THE ASO BOOK (2018)

06. Increase Conversion

“I’m rocking it with impressions, but I’m not getting as many downloads I want. How can I address this issue?” 

It’s easy to view boosting the visibility of your app in the store by adding keywords or earning a store feature as the sexier of the two main ASO activities outlined in the ASO stack. Yet, as there can be no doubt that increasing conversions is required in order to succeed in ASO. 

As commented on throughout the book so far, without a stable or improving conversion rate, top-line impression gains earned through increasing visibility don’t necessary yield long-term chances for success, given that 1) impressions do not equal Installs, and 2) the algorithms of Apple and Google consider whether or not your app is able to convert visibility into actual users as a factor in determining keyword ranks. If your app fails to convert users at a better rate than other apps competing in the same top chart or keyword ranking positions, then your app’s success potential will be limited. 

Increasing conversions involves spending time and effort on conversion rate optimization (CRO), or raising the rate at which your app listing is able to convert store views into downloads. 

We will begin this chapter on conversion rate by introducing the Conversion Rate Optimization Loop, followed by providing a few useful industry benchmarks to familiarize you with industry CRO standards. Then, we will explore in detail how to optimize each of the store assets listed in the ASO stack framework. Next, we will proceed with details related to running and reporting on A/B tests, and wrap up by offering tips to properly measure the impact of your CRO  efforts.

aso visibility

Introduction to CRO 

Before introducing the Conversion Rate Optimization Loop framework, let us pause and run through a side-by-side overview of each store asset. This visual overview will help to set the stage for learning to optimize each asset, and provide a direct comparison of Apple and Google assets, helpful for managers of both platforms. 

APP ICON, TITLE, DEVELOPER NAME AND SUBTITLE (SUBTITLE APPLE-ONLY) 

Apple icon/title/subtitle left, Google icon/title/developer name right; Apple subtitle cross-fades to developer name and back when a subtitle is set 
Apple icon/title/subtitle left, Google icon/title/developer name right; Apple subtitle cross-fades to developer name and back when a subtitle is set

APP SHORT DESCRIPTION (GOOGLE-ONLY) 

Google short description above the “read more” link to the long description 
Google short description above the “read more” link to the long description

APP DESCRIPTION

Apple description top, Google description bottom
Apple description top, Google description bottom
Apple description top, Google description bottom
Apple description top, Google description bottom

APP SCREENSHOTS 

Google screenshots
Google screenshots
Apple screenshots
Apple screenshots

APP FEATURE GRAPHIC (GOOGLE-ONLY) 

Google feature graphic 
Google feature graphic

APP CUSTOM BACKGROUND (APPLE-ONLY)

Apple custom background 
Apple custom background

APP VIDEO 

Apple video
Apple video
Google video
Google video

WHAT’S NEW

Google What’s New
Google What’s New
Apple What’s New
Apple What’s New

IN-APP PURCHASE (APPLE-ONLY) 

The Conversion Rate Optimization Loop 

Now that we have the store assets fresh in mind, let’s explore a framework useful for managing the process of improving your app’s conversion rate. While optimizing assets like screenshots, preview videos or an icon may sound intimidating,  the process of CRO is more methodical than magical; two parts science to one part art. This process, encapsulated below in the CRO loop, includes six steps.

conversion rate optimization loop

1. CONDUCT RESEARCH 

Proper research involves spending time studying your competitors, learning about your target market and analyzing your app’s performance, all with the purpose of learning what information/value propositions are the most important to communicate through your app listing. 

2 . HYPOTHESIZE ON WHAT WILL IMPROVE RESULTS ACCORDING TO YOUR KPI 

Many people start with CRO by “throwing things at the wall to see what sticks.” That can sometimes work, but the best  CRO is guided by a hypothesis, or logical thought providing the idea with context and a supporting structure as to why the idea is likely to succeed. 

  •  Hypothesis example: IF we use screenshots of features that have higher in-app engagement rates, THEN potential users seeing these screenshots will consider our app more valuable and be more likely to download it. 

3. CRAFT MESSAGE / SELECT IMAGERY 

The next step in the CRO loop is to create messaging (and select imagery if applicable), based on your research and targeted by your hypothesis that will be conveyed vis-a-vis your assets. 

4. CREATE ASSETS (NEW VARIATIONS) 

After you have crafted the messaging and aligned on the imagery to be used, it’s time to let your inner creative shine.  When creating variations, ensure they are each: 

  • Obviously unique – changes too subtle for the average person to notice will be useless to test. 
  •  Informed by your research and hypothesis – you spent the time honing an assumption about what will increase your conversion rate in order to direct your creative process; don’t abandon it now! 

While basic CRO focuses on improving one particular asset at a time, some of the most powerful CRO gains can come from improving the way that your elements convey your messaging as a whole. For example, your branding should resonate through all elements in a cohesive, and your most important or key differentiators should be mentioned in both your screenshots and your description. 

5. TEST YOUR NEW ASSETS TO SEE HOW WELL THEY PERFORM 

Set up an A/B test or pre-post test to see which variations of your assets produce the best conversion rate. For each test you run, ensure that you have an expected performance level (i.e. either a control variant also running or at least a  historically-informed understanding of what the conversion rate should be) in order to analyze the results and declare performance to be better or worse than the expectation. 

6 . REPORT ON THE PERFORMANCE FROM EACH VARIANT ACROSS  YOUR TEST(S), AND ANALYZE THE RESULTS 

Use the data to determine whether the test was conclusive. As much as possible, make sure to consider the statistical significance of your test, so as not to make a decision too early or based on too little data, wherein the results may be of low integrity. 

Based on your analysis, decide whether to apply the update to your live listing or whether extend, or re-run your test.  If the test asset is applied, analyze the performance after applying in order to confirm that the results are still positive after being applied. 

After concluding the test, return to the research phase of the CRO loop and proceed with the loop again. 

While the initial round of research will likely be the most comprehensive and time-consuming, subsequent iterations  of the CRO Loop should not automatically skip the research stage and move to the hypothesize/craft messaging/create  assets stage; this is due to a couple key reasons, including a need for: 

  1. Continuous assessment of the app store environment – per comments at the end of the visibility chapter, the  ASO environment is constantly changing due to the confluence of a multitude of factors. Continual research is crucial to stay on top of the latest insights/trends and ensure that your messaging and assets are always well-positioned relative to the competition. 
  2. Preventing stale assumptions – while assumptions are important to form in order to make progress, assumptions should never be taken as immutable truths. A lack of willingness to test current assumptions is what leads to stagnation and decline, and repeating the CRO loop from the research phase helps to mitigate this risk. 

KPIs & Benchmarks 

Before diving further into the CRO Loop, let’s take a moment to familiarize yourself with conversion rates, so that you  can have an objective benchmark against which to compare your app’s conversion rates. One caveat to consider is that what is considered a ‘good’ conversion rate will differ depending on factors like an app’s category, monetization model and country. While benchmark data is more difficult to come across for iOS apps, Google actually provides a  benchmark conversion rate data directly in its Google Play Console, filtered specifically for other apps which share your app’s country, category and monetization model. 

