Best practices for ASO adaptability

Dave Bell, Co-founder and CEO of Gummicube, looks at the importance of adapability in App Store Optimization.

Adaptability is inherent in the process of App Store Optimization (ASO). As one of the foundational elements of a coherent and effective mobile marketing strategy, ASO builds on organic performance over time. 

Marketing, whether mobile or not, never stands still. You don’t see very many marketers release one ad or single-wave promotional material and call it good. While it may be stating the obvious, the aspects of mobile marketing that ASO tackles are often unseen or minute on the surface, so many developers assume that optimizing once is enough to maintain visibility and drive conversion. This is far from the truth – so what are the changes that developers should look out for and adapt to?

Accounting for competitive environment and user behaviors
All aspects of mobile marketing are susceptible to changes in the external and internal environment. These changes may affect every step of the mobile marketing funnel. This includes but is not limited to seasonal updates, competitor and user trends, paid marketing campaigns, or international expansion. 

Nothing stays constant in the app stores and the propensity at which the app store marketplace and user base grows shows no signs of slowing. Moreover, as user trends and behaviors change, the app store algorithms that reflect that change may show lost or increased ranking on keywords or conversion rates among other performance metric changes. In short, your performance yesterday can’t be guaranteed later down the line. 

Competitor trends also have to be accounted for in the process of ASO. Users expect certain terms, visual elements, and consistency in app store presentations for each individual app category. This is also true in the international or multi-territory app marketplace.  

Developers should be cautious about stepping over the norm, to ensure their metadata and creatives appear relevant to the user. ASO lets developers balance out user expectations while giving creative and metadata elements a competitive edge.

The key to harmonizing metadata and creative adaptability lies in knowing what the competitive environment calls for to effectively differentiate, all while maintaining relevancy to users. This process can’t be done at the press of a button or a quick snap of your fingers. So what are some best practices to account for changes affecting your app performance? 

Let’s take a look at some ASO best practices to better understand ASO’s inherent adaptable strategies that enable app store growth. 

Adaptive Best Practice #1 – Localization For International Adaptation
Localization is an adaptive process in ASO that lets your app mesh and engrain its metadata and creative assets past just a simple translation. For multi-territory apps, localization lets developers reach their audience base with equally relevant metadata and creative elements – Conveying value propositions, brand strength, call-to-actions, features, and information with the same rigor as their domestic listing. 

Localization touches on both creative and metadata assets. The elements of your creative set or metadata phrasing may not resonate with a global audience, so localization adjusts these elements to make them more appealing and relevant to their needs. 

The app features that are most popular in your domestic market may not draw in as many users abroad. For example, if a grocery store coupon app highlights names of popular grocery stores in the US in its copy and screenshot set, not surprisingly, the same grocery store names won’t be effective at garnering downloads elsewhere.

The same could be said for the less obvious changes like figure of speech translations, differences in color associations, reading orientation, and search term differences; like the more popular term, “auto” compared to “car” in some countries. 

The differences can seem minute, but they make a massive difference in your app store performance. Apps that aren’t localized perform significantly worse compared to ones that are. This is because localized apps convey relevancy, cohesion, and don’t stick out like a sore thumb among local competitors in the space.

Adaptive Best Practice #2 – Iteration For Peak Performance
Creatives and metadata elements need the occasional facelift. As we’ve mentioned before, trends and user changes rarely stand still for a long period of time. Keywords can change in their search volume, phrasing differences, and search behaviors may require developers to adapt their metadata and creatives to account for them.

Iteration is the process in which developers make adjustments to their creative, keyword, and overall metadata strategy to grow any changes taking place in the app stores rather than falling behind with them. Iteration can take many different forms – whether it be through A/B testing, app version, or keyword updates – it remains one of the cornerstones of ASO strategy and mobile marketing success. 

To see this in action, let’s take a look at creatives. A/B testing is an optimization best practice that often goes underutilized or misused. Each A/B test allows developers to see what creative elements drive the most conversion if used effectively. 

Moreover, it’s crucial to test a single or a few trackable elements at a time to see their conversion effects, and it’s also important to know the limitations of A/B testing platforms you may be using. Native tests on Google Play and Apple’s PPO and CPP leave out crucial testing capabilities that may make a huge difference in conversion potential.

External testing with ASO technology like Splitcube allows developers to test all elements of an app page without having to deploy a test directly through the app stores. This is an invaluable capability for apps in pre-launch phases looking for how to best adapt to the app store.

There’s always room for improvement in the process of optimization. To remain adaptive and continue growing on the app stores, iterative practices are the key to sustaining any and all well-performing app assets for continued improvement. 

Adaptive Best Practice #3 – Adapt to Changing Times with Seasonality
Some changes in the app store may not have anything to do with the app store at all. Instead, changes in user preferences and external changes affect app store performance. Reversely, internal events associated with your app features or value offering may need a rehash in the form of a seasonality update. 

Seasonality updates aim to adapt an app to timely or seasonal changes – as the name suggests. This process can look different for each app since the changes can be internally-derived or have a trend-specific external timeline. 

For example, a retail app may adjust to seasonal changes by updating its metadata and creatives to include the phrase, “Black Friday Shopping” around October and November. The app developers of this retail app may even go as far as restructuring its screenshot set to bring that callout to the first three screenshots to have it front-and-center on the search page.

Another example would be if a finance app with tax-filing features were to update its title tags to include “free tax filing” and reflected this in its first three screenshot sets around March for tax season.

Seasonal changes should be adapted to all app elements. Reflecting seasonal changes in both metadata and creative elements allows developers to maximize their visibility and conversion potential synergistically. 

Seasons and trends change, and so should your App Store Optimization strategy. A developers ability to adapt to address changes taking place in and out of the app store allows them to make the most of their mobile marketing strategy. ASO is an inherently adaptive process that ensures all the gears of your mobile marketing strategy are in full and functioning rotation. Competition and ever-changing trends can create pitfalls in our strategy if we struggle to keep up with them, but localization, iteration, and seasonality help us adapt to change. 

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.