This podcast interview was originally published on Calldorado on November 30, 2018
Mobile analyst and top 30 mobile marketing influencer Peggy Anne Salz and I catch up for insights into App Store Optimization. We discuss why short app names are the golden ticket to revenues; about Google UAC and why you should get on it too; and the staying power of the subscription model.
App marketers serious about growing their app and audience (without increasing their budget or headcount) know the value of ASO tactics and techniques to move the needle on their app. At first, ASO efforts focused squarely on tips and tricks to optimize images, icons, descriptions, and keywords. Fast forward, and smart marketers have broadened their view of ASO and its benefits, harnessing the tools of ASO to improve app marketing at all stages of the funnel. With this in mind, Steve P. Young–founder of App Masters, a mobile growth hacking agency whose unique approach to app marketing has also allowed clients to hit the top charts in their categories—has established the App Masters Virtual Summit series to connect marketers with app marketing ninjas. Having recently held its second edition, the virtual summit showcases the holistic strategies that build on ASO principles to help marketers grow downloads, retain users and drive revenues. We catch up with Steve to discuss some top takeaways from the series and highlight the top trends you need to know going into 2019.
#1 Short app names are the golden ticket to revenues. Steve didn’t just hear this from the line-up of accomplished app marketers that took part in the summit; he has also experienced the positive impact of this valuable growth hack first-hand. “More condensed keywords and increased density are really delivering,” Steve explains. In the case of one app, the shift from a “really long app name to significantly shorter one” is what rocketed the app from number 106 in the charts to the Top 10 (number 6, to be specific) the next day (!). His advice: “Whatever keyword you’re targeting just make sure your app name matches.” In Steve’s case, he went “after a specific term like the app name, and left out the rest.” It’s about focus, relevance, and density, Steve says and “this combination is going to be incredibly important for ASO going forward.”
#2 Google UAC is gaining fast, so get with it. Last year, Google switched on Universal App Campaigns, which are now the only way that you can advertise mobile app installs on Google’s products. By way of background, UAC gets more bang for the buck because it taps into the billions of users on Google’s network, which spans Google.com, Google Play, Gmail, Admob by Google and YouTube, to identify the right users for your app. It also harnesses the Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence (AI) to analyze over 300 million different combinations of signals in real-time, equipping marketers to optimize ads and bids to identify and activate valuable app users. “We’re hearing that marketers are spending more money on UAC, and shifting spend away from Facebook, for example,” Steve explains. It may sound like a win-win for marketers that align with UAC, but it’s more of a trade-off. UAC is a “black box,” Steve says, but Google also has a deep understanding of user behavior because it owns the Android operating system.
But don’t leave it all to UAC. Accept your responsibility to optimize in order to train the Google algorithms to target and address the high-quality users that will bring you the most value. Steve says it’s smart to start out by submitting the right creative assets for your app. It helps to use an app intelligence platform to “spy on your competitors and what kind of ads they’re running—and the results they’re getting—and then make similar types of ads.” But don’t do this in a vacuum. Steve suggests you use Facebook to figure it out. In practice, you only need to use your Facebook app and go to a page, like King, that’s driving a ton of traffic or advertising. Click the info button, and Facebook will show you all the active ads that King is running right now. “Once you have visibility into the creative assets that are working for the bigger guys, you can sort of emulate the video or creative assets that are working well for your own app.” Data, intelligence, and tools from companies such as Apptopia and Sensor Tower take out the heavy-lifting so you can focus on making amazing creatives.
#3 The subscription model has real staying power. Subscription apps mark a phase change in the App Economy, providing companies a highly predictable cash flow—which is precisely what they need to plan every aspect of their business – from user acquisition to app marketing—with equally high confidence. It’s also a segment of the app marketplace marked for high growth. App market data provider App Annie notes in a recent report that “in-app subscription revenue from non-game apps, particularly within the media streaming, news and dating categories, is rapidly increasing.” Increased awareness of the model and excitement about the payoff was also a key takeaway from the Virtual Summit. “There is a big move underway for apps to move to the subscription model,” Steve explains. “It’s shaping up to be the business model of 2019. But not all apps can cut it. Success requires a solid value proposition (one that users will buy into and pay for on a recurring basis) powered by fresh content. Another plus is an engagement strategy using a combination of push notifications, in-app messaging and email to keep the conversation with users alive and exciting.