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You can engage myriad channels to introduce your mobile app to prospective customers, including two organic approaches: App Store Optimization (ASO) and Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

  • With ASO, you introduce your app to users via a mobile app store listing.
  • With SEO, you introduce your app to users via your website.

A meaningful mobile app user acquisition strategy involves both ASO and SEO. With that being said, ASO has some compelling abilities related to attracting and retaining customers, and it deserves special attention.

Wait, What’s ASO and SEO’s Relationship Status?

ASO and SEO have a lot in common. At their cores, both disciplines focus heavily on using organic search to attract users. The methodologies and techniques utilized to do so (e.g. keyword research for search volume and intent, adapting strategy to changing search landscapes or conditions) are similar to one another.

So, how can we define ASO and SEO’s relationship status? The disciplines are closely connected, yet each is independent in its own right. I think we can safely call their relationship familial and view ASO and SEO as being two of the branches on an organic optimization family tree.

SEO is about getting users to your website. SEO strategies include taking steps to increase the likelihood search engines will index your URLs for relevant search terms. This helps users find and consume your content (and hopefully become return visitors to your site!).

The overarching goal in ASO is attracting high-intent users to your app.

This means ASO is about taking steps so people who are truly interested in your app and what it brings to the table can easily and intentionally:

  1. Find the app.
  2. Download and install the app.
  3. Continue engaging with the app.

It’s not much of a stretch to say that ASO’s primary purpose is comparable to establishing long-term, committed relationships with mobile app users.

Have You Met ASO?

Let’s explore this “ASO is like a relationship” analogy even further using The Five Stages of (Most) Relationships, as defined in a recent Healthline article. (Author’s note: If you arrived on this blog post hoping for information about interpersonal relationships, please feel free to follow the above link and use it as a graceful exit strategy. I respect your personal boundaries and won’t be offended. Promise.)

Stage 1: Initiation (charm the right people with your mobile app store listing)

A Google Play (for Android) or App Store (for iOS)* listing serves as your app’s first impression for in-store organic searchers. It’s important for you to understand whom you want to attract to your mobile app and to use your store presence to demonstrate your app has exactly what they’re looking for.

In order to build this understanding, you should first conduct app-related research to identify which keywords users search for that are truly relevant for your app and then craft the app’s metadata (e.g. title, subtitle or short description) around those terms. This increases the app’s chances of ranking on users’ mobile app store searches for the most desirable keywords (i.e. its discoverability).

You also need to design your creative assets (e.g. screenshots, videos, and previews) to be clear and accurate representations of what your app offers, so users know what to expect when they download and install it.

Ultimately, you should aim to put your best foot forward, similar to how you might tailor an online dating profile (believe it or not, there are profile doctors out there who can help you with that!), to attract potential suitors who are the most likely to be compatible and stick around.

*Note that ranking factors, metadata components, and creative assets differ between the Google Play and App Store, so make sure you optimize your app for the appropriate platform.

Stage 2: Experimentation (test the waters with your prospective app assets)

In ASO, you can use A/B testing to see which variation of an app asset is most appealing to users and therefore has a higher likelihood of resulting in an app download and installation.

Learn how 3Q Digital used ASO creative testing to increase app store downloads by +141% for a client!

This testing and “getting to know each other” step is an important precursor for the next one on our list.

Stage 3: Intensifying (pay attention to app users’ desires, which may change)

Analyze your ASO testing results to gain deeper insights into what your potential users like about how you present your app to them. Use this information to align your app store presence with what users have demonstrated to you that they value the most.

As you do your ASO testing analysis, you may encounter some surprises. Embrace them. Recognize that users’ interests are apt to change over time (which, by the way, is also true for the mobile app store layout and requirements), and you may need to spice things up a bit to keep things interesting for them. What’s worked well for your mobile app user acquisition strategy in the past may not be the optimal approach now.

Be open to trying new things and use additional ASO testing to validate your understanding of what app users want from you.

Stage 4: Integration (take your mobile app customers’ feedback to heart)

Another way to get insights into your mobile app users’ desires is through paying attention to their feedback in app reviews and ratings. Use this information to address your app’s weaknesses.

Keeping users happy is paramount to success in ASO, in that:

  • Ratings and reviews provide social proof that potential mobile app installers may value.
  • Post-download app registrations and user engagement rates send signals that users value your app.
  • App uninstalls send signals that your mobile app is not meeting expectations.

Be receptive to learning where and how you can make your mobile app better and carrying out warranted transformations (you can think of it as an ongoing glo-up process) while simultaneously strengthening your relationship with your app’s users and staying true to your brand.

Stage 5: Bonding (make a commitment to ASO)

ASO is an ongoing process that helps you manage your relationships with mobile app users – whether you are acquiring them for the first time or ensuring your app continues to meet their needs. With so much at stake, consider engaging with a team who has the experience and know-how to further enhance and guide your ASO strategy.

May we propose 3Q Digital’s talented and loyal mobile app optimization team?

If you’re interested, please don’t hold back on making the first move. We’d love to meet you!