Masterclassing

Understanding In-App Events

Mobile Marketing - Member Content

Dave Bell, Co-founder and CEO of Gummicube, explains what In-App Events are and how to use them to best effect. 

With the App Store continuing to introduce features aimed at driving engagement, Apple’s In-App Events have become a powerful tool for developers looking not only to increase downloads but keep their app top-of-mind for current users.

Whether informing existing users of new developments in your app or promoting major updates, In-App Events can be a great way to stand out among the competition.

About Apple In-App Events
In-App Events give you a way to highlight time-sensitive changes to your app that can capture user interest in a new way. Understanding how, where and to who In-App Events are displayed is a key starting point to ensure a successful Event.
How In-App Events appear
In-App Events can be displayed at a number of different stages throughout a user’s App Store journey. This includes:

  • In search results
  • On your Product Page
  • As recommendations in the Apps, Games, and Today tabs

Each of these placements warrants consideration for how you structure your metadata and creatives since user intentions will vary across them. A user browsing the search results of a specific query already has an idea of the type of app they are looking for, while one navigating the Today Tab may simply be exploring different apps and offers in a more casual manner.

In-App Events for Search Results
Generally speaking, users browsing search results enter their query with a specific objective in mind: finding a tool that fulfills a need, playing a certain genre of game, or looking for an app similar to a brand they are familiar with. The decision to download one app over another will come down to a number of factors, but one thing that remains true is that a standout app listing will increase your chances of engaging those users.

With In-App Events, you can now use search results to inform existing and previous users about the latest developments to your app in a highly visible area. This opens the opportunity for re-engagement with lapsed customers who may have tried your app and would have otherwise not given it a second glance in search.

While screenshots are primarily aimed at acquiring new, first-time users, In-App Events that appear in search results are primarily aimed at re-engaging existing and lapsed users. For these users, your event card will replace your screenshots in your app listing. If you do not have any In-App Event, then the only app information that will appear is your icon, title, and subtitle.

This is an important, sometimes overlooked change to the App Store ecosystem that happened with the rollout of In-App Events. For current or lapsed users, not having an In-App Event means the only creative that will appear in Search results is the app icon.

Noting this difference, it’s evident that not using In-App Events gives up valuable screen real estate to search competitors with screenshots or In-App Events displayed. By implementing an In-App Event, you’ll be able to take back this otherwise lost space in a format that differentiates your app from the standard presentation of screenshots.

Product Page In-App Events
In-App Events appearing on your product page provide users with additional insight into the latest developments of your app. You can use this opportunity to inform would-be users of noteworthy promotions, updates, and features that can spark interest in downloading.

Depending on the users browsing your Product Page, In-App Events will display one of two ways: 

  • For current and lapsed users, In-App Events will appear as cards before your description and screenshots, acting as the first visual element found on your listing after your icon, title, and subtitle. In short, events on top, screenshots below.
  • For new users, event cards will be shown under your primary metadata and creative information. In short, screenshots on top, events below.

Users can then tap your In-App Event to learn more, opening up a larger card with its own media, copy, and engagement prompts. Users can opt-in to notifications, share the event, or download the app.

In-App Events – browsing the App Store
While 70 per cent of installs from the App Store occur from Search, the remaining 30 per cent occur from users casually browsing content outside of search results. This includes category charts, featured lists, and now In-App Events – both those recommended by Apple and populated by the apps a user has downloaded.

While Apple’s editorial team has always and continues to determine its curated, featured content, there are other areas such as “Events You Might Like” on the Apps Tab that are populated based on apps a user has downloaded in the past.

Historically, getting traffic from App Store Browse meant hoping to be featured by the editorial team or ranking in a high spot in the charts – and even then, the users who find the content are typically less engaged as those performing a directional search to find an app like yours. With In-App Events, users browsing “Events You Might Like” have higher potential to engage with your app, since they’ve interacted with your app or one like it at some point.

Apple allows an app to have five active In-App Events at a given time. Consider any seasonal events your app has; some of these may make it into Apple’s curated content around the Holidays, for example. Other events on major updates that are less specific may make their way to the “Events You Might Like” area.  The more coverage you have for different situations, the higher your chances are of reaching a user.

In-App Events use cases
To help developers further understand under what circumstances they should be using In-App Events, Apple provides a list of different event badges you can classify your event as. Selecting the right one will allow Apple and users to understand what your Event is all about at a glance.

When planning out your upcoming In-App Events, make sure it fits within the criteria as laid out within one or more event badges. While In-App Events do not require a new version update, they do require App Store review- and if the reviewer deems the event does not qualify under these criteria, it may be rejected.

