It’s official. There are more mobile devices in the world than there are humans -- roughly 7.2 billion, and they’re multiplying five times faster than we are. With mobile monopolizing so much of our time, it’s no wonder businesses are clamoring to build apps and soar to the top charts in the app stores.
But with more than 1.6 million apps on Google Play and roughly 1.5 million on the Apple App Store, it can be difficult to cut through the clutter and land one of the coveted top spots. App store success starts at square one -- the app development phase -- and carries over to the marketing and ASO strategies you and your team employ.
Here are five tips to help you build a great app and improve its visibility to ultimately crack the app store code.
1. Gather user feedback and never stop iterating.
For developers, there’s a huge sigh of relief when the first version of an app comes to fruition, but just because your app is built doesn’t mean the work is over and the money will roll in. Why? Because there are more than 1,000 apps submitted to Apple’s App Store every day and with such stiff competition, a one-and-done mentality doesn’t work.
Development is an ongoing process, so developers should always be looking for ways to improve and update your app and its offerings. Although putting out a great product is the goal, developers shouldn’t be caught up in building the best version from the get-go.
It’s more efficient to build a minimum viable product (MVP) first to collect validated learning from users and leverage the findings to inform ongoing development. To do this effectively, however, be sure to consider workflow and have the appropriate team in place. If your app plays a key role in your business, you should have a full-time team of developers and designers on the payroll to constantly update your app based on user feedback.
2. Design and UX rule the day.
Design is everything, plain and simple. If your app has good design and an intuitive UI, users will stick around and provide feedback even with bugs and crashes -- giving you the opportunity to make updates. Technical elements are just a piece of the puzzle and with millions of apps competing for users, those that are the most pleasant to use will capture the most attention.
Ultimately, design determines how people use the app and actually integrate it into their daily lives. As a result, human-centered design can’t be emphasized enough.
When building an app, developers and designers should focus on the user journey, in its entirety. From the initial discovery phase on the App Store to the onboarding process, simplicity is key. Rather than oversaturate the app with too many features, app developers should have a clear purpose in mind. That way, they aren’t left hoping the user will select the “right” path; they’ll know with confidence that users are experiencing the app as it was intended.
Throughout the process, it’s critical to seek input from end users because at the end of the day, you can have a revolutionary app or idea, but if nobody knows how to use it, it won’t succeed.
3. Know your audience.
It may go without saying, but an app’s quality is determined by the value it provides its end users. As a result, one of the most important questions developers need to ask is, “Are we building the right app for our target audience?”
As an example, if you were building a sports app for fans, speed would be key. Because of the nature of sports, where everything is happening instantly, users expect up-to-the-second results. If your app is slow and can’t immediately tell fans Stephen Curry scored another buzzer-beater, they’ll drop you faster than he can shoot.
In contrast, if you were creating an app for seniors, you wouldn’t need to prioritize speed as heavily. Instead, creating larger buttons and easy-to-read text would be more critical.
No matter who makes up the target audience, developers should have a deep understanding of users and their motivations in order to develop the best app for them.
4. Use seasonality to your advantage.
Building an app is 20 percent of the work, the other 80 percent is delegated to marketing and product changes. While many strategies and tactics fall under the wide marketing umbrella, understanding seasonality and its impact on your app is essential.
Apps provide marketers with the perfect vehicle to deliver timely, personalized notifications and updates. One of the most effective ways to distinguish your app from others is to employ seasonal marketing strategies tied to events, holidays, etc. In doing so, your marketing team can leverage well-timed deals, discounts and seasonal graphics to pique both new and existing users’ interest and engagement with your app.
5. Keywords are key.
Today, 70 percent of online adult consumers use app stores to make purchasing decisions and 30 percent of their clicks go to the first app or game listing. With the stakes set so high, just hoping you get ranked isn’t enough.
ASO is grounded in science, based on algorithms and keywords that the Apple App Store and Google Play use to organize and rank mobile apps. Because of this, it works systematically, which enables your marketers to use keywords to their advantage and increase your app or game’s search results ranking.
As an example, imagine you’re marketing a ninja-themed tower defense game called 'Ninja X Zombies Battle," where ninjas defend against hordes of zombies. From the keyword research conducted, your marketing team can find that “zombie tower defense games” is a common search phrase for tower defense gamers. It describes the game accurately, and it also has low competition -- meaning your app will have a better chance of ranking in the first page of the App Stores -- since it’s getting a high search score.
Granted, algorithms can change in the blink of an eye. With that in mind, it’s a good rule of thumb to track keywords and change them, as needed. As new competition enters the market, keywords that may have worked well in the past may slip. Your marketing team should always be clued-in on what is and isn’t working with your keywords.
Launching an app has quickly become a must-have for many companies, big and small. Getting there is one thing, but being noticed is another. In order to make a splash and get your app the most attention, your teams can follow these steps to rise to the top.