Screenshot of Google Play’s Conversion Rate Benchmarks 
Screenshot of Google Play’s Conversion Rate Benchmarks

With regard to iOS conversion rate benchmarks, we tapped Attribution and App Store Optimization tool TUNE to help us understand what a decent benchmark per app category is. As TUNE has a lot of iTunes Connect data from tens of  thousands of apps, they were able to provide aggregate anonymized conversion rates from Impression:Product Page View and Impression:App Unit, on a category level and here is the result: 

TUNE provided us with average App Store Conversion rates (snapshot: July 2017, all apps) 
TUNE provided us with average App Store Conversion rates (snapshot: July 2017, all apps)

The data from the TUNE benchmark study illuminates a few interesting points: 

  •  While games own the top impression-to-download rate (tied with educational apps), games also have a lower  CTR to product page, indicating a higher percentage of direct impression-sourced downloads. 
  • Touching further on the above observation, we can see that there are several categories of apps which have a  higher impression conversion rate than click-through-rate. For such apps where users tend to install directly from a search impression, rather than diving deeper into the product page to learn more, this means that the search results page preview (icon, title, subtitle, price, ratings, screenshots 1-3, 1st preview video) is even more important than other categories for conveying the app’s use case than the full product page. 
  •  Conversely, several categories of apps have a much higher CTR than CVR, such as shopping, medical, sports,  and weather. These apps appear to have a higher degree of difficulty in convincing users to download, and may need to exert extra effort into CRO to succeed. 

For more data, consider the results of this study on conversion rate benchmarks from Splitmetrics, which shows the  median App Store Page Conversion rates from A/B tests:

A/B test conversion rate data by top categories from a Splitmetrics study 
A/B test conversion rate data by top categories from a Splitmetrics study

When it comes to selecting which assets to optimize, the big three visual elements are generally the most common  (icon, screenshots, video/feature graphic); but research from Store Maven and TUNE provide additional insights into what elements are the most effective at lifting conversion. 

For example, Store Maven has found that only 2% of iOS users and 5% of Android users will read an app’s full description.  Yet, according to research from Tune, the most important element of an app page in converting visitors into users are more textual than visual. 

Estimated lift in conversion rate by specific asset optimization, per Store Maven
Estimated lift in conversion rate by specific asset optimization, per Store Maven
Estimated lift in conversion rate by specific asset optimization, per Store Maven
Estimated lift in conversion rate by specific asset optimization, per Store Maven

The variance of studies and experiences underscores an important tenet in CRO, which is that no element should be ignored. While prioritization is important, a proper CRO strategy should ultimately touch all aspects of an app listing. 

CRO Loop Step #1: Conduct research 

When researching, try to assimilate information from every relevant source that you can, in order to be well-informed and avoid biases that can arise from studying solely one source of data. Here are some ideas for information that may  be useful when planning your CRO efforts: 

RESEARCH SOURCE: YOUR TARGET MARKET 

  • What features do they care about? Focus on concisely communicating these key factors in the user’s decision-making process. 
  • What features do they not care about? Increase the effectiveness of your listing by skipping these features,  or placing them below other, more important features. 
  •  What needs/wants do they have? Clearly communicate how your app addresses these, whether these are features, fears, desires or other consideration points. 
  •  What education level do they have? What vocabulary do they use? Speak to them in terms they understand best.

Also, be sure to take a moment and read (not skim) a good handful of top user reviews. Take notes on the above, as well as other comments that multiple users mention and think about how to integrate these into your messaging.  

Take note of what assumptions you had and determine whether users even seem to care about those at all (use keywords, inferences, and other forms of logic to connect user feedback to your assumptions). Be mindful that anything which users don’t care about should be considered negative weight; that is, not only are they not considered valuable to users, but they can also actively detract from the important bits by convoluting the whole of your messaging. 

Pro tip: For best results, focus on those reviews that are marked most useful, or the most recent reviews. 

Screenshot showing Google Play reviews, sorted by helpfulness 
Screenshot showing Google Play reviews, sorted by helpfulness

RESEARCH SOURCE: COMPETITORS 

Naturally, as ASO is all about competing well in a zero-sum environment, you should also soak up insights from studying your competitors’ listings. 

  •  What are their differentiators or unique selling points? Determine how to overcome these in order to put your app ahead in the user’s decision process. 
  •  What is their rating? Determine whether your rating is a liability to improve, or an asset to tout. 
  • What complaints do users mention in their reviews? Take advantage of issues that your competitors face to gain points in the user’s decision-making process.

Also take some time and compare your elements to the styles of other apps that appear near yours in keyword search results. Focus on the fact that your app will need to capture user attention better than these apps in order to earn that user’s initial tap and/or install. 

Screenshot of Mobile Action’s Timeline update - Watching closely what your competitors change can also help with identifying your next hypotheses and tests. 
Screenshot of Mobile Action’s Timeline update – Watching closely what your competitors change can also help with identifying your next hypotheses and tests.

RESEARCH SOURCE: YOUR APP’S PERFORMANCE 

If your app is launched, tap into your own data to guide you to both the hotspots of user activity, as well as those sparse areas of user activity. Both are important for informing you on how to position your app’s messaging. If your app is not yet launched, study your website performance, or signals from your other marketing or pre-launch activities. Consider  the following data points in your research:  

  •  Your conversion rate, and conversion rate vs the benchmark (i.e. Google, or benchmark data from the prior pages for Apple). This will serve as a barometer of how critical CRO is, and a yardstick for much potential return you can expect from successful optimizations. 
  •  Your top-ranking, highest volume keywords. These keywords align with the intent that most users will have in mind when they encounter your app listing. Keywords are like the question that users ask in order to find relevant solutions in the form of apps. 
  •  App usage data: Review your app’s usage data to figure out which features or configurations are the most used or most-purchased, and use these insights to increase your app listing’s appeal to new users.

Beware: Macro changes in your app’s seasonal patterns may affect your CRO efforts. If you have such fluctuations in your app’s performance, try to account for them in your analysis. 

Once you’ve got a good grip on your addressable market, the competitive landscape, and your app’s performance, you can move on to the next phase of creating hypotheses. 

CRO Loop Step #2: Hypothesize 

Changing the background color of your screenshots to blue is an idea that could produce better or worse results. But why? Without thinking through a hypothesis, you may not know why the results happened, only that they did, and you will probably have to start from scratch when thinking about what else to try next. 

But if you come up with a hypothesis and supporting evidence, then your job will be easier. Consider the following  example of a hypothesis and supporting evidence: 

Hypothesis: “IF we add an image of happy people into the background color of our screenshots, THEN our conversion rate will improve.” 

Supporting evidence: This change will provide our app with a sense of realism, and help users to envision themselves reaching the happy state of the people they see in your screenshots. By creating an emotional connection with our users using images of people, our app will enjoy an advantage over other apps offering similar features, but no emotional connection. 

Not only does this exercise help us build confidence in our assumption, but it also sets us up for the next step, too. If this test produces positive results, we can try to find other ways to increase the emotional connection or realism of our app in user’s’ eyes, such as adding use cases to the description. 

In order to come up with a hypothesis, observe different aspects of your app listing, your competitors’ app listings,  your marketing efforts, your customer service logs or anything else that offers insight into your target market’s interactions with apps and what they care about. Some of the following are some good examples of how research can form hypotheses. Following the “if, then” format in writing hypotheses can help you keep the focus of ideation on driving a desirable impact. 

  • Scenario: your icon or IAP icon. 

Observation: your icon is abstract, while other apps’ icons allude to their use cases. Hypothesis: if you add imagery into your icons that hint at what your app does, then it will help users understand what your app does  or your IAP are offering more quickly.

Left: a messenger (WeChat) with clear imagery for a messenger app. Right a messenger app (Wire), with less clear imagery. 
Left: a messenger (WeChat) with clear imagery for a messenger app. Right a messenger app (Wire), with less clear imagery.
  •  Scenario: your competitors’ screenshots or preview videos

Observation: you and your competition all shows a set of similar features, while users mention features in their reviews that are not included in the general asset set. Hypothesis: if you show the same main features as your competition, plus the most commonly mentioned additional feature by users, then this will assure users that your app can do what other apps do, but offers even more value. 

