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6 ASO (App Store Optimization) T.R.I.C.K.S. To Stand Out From The Crowd!
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These App Store Optimization T.R.I.C.K.S Will Give Your Users A Better Experience!
It's no secret, ASO is no longer what it use to be now as we reach the end of 2018 and going into the future. There was a time where a simple keyword could rank you higher. Now however these methodologies are simply PART of the overall Marketing and Advertising strategies you should use on your Mobile Apps and Games.
Just doing these basic techniques will STILL give you a better overall end user experience at the very minimum and will allow you to stand out from your competitors. I coined the term ASO T.R.I.C.K.S. back in 2014 as an easy to remember acronym which will help you in making sure your app/game meta data is ON POINT!
T.R.I.C.K.S. stands for: T - Title R - Reviews I - Icon C - Customer K - Keywords S - Screenshots/Videos Lets go over each of these areas now in more detail for 2018 and beyond!

T - Title

Having a well thought of title is important, however watch out for copying anything that could be considered a trademarked name. Also use descriptive keywords in your title if you're an indie developer and keep the title short and simple. Using keywords from the top 100 games and apps generally does help but make sure you are using descriptive keywords in a simple title that people can recognize. I recommend putting WHAT your game is within your title as players will be more inclined to CLICK on it (Which is the GOAL which we tend to forget when we are writing out titles). For example if you have a strategy game, simply using the word strategy somewhere in the title will generate better results. A lot of people try not to do this, however they don't realize that the companies that can get away with 'unique' names in today's time on the market generally tend to have LARGE marketing budgets. So if you don't have a million dollar marketing budget, this tactic will be helpful!

R - Reviews

Gone are the days that people use to buy reviews and game the system (There may be some people out there trying this method but good luck because more and more apps have been getting banned as both Apple and Google have become much more proficient in this area). In today's world, you really need your users to help you out and the best way to get real reviews is from your CURRENT users within the app. Don't simply ask for a review when the game/app starts, those days of pushy popups and nag ads at the beginning have now disappeared. You really need to get your users and players on board and have them WANT to write a review. The best time to do this is after a VICTORY/SUCCESS in your app/game. This could be after a successful 'match' in a dating app where the user has had a positive experience, or right after the player received a victory after killing a boss in level 3 of your game. If you now focus on the user experience as a way to get reviews, you'll get overall better reviews that are more real and THEN can show them a popup/nag ad to review your app. Reviews are still important but in today's day and age, BUYING THEM no matter how desperate you are to make your game a hit, has many long term consequences (Lost sales, increased user attrition and ofcourse the potential of a banned app/game, etc.).

I - Icon

Your icon is still among the first things a user sees in the app store along with the screenshot/video. You NEED to have a top quality icon, especially if you are serious about making your app/game something that people will want to click on. I remind you once again, the GOAL is to get the CLICK onto your app. Keep your icons SIMILAR to the entire market. For example, if you know the color scheme of other apps in your industry are "Green", it would be really silly to put a color in there that does not match the market. Yet time and again devs end up doing this and completely knock themselves out of a search because of it. Think about this => Users are a SEARCH ENGINE, and their biggest search engine is their EYES. Visually eyes go over images faster than text, infact our eyes are literally image recognition machines. Here is a quick experiment, go to google and type in "Banking App Icon" and see what comes up. You'll notice that the brands that people trust have SOLID BOLD and MONOCHROMATIC STYLE colors and CRISP Symbols and Images. The ones that people do not trust have random colors, unusual funny fonts, are not bold nor crisp. Also banking apps in general are bluish in color. That's not to say you wont find a green or red here and there (Which are SOLID colors by the way, one of the base three, RGB), but you wouldn't see a RAINBOW icon with little glitter stars and funny looking symbols. If you do, chances are that app is probably not doing as well as its competitors in that field. The SAME holds true in your market!! If you're making a game and you see all similar games have a HEADSHOT of a character, YOU NEED A HEADSHOT OF YOUR MAIN CHARACTER. PERIOD! No if's, and's or butts about it! Think of a game like Clash of Clans and every similar game in that genre. They all have the HEAD or HEADS of the characters in that game and thus they are doing well in the market. We as human beings love patterns and so we recognize that pattern and ASSOCIATE that same experience with the other games that use similar icons. Final word, RESEARCH YOUR MARKET and use similar colors and styles for your icons. Enough said on icons LOL!

