Mobile user acquisition trends for 2023

Dave Bell, Co-founder and CEO of Gummicube, looks at whats in store on the app store optimisation front in 2023.

2022 brought a slew of new axioms in UA meant to help streamline the mobile marketing funnel. Most notably, residuals from as far back as Apple’s Product-Page Optimization (PPO) and Custom Product Pages (CPP) have finally found their momentum in the space as the popularity of these tools surged throughout this year. Not only did this introduction help many developers familiarize themselves with App Store Optimization (ASO) processes, but opened up exciting opportunities to grow on the app stores. 

Google Play quietly introduced exciting, new features with LiveOps, which enabled Android developers to offer in-app events in the store experience for the first time. This was a great win not only for discoverability but retention, too. In the scope of what we’ve seen in 2022, there are plenty of things to look out for on both app store platforms – what can we expect for 2023?

The push for an improved store experience
We want to bring your attention back to the fundamental philosophy of merchandising in ASO. This is one of the main differentiating factors of ASO marketing from SEO. 

When you optimize your app metadata and creatives, it’s never really about the download itself, but finding the “right” person to download (i.e., your target audience). ASO is already proven to be the highest driver of high-value users. Users who find your app organically are more likely to stay, and typically have the longest customer lifetime value (CLV). 

Understanding the nature of ASO in the context of ever-changing store experiences sets you up for success from the very start. As we said before, in 2022 we’ve seen drastic changes to the store experiences, all of which affect how and what users search for. 

This past month, Google Play has also tested using feature graphics in search results. This effectively shrank the number of visible results from 8 to just 2 – increasing the value and difficulty of precious search real estate. If this change were to go through, ASO and mobile user acquisition would be all the more important.

New paid UA and growth opportunities 
Both stores now give developers more ability to reach their audience right through the app stores. LiveOps was a significant breakthrough in the space and signified that both stores are pushing for not only better store experiences, but inadvertently reinforcing the merchandising philosophy. Apple also opened up new App Store ad placements in the ‘Today’ tab set to be released around mid-October, making way for more opportunities to market special events in light of the upcoming holiday season.

Paid and organic working together
Combined with better store experiences, the synergy of paid UA and organic marketing cannot be understated. To better penetrate the app store marketplace, its’ imperative to have an organic backbone for paid campaigns to yield their most powerful conversion effects. Organically acquired users provide a better long-term advantage, but organic traffic also helps bring down paid UA costs. 

If an app developer wanted to take advantage of the new ad placements Apple will be rolling out, the organic back work should be set in stone. When it comes to organically market your app on the app store, relevancy is key, and it drives growth on the app stores.

The importance of hitting home relevancy in 2023
Costs associated with paid campaigns are derived from organic performance. Simply put, any sort of bids developers put on keywords should be relevant to the app, otherwise, it’d be like marketing to a very costly ‘void’. 

Proving relevancy also works on two fronts, and in theory, its simple, but requires iteration to achieve and is two-pronged. Proving relevance to the user is paramount, but developers must balance app store relevance as well. Luckily, both work relatively symbiotically.

When you update your creatives through A/B testing, you convey a relevant message to your users. When you update metadata fields, you prove relevancy to the users and algorithms simultaneously. 

The more clickthrough data you gather, the more data the platforms have to work with to determine your relevance for a particular query. And in short, the less you have to prove to the algorithm your relevance for a query, the less you have to pay. All of these elements are crucial in driving discoverability and conversion.

ASO best practices for relevancy in 2023
What can you do starting today to harness the power of relevance to improve your paid and organic UA? Well, it all starts with ASO, so let’s go over the key steps you can take today to reach a more relevant audience and hit home UA in 2023:

1. Synergize ASO efforts with external channels like social media
ASO and paid channels like TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook can and should work together. You’re essentially speaking to the same audience, so taking advantage of consistent messaging and recognizable branding already primes the user to download once they land on your main product page or the custom product page. 

Carrying consistent messaging and visuals not only reinforces brand recognition but helps the user convert once theyre on the product page. External channels are also great drivers of volume, which helps in organic performance. 

2. A/B test your creatives and metadata regularly
After the stores index your keywords, it takes about a few weeks before they stop collecting data. That being said, regular updates are imperative in growing relevance. Growing your app store footprint and relevance for keywords helps drive down marketing costs when it comes to paid UA. 

This is why continuous iteration and updates are so important. Ensuring your growth on a metadata level allows for more open doors in discoverability, and updating messaging, and value propositions among other elements in your creative set drives better conversion. Using ASO tools and technology like DATACUBE and Splitcube together makes for an effective and robust driver of growth.

3. Don’t just translate – localize for international audiences
As global app operations expand, effectively reaching a worldwide audience becomes all the more important. For one, competition is no longer domestic, and developers can’t let strong messaging slip through the cracks, and in the transition, lose key value propositions to local competitors. 

Translation is the first step but carrying over any local language variances and cultural differences is also important. Localization of an app listing is one of the proven ways for many mobile apps to increase app downloads and improve their mobile user acquisition in non-English speaking countries, this includes both creatives and metadata.

The app store of 2023 will be all about bringing users new ways of interacting with the brands and apps they love (or, have yet to love). Being mindful of the changing app store experience is fundamental to enacting a paid and organic UA strategy. Knowing how all components of the store experience, product page, and your part in providing relevance will set you apart in 2023. To take advantage of a better paid UA strategy, however, a strong ASO backbone is essential.

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.