Effective app marketing strategies for organic growth

Dave Bell, Co-founder and CEO of Gummicube, offers advice on organic app marketing.

Why organic app marketing?
Whether you’re looking to scale up marketing spend or are looking to capture users at a low cost, organic app marketing is a foundational element in a successful ASO strategy. Implementing organic fundamentals before running paid can help lower overall cost and convert more users, while also keeping organic users steadily coming in during times when paid marketing spend is leaner or nonexistent.

Prioritizing the development of a quality organic app marketing plan can help set a developer up for long-term success in the App Store and Play Store. With the continuous additions being made to enhance the user experience on both platforms, developers can leverage different tools to attract, engage, and retain users at different acquisition stages.

Below are key organic app marketing strategies and considerations to build this fundamental component of successful App Store Optimization.

Focus on App Listing Optimization
The first step to having a winning organic app marketing plan is to understand the importance of properly structuring an app listing. The App Store and Play Store provide different text and creative fields for developers to include important information that contributes not only to downloads but overall app visibility as well.

App Metadata Optimization
The App Store and Play Store each index the copy in app metadata fields differently. This means that the approach a developer adopts for keyword inclusion and sentence structuring will vary depending on which platform they are optimizing for.

For the App Store, developers have the app title, subtitle, and keyword bank to include keywords that are indexed. It’s important to prioritize keywords that closely match an app’s feature set that also resonates with what users are searching for at the moment. Keywords in the title and subtitle – that are user-facing – may claim more importance than those in the keyword bank that aren’t seen by potential users.

The Play Store has its own set of fields indexed for keywords. These include the app title, short description, and full description. Developers have more leeway than in the App Store given the increased total character count provided for indexation. However, the way keywords are included should follow recommended ASO best practices to maximize the chances of ranking higher for those terms.

App Creative Optimization
We continuously find ourselves immersed in a digital world where visual experiences reign supreme. This is no different in the App Store and Play Store, which is why optimizing app creatives is essential to growth. The icon, app preview videos, and screenshots are the principal elements to consider when optimizing an app listing for visual appeal.

An effective app icon is one that catches a user’s attention as soon as they lay their eyes on the app within search results. It should stand out and represent a core feature of the app, hinting at what the app offers and how it relates to the user’s current needs.

An app preview video, whether in the App Store or Play Store, occupies the first space of app creatives and can be curated to highlight popular features, characters, gameplay, and more. It’s important to use the first few seconds of the video to hook users into learning more about the app and potentially downloading. This medium has proven to be an effective way of conveying app information in a short, sweet, and visually engaging manner.

App screenshots have long been the staple visual element to get app information across that isn’t in text form. Developers should structure images in a way that follows app store screenshot best practices and also highlights the in-app experience. Supporting copy, complementary background colors, and handset model representations are just a few ways developers can engage users through app preview videos.

Metadata and creative optimization are tried and true ways to capture organic users – by reaching more of them and converting the additional users reached from there. Whether you’re running an aggressive paid campaign, or are purely at a stage where you’re acquiring users organically, optimizing here first will give your app the best chance of acquiring more users at a lower cost.

Personalizing the App Store Experience
Connecting at a deeper level with users should always be a priority for any marketer looking to resonate with their audience. Whether it be curating an app experience for a specific group of users or promoting parts of an app dedicated to a certain demographic, personalization is a sure way to increase interest.

The App Store and Play Store both provide ways of targeting select users to create an experience focused on their specific needs and interests. 

Apple Custom Product Pages
Apple’s Custom Product Pages were released with personalization in mind. Having the ability to create up to 35 different product pages creates ample opportunity for developers to customize a separate App Store experience for groups of users. Developers can experiment with a plethora of different creative and text combinations to create an app listing specially tailored to specific audience members.

With different screenshots and promotional copy options, developers can publish Custom Product Pages that reach users potentially unaware of the benefits their app offers. Since a Custom Product Page does not replace an app’s existing app listing, developers can link their CPP experience to other marketing efforts unrelated to the content shown in their principal app listing.