Observation: your app doesn’t include the full in-app screenshot in your Play Store app listing screenshot,  while the top-ranking apps in your category generally display full-length screenshot. Hypothesis: if users can see the full screenshot and are not left wondering what is hidden off-screen, then they will understand the benefits better. 

  •  Scenario: your screenshot captions

Observation: your font is very small, while some of your focus groups indicate that users don’t read your captions and only comment on the look of your screenshots. Hypothesis: If you use larger, more legible font,  then users will be more willing and able to read them and grasp the value they convey. 

Observation: a competitor uses two of your starred keywords in their screenshot captions. Hypothesis: if you include keywords in your screenshot captions, then it will increase your app listing’s visual word recognition,  and thus conversion rate. 

  •  Scenario: your short description or iOS promo text. 

Observation: top charting apps mention accolades, such as the total number of users and quotes from the press. Hypothesis: if you mention social proof in your description opening, then users will be encouraged to continue reading more and thus download.

  •  Scenario: your app’s rating

Observation: your app has a star rating of 3.5, while your competition all have ratings of 4 or higher. Hypothesis:  if you can earn a star rating of 4 or higher, then your app will no longer be disadvantaged relative competitors,  and your conversion rate will improve. 

CRO Loop Step #3: Craft Your Messaging / Select imagery 

Crafting your messaging and selecting imagery involves distilling your research and hypothesis into a tangible form that can be consumed by users. From the icon, to the opening description hook, to screenshots and captions, to  feature graphic overlaid text and background imagery, the messaging/imagery is what answers the user’s question of  “why should I care?” 

Here are five examples of messaging that apps oftentimes lean on: 

  • . Social proof (e.g. total number of users)
Wish using social proof in its description 
Wish using social proof in its description
  • Branding (e.g. a journey of self-discovery) 
  •  Ease of use (e.g. one tap to do x) 
Chase using an ease of use messaging in its description 
Chase using ease of use messaging in its description
  •  Pricing (e.g. “cheapest” or “affordable”)
Groupon conveying pricing in its screenshot caption 
Groupon conveying pricing in its screenshot caption
  • Engaging (e.g. the most fun game) 
Tinder using an engaging first screenshot caption 
Tinder using an engaging first screenshot caption

While messaging can be added to any of the elements of an app store listing, the best apps use messaging that spans multiple elements to tell a more cohesive story. 

When crafting your messaging, here are some general tips to keep in mind: 

  •  Offer users data points that describe your app in the smallest number of characters possible. Social proof (e.g.  total trips taken) is a quintessential example of using data points to sell an app.
  •  Use vocabulary that users are looking for and understand, such as your best-ranking keywords. 
  •  Use questions, an engaging brand voice, problem statements or other methods to entertain and engage users. This can also include the use of emoji
  • Test whether questions vs statements have a higher conversion rate for your app. 
  •  Pick a hook that stands out when compared to other apps that share visibility for the same keywords or top charts. Try using a description with more simple vocabulary, or saying the same thing with half as many words. 

When selecting imagery, here are some general tips to keep in mind: 

  •  For lifestyle apps, using images of people or scenes to convey a sense of realism can score improvements. 
  •  Make sure not to obscure in-app screenshots with designs or other visuals. This can set off the user’s suspicion that you have something to hide, and make them more cautious of downloading your app. 
  •  Identify imagery that can help convey information on what your app does or allude to a major use case. 
  •  Use custom design such as shadows, gradients or hidden imagery. This can make visual designs appear more impressive, and score points with users. 
  •  If your messaging is the strongest point, use abstract visuals as opposed to bold or real imagery, to help the user focus on your messaging and not the imagery. 
  •  Test whether asset design that is subtle or contrasting does better for your app. 
  • Test using words or letters in your visuals – word overlays can work incredibly well as many times, messaging overlaid in a visual element is noticed before messaging buried in text elements. 
Talkatone overlaying “Call and text for free” in their feature graphic in the Google Play Store. 
Talkatone overlaying “Call and text for free” in their feature graphic in the Google Play Store.

CRO Loop Step #4: Create Your Assets

After crafting your message and selecting imagery, consider what elements of your app listing are best suited to convey your message, and whether you can connect messaging across multiple elements for better cohesion. Each element  is naturally very different, and as such presents an opportunity to speak to your message from different angles, which can increase the power of your message as a whole. 

A Case Study in: Cohesive Messaging

Venmo 

Venmo also touches on its message of simple, as well as connecting finances between people, both in the short description and second screenshot. 

venmo screenshot

Whatsapp 

WhatsApp conveys its connected message through the short description and screenshots simply by repeating the word “simple” and “real-time;”  though WhatsApp could have used an image to convey the message of personal, or else use the phrase “real life” to describe other aspects of a  person’s life, such as photos of travels.

whatsapp screenshot

Moji Maker 

Mojimaker also takes a more direct approach by repeating the accolades that it has acquired in both the first screenshot and the description.  Additionally, the caption connects with the imagery of the claw attaching parts of the emojis underlines the messaging of creation and customization. 

moji maker screenshot

Airbnb:

Here, Airbnb conveys a strong message of experiences in unique locales, delivered by the phrases “unforgettable trips” and “unique homes” and the interesting loft and intriguing open-water experience. Airbnb also departs from the traditional, beautiful tropical/city imagery in favor of a very unique home, which may or may not strongly communicate the message of unique enough, and as such represents a great A/B test to try.

airbnb screenshot

 

In the following sections, we will dive deeper into optimizations for each of the store assets. Additionally, we will begin each asset subchapter with a note of knowledge that applies to both Apple and Google assets (if applicable), and then provide specific knowledge on the Apple App Store-specific asset, followed by the Google Play Store-specific asset. 

Store Asset: App Title 

While the title is 99% of the time used primarily for keyword ranking optimization, the test a good ASO is whether a  keyword-optimized title can still effectively convey the main value proposition of the app, in order to boost conversion rate. Unfortunately, you cannot A/B test the title in the App Store, nor in the Play Store, and must use a 3rd party A/B  testing tool; we provide several options for A/B testing tools in the tools chapter. 

Pro tip: You can hack an A/B test together for your title by releasing a new title live into a localization that shares the same language as your core market, but is a second or third-tier market. Measure the change in performance via a pre-post comparison and use the results to directionally forecast how the change would affect a title change in your core market.

Robinhood is by now a strong brand in the US, but still a lot of people don’t know what they’re doing. Adding ‘Free Stock Trading’ not only helps with  searches but also with conversions. 
Robinhood is by now a strong brand in the US, but still a lot of people don’t know what they’re doing. Adding ‘Free Stock Trading’ not only helps with searches but also with conversions.

Identify keywords that are most recognized and valued by users by referring to your user research, user reviews or performance marketing campaign data.  

Pro tip: You can also run an advertisement test to inform your title testing. For example, if a Facebook  Ad running with “Robinhood – Free Stock Trading” as a headline outperforms “Robinhood – Trade stocks for free” and the former also makes sense for keyword optimization, use the first as your app title. 

In general, when optimizing your app’s title, ensure that the keywords that are most useful in describing your app are located earlier in the title, and thus most safe from truncation (i.e. seek visual word recognition). 

