products can learn from each other as much as competing products. By understanding age groups of competitor or complementary products, you may think of altering your marketing strategy and even the product. In what regards to the app, publishers choose to change designs and user interface depending on age groups and gender – would you want to add some more pink in your app because the market is shifting to a pink-loving demographic?

How can you get this type of user demographic gold from competitors? App Annie is one tool that offers app store analytics and market intelligence on your competitors for FREE. However, if you unlock the pro account, you can access competitor app users’ demographics and cross app usage. The analysis involves gender, age, partnership opportunities and competitive threats with cross-app usage patterns.

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Source: App Annie

2) App Intelligence

What?
App intelligence provides information about market shares and revenues earned.

Why is this important?
In theory, you are trying to get a piece of the pie from app stores. But do you know how big the pie is, or better still if there is a pie at all?

What can my competition teach me?
Using the food industry again as an example, how would McDonald’s find out if a market is suitable for them or not? They may monitor profits of a competitor, like Burger King, in the specific region to decide if they can be a direct competitor or not. Just the same, app intelligence is extremely useful for understanding the performance of direct competition in specific markets and stores.

With both stores giving you revenue estimate for your app, it is equally important to know if your competitor is making as much (or as little) profit as you are. Insight on competitors’ profits by store can help you adjust your mobile marketing strategy to target different stores. For example, if you find that there is no strong competition on Google Play, you may want to shift some more budget towards your Android app.

You can gain valuable insights into the marketing strategies used by the top publishers and developers around the world with many full service app analytic platforms, like Sensor Tower. Their section of app intelligence gives you access to essential data for your strategic decisions, such as App & Publisher download, revenue and investment  estimates.

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Source: Sensor Tower

3) Category Analysis

What?
App stores allow you to classify your app under their preset categories to join similar apps in the same pool.

Why is this important?
Other than overall ranking, stores rank apps under their relevant category. This means that you will be working on improving your rankings within the vertical category you are in.

What can my competition teach me?
Both Google Play and Apple store require you to select the category that best describe your app, and both have their own tricks for ASO. While Google Play offers you one choice between 28 categories, Apple Store offers you the chance to select two out of 25 options. This give you double the chance to be a leader in your vertical category.

What can you gain from looking at competitors? By monitoring which categories competing apps you can better position yourself in the category that users expect to find you! Take a sports shop, for example. As an mCommerce app, it can be categorized under Shopping. However, by monitoring competitors, the shop found out that their competitor is ranking higher due to people searching the Sports section to find mCommerce apps related to their favorite hobby.

Marketers can look at categories using a variety of tools, including app discovery platform XYO (pictured below) to gain insight on predetermined categories to compare their apps with competitors, and search for specific apps. The platform divides your search per operating system to get more detailed insights.

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4) Keyword Analysis

What?
Keywords are found in the app description and are used to rank you app.

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Source: SensorTower

Why is this important?
Keywords are one of the major store ranking factors and help determine search relevancy.

What can my competition teach me?
Where monitoring a competitors category can help you rank better within that specific group, keyword monitoring can help you track & optimize your ranking in specific search results. Much the same as SEO, understanding both the volume and hits for your app store keywords can help you optimize the words you choose (ie. by choosing synonyms).

You can also get a leg-up on your competition if you see that certain keywords are not being used in their app name, app pitch and full description. Including the relevant keyword in any of these three places can push you ahead of competitors who haven’t done their ASO homework.

Lastly, it’s important to monitor competitors to find out which keywords not found in your description are generating clicks for apps you compete with. With Sensor Tower, this insight is the KEI – how relevant your description is regarding the keyword.

Word(s) to the wise: keyword stuffing is not enough to pop on the top of the list. Be careful when updating the description of your app since Apple Store may take the whole two weeks to release your update. This may cause a big time disadvantage. Keep Monitoring! If you constantly monitor your own keywords, as well as competitors’, you will stay ahead of the time disadvantage.

5) Reviews and Ratings

What?
An app review is a comment a user who downloaded the app can leave on the store. It will be publicly shown regardless of the

Why is this important?
Reviews affect your rankings, help promote your app, inform you of bugs, collect suggestions and is another way to communicate with your users.

What can my competition teach me?
How can reading competitor review help you with your app, you ask? Reading user reviews of competitor apps can help you gain insight on what users want from the app, what they aren’t getting, and what type of language they are using (which can inform your keyword strategy). Once you know what users like or don’t from your competitor’s app, you know how to better position your own app to that target user. When it comes to features, if you have what your competition doesn’t, give users what they are looking for, and update your keywords accordingly!

