App Store Optimization – holiday seasonality  

Mobile Marketing - Member Content

Dave Bell, Co-founder and CEO of Gummicube, offers advice on optimising your app's presence in the app stores over the holiday season. 

The nights are growing longer and the days colder, and as the year comes to a close it means the holiday season grows closer. For the mobile app market, these final three months of the year are the most competitive. From Thanksgiving through Christmas, there are many opportunities to leverage seasonal trends via optimizing app store creatives and keywords.

As the holidays approach, so does the busiest and most lucrative shopping season of the year. Following the world-changing impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, more shoppers than ever rely on their mobile devices to find and purchase Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals. That makes seasonal app store optimization more important than ever, and a solid ASO strategy could bring your app in front of more users, resulting in a prosperous fourth quarter.

Black Friday and Cyber Monday seasonality
When it comes to App Store Optimization, it is never a one-and-done process. No matter the time of year, there are a few best practices that should always be followed. That said, this highly competitive season is an important time to consider optimizing your app if you haven’t done so already. To help get your strategy started, here are a few basic ASO tips that can help shopping apps prepare for the Black Friday and Cyber Monday Rush:

App Store Optimization
During this frenzied shopping season, every shopping app developer or mobile marketer should keep in mind the best practices of App Store Optimization. ASO lays the foundation for improved discoverability and conversion, which is especially important when every retail app is vying for the customer’s eye.

App metadata
App titles are important for telling users what the app does and who it is for, as well as for indexation on both the iOS App Store and the Google Play Store. An app title should be both unique and relevant, while adhering to guidelines and policies established by the app stores.

Apple has long had guidelines restricting overly promotional or spammy app titles, with decisions left up to Apple reviewers on if an app has appropriate metadata. Android developers will also need to refrain from including any in-app deals due to new policies Google announced this year. Apps on the Google Play Store may not include in the title words like “Deal”, “Sale,” or “Free” or similar so as to not violate new guidelines. 

App titles, subtitles, and short descriptions should always include relevant keywords that are popular enough to aid in discoverability. This is especially true during the holiday shopping season and core terms will vary from category to category over the next month. App Store Optimization software is an invaluable tool to have right now when analyzing trends from previous years compared to popular search queries presently.

This also applies to the keyword field on the Apple iOS App Store, where keyword relevancy is a major driver of visibility and discoverability. Shopping app developers and marketers will need to be sure they are including keywords that will help users find their Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals and specials.

Finally, the description should leverage the introductory area to communicate deals and discounts that they are offering. Many users do not read through an entire description, so clearly and concisely communicating core features and promotional messaging near the top of the page is essential.

Creative elements
Mobile retailers should also look into promoting their special holiday deals in screenshots and videos. According to Apple, nearly 80 per cent of users download directly from search, so they may never take the chance to read more about offers and discounts. That means that screenshots and preview videos can often be the biggest factor driving conversion.

Additionally, developers may want to consider updating their icons to reflect the holiday spirit. Including little touches like snowflakes and Santa hats can brighten a user’s day and make the app stand out from competitors who have done nothing festive with their listings. 

If your app isn’t optimized in the fundamental areas above, then it is less likely to reach its full potential during the holiday season. Retail app developers need to be sure that they have an airtight ASO strategy if they want to keep afloat during the Black Friday and Cyber Monday madness. Without a solid ASO foundation your app is more likely to get passed over in favor of competitor’s who have put the extra effort in.

If you want your app to remain competitive at any time of year, then you should always be improving your metadata and creatives. Iterative testing is a key factor in App Store Optimization, and improvements to an app’s foundation come from building on previous knowledge gained.

Trends change regularly on the app stores outside of the seasonal shifts tied to big holidays. Any truly successful ASO strategy can capitalize on fast trends while also optimizing for seasonality. The important part is to first establish that solid foundation before making huge changes, though. With regular iteration the knowledge for what your demographic converts well on is established.

When approaching seasonal events like Black Friday and Cyber Monday with such a foundation, experimenting with previously successful treatments and updates should be the first step. Running an A/B test on seasonal updates that converted well in prior years before going live with the changes can help reaffirm their impact. After going live with the seasonal changes trending elements like holiday themed icons can be run as an A/B tests.

Paid marketing
If you really want to get an edge on the competition, then aggressively bidding on paid campaigns is great way to get your app in front of more prospective users. Paid campaigns, especially when it comes to the cost of bids, are the most competitive during the fourth quarter and thus the holiday season. With this is mind it is even more important to drive home the need to optimize an app for organic search, which can lower overall CPI by working in harmony with paid efforts.

Winter holidays
After the shopping season winds down and the perfect gifts have been procured for loved ones, it is time for the winter holidays to come into full swing. Christmas and Chanukah offer opportunities to optimize for family-focused activities. As families take time off of work and school to spend time together, entertainment apps should leverage their holiday offerings.

Additionally, people will be getting brand new devices as presents and they will likely download many fun apps to try out on their new tablets and phones. Next gen consoles and games will also be released, so mobile games on the app stores will need to optimize in order to stay competitive.

November marks the beginning of the holiday season, and the rampage of holiday shopping will soon be upon us. More people are turning to digital platforms such as their phones in order to find the best deals. Now is the best time for shopping app developers to start A/B testing new treatments and researching keywords in order to have the foundation needed to outshine competition. If your app is missing out on some of the best practices tied to optimal performance, now is the time to start researching your ASO strategy to secure a bountiful holiday season.

About the Author
Dave Bell is Co-founder and CEO of Gummicube. Gummicube is a global leader in App Store Optimization with more than 11 years of experience optimizing and marketing apps. We offer the leading enterprise ASO technology and agency services, providing support to clients around the world. Our company is trusted by thousands of enterprise brands and leading startups including Microsoft, LinkedIn, Bethesda, SWEAT, GrubHub, McAfee and many others.