A Case Study in: Writing App Titles with  

MyFitnessPal 

MyFitnessPal provides a good example of optimizing an app’s title for visual word recognition, by placing top keywords earlier in the title.

Screenshot showing MyFitnessPal’s title 
Screenshot showing MyFitnessPal’s title

By placing the top keyword before the brand name (Calorie Counter & Diet Tracker by MyFitnessPal), this app increases the perception of its relevance for top keywords (calorie counter, diet, diet tracker). Additionally, when the app appears as a result in auto-fill results for those top keywords, the app can capture user attention more quickly by more closely matching the user’s search term, based on the fact that users are read words from left-to-right.

Screenshot showing auto-fill searches for calorie counter, with MyFitnessPal appearing second 
Screenshot showing auto-fill searches for calorie counter, with MyFitnessPal appearing second

Apple Asset: App Title 

The Apple title has a larger font than the subtitle, and thus is more likely for a user to read first. Furthermore, the app title is not as prone to truncation in app store browse impressions as the subtitle.

Pro tip: the number of characters before an organic app store search title truncates in has been observed to be between 18 and 20 characters.

Screenshot: App Store US paid apps top chart depicting truncation of app titles and subtitles 
Screenshot: App Store US paid apps top chart depicting truncation of app titles and subtitles

Google Asset: App Title 

An Android app’s title, at 50 characters offers more space than the title of an iOS app (not including the subtitle). Yet  an Android app’s title is also more vital than in iOS for explaining to users what your app is all about from a keyword  search, given the absence of screenshots and a subtitle in a Google Play search impression:

Screenshot of a Google keyword search. While the first three titles show a relation to scrum, the fourth title has no relevance. 
Screenshot of a Google keyword search. While the first three titles show a relation to scrum, the fourth title has no relevance.

Apple Asset: Subtitle (Apple-Only) 

Offering an additional 30 characters and appearing anywhere the app title appears, the subtitle is useful for both ranking in KWO, as well as CRO. Again, like the title, the most important factors for subtitle CRO involve finding the right keywords and avoiding truncation. A difference between the title and subtitle is that subtitles tend to not truncate for longer in app store search impressions than titles, yet truncate sooner than titles in app store browse impressions. 

SoundCloud’s companion app for creators makes use of the subtitle to make it clear to app store browsers that it’s not it’s main listener app. 
SoundCloud’s companion app for creators makes use of the subtitle to make it clear to app store browsers that it’s not it’s main listener app.

For the subtitle (and title), if possible try to optimize your letters for those that are thinnest, such as using “Is” vs “Ms.” For example, using this  method enables app Visage earns a fully untruncated 27 characters in an app store search impression with “Essential beauty shot maker,” while app GasBuddy earns a fully untruncated 24 characters in an app store feature impression with “For the perfect pit stop,” while Footballguys Fantasy  Football earns a paltry 18 characters in a top chart impression with “Dominate YOUR Fant.” 

Screenshot depicting Visage (left) earning a 27 character subtitle, GasBuddy (middle) earning 24, and Footballguys (right) earning 18 characters 
Screenshot depicting Visage (left) earning a 27 character subtitle, GasBuddy (middle) earning 24, and Footballguys (right) earning 18 characters

Beware: the number of characters before an organic app store search subtitle truncates is shortest in an app store top chart impression, average length in a feature browse impression, and longest in an app store search impression.

Google Asset: Short Description (Google-Only) 

This 80 character text field appears before the user expands the listing to view the long description and is vital for encouraging users who learn by reading, to download or continue on to the long description. 

Hulu short description with a “READ MORE” link leading to the long description. 
Hulu short description with a “READ MORE” link leading to the long description.

While short descriptions are important for both keyword ranking and increasing conversion, ASOs most often consider the main purpose of the short description as boosting conversion rate. That said, including a few very important keywords in the short description can be a way to improve your app’s ranking and raise conversion rates by explaining what your app is in terms that users are searching for. 

Short descriptions are also well-equipped for conveying key messaging, given that they are centrally located above the fold in an Android app page; by contrast, screenshots are not ideally-located, as users must scroll down in the Android listing to see the screenshots, and the feature graphic is partially hidden under the status bar. 

Screenshot depicting the short description sitting above the fold in the app page. 
Screenshot depicting the short description sitting above the fold in the app page.

Other Metadata Store Assets: What’s New 

Similarly to the number and specifics of languages an app supports, an app with a steady history of updates can be a  major signal of quality (or vice versa), not just by the cadence of updates, but by the care put into wording each What’s New-note. Additionally, in the App Store each What’s New is logged in the Version History, giving users a window into what the app developer has spent time addressing in each version. A version history filled with “bug fixes” tells a story of an app that is probably less valuable and problem-prone than an app that has a rich history of feature additions and other significant improvements. 

Try some of these tactics to get the most out of your What’s New text: 

  •  Explain what new functionality was added and why people should care.

google calendar

  •  If possible, explain what issues were fixed in “bug fixes.” If a bug that many users were pained by was fixed, tell people that a major issue was addressed. 

rheo screenshot

  • Comfort new users and existing users alike by affirming your commitment to (offer a cadence of updates if you have one). 
  • messanger screenshot
  • Offer appreciation to people for using your app. 
  • ryanair screenshot
  • Offer witty or funny comments; such comments might even go viral!  For example, search on twitter for example for “Medium iOS update”  to see what the app Medium is doing with their what’s new texts and how they are shared. 

medium screenshot

  • Be clear and concise – use as few words as possible to focus attention on what matters.

transferwise screenshot

Apple Asset: What’s New 

In Apple, the What’s New-section occupies a location that is likely to be read by inquisitive users and can indicate to users the activity of the development team and thus how much the team cares about the app and how often they make improvements (along with the version history, which is a catalog of prior entries of What’s New). In the App Store,  What’s New can also be updated without requiring an app update. The What’s New also shows in the updates section of the App Store, and can easily be read by users who have downloaded your app.  

app annie screenshot
Google Asset: What’s New 

The What’s New-section in Google does not rank for keywords and only appears in listings for users who have already downloaded the app, pegging this element at one of the least important elements for CRO.

Screenshot: What’s new in Google Play appearing just between the Short description & “Read More” button if the app is installed. 
Screenshot: What’s new in Google Play appearing just between the Short description & “Read More” button if the app is installed.

Other Metadata Store Assets: Full/Long App Description 

Most app descriptions include some combination of the following sections. Try creating each of these sections and  testing different variations and locations of each section in your long description: 

  • Description opening hook: 

spotify

  •  General description of the app: 
  • uber
  • What’s to love about the app:

microsoft outlook

  • Features of the app: 

flipp

  • App user reviews/PR quotes (Oksana Iarose points out that this is against policy in Google Play):

pr

  • App usage data accolades: 

app usage data

  • How the app works 

netflix

  • App use cases:

gym

  • App user FAQs: 

live.me

  • Company administrative information (privacy, subscriptions, etc.): 

iheartradioAlso, consider some of the following A/B test-ready ideas for using your app’s description to improve your conversion  rate: 

  • Test differences in font formatting/section headings/white spacing/content density. 
  • Add, remove or change the order of major sections. 
  • Include social media/support links. 
  • Use an active voice when describing features and try using use cases that resonate with your target market’s intent. For example, instead of the sentence “grocery list items,” use the sentence “add items to your grocery  list, like milk, eggs, and bread” 

Apple Asset: Full Description  

The first several lines of your description will show under your promo text (if set), and before the “more” button. 