Many ASO tools, like App Tweak let you browse reviews for free, while App Annie also lets you export competitors reviews (to excel) so you can dig deep and mine valuable keywords.

Get your ASO on point with Supreme Media here !

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Mobile Ads: Best Practices Can Boost Campaign Performance Up To 160 Percent

The Mobile Marketing Association (MMA) is releasing a series of new “Smart Mobile Cross Marketing Effectiveness” studies and data that argue for larger mobile ad budgets. They also offer specific mobile best practices that can dramatically improve mobile ad performance.

Billed as “the first comprehensive study of its kind,” the research asserts that “marketers who employ the winning combination of greater mobile allocation and best practices will find a significant competitive advantage.” The study analyzed the impact of various mobile formats and tactics in five multi-channel, cross-screen campaigns involving AT&T, Coca Cola’s Gold Peak tea brand, Wal-Mart and Mastercard.

In every case, the report says, mobile outperformed other channels (vs. its percentage of spend) or was a major contributor to consumer purchase intent. Below is the MMA’s top-level summary of the results, which are being presented today at the association’s MMA Forum event in New York:

  • For AT&T, [mobile] delivered twice the awareness per dollar spend compared to TV and digital
  • For MasterCard, mobile was the second strongest driver of image after TV
  • For Walmart Back to School, mobile impacted more consumers per dollar spent than both Broadcast and Cable TV. Mobile drove 14 percent of change in overall shopping intent despite only 7 percent of the spend. It also drove verified foot traffic, with location ads producing a significant lift vs. control
  • For [Coke’s] Gold Peak, mobile delivered results across the board driving 25 percent of top of mind awareness, 9 percent of image conversions and 6 percent of sales with 5 percent of budget

The MMA contends that mobile is being significantly undervalued by marketers (it is) and should command a greater percentage of budget (it should). One would expect the MMA to say something like this; however the report uses specific case study findings to argue that “reallocating to mobile would drive incremental impact for each campaign, making their existing budget work harder.”

Perhaps more significantly, adopting the tactical best practices identified in the report could produce a 100 percent to 160 percent boost in mobile ROI according to the MMA. Below are the some of the verbatim findings and best-practice recommendations for each format tested:

Mobile display: Mobile display advertising can work well for continuity and recency strategies . . . In cases where it is difficult to predict exactly when the sale will occur for a given consumer exposed to the advertisement, a continuous stream of advertising maximizes impact on future sales. (The MMA also found that larger display units outperformed smaller units.)

Native: Mobile Native Advertising [  ] performs significantly better than mobile display. But in contrast to display, native ads build impact at lower frequency . . .  because there is greater attentiveness to the content.

Video/audio: Audio on a mobile device, like traditional audio, does fine with repetition . . .Video builds impact at lower frequency, and therefore frequency should be managed or creative rotation should be introduced to optimize ROI.

Context/proximity (time, location): Walmart also used proximity targeting to deliver the message when a consumer was “in range” of Walmart. This approach proved to be 1.5x more impactful than audience targeting, and far more effective than when no location targeting was used . . .

Location audience targeted ads with expandable ad units (displaying more information, including distance from nearest store and map) produced significant lift over the unexposed group . . . the strongest impact came from the combination of expandable ad unit and proximity targeting…

A/B testing: Split testing can improve the performance of a campaign by identifying winning creative and messages that work better for certain segments. Results will of course vary, but based on our tests we observed an upside of 40 percent – 60 percent.

It goes without saying that mobile marketing now is an essential part of any multi-channel campaign — though not all marketers act accordingly. It can equally used for branding and driving sales online or in stores.

There are an emerging set of best practices around targeting, frequency and ad creative some of which are discussed in the report. Brands and direct response advertisers should pay attention to these recommendations to improve the performance, not only of their mobile campaigns but of their digital marketing overall.

Unfortunately the full report is not available to the public.

Get your mobile ads on point with our experts here !

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4 Can’t-Miss Mobile Marketing Best Practices

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Mobile marketing has finally come of age and ASO is the key to success!

More consumers than ever are now making purchases using their mobile devices. CIO reports that 28 percent of sales are now conducted on mobile devices, primarily smartphones.

Last year, sales using smartphones increased by 87 percent year-over-year with sales via tablets growing by 52 percent. Clearly, mobile marketing is the way of the future. And yet, many brands haven’t developed fully mature mobile marketing strategies.

