This is a guest post by Dave Bell, Co-Founder and CEO of Gummicube, a company specializing in app store optimization.

With the massive migration from the web to apps, even startups that are not “mobile-first” recognize the importance of having a mobile app for their business.

Not only is there more time spent in devices than on desktops, but the majority of that time is spent within apps. If publishing a mobile app is part of your startup strategy, then app store optimization (or ASO) will be an important part of your overall startup marketing plan.

Supercharge Your Mobile Startup with App Store Optimization

Traction Channels

One of the first validation points for many startups is confirming market demand and identifying cost-effective methods of acquiring users.

Gabriel Weinberg and Justin Mares’ book Traction identifies 18 channels for testing and ultimately building traction, including “SEO, SEM, social media, content marketing, press and PR, affiliates, traditional business development and sales.

Developing a single channel for your business often requires testing and optimizing multiple channels, moving on from those that don't work and reinvesting in those that do. The payoff is that after performing tests and ruling out or optimizing a channel further, your business has created an asset - a proven and repeatable path to users and revenue.

For mobile apps, or startups where user experience and acquisition is aided by a mobile app, the most popular channel is the app store. That’s where app store optimization comes in.

Mobile App Traction

Many of the channels used for acquiring users for services and physical and digital products are also available to mobile apps. You may have seen ads for Game of War during the last Super Bowl, or ads for Candy Crush Saga on billboards. Almost everyone has seen an ad for a mobile app appear in their Facebook feed.

However, most mobile apps are not discovered and installed from TV ads, print ads, or even Facebook ads. The majority of app installs are a result of app store search.

So ask yourself: how can I test the app stores’ organic search traffic as a viable channel for my mobile app?

How to Attract Organic Search Traffic

App store search indexing, rankings, and results work much like other digital marketplaces. The two largest app stores are Apple’s iTunes and Android’s Google Play, and each has its own algorithms, app listing elements, and regulations. "The vast majority of app store searches are 2+ word phrases about features." - Dave Bell, GummicubeSince the algorithms are private and there are so many variables with apps, no one can realistically claim they know the specific weight a component of the algorithm has on search rankings. The algorithms are also dynamic, changing over time.
Analysis of app store data has revealed some secrets of the search and ranking algorithms. Reviews and retention have an impact on where an app ranks, but a great app is not enough on its own. There is an increasing significance placed on conversion rates (from search result to install) and in-app usage metrics.
Much of app store optimization is the execution of a strategy for creating an app listing that:

  • Can be indexed for relevant keywords and phrases by Apple and Google
  • Is discoverable by your target market
  • Converts viewers into installs and users

Collecting app store data and working with clients over the last five years has taught us at Gummicube that the vast majority of app store searches are 2+ word phrases about features, such as “photo filters”, “twitter videos”, and “dog walking”.

The very best way to tap into organic app store traffic that is relevant to your app, then, is to create an app listing that focuses on your app’s best features.

Focus on Features

Your app’s best features can be defined as the most essential and differentiating features of your app relevant to your target audience.

Once you have identified the top 3 or 4 features, aim for coverage of the variations of how your target market may search for those features.

Working with app store intelligence software and/or a mobile app marketing agency can help you build an app listing that provides relevant phrase coverage. It is not unheard of for developers to see download increases of 100% (or even 775%), while adjusting the listing for suggested incremental improvements.

For mobile apps, it is the organic search traffic of the app stores themselves that represent the most cost-effective avenue for connecting to market demand. And app store optimization is how you tap into that organic traffic.

About the guest author

Dave Bell is the Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Gummicube. In this role, Dave is responsible for overseeing the business strategy for the company, driving growth and market development. Dave is a pioneer of the mobile entertainment industry with more than 15 years of experience publishing, marketing and distributing mobile applications and games across carrier, direct to consumer and app store channels.

Tags: how to promote an app, app store rankings, app store optimization tips, aso, app store optimization, how to get app downloads, app store optimization services, app marketing