Optimizing your first 5 lines continues to be the most important section of the Apple description, but the full description is also important to a key subset of potential users; these are the people who are engaged enough to want to learn more about your app beyond the screenshots/first 5 lines, and some that will read it in its entirety. Crucially, these people: 

  1.  Are high-quality users – if they are actually investing this much time to decide what app to download, their overall value as a user is probably higher than the non-brand keyword searcher who hits download within 3  seconds. 
  2.  Are not quite ready to download your app – they want to know what else your app does beyond what was provided in the screenshots. Your full description, therefore, may be vital in convincing these users to download. 

The main goal of description optimization in Apple, where keywords do not rank, is to strike the right balance of conveying your messaging, while doing so in the most concise manner possible. This difference represents an advantage that an  App Store description possesses over Google Play descriptions, as the App Store description can be written freely,  without the pressure of inserting keywords for ranking. 

Google Asset: Long Description 

While the Google Play app description is the same number of characters as the App Store’s (4,000), the Google Play description is far more important to increasing visibility than the App Store description because the Google Play description ranks for keywords. 

Yet a significant advantage in CRO that Google Play descriptions possess over App Store descriptions centers around text formatting. 

Developers can use rich formatting (HTML) and emojis to make the Google Play app description stand out of the crowd in searches and in your page view. For example, Boomerang saw a 16% conversion uplift when they formatted their  Google Play Store description. While we haven’t seen this high conversion uplifts on the description before, we did see conversion increases by making clever use of emojis or rich formatting. 

You can also use rich formatting to bring out the structure in your Play Store description, by accentuating chapter headings for instance.  

Additionally, you can also use rich text and emojis to stand out of the crowd; even in your Google Play Title (see Wattpad Free Books) and developer name you can use emoji’s to increase conversion, although you won’t be able to run A/B tests on these two assets. 

Beware: Having emoji in your developer name or title, will disqualify you from running Google AdWords campaigns. 

Screenshot showing a developer failing to use formatting in their live short description. 
Screenshot showing a developer failing to use formatting in their live short description.
Screenshot showing a developer failing to use formatting in their live short description. 
Screenshot showing a developer failing to use formatting in their live short description.

Because there’s a pretty big difference between how your assets are rendered in the Play Store App on an Android  device and on play.google.com, we’ve create a little cheat sheet which shows you what you can do with each of the five  text assets in Google Play: 

follow html tags

html tags

Other Store Assets: Promotional Text (Apple-Only)

When present, the 170 character promo text element will show on top of the first several lines of the Apple description,  and can be edited between new versions. While screenshots usually earn the most focus in CRO, don’t forget that all users who visit your app’s product page will see your promo text. 

Use promo text to offer information that gets users even more excited about your app, such as upcoming features,  special pricing, or other time-sensitive messaging points. 

Example of App Store promo text; image source: 9to5mac 
Example of App Store promo text; image source: 9to5mac

Other Store Assets: Developer Name 

For companies with existing brand awareness, the developer name can be a way to increase conversion rates by leveraging that brand equity. Additionally, a well-chosen developer name can also entice people to tap and view the rest of the developer’s apps. While the developer name is very difficult to change, once set in the App Store, it is very easy to change in the Google Play store. 

Beware: For smaller developers who use a personal account to distribute an Apple app, this personal account may likely be less trusted than a good brand. 

A couple other tips for leveraging your developer name for CRO include: 

  •  Considering the pros and cons of adding a legal business entity type to the developer name. For example, a  GmbH is internationally less familiar than an LLC/Inc. 
  • Even exploring using alternative methods for CRO, such as using emojis in your developer name in Google  Play.

Other Apple Assets: Developer Name 

Developer pages in Apple do not offer much control in terms of optimization; but the most recently updated app appears at the top of the total apps list, and developer pages that include an arrangement of the developer’s app icons,  can show for branded searches, above the first organic result, but below Search Ads results. 

Screenshot depicting a developer page result showing  for a keyword search 
Screenshot depicting a developer page result showing  for a keyword search
Screenshot depicting Rovio’s developer page with custom background for app types and showcasing of Rovio’s latest release.
Screenshot depicting Rovio’s developer page
with custom background for app types and showcasing of Rovio’s latest release.

Other Google Assets: Developer Name 

In Google, developer pages are not only more engaging but also entirely within the developer’s control

developers control page

Developers can upload the following elements to their developer page: 

  •  A developer page feature graphic. 
  •  A developer page short description. 
  •  A developer page icon. 
  • An app to feature in the developer page. 

Optimizing the developer page is very much to the Android app developer’s best interest, leading to free cross promotional downloads as well as increased credibility with users, that can help acquire a user’s initial download. 

Other Apple Assets: Custom Product Page Background (Apple Only)

For select top developers, Apple has given a bit more creative freedom in designing the app store page. If you’re one of the lucky ones, you’ll be asked by Apple to provide ‘Product Page art assets’ and with those you’ll be able to add a  feature graphic but also a background color. 

PRODUCT PAGE ART ASSET NEEDED 

Apple will request that developers: “Please provide evergreen artwork with generic elements for your app’s product  page. Include a title treatment/logo within the file that is scalable both up and down as a Photoshop ‘Smart Object.’  Please note that the primary background colour in your featuring art template will match the product page colour.” 

whatsapp screenshot

In iOS 11 it seems that Apple got rid of the background color, but still allows you to define a custom background very much alike the Google Play feature graphic, shown at the top of the app product page.

product pagesamazon lyftpinterest

Visual Word Recognition 

Taking a step back from assets, let’s return to the concept of visual word recognition, which is a very important concept for CRO. 

What makes up your app’s visibility is many individual impressions across the App Store as a whole, from featured spots, to top chart spots, to results for keyword searches, and product page views. Yet, for most apps the majority of organic visibility and downloads come from a handful of high-volume, highly ranked keywords. 

Optimizing your app’s conversion rate for your top opportunity keywords is low hanging fruit and often an easy way to unlock more downloads with minimal effort.

Screenshot of a Google Play keyword search for “diet.” Each app applies some form of connection with the keyword “diet,” either in the icon imagery,  developer name or the app title. 
Screenshot of a Google Play keyword search for “diet.” Each app applies some form of connection with the keyword “diet,” either in the icon imagery,  developer name or the app title.

The first step in optimizing your app for top keywords is to figure out what your top keywords are. This involves tracking all keywords relevant to your app using an ASO tool, and then 1) returning to your keyword search term backlog to pick the most important terms and 2) filter those keywords down to those with a rank of 10 or better (or even top 5).  This shows you which of your top keywords are ranked well enough to actually capture downloads from users, and more specifically those that have the highest contribution margin to your overall downloads; or in other words: just the keywords you’ll want to optimize your listing in order to speak to. 

Keep two caveats in mind when performing this research: 

  1.  Keyword ranks do fluctuate, so it can be useful to use a 7-day average when running this analysis. 
  2. Keyword search volume also fluctuates, so do a live search and check the search popularity history on a  keyword to ensure that each top keyword is a consistently high-volume keyword. 

Optimizing for top keywords doesn’t have to be a standalone strategy that replaces your branding or other messaging.  The goal is to use keywords that people are searching, and thus are looking to see that your app provides an answer/ solution for, in the same way that dynamic ads in Adwords work to improve CTR. Your job as the ASO is to present the user with a silver platter reply that your app is the best solution to the need that they have, and using the same language that the user has found your app by using is a great way to do that.

Screenshot: Mobile Action keyword ranks
Screenshot: Mobile Action keyword ranks

A Case Study in: Visual Word Recognition with Keepsafe 

Photo locker app, Keepsafe offers a visual asset-based case study in optimization for visual word recognition. 