For many brands, mobile marketing remains somewhat vague and difficult to contain in the same way as traditional marketing. Here are a few best practices to help your business launch an exciting, innovative and successful mobile marketing campaign.

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Related: Basic Yet Critical Mobile Marketing Tips

1. Right-sized content

When it comes to mobile content, it’s important to be concise. Of course, you should still create quality content, but be quick to get to the point. Remember that your target consumers are likely working from a small screen and may even be away from home or the office. As a result, they don’t have a lot of space or even time for reading lengthy content.

This can be a challenge for mobile marketers, but it’s imperative to create content that is both compelling yet brief.

2. Local search

Local searches commonly occur via mobile devices. More and more, users are taking advantage of mobile devices when searching locally. In order to take advantage of the increased use of mobile devices for local searches, be sure to submit your mobile website to Google My Business.

Additionally, you should ensure that the physical address of your business along with your contact information and hours of operation are visibly listed on your website. Visitors shouldn’t have to search to find your address or phone number.

Related: If You’re Not Marketing on Bing You’re Missing 30% of U.S. Searchers

3. Location-based sites

As an increasing number of people opt to access social sites via mobile devices, it’s vital that your brand takes advantage of the opportunity to connect with your targeted customers through available location-based services such as Yelp and Foursquare.

Such location-based services are ideal for businesses such as retailer operations and restaurants.

4. Geo-targeting

Geo-targeting through the use of location-based services is a great way for brands to direct their marketing messages to their targeted customers who may be in the local vicinity. With this type of platform, it’s possible to run promotions to encourage customers to check in with your business through the use of digital discounts and coupons.

Check it out here to estimate FOR FREE how many downloads could App Store Optimization bring to your App !

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App Store Optimization: The Best Practice For App Name And Keywords

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You want your potential customers to be able to find you through search on the App Store because over half of apps are discovered this way. The first place that you need to start isselecting the right app store keywords and app name.

Here are a few tips on how to define your app name and keywords on the iTunes App Store (go here for Google Play Store tips). Doing this well might not get you on the Top Charts, but you can still get a ton of downloads.

As far as App Store SEO is concerned, your app name and keywords count the most.

This is not a big secret, but if you have never gone through the process before, it can be daunting. In this post, we will show you what to look for and how to maximize these two components of your app SEO, otherwise known as App Store Optimization (ASO).

Be Descriptive in Your App Name

After your icon, the first thing your potential users will see is your app name.

Make it count.

This is a good app name example

For non-games apps, it means that your app name needs to be as explicit as possiblefrom the very beginning. You don’t want people to see a non-relevant name when they are looking for something. You also need to state what your app does in the name.

The second important thing to know about your app name is that the words you put in there also act like App Store keywords. These keywords used to have more importance for search results than the actual keywords, but this seems to have changed. Don’t make it just a list, and try to come up with short phrases (2/3 words) that people are most likely to use.

Basically, you need to find a good balance between keywords and branding.

The app name is used by Apple to create your app URL. Do not include any special characters in your app name,  like the trademark or copyright symbol because your iTunes app page will then only use your id.

Another thing you might want to be careful of is try not to repeat an already taken app name (or parts of it), as Apple manually flags (and disables) the concerned keywords.

Choose Your App Store Keywords Wisely

Apple gives you 100 chars to define your keywords, so make the most of it. Separate every word by a coma. Apple seems to be handling plurals better now, so you can get precious characters for your keywords that way.

Sensor Tower provides a handy tool for counting the number of characters in your keyword list. Be sure to use as many characters as possible in your keyword optimization.

Keyword Character Count

Image: Sensor Tower

Just like web SEO, if a keyword (or combination of keywords for your app name) is overused then try to come up with something different like synonyms or other ways to say it that people might use. Better to be in the top 5 results for an average-searched keyword than in the top 100 for a highly-searched keyword. Oh, and don’t use trademarks, that will get you in big trouble.

There are no bonuses from whole phrases, so just use the keywords composing the search phrases you want to be discovered. For example, “fitness tracker” should be listed as: “fitness,tracker” in your keyword list in iTunes.

How to Find the Right App Store Keywords?

Luckily, there is a wide range of app store optimization tools that can help you find the right keywords for your keyword list and your app name. Here is a list of the top platforms on the market:

These tools can help you figure out some of your competitor’s keywords, find new ones and more. Do your research on which tools fit your needs and budget. Then give a few a try and see which ones work best for you.

