Problem

Each year, more and more developers take note of the annual Halloween tradition. Some even dress up their app icons and screenshots in “Halloween costumes” to draw additional attention to their apps. MyTona was eager to сatch the moment of Halloween rush.

However, the publisher was quite aware that seasonal decoration of app icons doesn’t always result in stunning conversion rate.

So, they decided to A/B test Halloweeny app icons to be on the safe side.

Solution

As we know, the main purpose of placing a character in the game app icons is to try and promote the sense of action which intensifies the user’s desire to start playing right now. Developers from MyTona in their test for their game Seekers Notes: Hidden Mystery decided to test which character serves this purpose the best.

In the course of the first experiment, two app icons were tested:

  1. One of the variations depicted a well-known image of a man in a top hat, to add a bit of Halloween spirit, designers put a ‘phantom of the opera’ inspired mask on his face.
  2. The second variation featured the app icon with a smiling pumpkin head.

As it turned out, a pumpkin head won. In terms of conversion, the app icon with the pumpkin head did 9,3% better than the control version.

Optimizing icon for Halloween with SplitMetrics

Analyzing this result Mytona decided that the main factor which helped to achieve this result was the replacement of the human-like character with an inanimate object.

Generally, there is not that much difference between characters, but in this case, the animated pumpkin turned out to be much more effective than the serious human face.

MyTona launched a follow-up test with 3 app icons. The third variation depicted a smiling witch which supported Halloween theme as well.

Result

The pumpkin app icon trumped the serious man once again, but the breakdown was more humble this time, only 3.5%. The witch image beat the first two app icons, with a 9.1% conversion growth.

Icon A/B tests with SplitMetrics

This proves that it’s always worth creating several versions of a single idea. If a human-like character competes with an inanimate one, consider designing a few versions of app icons representing each of them.

By following this strategy, you are more likely to find the right formula for performant app icons that entice users to download the app.

«Action Mouth» is a trick you should definitely try in your app icons. If you look through the top games, you’ll discover something specifically common to most of them: the app icons have characters with their mouths open.

In the above-mentioned app icons case, all versions with ‘action mouth’ characters performed far better than the control icon depicting the man with his mouth closed. The fact that this app icons trick works still surprises many mobile marketers, but you can’t argue with numbers.

It’s also important to mention that details really matter when it comes to app icons design. Take a look at the angle that each face is looking back at you, the hats on their heads, and the clothes they’re wearing.

All these elements help influence the particular expressions on the faces and convey particular emotions to potential players via your app icons.

Seasonal App Icons Optimization Takeaways of MyTona

  • Consider designing a few versions app icons for each of the tested ideas;
  • Review some of the app icons of the top performing applications across your categories, find the things which are common in the majority of them, and run a test.
  • Play with angled and expressive faces, check human-like characters against inanimate objects, test if a character with an open mouth on app icons has more of an influence on users’ decisions to download the app.
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