Here we can see that the top keywords for Keepsafe include “photo lock,” “photo locker,” “private photos,” and  “album vault,” and that these keywords are included across the screenshot captions as well as the text description, in  prominent position. By taking this simple action, Keepsafe increases the chances of both capturing searcher attention,  and immediately assuring them that Keepsafe is a relevant app for their needs.

keepsafeCompare this approach with that of “burying the lead,” or forcing users to sift through other, less relevant descriptor keywords, which don’t relate as directly to the user’s keyword search (i.e. negative weight content, from the Research  CRO Loop step). 

Revenue Model 

Also beyond the frame of store assets, yet having a significant influence on your conversion rate is the revenue model that your app uses.

Screenshots depicting how different pricing models certainly have different levels of friction to converting users. 
Screenshots depicting how different pricing models certainly have different levels of friction to converting users.

In addition to considering the pros and cons of each main revenue model from a business model standpoint, also consider the pros and cons from a conversion rate and conversion eligibility standpoint. 

revenue models

Pro tip: apps that are paid download can test lowering the price as part of a limited time discount; this is an easy and temporary way to increase downloads and increase your app’s ranking while leaving your app’s expected price point unaffected.

Apple Assets: In-App Purchases (Apple-Only) 

Let’s return to the discussion of assets with In-App Purchases. 

In iOS 11, In-App Purchases take on a much larger importance in both KWO and CRO terms, given that up to 20 IAPs can be promoted into an app’s product page and search results, along with an icon, name and description. 

  •  The IAP name can be as long as 30 characters. 
  •  The IAP description as long as 45 characters. 
  •  The IAP icon is allowed as a 1024×1024 PNG or JPEG file. 

Preliminary best practices for optimizing your IAP for CRO involve: 

  • Creating an icon that is appealing, understandable as a visually-oriented descriptor, and can convince a user to continue reading about the IAP or the app itself, just like the regular app icon. 
  • Using the right name that is descriptive and appealing enough to convince a user to buy or read more, just like the app title. 
  • A description, which must explain the value proposition and use case of the In-App Purchase, just like the description, but with 99% fewer words. 

Pro tip: Try using the most popular keywords that relate to that IAP in the description, to increase visual word recognition. Also, try using bite-sized data points that help users to understand why their experience using your app will be better after unlocking your IAP. For example, try social proof (e.g.  numbers on how many people buy that IAP), a comparison of what the IAP provides compared to normal app use (e.g. 100x more gems than are earned in a typical day), or indicate that the IAP was featured by Apple.

Screenshot depicting 8fit’s In-App Purchase result in the search results. 
Screenshot depicting 8fit’s In-App Purchase result in the search results.

Pro Tip: your app’s icon will always inhabit the bottom-left corner of your IAP icon, so ensure that any  imagery in the bottom-left corner of your IAP icon is okay to be obscured 

A Case Study in: Naming In-App Purchases 

Here we can see a text-based example of a more descriptive and less descriptive set of IAPs for two competing apps:  Tinder and Bumble. While Bumble offers no differentiation in their IAP names, Tinder allows users to understand more about what each purchase is, just by looking at the name. That said, only some of Tinder’s IAP names are clear and  descriptive, and also require users to know what a super like or boost is.

buble iap

In-App Purchases do not show in the Google Play store page, and thus have little impact on CRO. 

Store Assets: App Icon 

One of the most important aspects of CRO in general is to include competitor apps in your research, rather than solely creating an icon in isolation. Yet, this is even more important with regard to icons due to the fact that many times icons are the only visual element in an app preview (e.g. top charts in either store and the Android keyword searches). 

Analyzing how your icon is positioned against the other app icons is the best tactic to help you determine how to make your icon more appealing and win over visitors with more success than your competition. 

There are many different styles of icon design, yet consider these five distilled commonalities for optimizing your app  icon design: 

  1.  Color: try a background fill, contrasting font versus background, common colors among competition. 
  2.  Visual associations: explore using one dominant visual that associates with the app’s main use case. 
  3. Quality Design: tap into a designer’s touch, such as shadows, gradients, decoration and more subtle associations. 
  4.  Use words or letters: some apps use words or letters in their icon; most are branded (e.g. Facebook or Twitter),  but not all. 
  5. Generally, gravitate towards a singular design focus. Most apps will benefit more from a single, simple visual focus; however some apps such as photos and video may also benefit from a more complex design, so long as it is polished and of a high-quality.

Apple Assets: App Icon 

While important for apps earning a large volume of App Store browse impressions, the 1024×1024 App Store icon is otherwise less important than the Google Play Store icon for search impressions. 

That said, with the release of iOS 11, your app’s icon will also appear in each of your promoted In-App Purchases,  increasing the visibility and importance of having a clear, understandable app icon. 

Google Assets: App Icon 

The app icon (at 512×512 pixels) is the most visible (and the only visual) element in a Google Play keyword search,  making an Android app’s icon much more important for CRO than an iOS app’s icon. For this reason and due to operating system stylistic differences, app icons in the Google Play store are often more visually complex than App Store icons, in order to help show off relevant imagery that describes the app’s main purpose to searchers and help differentiate an app from its competition. 

A Case Study on: Icon Design 

icon design

For the Play Store sports scores apps here, we see much more letter branding vs distinct associations; yet three apps do make heavy use of the common sports representations of a trophy, whistle (if you look closely you can see a well placed football as well) and cheering fan silhouette. Additionally, we can see several icons using actual words, beyond the name of the developer. Color leans towards red or blue and most apps use colored background fills, too to contrast against white font. These apps are fairly distinct, yet they miss out on the opportunity to make an association with the main use case here (scores/numbers).

icon results

While these App Store travel app icons are mostly dominated by large app brands, there still are still two common themes: locomotion (a rabbit and planes) and the well-known location pin; the Google Trips briefcase is also a recognizable travel association, while the Travelocity snowflakes or stars seem to be more a branding play than immediately recognizable as travel or flights. There are plenty of travel associations that could be tested for a non-brand app in this category, such as a globe, car, passport, sign and even palm tree. What is also clear here though, is  that nearly all of these travel app icons are colorful, to elicit positive, excited visions of gallivanting around the world. 

Google Assets: Feature Graphic (Google-Only) 

The feature graphic (a 1024×500 banner) is located in the top-center of your app’s listing after a visitor taps to view more of your app store listing. Feature graphics are a favorite for Android CRO, given their prominent location and the fact that they are an open canvas with which app developers or marketers can do what they like. While many apps use a simple brand logo as the focus of their feature graphic, consider using your feature graphic as the place to let your creative juices flow. 

A Case Study on: Feature Graphic Designs 

THE WEATHER CHANNEL

The weather channel

The Weather Channel’s feature graphic offers a visual that is immediately recognizable by users familiar with weather apps, which is the weather radar map. Not only is this a recognizable allude to an important feature of a weather category app, but it is also vivid and attracts the user’s attention (though at this stage, the eye-catching appeal is less important given the user has already chosen to learn more about TWC’s app after clicking in from an earlier impression).  Including the icon in the middle of the feature graphic is, in our opinion, a wasted opportunity to either keep the design clean by using the radar map alone, or offer something new to the user (given the same icon is located just below the feature graphic). 

The Weather Channel could also consider the following additional tests to improve CRO: 

  • Add an overlaid 1-3 word caption (key to this would be ensuring it was fully legible on the variable background)  – this will determine whether adding messaging is useful in converting users. 
  • Test different weather features (e.g. forecast, applicable custom content, etc.) – this will determine which feature best converts users. 
  • Add social proof – reinforce how many downloads TWC has earned, or other accolades – this will make the app seem appealing enough to download. 