You can also have a look at what’s happening on the web, using tools like Google Keyword Planner or Google Trends (those can actually help with market research as well). These tools can give you other valuable keyword ideas.

What is a Good Keyword?

The biggest mistake that people who are new to ASO make is they choose keywords based on how many searches the keyword gets.

That is actually the last thing that you should look at when choosing a keyword. Here is how you should prioritize the different characteristics of a keyword.

  1. Relevance – How relevant is your keyword to your app. In other words, if someone searches for this keyword, how likely will they be to download your app? Ranking #1 for the keyword “dog” if you have a dog training app is cool, but it is not specific enough. Ranking #1 for the keyword “dog training” would be much better.
  2. Competition – It doesn’t matter if you rank #542 for a keyword that gets a billion searches a month. Nobody will scroll that far in search results to find you. Look for keywords that you can rank in the top 10 for.
  3. Searches – Finally, if the above two criteria are the similar, then choose a keyword based on the number of searches it gets.

Each keyword tool will have its own metrics for measuring competition and searches. Learn how to use them and apply the selection criteria above. Mobile Action uses Chance to show the percentage chance that your app has for ranking for a keyword.

Chance of ranking for app store keywords

Image: Mobile Action

Determining relevance is up to you. That is where the art of choosing keywords comes in.

Now let’s look at some other naming tips…

Publisher Name

The publisher name is also used by the App Store search algorithm. Search phrases mixing keywords between developer’s name and the app name seem to work. Be careful though, depending on your apps it can be a bad idea to choose app-specific App Store keywords for your publisher name.

In-App Purchase Names

In-app purchases names don’t help much anymore.

These are most of the things you need to know and pay attention to in order to make the good keywords choices. If you want to keep up to date with the other aspects of App Store Optimization, check out our App Store Optimization page.

Conclusion

Remember, keyword optimization is not a one time thing. You need to continually test and optimize your target keywords.

Try keywords for a few weeks and analyze the effects it has on your downloads and new users. The App Store is constantly changing and you need to keep up.

Keep experimenting and you will continue to stay relevant in organic search.

If you want to get the most trending and visible keywords get in touch with our experts here

Let us know what you think in the comment section.

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Breaking 5 Common Myths About App Store Optimization

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Get your ASO on point and increase Organic Downloads with Supreme Media here

Apps are dead. Apps will rule the world. Despite the amount of analysis and hypothesis, the future of mobile apps is clearly still uncertain. What is evident is that, right now, we are talking about a global market estimated to grow to 143 billion dollars.

As opportunities rise, so does competition. The only way to respond to the app store competition is to get better at it. You do not just need to know what to do; you also must understand what ‘not’ to do. Here we highlight the most common myths about the app store optimization (ASO). Mistakes that you should avoid at all costs.

In the recent years, apps have replaced desktop computers and mobile browsers as the main tool to access the Internet. We have reached one billion smartphones in the whole world; that means apps have become a critical touch point in the digital customer journey.

Be it smartphone, tablet, smartwatch or wearable technology, people are downloading apps; people are buying apps; people are using apps. Just think about your average day. You rely on them to:

  • Check the weather forecasts;
  • Track & measure your morning fitness activities;
  • Verify your meetings in the calendar;
  • Control the email box;
  • Find the fastest way to the office;
  • Receive discounts and buy your favorite products;
  • Reserve a table at a restaurant and then review the experience;
  • Get back home using someone else’s car;
  • Post your daily thoughts and pictures on social networks;
  • Chat with your friends.

Users evidently prefer free apps, but they also gladly spend their money if they get in exchange apps that increase productivity or offer something new and different. You can have the best app in the world but, if you do not know how to market it, you will not gain any consent.

With in-apps purchases and advertising, in fact, the mobile applications ecosystem cannot be considered a closed box anymore. What we have here is a broader market with huge investments and revenues (both for developers and other related industries).

Competing with over 3 million mobile apps available for the major mobile operating systems – iOS, Android, Windows Phone – how can you overcome the others and get customers’ attention? To make money on apps, your app needs to be seen. Here is where app store optimization comes in handy.

Said that the mere number of downloads is swiftly losing all its weight when measuring the success of a mobile app strategy, that is still the first thing that managers would see. The potential to drive large amounts of downloads at no cost, therefore, is still enticing to any developer.