A unique URL is created for each Custom Product Page, giving developers the chance to link it to content outside the App Store. Whether a blog post, social media ad, or Search Ads campaign, CPPs can act as a personalized destination for users not navigating the App Store. Developers with larger paid user acquisition budgets can leverage CPPs specific to each campaign, while those with smaller budgets can create CPPs for links on their website, email lists, and more.

Google Custom Store Listings
Google also provides developers with the ability to target different audience groups through its Custom Store Listings. Providing up to 50 different app listing options to create, Custom Store Listings can prove beneficial in reaching even the narrowest of user niches in a developer’s broader audience.

CSLs offer even more customization options, allowing developers to change the app name, descriptions, icon, and graphic assets. Additionally, developers can also create Custom Store Listings for specific countries their app is available in within the Play Store. By allowing this, developers can publish territory-specific pages without having to link them to external content.

It doesn’t stop there, though. While developers can run a native, country-targeted CSL, they still have the option to attach a unique URL to their Store Listing like with Custom Product Pages. Attached to content outside the Play Store, developers can target users through a variety of different mediums and expand their reach to users not on the Play Store at the moment.

At a glance, the utility of Custom Product Pages and Custom Store Listings seem like a good fit for paid traffic campaigns. But consider all of your organic traffic. This includes how users naturally find you on social media, how they discover your app through your website, or how existing users get updates from subscriber lists. Each of these potential engagement and re-engagement avenues can have a more efficient conversion funnel by carrying one cohesive message through to the actual app stores.

Focus on engagement
While CPPs and CSLs focus on personalization, developers also need a way to keep users interested as they advance through the acquisition funnel. Once a download is achieved, some may believe its enough to disregard these users as the in-app experience may be the top priority. Rightfully so, what will most likely keep users hooked is their experience with the app.

However, post-download strategies such as addressing reviews and ratings, implementing a push notification system, and optimizing onboarding are critical to retention and re-engagement. Across 2022 and into 2023, Apple and Google have also introduced features that can help engage and re-engage users from their respective app stores.

Apple In-App Events
Apple’s intent on providing users with more app information within the App Store can be seen in its push for In-App Events. In-App Events are timely prompts appearing on an app’s product page that give insight as to what’s currently happening with the app. In-App Events can touch upon everything, from product sales, new episodes, or fresh game features.

In-App Event cards provide more information about the app’s current state in a visually engaging format, different from app screenshots or preview videos. This additional element can increase user engagement by motivating them to learn more about the app or download directly.

A user acquired in the past may have forgotten about your app or thinks they know what features it has. With In-App Events, these lapsed users can instantly, visually see what’s new in your app, right from organic search results or Apple’s recommendations.

Google LiveOps
LiveOps is Google’s version of In-App Events, giving users the chance to learn more about occurrences going on in the app at that moment in time. However, LiveOps provides developers with additional features that can boost engagement even more. Apart from being able to showcase events of the same nature as what Apple offers, users can also engage with the event directly in the Play Store.

If a developer would like to promote a sale that is currently running, they will most likely opt to highlight it through a LiveOps card. Potential customers can sign up for the sale and receive notifications that later remind them to download the app. This can be an advantage in attracting users to events that they may be interested in but are too far off for them to justify downloading at a particular moment.

In-App Events and LiveOps are yet another way to acquire more for less. Users organically looking through search results or curated lists may be looking for an app like yours, but with more improvements, and not realize your app has the updates they have been looking for all along. Rather than relying on them to look up your app, tap to view the full product page and swipe to read the “what’s new” section, capture their attention immediately as they organically search or browse the store.

Without access to a significant paid marketing budget, user acquisition and engagement may seem difficult. Likewise, having a large budget for paid spend might seem like a cut-and-dry way to drive more downloads. In both cases, achieving a consistent influx of and re-engagement with a user base without constantly bleeding spend is not achievable. Organic optimization will dictate the long-term success of app performance at every stage of its lifecycle.

Leveraging ASO best practices when optimizing metadata, utilizing Custom Product Pages or Google Custom Store Listings, and In-App Events or LiveOps, are some ways developers can make use of the different resources available on the native platforms that contribute to organic app growth.

About the Author
Dave Bell is Co-founder and CEO of Gummicube. Gummicube is a global leader in App Store Optimization with more than 12 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.