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Affiliate Opinion: A perspective on the ASO opportunity

Jess Roche, Chief Marketing Officer of sports betting tips app OLBG, shares her experience of maximising ASO for organic installs.

First of all, what is the App Store Optimisation (ASO) opportunity for affiliates?  Whether you market a product or website online or an app on the App Store, the same old problem exists for affiliates. That is, that there will always be big brands with big budgets competing for the same traffic and customers.  So we have to be smarter and maximise the free channels available to us. You can then supplement that with bursts of activity from external sources to create a domino effect. So how do you do that?

Regardless of whether you’re building for the App Store or the Google Play Store, the key factors for discovery and conversion are the App Name (App store) / Title (Google Play), Subtitle (App Store) / Short Description (Google Play), Keywords, Screenshots, user ratings and user reviews.  

Discovery in Search

There are some key differences between the stores in relation to these.  The App Store has a specific Keyword field, Google Play does not. In both stores, the App Name/Title holds the most weight and therefore you put your most important keywords there. The Subtitle is your next heaviest weighted field for keywords, with the remainder going in the Keywords field.  

Since Google Play doesn’t have this dedicated field, keywords are to be used in the Description. These fields require constant optimisation and keeping within character limits can pose challenging in the sports betting industry where we cater for 20+ sports of varying seasonality.  Trademarked terms (like ‘World Cup 2018’) are another thing to be mindful of as Brands can take action against apps who are targeting a trademarked term.

There are many tools to help you find which keywords to target.  The tool will display search volume as a rating, a competitiveness score and will list which apps rank for those terms.  Tools like App Annie and Sensor Tower are popular.

Conversion

As you can imagine, the visual elements are key here. Namely, the App Icon, Screenshots and the User Reviews.

The Icon is your brand identify squished into a tiny box. It is what people see in the search results pages and needs to both represent your brand and what your app does. No mean feat!  Take a leaf out of Apple’s book and embrace simplicity.

The importance of screenshots is reflective in Apple’s move from 2 screenshots on the Search Results page in iOS10 to 3 screenshots in iOS11.  

Despite there being five screenshot positions and you should use them all, tests reveal most people don’t scroll beyond the product page which shows three.  They make their decision based off the information on this page – icon, title, reviews and three screenshots.

For this reason, it’s a great idea to split test your Screenshots.  Companies like Splitmetrics create landing pages that mimic the Appstore where you can test variations of screenshots before putting the best converting combination live. We garnered many helpful insights from this exercise, resulting in a significant conversion rate increase of 61%!  Some things to test are the screenshot orientation, background design, captions and the order of Screenshots.

Be aware that this is a time intensive process requiring fore-thought and planning for the experiments, requires a lot of design work and can be quite costly to pay for the external traffic to the landing pages (which won’t convert at your usual rates given the extra step in the process).   It is an information gathering stage to reap the rewards of later.

User Feedback impacts conversion by helping prospective customers decide if the app is worth downloading.  It also impacts Discoverability as customer satisfaction is a measure of quality. Having a quality app that solves a problem for your users is the best way to get positive reviews.  Listening to their feedback can help drive your development cycle which will make them love you more if you take their suggestions on board.

Responding to reviews (which you can do on both platforms) promptly and providing an outlet for customers to report their problems away from the store will help deliver a positive user experience. If you get unlucky with a bug that results in negative reviews, address it quickly, thank your customers for bringing it to your attention and release a new version of your app.  

Localisation

Depending what your app is and what geographies you can legally target, you may be able to localise your app and offer it in different stores.  In some cases this will require localisation of language and therefore, translations within the app and all of the elements of the product page in the local language too.  

Google and Apple are God

Be prepared to jump through hoops for both platforms as they aren’t always up to speed on what an affiliate is and what is and what is not required from a legal point of view in the betting category.  If rejected, submit and submit again.

Some things to consider before you launch an app:

Does my app cater to a real need of my customers that they can’t get solved somewhere else?

Or better yet, does my app cater to a real need and replace the need of a competitor app?

Do I have the development resources to maintain, test and upgrade this app for the lifespan of it?

Do I have the design resource? Customer service?

Can I afford all the necessary tools to support the app and make educated decisions from it eg. ASO tools, AB testing platform, app tracking and attribution software?

OLBG

Pioneering sports betting affiliate OLBG were one of the first affiliates to launch an app, starting in the iOS app store, then in Google Play for UK customers and later expanding into eighteen other countries.  Their app delivers expert sports betting tips across 18+ sports and makes it quick and convenient for users to get their bets on with their favourite bookies.  They will celebrate 1 million installs in the coming months and are very proud of maintaining an average star rating of 4.5 across the stores.

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