Part III of Cycle: Maintenance of Mobile Applications
In this part of the Cycle, I would like to focus on my experiences with marketing. I mean both promotions through ASO and app-promoting platforms. Previous article.
Information about the App
How to promote your app?
Google Play Console suggests a number of possibilities to promote your app in any language. The Console asks for app’s name, description and graphics (after all, the customers “judge the book by its cover”), and as an option, you can add a link to a video.
Among the items mentioned above, the promotional video is the least important aspect. Users rarely watch such things. It might be for various reasons, such as limited data transfer or simple ignorance. Just to confirm it, please note that with 2.5 thousand app downloads the video has been watched less than 200 times.
Graphics are very important on Google Play. As I mentioned, people pay a lot of attention to the appearance. They are not interested in the “guts” of the app. Therefore, the first screenshots should be focused on the main functionality of the program. And the last screenshots can be used to promote additional functionalities, such that you want to boast about. Please consider adding screenshots for different devices, if your app is available on them. As for the app icon (the most important graphic in your app), and promotional graphics, I asked my friend for help. He is passionate about graphics’ creation and it seems that I hit the bull’s-eye, as I wouldn’t have been able myself to make something equally pleasant to the eye.
Well-prepared views help you to persuade the “audience” to install your app. But how to find your program in the mass of other apps? Just enter a “password” connected with a functionality or activity you are interested in, then choose one of the apps matching your keyword.
The app site contains the title, and a short and full description of the app. Each of these fields describes your app, and based on their content and the content of users’ comments, you are allocated to a certain password or association in a particular order.
What is ASO (App Store Optimization) about? No one knows entirely, well perhaps, maybe except for its creators. Each developer wants to be on top of the search. The user is more inclined to select an application available at the top of the list, rather than search for a specific title in the entire market. Why do people search for applications more and more rarely? There’s simply too many of them. The app should evoke associations with something. I connect the program mentioned at the beginning of this article with the keywords such as MTG Draft, Pairing calculator, tournament, and any combination of these phrases. The first app description included its name and a list of functionalities.
What was the result of providing such information? I managed to sneak to top 30 with all the phrases, except for the last one. It is unfortunate, but the first phrases taken together are less popular during the search, than last one. Therefore, I had to change the attitude. Having presented the functionalities in a slightly different (more user-friendly) descriptive way, in which I focused on what distinguished me from the competition, I managed to increase the number of new installations almost 2 times, from about 170 to over 300. In the description, I focused on keywords that are more general in my opinion. Due to such tricks, they can reach a wider audience (local/Swiss/… tournament, MTG, card/board games), even though I’m not at the top of a ranking, I got what I wanted.
Let’s struggle for more popularity
The easiest, quickest but, in fact, one-off method is to use the social media. You can post about your app on social media and ask your friends to download and comment on the app. With such a simple trick you gain several downloads and positive comments. But it’s only a one-time move. Your friends usually have hobbies other than you, so they’re not a real target group. On the other hand, each positive comment and app search affects ASO making you more attractive to users. Apart from a mere social media post, you can also make an app account to inform about any changes or plans for the future, which can be affected by the social media users.
You’ve asked your friends for help, your application gains in popularity, what’s next? Should you buy AdWords advertising? Yes, no, maybe? In the case of the app described here, I haven’t tried to buy advertising, as I reckoned that the target group (to which my friends and I belong) does not click ads to install a new application.
There are many sites that offer positive comments, some of them are paid, and some others offer positive opinions by means of mutual exchange of benefits. Does it pay off? These sites are very similar to the first solution, i.e. the use of social media. However, in this case, you can be dissatisfied, quite severely, in fact. Even though your app is downloaded from the market using keywords that you want, and you get a comment with the keywords and 5 stars, there is no guarantee of how long such a comment will stay with you. I had the pleasure of using several of such comment exchange sites; in the best case, after the first 2 weeks, out of ten comments given to your app, only 3 had been left. So, in fact, you’ve only gained more app downloads, but nothing else 😉
Another option is to use sites that specialize in installations. As they help you to advertise your program and stand out from the competition, the solutions of this type are growing in popularity. The installation cost (CPI) is not high, it ranges from $ 0.04 to 0.1. Most site owners offer a so-called specialist installation, in which you provide the number of installations to be made with the search of specific keywords. The sites also inform you about how important in ASO is the location, from which your app is downloaded, (reportedly an installation from North America is worth more than an installation from the Asian countries). I had experienced the positive effects of such a campaign – I managed to move up with some keywords by several positions.
Please note, however, that before such an investment is made you need to first improve your app description, so that the advertising campaign is not only considered as aimed at increasing installations (from month to month) for specific keywords that effort will disappear when new information about application will be posted. This type of advertising should improve your positioning, which in turn will result in a stable increase number of installations; in my case, it was approximately 15% compared to a similar period.
I decided to advertise my app in a more unusual way – through my other applications. I acted according to a principle that an application should praise not only itself but also similar apps. An app used to create a tournament facilitates conducting it, I thought that apart from such a functionality, I should focus on other aspects of MTG tournaments. Two players compete with each other, so I created an app that counts life points in the round. How should I create my library before the tournament? In this case, another application may be helpful. With such a support, the user running one app may install the other ones grouped in the so-called “tournament package”. The applications communicate with each other transferring names of players, for example. As a result, using one app you can smoothly move to the next one, which is pre-configured for a specific tournament. Has this advertising been successful? It seems to me that – yes. I’ve noticed that if someone from the target group had one of my apps, it was likely that such a person would install at least one more.
Making a few simple moves that I mentioned above did the trick, as it allowed me to increase the number of new installations from less than 100 to over 300 a month. What’s more, the number of active users increased to over 600, and keeps growing week by week. Which move was the most effective? It seems to me that it was combining the ASO-related point with regular app updates.
The steps I mentioned and those I forgot about were a kind of experiment that turned out to be successful allowing me to increase app’s popularity. I’m really happy about it, but while I am at this stage, I’ll try to go a little further.
In the process of app maintenance, I had the opportunity to meet many interesting people, each of them has brought something new to the app: owners of small shops brought history and practical functionalities, which they miss, ordinary users asked for UI/UX-related changes. Well, I also encountered several issues, when one of the users in China had copied my solution and placed it on the local version of Google Play ;).
I would like to see the impact of changing app’s name or its future development. I am also waiting for several app reviews on different sites, as I’m curious to know their actual impact on an increase in the number of installations and on popularity. I’m not planning to charge any fees for app use, either in the form of purchase of the rights to use the app, micropayments, or ads. Therefore, I’m not planning to spend large sums of money attempting to examine the “paid” part of the advertising market. If you are interested in the impact of app size on the number of downloads, please check this informative article.