C - Customer

This is the most often overlooked point by indie game and app developers in my opinion. It's not your fault, I get it, but it's also your RESPONSIBILITY to learn this stuff...YOU NEED TO KNOW YOUR TARGET MARKET! If you say "EVERYONE" you can kiss your entire hard work you're doing on your game/app goodbye right now. "EVERYONE" is not a target market and it will lead you to loss and no money. You need to understand WHO you are selling to, WHERE they are located, WHAT they look like, WHEN they would most likely use your game/app, WHY they even care about your app/game, HOW they are going to perceive you compared to your competition. You need to create something called a PERSONA which is a marketing term for "A fake person that matches your PERFECT target user". Example Persona => "Meet Bobby, he's a 20 something university grad who just got his first job and commutes to work. He is an American resident who speaks American English and follows American traditions such as Christmas, Easter and 4th of July Celebrations. On his free time he enjoys visiting his Grandparents in their cottage up North. He is generally an introvert and spends most of his time on his devices or sitting down to watch his favorite tv show reruns online. His net income is roughly 65k per year and he is single and looking for love."
Based on that persona, you'd be foolish if you designed your game or app with bright pink colors and used childish large fonts. Yet time and again I've seen this mistake (I even made this mistake a few times myself). Understanding WHO your user is will help you in both app/game design, color schemes and even your future marketing and advertising efforts. Finally, and most importantly, it will help you to achieve higher revenues to increase your bottom line because you are finally creating apps/games that the RIGHT users love and connect with!

K - Keywords

In 2018 and beyond, keywords don't work as well as they use to. However don't underestimate their importance! The major app stores still give you space to place your top keywords and users will still be using them to search for your app/game. I'd recommend focusing on keywords that really describe your app, and the way I find them now would be to literally "put yourself in the shoes" of your customer. Go to your favorite app store or market and type in the words that you would to find your competitors. You can even use services out there designed specifically to tell you your competitors keywords. Don't forget to also TRANSLATE your app meta data into a different language to uncover a secondary layer of keywords (Ex. American English may be the FIRST language for Americans, but Spanish is a second layer and you can get another set of keywords in Spanish and thus gain more American users who match your target. For Canadians, English is also there but FRENCH is the second layer as its the second official language). Don't discredit keywords completely because they are less useful now than they were before. They still have some value and can be helpful in your searches.

S - Screenshots / Video

In today's time, Video is SO important, and in fact users are now using that feature to really see if they like the game / app before they download it. Screenshots are also important as well but Videos are definitely the way to go. I find that Lifestyle shots tend to work best and there are many services now on the internet that GENERATE lifestyle shots and videos to really get users hooked. I've found from my own tests that lifestyle shots or shots inside a screen work better for screenshots (better conversion rates). I've also found that direct in-game or in-app videos (once again framed) worked well along with USER REACTIONS!! People love seeing how "Others" are using the app or game, even if its just an actor (Better of course if its a real user!). Professional videos are okay, in fact it's the non-professional personal videos of users that tend to do better and get more traction. Of course that can only be tested on your end with a proper A/B test for your user base to see which video type would work better. The point is to have not just the screenshot or video shot of in-game or in-app footage but also a user experience shot of a potential user using your app or game. Make sure they match the PERSONA from the previous steps (Ex. If you know your user PERSONA is a Bobby, don't be going out there and throwing in a Mary of the same age, or a kid playing the game if they are NOT your target market!).

INFOGRAPHIC

I created a fun little infographic to help you guys remember this stuff, but keep in mind the infographic is a bit older as it was the original from back in 2014. The new T.R.I.C.K.S. above are relevant for now and going forward so please do review them and use them well :)

Conclusion

I hope this overview of ASO for 2018 and beyond was helpful. I know so many times we can get busy on making that awesome game / app that we forget to do this stuff, especially when we are indie developers and working on small teams or individually. It can be a challenge to create games and apps and I want you to know you're doing an AMAZING JOB!! Keep up the great work and NEVER GIVE UP! You Got This!! BE A CHAMPION!
Nav from Academy Of Games Unity Live Expert http://www.AcademyOfGames.com
"I'm a game dev making fun awesome RPG and Fantasy Games. Check out my games on Steam and all major mobile platforms today => Game Scorpion Inc.!"

Nav Gupta
Unity 3D Pro & Game Dev @ AcademyOfGames.com - Other
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