App Store Optimization, Mintegral

How App Store Optimization and Creative Sets Can Improve App Performance

With iOS 14.5 a reality, combining high-quality creatives with a solid ASO strategy is more important than ever. But how can they help you maximize your ROI?

Stella Zhu, Director of Mindworks2021-06-17

With over 6 million smartphone applications available in the major app stores, having your app noticed is one of the most difficult challenges facing mobile app publishers today. A recent study shows that around half of mobile users found the last app they downloaded via app store search. On iOS, 47% said they found the app through the App Store’s search engine, while 53% of Android users did the same on Google Play. This is why implementing a sound app store optimization (ASO) strategy and also focusing on your creative sets is so important.

What is App Store Optimization? 

Simply put, app store optimization is the process of improving your app so it can rank higher in an app store’s search results. The higher your app ranks, the more visible it is to potential users. This increase in visibility tends to translate into more traffic to your app’s download page. 

Sounds simple enough, right? Well, there are several nuances that could make or break optimization besides understanding your target customer base and adding the correct keywords to your title and description. Also, since the introduction of iOS 14.5, users can now opt out of Apple Search Ads tracking their devices. As a result, good ASO will become more crucial than ever to apps in the App Store.

Because there will be a lack of data to target users, having the right creative sets will play a bigger role than ever before. Having the right creative sets can help you attract more users to look at your app while they search for something new to install. Creative sets are the graphic elements that appear as part of your app store listing such as the icon, screenshots, and gameplay images/videos. Although keyword metadata optimization is the primary way to increase search visibility, clicks you get from search results can also impact your ranking. This is where having the most enticing creative sets can play a big part, especially in the iOS App Store since Apple Search Ads are shown to those that are most relevant and have the most clicks.

Using the Right Creative Sets

As we mentioned in the beginning, keyword optimization is the starting point for any ASO strategy. This has always required an understanding of which keywords are relevant to your app, who your top competitors are, and how they are trending. All of that combined translates to an increase in search volume across app stores.

The second step after you get discovered is getting the attention of your potential user, that is where creative sets come into play. Visible assets on the store’s listing influence the user’s decision of whether to download your app or not. 

The creative sets you present, including the app icon, screenshots, and videos, have a big impact on a user’s decision to download. This is why understanding what new trends are emerging and what elements you can test out in your app is essential to your app’s success.

A few ad networks have deployed something called dynamic creative testing. All you have to do now is add various videos/images, copy, descriptions, and CTAs. The rest will be taken care of via dynamic creative testing, which will assist you in identifying the best-performing elements of your creative sets. This type of testing will have a difficult time replacing one-by-one testing. The problem is that dynamic creative testing doesn’t show how each of the variables influences performance.

Different creatives are becoming a targeting approach in situations where you can’t target individual consumers. They’re also becoming a technique to categorize users based on their intentions. Despite the fact that this approach requires more time and effort, the potential for success is enormous. New concepts have a five to fifteen percent success rate on average, and if they are successful you will be able to notice results across the board.

Testing Your Creative Sets 

One thing to keep in mind is that Google Play offers an A/B Test capability, which will allow you to continuously test your creative sets. Try to test and iterate different elements separately, this way you will have a better understanding of your results. For example, if you change the app icon at the same time as your screenshots, it will be difficult to determine which element had an impact. Running tests for one visual element at a time can lead to a better and more insightful optimization strategy.

Running your creative test for a period of at least 7 days should result in better insights as well since it is not easy to account for weekly traffic. Results on a Monday may not hold up on a Friday or Saturday, for example. Also, be aware of seasonality, getting featured on the App Store, or a sudden viral influx, since these can cause shifts in conversion patterns.

The options we just presented work for Experiment in Google Play. For iOS, though, things can be a little different due to the nuances of Apple App Store creatives post-IDFA. Some of these changes have strongly affected creative testing due to the fact that campaign configurations are now limited and testing different variations of the same video (sizes, elements, colors, buttons, etc.) won’t be as effective. For the iOS App Store, you should also factor any changes across the dates before and after launching a new visual element when assessing changes to conversion rates. 

Making Your App as Visible as Possible

After users have entered their search in the App Store, they are presented with many choices and creatives may be the deciding factor as to whether they keep scrolling through the list, or stop to download your app. Most users decide in a split second if they are going to download an app or not, so the way they view your app can be the deciding factor between you getting that download or one from your competitors. 

The way both Google and Apple ranking algorithms work is the apps that received the most clicks are ranked at the top for specific keyword searches. This means that if you are still working on improving your rank, it is extremely important that you show your potential users the best set of creatives to make your app stand out. That can not only help your conversion rate overall but may also improve your keyword ranking if you get enough clicks. 

Using Your Creative Sets to Improve UA

It is true that creative optimization can and will likely improve the number of clicks and downloads in organic searches, but the biggest impact that can be easily measured will be in terms of paid UA.

It’s worth mentioning that Apple Search Ads and Google Ads run on “Cost Per Tap” (CPT) models; if a user sees your app and taps on it, you will have to pay. While this structure keeps you from paying for impressions that lead to no action, it is a paid UA method. So when testing your creative sets you should look into all metrics, from overall conversion rates to the conversions you are getting from a tap that turns into a download. This strategy will allow you to make small adjustments to your creatives and improve your CPI which in itself means more money to be spent on UA. 

Creative sets occupy most of the page on a mobile device. Choosing the correct asset can be the difference between a user stopping so they can download your app or continuing to scroll down. 

Use your app’s most attractive features to be shown on the discovery page. Screenshots of gameplay, videos, and app icons should reflect the experience you want your users to feel when they are using your app. Keep testing your creative sets and combine these tests with your UA paid strategies. 

Our Solutions 

Your success in such a hyper-competitive market often comes down to what stands out and how to make a splash. In addition to this, it’s important to continually invest in and update your ad iterations. Mindworks provides creative solutions that combine creativity and technology to empower advertisers’ digital marketing capabilities and drive business growth, with formats including interactive ads, creative tools, creative videos, and marketing planning. Contact the Mindworks team today.

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Stella Zhu, the Director of Mindworks, is a passionate advocate for blending creativity and technology into innovative solutions that help brands and mobile developers overcome their marketing challenges.
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