  • Challenge – These constitute events that require the users to achieve a specific goal or objective while the event takes place.
  • Competition – These can consist of multiplayer events where gamers compete for rankings, rewards, and more.
  • Live Event – Reserved for real-time experiences that users can simultaneously tune in to such as concerts, live streams, and sports matches among others.
  • Major Update – If your app is undergoing a significant overhaul, introducing breakthrough features, or launching new mechanics that change the user experience, this badge is for you.
  • New Season – Whether aligning with a real-world holiday, or prepping the launch of a new gameplay season within your app, this category is best suited for these types of In-App Events.
  • Premiere – This can be useful for apps looking to showcase the debut of a new series, movie, podcast, or other similar entertainment experience.

Special Event – Usually dedicated to more custom In-App Events, you can use this badge to describe an event that doesn’t exactly fit the description of the previous badges or can be considered a combination of multiple ones.

In-App Events best practices
Apart from selecting the right event to highlight and its appropriate badge, how you set up your In-App Event will also affect its performance. In-App Events require similar care to their metadata and creative configuration as your primary product page, with optimal copy structure and placement of keywords being essential.
Luckily, Apple provides a set of recommendations you can follow when developing your In-App Event metadata.

In-App Event Copy
Do:

  • Accurately describe your event within the 30-character limit established by Apple and with the correct copy structure.
  • Use title case for the event name and sentence case for descriptions.
  • Use proper capitalization and punctuation throughout all metadata fields.

Don’t:

  • Use all capitals in your event copy
  • Deploy excessive use of punctuation points
  • Include a call to action in your event name
  • Overly promote your app or service in the description

In-App Event Media
Do:

  • Include imagery representative of the In-App Event
  • Develop custom images or videos specific to your event
  • Adhere to the correct format and specifications for each creative

Don’t: 

  • Include text or logos in your media files
  • Use generic imagery or screenshots that would typically be found in your product page creative sets
  • Add borders or gradient to your media. This can conflict with the native borders and effects applied by Apple

In-App Events & ASO
A successful In-App Event campaign can open up opportunities for those looking to target users at every stage of their engagement period. Whether new, existing, or previous users, In-App Events provide you a way to increase app visibility, engagement, and conversions.

The introduction of In-App Events, and the change to how screenshots are displayed that came with it, fundamentally changes ASO strategies for re-engagement of current and lapsed users. While In-App Events provide great new opportunities to capture this audience, not having an In-App Event means you visually have less of an opportunity to speak to this audience and competitors will have more.

Another key ASO factor regarding In-App Events is their potential to be indexed in organic search results. Use ASO software to determine which keywords are highly valuable for your app, incorporate them into your In-App Event metadata, and build Event Media that supports potential conversion for users searching relevant terms.

Having an In-App Event on its own can open up new opportunities for engagement with users, but factoring in how Events can incorporate performant elements of your overall ASO strategy can further elevate the potential for success.

When thinking of an ASO strategy, it has always been important to factor in changes – both those you can’t directly control, like the timing of seasonality, and those you can more directly control, like when major releases will come out.

When planning your ASO for 2023, consider that any one In-App Event can be displayed for up to 14 days leading up to the event, and for 31 days during the event. Time your updates and lean into seasonality with this in mind to ensure you always have an Event going on – and therefore will always have a way to re-engage your current and lapsed audiences.

As with any ASO endeavor, make sure to measure the performance of each In-App Event to see what worked and what didn’t, and iterate from there for the next ones where applicable. Keep these factors in mind when evaluating performance:

  • Most In-App Events will primarily appear for current or lapsed users. It’s not unusual to see relatively low First-Time user reach when declaring an Event is “appropriate for all users”.  In these cases, check your App Opens or Redownloads.
  • Partition your In-App Event metrics by traffic source to get a better understanding of conversion rates. Directional search users will inherently convert better since they were looking for an app like yours. Casual Browse users will inherently convert lower since they were just checking out larger lists of Apps and Games.
  • Keep in mind if you’ve changed any external paid traffic while an Event is going on and where it’s coming from. These external sources will all land on your product page - and whether it’s a Custom Product Page or not they will all also see your In-App Event. Campaigns targeting a list of your existing user base for re-engagement vs targeting new users from an untapped demographic will not only inherently convert differently but will see your Event and Screenshots in different ways.

Summary
In-App Events are one of the relatively new key elements to successful ASO on the iOS App Store, with Custom Product Pages and Product Page Optimization being the others.

With some apps having been live in the store for over a decade, how and where these new features appear - particularly In-App Events - offer developers a powerful set of tools to show users their app in a new light and lead to re-engagement.

In-App Events let you connect with users at every level in a customizable way that can be coordinated with virtually any marketing goal. Increasing awareness for a new product? Trying to attract viewers for a virtual concert? Maybe you’re preparing the launch of a groundbreaking feature? Whatever the case, an In-App Event can help you target these unique feature-based market segments and fine-tune what makes them convert as part of your ASO strategy.

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.

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