While still overlooked, app store optimization is an incredibly important opportunity. Just like search engine optimization, though, ASO is a marketing science that requires time and devotion. It has specific rules, tips, and threats. In a few words, it demands a knowledge of what you are doing.

Searching is still the most popular way to discover apps: roughly 65% of app purchasers search, discover and purchase apps browsing the app store. Without the right approach, your app could get lost in the crowd. The right approach involves the ability to deploy best practices and to avoid common mistakes.

A couple of weeks ago we talked about the best practices in app store optimization, and how you can leverage the store to make it an integral part of the digital customer experience. Here we are going to bust the many misconceptions that might misguide you in your path to mobile marketing success.

MYTH 1. YOU NEED TO CHANGE YOUR TITLE OFTEN

As stated by Ankit Jain, head of Google Play search, the title is the most important metadata in the store optimization. That said, you do not really need to change the title every once in a while to reach higher rankings. Adding keywords, mixing keywords or even changing the name of the product will not ensure you any advantage. On the contrary, it may harm your strategy.

Pick a title and stick to it. The title is your best tool in the app store optimization, make sure it is short, unique and memorable; and ultimately include all relevant keywords, without stuffing keywords in it.

MYTH 2. IT IS ALL ABOUT THE KEYWORDS

We do not want to deny the importance of keywords, still one of the foundational elements of online – and mobile – optimization. What we want to point out is that keywords alone will not help you reach the first places in the ‘most downloaded’ list. If you just developed a great gaming app, just putting the ‘game’ keyword everywhere can’t be called optimization.

App stores have the same dynamics of traditional search engines, so you always need to work on your relevant keywords. However, you should never force them. Focus on the customer experience, be sure they are relevant and make sense in the context.

MYTH 3. IT IS ALL ABOUT DOWNLOADS & RATINGS

Judging from ads and press releases, you might be misled to think that ratings and the number of downloads are the two key performance indicators you need to track to measure success. Ratings, of course, are a good signal of how customers consider your efforts; the download number is a signal of short term success. However, then?

Then you need a long-term digital strategy that involves all aspects of app publishing and distribution. Ratings do impact on user’s perception; they do not affect app store rankings. Five stars make a good impression; they do not make your ranking.

MYTH 4. DESCRIPTION IS NOT THAT IMPORTANT

When you try to sell something, the first thing you do is to describe the value of your product, the uniqueness of its features. Easy, not? Well, not for many developers that still believe the description is an ‘extra’, not a mandatory element of the app store presence. This is a dangerous myth, and it can kill your efforts, leaving you app into oblivion.

Description is probably the second major element in ASO, right after the title. While not directly linked with rankings, it has a great role in the store algorithm. Don’t try to stuff it with keywords, just focus on the natural incorporation of keywords in what you are describing. Moreover, remember that apps now show up in Google’s result pages too.

MYTH 5. BEING ON THE APP STORE IS ENOUGH

This is a die-hard myth: now that you are on the app store, hidden somewhere, you do not really need other work. Everything will happen as a some sort of magic, and downloads will flow as a mere consequence of you being there. Some still believe that as long as your app is there, people will find it. You do not need to advertise it; you do not even need to update it.

The truth is, with millions of apps available, it will take much collateral work to avoid failure. ASO is just one piece of the puzzle, and the competition is so fierce that you will need more ‘traditional’ marketing methods to sell it (from social media marketing to content marketing, advertising and PR).

And one last thing: do not abandon your app on the store. When you do it, your customers will do it too. So it will fade away.

Check it out here to estimate FOR FREE how many downloads could ASO bring to your App

 

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5 Biggest Mistakes In Mobile App Marketing You Should Avoid

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Mobile app developers and marketers know how omnipresent mobile is. With over 1,500 apps being launched every day on the Apple app Store and Google Play, it is challenging to succeed in a world dominated by apps. Having a great app is only the start. Marketing your app is crucial too.

A clever mobile app marketing strategy puts you ahead of your competition and makes sure users return to your app. However, often marketers can make some common mistakes when promoting their apps that can lead to disappointing results and unnecessary budget wastes.

Here’s what you should be looking out for to avoid pitfalls when promoting your app:

Mistake #1: App First, Strategy Later

There’s a reason that social apps like Snapchat or gaming apps such as Angry Birds have the kind of popularity that most apps aspire to have. Your app is undisputedly the king. But what’s a king without its troops?! Think of your marketing strategy as soldiers on the ground who win battles and expand the king’s territory! Developing a great product is only half the battle won. An effective marketing strategy is crucial to market your app and differentiate it from the similar other apps that will make their way to the app store, and be discoverable to the right users. This is important to ensure the long term sustainability of the app. Chalk out timelines of how you want to market your app and when at each stage of pre­and­post launch. Ideally, your app marketing strategy should start right after you have developed your app and are ready to go live, but most certainly not just a week before the big launch!