8FIT

8fit’s feature graphic choice is an excellent one for an app that ties heavily into a lifestyle use case, which is the split/ screen shot. Here 8fit hammers home two association in the visitor’s mind of 8fit’s main purpose: helping people plan meals and workouts. 8fit’s screenshots also follow the split/screen design, showing the ever-popular in the fitness world, before and after shot. 8fit also includes subtle branding by watermarking their logo into the top-left corner of  the graphic, which is a nice touch. 

8fit could also consider the following additional tests to improve CRO: 

  •  Try a split/screen of a before and after transformation, just in case users don’t scroll to the screenshot – this will determine whether the before/after transformation association is key for converting users. 
  •  Use different models for the left, workout-side and the right, meal-side – this will figure out which model best converts users. 
  •  Overlay messaging onto the top of the graphic, such as “lose weight the healthy way,” “plans tailored to you,”  or “workout & meal coaching”– this could make the app seem appealing enough to download. 

TRIVIA CRACK

trivia crack

When it comes to feature graphics for games, the sky is really the limit in terms of creativity and what goes into this app banner slot, so critiquing game feature graphics is a difficult task. Trivia Crack here chose a fun and playful, branded approach. 

Trivia Crack could also consider the following additional tests to improve CRO: 

  • Test holiday-theming in the graphic, like the icon – this can indicate to users that the app is updated/ maintained enough for the developer to consider the current seasonality, thus indicating the app is maintained and not left to grow outdated. 
  • Add a level or stopwatch time number above each character’s head, (functionality pertaining to the game) –  this will determine whether the challenging aspect of the game helps convert users better. 
  •  Test adding more characters such as the popcorn box and knight characters, or including fewer characters –  this could potentially increase the appeal of the design, by making it more engaging, or less busy respectively. 

TED

ted

TED applies a variation on the real-world photo feature graphic by making a mosaic of photos surrounding the TED  logo and slogan (yet it’s worth noting that this mosaic style is the branded pre-roll for each TED Talk). This approach is interesting, yet it is also a bit busy for a small screen and thus represents a departure from traditional feature graphic designs and may possibly cause confusion or dissatisfaction in users looking for a simple, straightforward  understanding of an app. 

TED could also consider the following additional tests to improve CRO: 

  • Use a more cohesive set of photos, which all follow a similar theme (e.g. main colors present in the photo,  location of the TED speaker [such as on stage], or only shots of the audience) – this can increase the polish and professional appeal of the app, indicating that the team that makes the app is capable of making a top-notch  product. 
  • Test the white background TED logo with black slogan text – color changes sometimes have a very dramatic impact on conversion rates, as website form designers know well! 
  • Add a light bulb icon next to the TED logo – this can increase the association with user intent (i.e. discovery,  education, learning). 

Store Assets: Screenshots 

When creating screenshots, it’s a best practice to not assume that users will scroll through each individual screenshot.  Be sure to order your first few screenshots by those that explain the most important features and value that your app has to offer, so that if users don’t scroll any further, you have still cast your app in the best light possible.

Pro tip: don’t forget that the content inside of your screenshots (i.e. the in-app screenshots) should also be a part of the CRO loop. Test different screenshots or content within the screenshot (e.g. photos) to see which produces the best results. 

Some tips for getting the most out of your screenshot CRO include running tests along the following dimensions

  • Background styles – try a solid color, real world imagery, a gradient or an abstract background. 
  • Custom design styles – explore connected-style, superimposed icons, call-out graphics, or multiple devices in one screenshot image. 
  • Display styles – test a screenshot-only without captions, a screenshot with overlaid captions, a screenshot in a  partial or fully in-view phone, or a screenshot embedded in real-world imagery such as a person’s hand. 
  •  Caption styles – investigate how performance changes when captions are overlaid directly on the top/bottom of the screenshot itself, captions are laid on the background (traditional style), caption font size or style is tweak, or captions resemble call-outs located in different areas of the screenshot. 
  • Change the order of your screenshots. 
  • Change the in-app content of your screenshots, such as focusing on features or experiences that are most popular with users. 

Apple Assets: Screenshots 

Until the advent of the auto play preview video in iOS 11, screenshots were often considered the most important all around App Store asset, due to the fact that they appear in search results.

Screenshots (up to 5) now show in three tiles in an App Store search result (the first two screenshots will show if a  preview video is present in the search results, and screenshots will show after each preview video in the product page),  and are second in terms of impact on conversion rate in terms of impact on CRO only to the iOS 11 preview video. If you provide landscape mode screens or app previews, only one tile will show in the search results. 

Preliminary tips for optimizing your screenshots for iOS 11 include: 

  •  Connecting the first three screenshots using design, such as imagery that grows or connects each screenshot,  like a sun rising in three phases. 
  •  Using very short captions and large, legible font styling, to ensure your captions are readable in the smaller  iOS 11 search impression size. 
  •  Using visuals that are easy to discern in a smaller screenshot size (i.e. less complex). 
  • Saving space by using only the screenshot images themselves, rather than wrapping them in a phone profile. A Case Study on: iOS 11 Screenshot Designs

VISUAL POP-OFF

visual pop-off

visual pop-off

visual pop-off

This visual style (also known as a call-out) had a measure of popularity in iOS 10 ASO, likely due to its custom feel and ability to attract attention (especially important now that competing listings occupy a larger space in the search results than in iOS 10). In iOS 11 ASO, the pop-off style may prove more useful for zooming in to 2x or 3x on parts of an app’s  UI that may be harder to distinguish at a normal size. Or, the pop-off to draw user attention to parts of the screen that they may otherwise miss; an issue exacerbated by the addition of the third screenshot and smaller overall real estate. 

CONNECTED-STYLE

connected-styleconnected-style

The connected-style screenshot will likely proliferate in iOS 11 ASO with the addition of a third screenshot, which allows for a stronger and broader canvas to convey progression than two screenshots can provide. 

In fact, Youtube TV provides a glimpse into what a three screenshot-long progression can look like in iOS 11. Shazam and Postsnap combine the connected screenshot style with more text that tells a bit more of a story than a caption alone can muster. With smaller screens, the connected style can be a way to boost text size and retain the use of text as a major component of the messaging strategy. 

CONNECTED MIDDLE VISUAL

connected middle visual

Similar to the connected-style, this more rare style allows the app to control more of the messaging, by using more text and visuals, as opposed to having to use an actual screenshot. If the app lacks differentiation and is more functional than experiential, this may be a good choice. With three screenshots, this style may become more popular in iOS 11  ASO, by allowing users to still have two screenshots while also better controlling messaging. 

SINGLE-WORD CAPTION

How do you make the most of a small screen while still conveying your message via text? Use a single word for your captions. Single-word captions are likely to become popular in iOS 11 ASO. 

Google Assets: Screenshots 

The fact that screenshots (up to 8) are the last visual element seen of an Android app’s profile (behind the icon and feature graphic/preview video) makes screenshots in Google Play lower on the CRO totem pole than in the App Store. Yet, screenshots are still the most direct method by which an app user can preview what using an app is like (other than the preview video), meaning that they are still of vital importance to CRO. 

