November 15, 2013

Why is app store optimisation so difficult?

Written By Martin Sandhu

The explosive growth of mobile apps has seen customers flock to app stores in order to find the perfect apps for their device. The increase in demand has led to predictions that the app market will be worth $46bn (£29bn) by 2016. Standing out in such a huge crowd is always going to be difficult, but as a very new market, the art of marketing apps is yet to be refined.

The consumer perspective
To those downloading mobile apps, they are still very new and searching for new or unknown apps is somewhat primitive – much like the old school days of Google. Finding new apps is a chore, and many simply download those that they have heard of elsewhere. For many browsing by category is the only way to discover new apps.

The app store
The app-store itself isn’t the easiest place to market your app, not only is competition fierce, but Apple’s charts can be detrimental if you’re app isn’t in the top 50. Pricing plays a key factor in whether your app is downloaded too, with cost being one of the first pieces of information a user will see about your app, it can deter them from reading any further.

A new trend, set to take off in 2014 is App Store Optimisation (ASO). There are already a handful of companies offering services to developers aimed at helping them achieve much better visibility in the app store – much like SEO in search engines. Factors that are typically optimised are app name, keywords, icons and screen shots, and ratings and reviews.

The platform
There are a multitude of different ways to market an app beyond the app store, however they do come with their own issues. Offline advertising and promotion has little effect; unless your app is mind-blowing it’s unlikely that anyone reading about it will get round to actually downloading it.

Online advertising and promotion is clearly the way forward, but this of course comes with difficulties around platforms. Audience targeting is always a tricky business, but if your app isn’t universal to all platforms targeting needs to be yet more specific. PPC ads that don’t allow for dynamic links can be a challenge too – you may end up trying to send an android user to the Apple store.

The impact of iOS7
Previous to the launch of Apples latest operating system there was a notable lull in app downloads, followed by a 25% increase after the upgrade went live, according to stats from Fiksu. Those who had already developed an iOS7 app saw an increase in downloads and a reduction in marketing spend per users.

Whilst currently it’s not that easy to market apps, as the industry evolves further still the techniques and strategy for app promotion will grow too.