Mistake #2: Lack of Research

A fantastic app and initial downloads is great, but how do you make sure that you hit the home run? Research and data are the two best friends any app marketer should make. Research is an important factor not only at the development stage of the app, but also while marketing it. Insights into similar apps in the market and user behavior within these apps, finding potential consumers, and the market opportunity is a critical factor on which the success of your app depends on. Invest in research early on to help you gauge your target audience as well as to understand where you stand in the competition.

Mistake #3: Not Focusing on LTV

The lifetime value of users (LTV) is one of the most important success metrics to measure the performance and profitability. LTV is the measure of the revenue a customer will bring during their lifetime of using the app. Knowing the LTV of your users is critical in determining where and how much to invest in acquiring the users, and in improving the app. Without having a knowledge of LTV can have direct impact on the profit as well as keeping users engaged.

Mistake #4: Not Focusing on App Store Optimization (ASO)

What is the use of having a brilliant product when users cannot find it in the app store? Just like SEO is important to optimize the website for search engines, for your app to be discoverable in the app store it needs to have the right keywords. Failing to have the right keywords in the title as well as the description in your app page can improve its discoverability. ASO isn’t an overnight process. You need to test, measure and constantly improve in order to get desired results. Simple tricks can be used in ASO strategies, and can offer valuable returns. It is a given that app icon and name are the gateway to app discovery, and hence, these must be unique and catchy, as well as with strong keywords that have a high relevancy to the app, but also high search volume with low competition.

Mistake #5: Not Customizing the App to the Specific App Store

App stores like Apple and Google Play are both unique and what works for one platform may not work for other. Most apps are adapted to just one platform and used across without any personalization. This can result in low engagement and uninstalls. Invest time in understanding what works on each platform and customize your app to each platform accordingly. This can be done through ASO rules (which can differ from one platform to another), creatives, visual elements, and even metadata descriptions.

Conclusion: App Marketing for Success

When you are creating an app, keep app marketing plan on top of your list. Your app marketing efforts can go a long way in ensuring the success of your app. Spend time early on to drive your app marketing efforts, invest in proper research, put proper metrics in place, and listen to your consumers to make sure your app is finds a connection to the millions of users.

Find all your mobile marketing solutions with Supreme Media here !

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This Is The Formula For Creating An Insanely Successful Mobile Game

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To make a mobile game succeed, there are a number of factors, but it’s actually quite simple.

Find a Niche You Love

There are millions of games now on every app store. You are competing with a ridiculous number of other games. The most important thing you can do is find a niche, preferably an uncrowded one, or one where you see major flaws with all the direct competitors. Ideally, it’s a niche that you yourself love and understand inside and out. Whether that’s a new take on Endless Runner games, or a bizarro zombie Sim RPG.

It’s a Business?

If you’re just in this for money, though, forget about it. Seriously, do not clutter the app store with your contrived cloned stuff—we don’t want it, no one wants to play it, and no matter how you might abuse the system to squirt out a few sheckles from the populace, I can guarantee you the advertising costs to get past the other clones is more than you have right now unless you already have more dollars than sense, in which case just go buy some property in the Caiman Islands or Tesla stock.

User Experience Is Everything

If your app crashes on start for 50% of users, don’t release. If it takes more than three taps to get into the core functionality of your app, you screwed up the UI and need to simplify it. Don’t release. If your app has abusive monetization or pushes ads in a way that is perceived as unfair, you screwed up the monetization. Don’t release. There’s about a novel’s worth of ways to screw up the user experience, but it depends on the specifics of your game. I suggest you hire a strong user experience designer, or a game designer with a strong user experience background (oh, hi…) if you don’t know what I’m talking about.

Marketing Is Everything Else

You have to get your app’s name out there. People need to see it, play it, and love it. That’s it, that’s the key to the kingdom. If you can do that, and your monetization or advertising to revenue system is decent, you can steadily gather an organic audience and be on your way to a healthy revenue stream. The bare minimum is running Google  ads and Facebook  ads (depending on your core audience age group). That said, know your target audience and aim for it. Otherwise you’ll be blowing cash on people who do not care.

