— 28 Aug 2017

How does iOS 11 influence ASO? We’ve Analyzed 250K Users

Alexandra Lamachenka

It seems that the iOS 11 App Store design will influence the way app developers do App Store Optimization.

In SplitMetrics’ recent study, we’ve analyzed 57 A/B tests made by top-grossing app publishers and the behavior of 250K users. According to it, app listings that have not been optimized for the new store showed 7% drop in Tap-through-Rate (TTR) and Tap-to-Install conversions.

This is an important insight as now it is clear that even the minor features of the App Store help it shift the focus from an app discovery platform to the store itself.

What is ASO?

Taking into consideration the enormous competition in the app stores, it’s hard to imagine an app which got to the top without a solid marketing strategy reinforced by ASO. App Store Optimization is the activity intended to:

  • increasing the visibility of your app listing in the major app stores;
  • maximizing the impressions into installs conversion rate.

In general, optimized app listings help app publishers save marketing budgets as among all things ASO triggers free downloads. Amid 63% of apps being found via search, ignoring ASO, you fail to harness this highly important discovery channel and your app gets lost among the myriads of other applications.

App store optimization consists of two key components none of which should be underestimated:

  1. app keyword optimization;
  2. app store product page optimization.

SplitMetrics team developed the Ultimate App Store Optimization Guide to help marketers puzzle out ASO.

The App Store shifts the focus from an app discovery platform to the store itself.

With the autumn’s update, app product pages will get shorter titles, subtitles, promo texts, in-app purchases and a smarter app rating and reviews system.

You will find all the changes in our App Store Redesign post and in our complete iOS 11 checklist:

app store ios 11 full checklist splitmetrics

Keywords App Store Optimization

Hundreds of publishers perceive ASO exclusively as app keyword optimization practice which is not the best approach.

It’s vital to optimize not only metadata containing app store keywords but also such product page elements as screenshots, icons, video previews, etc. Eventually, these visuals may be deal breakers when it comes to making a decision about downloading your app.

Nevertheless, when we talk about app’s discoverability, nothing works better than smart app keyword optimization. Before getting down to polishing your app store keywords, it’s important to learn which metadata elements of the renewed App Store are indexed and which are not.

Product page elements indexed in the context of app keyword optimization:

  • app name;
  • subtitle;
  • developer’s name;
  • iTunes connect keywords;
  • in-app purchases;
  • subscriptions.

Product page elements that are not indexed in the new App Store:

  • promo text;
  • description;
  • reviews.

Mind that the way apps are shown in Search changes as well.

Surprisingly, these small enhancements have a significant impact on the number of installs and the way people install the app.

iOS11 app store optimization aso splitmetrics

Subtitles can give 15-20% boost in conversions

Screenshots used to be the element that influenced app page conversions most. With subtitles, an app developer can hook users even before they scroll down to images.

For instance, using a call-to-action in the subtitle improves a tap-to-install conversion rate by 15-20%.

On top of that, vision-based subtitles (“Be an artist!”) influence the number of direct installs, which are made right after opening an app product page. With feature-based subtitles (“Turn photos into artworks!” or “30 filters for your photos!”), people install after checking features on the screenshots and in the description.

Promo text is about to replace descriptions

While subtitles are to beat screenshots in their significance, a short promo text is about to replace descriptions.

A short and catchy promo text can show an average 35% conversion lift (that said, we’ve seen a maximum increase in 75%), raising flags for knowledgeable ASO specialists. An app description was the last thing we recommended to A/B test in the old store since we’ve seen only a slight impact on conversion rates. According to our statistics, only 2% of people click the “Read More” button and engage with a description.

A promo text replaces a description, and the best practice of using it is to promote special offers, events and important updates and use it as a description summary in other cases.

Just like shop windows, right?

All-time stars are counted for Average Rating

And just like when going to the store, people check in with others whether they like the product they are going to buy.

Generally, 58% of users look at Ratings and Reviews before making a decision on installing an app. 4.1 and higher is the rating that shows the highest TTR and TTI, and now there’s no need to make people review the latest version to achieve this number.

Instead of the current app version rating, an average rating will be shown and all-time stars will be counted in iOS 11. That gives shoppers the understanding of the overall attitude to the app and helps app developers get rid of nonsense begging for reviews that would vanish with a new app version.

iOS11 app store optimization aso search splitmetrics

Landscape screenshots show 45% conversion lift in Search

It also appears that landscape screenshots take center stage.

In iOS 11, a user sees 3 instead of 2 portrait screenshots in Search. That leads to the scattered focus due to the small, hard-to-read captions and elements.

For this reason, it is a good idea to use landscape screenshots and app previews. Adding to this, it is even better to consider the first image as an ad banner (just like on Facebook ads) rather than a screenshot, with:

  • contrast graphics illustrating key features;
  • powerful Call-to-Action, Message, Key Feature as a caption;
  • big and contrast font.

As the result, banner-type landscape screenshots and app previews show 45% conversion lift in Search. Besides, a landscape screenshot with powerful graphics and caption engages people 31% better, comparing to 22% engagement rate with portrait screenshots.

A banner-style landscape screenshot is also a tool to bite your closest competitor since an app listing that follows your app is a blind spot. It shows the lowest conversion, whilst the following app listings have higher TTR.

In-app purchases will hardly influence product page conversions

With in-app purchases and subscriptions promoted on the product page, a user can make a purchase without launching an application. That is something that makes the App Store even more sales-focused.

Despite the fact that in-app purchases are likely to have an impact on the money people spend in the app, they will hardly influence product page conversions.

The reason for it is that an average scroll depth on the App Store is 30%. That means average users make a decision on whether they want to get the app somewhere around a promo text. So, the elements that remain unnoticed are:

  • Description
  • What’s new
  • Subscriptions
  • In-app purchases
  • Information

To spotlight in-app purchases, the App Store will need either to put in-app purchases higher on the product page or continue shifting focus unless users and app developers start perceiving the store as the place for purchases rather than discovering new cool apps.

How to prepare your app store pages?

Although you cannot update your app pages with new elements and evaluate results from your developer account, you can check your app pages performance and optimize them for iOS 11 App Store Design with SplitMetrics.

SplitMetrics is an app A/B testing platform that allows you to multiply app installs and increase ROI by optimizing screenshots, icons, texts, and other app page elements.

Want to prepare your app store pages for iOS 11?

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Alexandra Lamachenka
Alexandra Lamachenka
ex-CMO at SplitMetrics, Senior Marketing Technology Specialist at Depop
As a marketing leader with over 7 years of experience, Alexandra is passionate about showing app teams how to go beyond what's possible in growth and marketing.
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