ASO Conference 2019 – The latest ASO Trends & Tips
20 June 2019
Alejandro Olmos, UA Manager Mobile Gaming at WeQ, and an expert on all things App Store Optimization (ASO) took part at the ASO Conference Berlin in May 2019. It was our first outing as WeQ STUDIOS and aside from making the most of networking opportunities, we also picked up on the latest ASO insights and trends which we can apply to help our mobile gaming clients with their player acquisition campaigns.
Ready to pick up some top tips and brush up on the latest ASO trends, to successfully set up and run your own campaign? Let’s dive in!
Why should you focus on ASO?
App Store Optimization is an organic building block of your user mobile game acquisition strategy. ASO aims to increase the traffic to your app store page, in order to generate more organic installs. The impact of ASO is that you can become more relevant for the keywords that represent your game so that your offering will stand out as a stronger app for the for the algorithms of the App Store and Google Play. This will enable you to start getting more organic installs from users that are truly looking for a game like yours (aka high-value users). As they are organic installs, they are supposed to be more targeted users, getting developers better retention from them and therefore, more revenue. As presented during ASO Conference, in recent years, interest in ASO has exploded.
What tricks can ASO specialists employ?
With ASO, the main factors you can adjust and optimize include the standard icon, title, screenshots, and keyword field. However, you don’t always have to play by the rules as you can take advantage of user behavior and algorithms by “tricking” the app stores and their potential users.
Here are some tricks that ASO specialists can employ:
- Use of keywords with errors – look into product queries that have spelling errors to find more new keywords and increase user reach;
- Search queries with emojis – factor in how popular they are compared to plain text;
- Character scarcity in metadata – free up room for keywords in the title by moving your brand onto the icon, while moving product name into the developer section. The free characters can then be used for other queries;
- Use of diacritic characters (the ś and ó in Poland, ä and ö in Germany, etc) to save on keyword characters – enabling users to find the app in the search more often.
Key ASO Trends for 2019
Here are some of the top trends covered that you should keep in mind:
- Apple Search Ads Generate Organic Results: By investing in paid campaigns on Apple Search Ads, you can get organic results. This is one of the biggest trends right now. When you use ASA, you are bidding for keywords – therefore, you will be more relevant for those keywords, as you are getting more installs (paid). As you become more relevant for that keyword, you will rank better for that keyword and then you will start getting more organic installs. Ensure you have some budget set aside for these campaigns. It varies by industry, but for hyper-casual games, we estimate you’ll need 20% to 25% of your monthly budget.
- Look at CRO (Conversion Rate Optimisation): focus on what are your relative keywords, localize your listings or focus on the keywords that match more with your goals: retention, IAP events, traffic, etc.
- The importance of running UA alongside ASO – we are huge advocates at WeQ Studios of combining user acquisition expertise and premium player acquisition. Find out more here about our offering.
- Visual Optimization trends: Graphics play a big part in ASO and should continuously be tested. For including screenshots of your app on the stores, make sure you look up the specifications for both the Google and App Store. Also, test what format works best for your app – usually, it works well when there is text in casual games that appears more visible. Check out a game from WeQ STUDIO Helix Madness in the Play Store with a horizontal intro video (below) and a mix of pictures and videos.
So, be mindful of the quality of your screenshots and videos and consider how they can be improved. For iOS applications, you can test graphics through search ads, but it is not free. You can also make use of third-party services and tools such as StoreMaven, SplitMetrics, or AppFollowPreview to test how the screenshots will look. As seen from the results presented at ASO, sometimes less is more! Take a look at the slide below.
An interesting trick for Google Play when you submit your app, add to your icon design a notification mark – the point will make users think that they have something inside your app and prompt them to click on it and open the app. This technique can give you a better indication of daily average sessions.
Have realistic goals: don’t try to get to the top of the app store from the very beginning. The growth of an app is a marathon, not a sprint! Start your ASO goals by focusing on low traffic competition and look at good chances to rank number 1 for different keywords, including long-tail keywords relevant to your app. Once you start ranking in the top 8 with these keywords, go for the next level: mid traffic and mid competitors, and so on until you reach high traffic and high competitors.
ASO is complicated – it is not a simple process and involves a lot of moments that should be taken into account during promotion. Ensure you are constantly testing hypotheses, alternating your keyword searches and keeping on top of the results. In order to help you increase your installs, you ultimately want to get to know your users better. Moreover, it is a delicate balance between paid and organic efforts, as seen from this slide taken from one of the talks at ASO Conference.
Once you have your ASO in place, the next step is to focus on your organic uplift. For a long-term sustainable growth, you’ll need to have a healthy organic uplift. In simple terms, this means a good balance between organic and paid installs. Essentially, it tells you if the market you are targeting actually likes the game and whether you will have success with the game in the mid/long-term. For hyper-casual games, this KPI is really important because it will likely affect your app store ranking for relevancy. In general, as a benchmark, for 2 paid installs you will get 1 organic install, as this is the general state of the market. Keep in mind this relation when planning your strategy.
So there you have it… here are just some of the few key points covered at ASO Conference on the topic that we want to share. The ASO game is always changing, so it’s important to keep on top of the latest developments. Stay tuned for future blog posts and more articles on the topic of ASO and more general tips on how to grow your hyper-casual games!