What Numbers Do I Need to Succeed?

What is your measure of success? If you want to make $1000 a day, for example, you need approximately 20,000 daily active users watching approximately 3+ full length video ads per day. Alternately, you can monetize 5% of the 20,000 and get $1.00 from each of them. Potentially you can do both, and get $2000 a day … I’ve done this with a small three-man team (and a boatload of old content). Sadly I was not the owner of the company, and as is often the case, I didn’t work out a percentage bonus of the profits (as is typically the case when you’re not your own boss). If you want to make a million dollars a day like Supercell, though …

Reach for the Stars

Here is the formula for monumental success beyond finding a niche and having a good user experience (which you still have to do). Do something no one else has thought of. Take an old, seemingly complicated genre and completely re-imagine it for a touch interface. Examples?

Versus Tower Defense – Clash of Clans

Real Time Strategy – Clash Royale

Collectible Card Game – Hearthstone

Rhythm Music Game – Piano Tiles

Platformers – Jetback Joyride (or pick your favorite Endless Runner)

But I Did All That!

If you think you’ve done all of the above and are not seeing success, you probably f’d up somewhere but can’t recognize it due to the Dunning-Kruger effect [1]. In which case you can always hire an experienced mobile game designer to point out the problems. I happen to know one.

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Mobile User Acquisition: What’s Really Working, Hype VS Truth

Mobile app marketing is ultra-competitive right now, as teams are tasked with intense goals like “generate 1 million users ASAP!”

With that sense of urgency, growth, and popularity in the space, an influx of “marketing help” for mobile app marketers has emerged. That help comes in the form of paid software vendors and analytics solutions, marketing agencies, conferences, case studies, content, blogs, etc.

But what’s really working? Furthermore, how do we separate hype from truth?

In a recent Mobile User Acquisition report compiled by VB’s John Koetsier, marketers listed their 16 top user acquisition tactics, shown below:

Screen Shot 2015-09-02 at 3.17.16 PM

What sticks out here? Three things should stand out when looking at this chart.

1. It takes more than just social

Data: Social media is the most effective ad channel for only 14.8 percent of marketers.

Meaning: There’s no question that paid social is a crucial part of mobile app marketing (and according to Koetsier’s report, it is the leader), but it’s important to remember it’s not the only part of your marketing strategy. And 85.2 percent of the time, it’s not the most effective channel.

2. The focus on digital ad spend is still forming

Data: Of the 16 user acquisition channels listed in Koetsier’s chart above, 8 of the tactics (7 if you discount “other”) can be executed without paid ads (Incentivized installs, ASO, Email, PR, In-app viral tactics, Web organic search, Offer walls, Other). Another way to consider the data here is to note that 50.8 percent of marketers agree that a non-paid marketing tactic is their most effective user acquisition strategy.

Meaning: Numerous reports would have marketers believing that the answer to mobile app success is paid spend. While “paid” certainly helps fuel growth and should be a core focus, it’s not the only way, and it is one component of an overall marketing mix. For instance, look at the first two leading acquisition strategies in Koetsier’s chart. According to the data, 26.8 percent of marketers say that paid on either social or video is their most effective channel. But the next four tactics (incentivized, ASO, email, PR) represent 33.6 percent of marketers and are all non-paid ad tactics.

*Three things to highlight about this section: First, remember that this chart is representative of digital only, and thus tactics such as TV are not included. Second, this chart asked marketers what their most effective tactic was; hence, there are other marketing tactics not listed here. Third, just because a tactic doesn’t require paid ad budget in no way means it’s free — it often needs budget, employee/agency salaries, or both.

3. Marketing is repeating itself

Data: Marketers are investing in paid and organic, as represented in Koetsier’s report.

Meaning: We’re in the age of mobile, and things are only getting more competitive, especially with mobile ad spending heading north of $100 billion next year.

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As more focus is shifting to mobile, three types of marketing teams are emerging, or re-emerging.

First, there are the teams that solely believe in organic, similar to the Inbound/Content Marketing movement that rose a few years ago. Second, there are the teams that spend the majority of their time focused on paid ads (especially if they’re a recently funded startup or an innovative brand with budget). The third type of team, which is the leader, is the one to invest in a balanced strategy of paid and organic. Does this strive for balance sound familiar? It should, because it’s quite similar to the way we saw digital marketing emerge, grow, and ultimately manifest itself from past to present.