When creating Google Play screenshots, it’s important to consider two important facts about the Google Play screenshot  asset: 

  1. Google Play screenshots, unlike their App Store counterparts, occupy a low level on the visibility totem pole.  Before a user sees a Google Play app’s screenshots, the user must first tap the app preview, where the icon is the first visual element. Then, the user must scroll down below the (past the feature graphic/video and the short description), to reach the screenshots. 
  2. Google Play screenshots, therefore, do not need to capture a user’s attention; instead, the main focus should be on educating the user on what the app does, and why they should care. In this regard, custom design is less important for Google Play screenshots, and may even backfire.

Screenshots depicting the Google Play screenshots located below the fold in the app page 

Screenshots depicting the Google Play screenshots located below the fold in the app page 
Screenshots depicting the Google Play screenshots located below the fold in the app page

One caveat is that, for larger branded apps, screenshots will show in search results.

Google Play Store search for Snapchat 
Google Play Store search for Snapchat

A Case Study in: Android Screenshot Designs 

CUSTOM BACKGROUND GOOGLE PLAY SCREENSHOTS

custom background

custom background

Custom background screenshot styles are one of the more safe styles of design, allowing the app to be creative, while also introducing minimal risk into obscuring the screenshots themselves. The third screenshot here of Checkout 51 is the exception, opting for a much busier background along with call out and pop off elements, the confluence of which creates a high risk of overwhelming users who are simply looking to know what the app looks like. 

ALTERNATING DESIGN GOOGLE PLAY SCREENSHOTS  

alternating design

alternating design

As an attention-capturing device, alternating the design or style of each screenshot does a good job, yet it also makes screenshots appear busier and less cohesive, which can strike the wrong cord with an apps’ branding feel. Additionally,  given that the purpose of Google Play screenshots is less necessary to capture attention, this style of design can introduce more risk to converting users than benefit. 

CONNECTED-STYLE GOOGLE PLAY SCREENSHOTS

CONNECTED-STYLE

CONNECTED-STYLE

Connecting screenshots together is a common approach in ASO for the ability to control the messaging with a larger surface area for text, and also allowing for more design creativity. The downside is the flip-side of this coin, meaning that it may put users on alert about being “advertised to” more-so than more “standard” designs, by reducing the number of screenshots available for users to see, and ultimately reducing their confidence in objectively deciding whether the app solves their needs. 

STORY-STYLE GOOGLE PLAY SCREENSHOTS 

STORY-STYLE

Zillow takes an innovative approach by using landscape screenshots to tap into a larger surface area per screenshot;  thus Zillow is able to execute a story-style screenshot design, with longer captions that don’t also require a sacrifice in legibility. Zillow also uses a different icon to accentuate the main message in each screenshot, and a gradient to add a polished touch. 

OVER-DESIGNED STYLE GOOGLE PLAY SCREENSHOTS

OVER-DESIGNED STYLE

As the name implies, this screenshot style is hardly a set of screenshots. In each set, there is only one clear screenshot in a device profile, with the other screenshots going overboard with design. While certainly eye-catching, this screenshot style is also extremely busy and thus more likely to turn users off than explaining why the app in a clear and concise  manner. 

Store Assets: Video

sylvian gauchet

Linkedin: Sylvian Gauchet

General 

Video has always been a great way to show products in their best light. And it’s not different for mobile apps and games. Although not a slam dunk, leveraging video in the app stores can help you increase conversion; if you do it right. 

Storemaven estimates that the uplift one can get by having a video on your app store page can be up to +20-35%, and that visitors who watch the video are 3x more likely to install (based on analyzing 120M sessions of their tool). 

Pre-iOS 11, Splitmetrics estimated that the average increase in conversion with video for iOS was around 16%.

 Video statistics data source: splitmetrics.com 
Video statistics data source: splitmetrics.com

Although not everyone gets these types of results, it is worth considering video in your onboarding process. Users that have seen your video have a better understanding of your app, and are more likely to be engaged and stick around. But the only way to know for sure is through experimentation. 

There should be no “one creative fits all” approach. This is true for mobile advertising, and it is true as well as for app store videos, with many important differences in guidelines and formats between the Apple App Stores (iOS/tvOS) and the Google Play Store.

Let’s first take a look at these differences. We’ll then dive into more details and then provide you with recommendations for using videos in the App Store and Play Store. 

Even some of our most savvy mobile marketing customers seem to have misconceptions about the formats of app store videos, and we often end up needing to carefully explain the differences. 

Let’s make clear how we call the 2 types of videos in this chapter: 

  • App Previews are the videos displayed on the iOS and tvOS App Stores. They were introduced in 2014, and the way they are displayed is changing with iOS 11. 
  •  Promo videos (the term Google uses) or Play Store videos are the videos displayed on the Google Play Store. 

THE TOP 5 APP STORE VIDEO MISTAKES 

We’ve produced over 1,000 videos over the years, and we pay particular attention to what could help or hurt the  positive impact of using video on the stores. 

If you follow the best practices we recommend in this subchapter and watch keep a critical eye on your video production,  you should be more than well-equipped to build a store video. 

Here are some of the main pitfalls to avoid in store videos: 

app previews

pitfalls

Keep these key points in mind when optimizing your app video: 

  •  There are significant differences between promo videos (Play Store videos) and App Previews (App Store videos). They are not interchangeable. You want to optimize your video(s) for each store. 
  •  That said, some rules do apply to both types of videos, such as keeping it simple, leading with the value proposition, making it clear without sound and showing your best content. 
  • The “thumbnail” (poster frame for App Store a la iOS 10 and feature graphic for the Play Store) is critical to leveraging video on your page. What will be critical once iOS 11 goes public are the first few seconds of your video. 
  • Be sure to test the impact of your videos, and tweak things if needed. 

Apple Assets: App Preview Video 

The first thing to note is that App previews are device specific, and you upload them on iTunes Connect.

Screenshot showing where to upload app preview videos 
Screenshot showing where to upload app preview videos

This means that if your app is optimized (optimized, not just compatible) for iPhone and iPad then if you want the video to be displayed for both devices in the App Store you need to create two different videos: one iPhone App Preview and one iPad App Preview. 

As a matter of fact, because there are several iPhone resolutions you’ll have to automatically generate the videos for  the lower resolutions in iTunes Connect. 

Example: 

Say you have an iOS app, working mostly in portrait mode, optimized for both iPhone and iPad. You want to  produce a video with the highest resolution possible for iPhone, using an iPhone 7 Plus (1080×1920 pixels). In  iTunes connect you’ll be able to generate the iPhone 7 version (750×1334 pixels) and iPhone 5 version (640×1336).  For iPad, you’ll use an iPad Air or an iPad Pro. 

Apple TV apps are on a different store, the tvOS App Store, so if you have a tvOS app and want an App Preview in that  store, you need to produce another video. We won’t expand on this in this book. 

Apple most likely put the device-specific app previews in place because the goal of these App Previews is to give an accurate view of the user experience, and apps are often different based on whether you use them on a phone, a tablet  or a TV. 

Here are all of the App Preview resolutions:

Source: developer.apple.com 
Source: developer.apple.com

With iOS 11, it is possible to have up to 3 App Preview videos in one app page listing. But more on that later. If you want to add a video to your App Store page then you have to follow Apple’s guidelines. 

The guidelines are pretty strict. Although some publishers seem to get preferential treatment when operating in the grey area, it is safer to play by the rules (or at least have a  backup plan). 

Also, you can only update the App Previews when updating your app, so plan accordingly. 

IOS 11: FIRST APP PREVIEW AUTOPLAYS IN SEARCH RESULTS

 In the iOS 10 App Store, the video poster frame (acting as the first screenshot) and the second screenshot are displayed.

IRST APP PREVIEW AUTOPLAYS

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