The best marketing teams in the world today aren’t the ones that focus on organic OR paid acquisition tactics, but rather the ones that have a balanced combination of paid AND organic down to a science. It will be these teams that we’ll look back on in a few short years (when we’ve all moved on to wearables marketing) and say, “They were the winners of the mobile era.”

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Dan Slagen is VP of marketing at Crayon.co, the marketing insights search engine.

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User acquisition costs hit all-time highs in December.

Above: Arnold Schwarzenegger stars in the newest Mobile Strike ad.

Image Credit: Machine Zone

The costs of acquiring new users for mobile apps reached an all-time high in December as well-heeled companies scrambled for mobile market share over the holidays, according to a report by mobile marketing firm Fiksu.

The Fiksu Index published today shows that the cost to acquire a loyal user (one who opens an app three times or more) was $4.23 in December, up 19 percent from November and up 101 percent from December 2014. The all-time record beat out the previous record of $4.14 in September.

That should give shivers to mobile app marketers, who have to advertise heavily to get a user and then hope that the user sticks around long enough to spend money in a free-to-play app or game. As Fiksu predicted, the slight decline in November was only a temporary respite, with costs rebounding in December.

For newcomers to the market, it’s a grim task to penetrate the top ranks. Another report on the fourth quarter iOS app store from analytics firm Sensor Tower showed that games dominated the charts and that all of the top-grossing games for Q4 were released before Q4. Companies such as Machine Zone, whose Game of War: Fire Age and Mobile Strike games are in the top-grossing ranks, have turned to hiring stars like Arnold Schwarzenegger and creating television commercials to make their ads stand out from the pack. Machine Zone led the spending by game makers, who spent $630 million on TV ads in 2015.

Cost per loyal user rose in December 2015.

Above: Cost per loyal user rose in December 2015.

Image Credit: Fiksu

On the positive side, the growth in acquisition costs coincided with a growth in downloads. The Fiksu App Store Competitive Index, representing the combined daily downloads of the top 200 free iOS apps, rose 16 percent in December compared to November. Daily app downloads reached 8.5 million in December.

While this increase in volume is significant, it is comparatively less than the increase in costs, Fiksu said. That suggests there was fierce competition among app marketers in December. The patterns in December showed the holiday impact, with downloads surging 13 percent during Christmas compared to the week prior. Users who got new tablets and phones filled them with apps.

“Holiday competition for loyal app users was unsurprisingly fierce this month,” said Micah Adler, CEO of Fiksu, in a statement. “New device users are a desirable demographic and marketers will fight for the attention and home screens of these new users, for a chance to gain their loyalty for the long-term. We expect to see this competition continue into January.”

Fiksu also noted a significant discrepancy in the Cost Per Install (CPI) Index on iOS and Android, which measures the cost per install directly attributed to advertising. The iOS CPI declined 5 percent to $1.46 in December, compared to November. Meanwhile, Android CPI rose a surprising 52 percent to $3.34. This jump in Android costs, a spike of 144 percent year-over-year, marks the fifth month in a row that Android CPI more than doubled last year’s figures.

Downloads rose 16 percent in December for the top 200 iOS apps.

Above: Downloads rose 16 percent in December for the top 200 iOS apps.

Image Credit: Fiksu

Fiksu said the steep contrast between the two can be attributed to the popularity of incentivized marketing on iOS, particularly during times of intense competition like the holidays. App marketers on iOS have the ability to drive relatively inexpensive installs through incentivized channels, which helps them obtain higher ranks in the Apple App Store and keeps overall CPIs lower; this tactic isn’t available in the Google Play Store due to different rank algorithms.

With brands and app marketers spending over $3.00 per install on Android, it’s clear they see significant monetization potential in these users, Fiksu said. Data from App Annie shows the Google Play Store is seeing 100 percent more downloads than Apple’s App Store, but Apple continues to generate 70 percent more revenue for app developers.

While low-end Android phones bring down the worldwide revenue per user average, Fiksu said it is likely that Android users in developed markets and/or high-end phones are much closer to iOS in revenue potential. Furthermore, the evidence of growing Android CPIs shows that this revenue percentage gap may shorten over time.

Looking ahead to January, Fiksu said that marketers should prepare to see double-digit growth in download volumes, as has happened in three of the last four years. Fiksu also said that as 2016 proceeds, wearables and connected devices will make an impact on the market in some way.

While iOS CPIs dropped, Android CPIs rose.

Above: While iOS CPIs dropped, Android CPIs rose.

Image Credit: Fiksu

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