Adjusting ASO for changing trends

Mobile Marketing - Member Content

Dave Bell, Co-founder and CEO of Gummicube, explains why App Store Optimisation efforts should be tweaked to reflect what's happening in the real world. 

Winston Churchill once famously proclaimed, “To improve is to change, to be perfect is to change often.” Change is both inevitable and constant. App developers know this all too well. 

App Store Optimization (ASO) is an ever-evolving process that not only serves to increase discoverability but also holds the power to unlock crucial insights and forecasting abilities to better understand consumer and user needs through seasonality. 

Mobile marketing trends are constantly changing. What may be important or relevant to a mobile app user today may not be next month or even next week. Remaining cognizant of these changes is the key to maintaining and building relevancy and visibility for an app. 

Much like changing up promotional deals or seasonal merchandise on more traditional or digital marketing assets, app creatives, and metadata assets should also adjust for changing trends, occasions, events, and seasons. This allows app developers to meet the user exactly where they are and address their needs to maintain a competitive edge. 

Before we dive into the details of what seasonality updates look like, let’s first take a look at seasonality in action. 

Seasonality in action: COVID-19
Just over the past two years, we’ve witnessed some of the biggest and most drastic changes in mobile consumer behaviors and consumption habits brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. Schools, stores, work, social gatherings, and get-togethers seized in the throes of a sudden and consequential global crisis – leading people to feel stuck in time. The way people shopped, worked, taught, led, and socialized all flipped on its head in what seemed like a brief and fleeting moment.

When the world seemed to come to a complete halt, people looked to new ways to reconnect and re-engage with the world around them. 

But what exactly did these consumers turn to in order to solve this problem? Technology – more specifically, their smartphones. 

In the pursuit of a returning sense of normalcy, smartphones became a quintessential part of bringing people back together again. Businesses had to come up with innovative ways to deliver their products and services to consumers, schools had to think of ways to continue delivering lessons, and everyday people had to find new ways to communicate with their close friends and loved ones around the world.

Spearheading these new social accommodations was no easy task for these crucial institutions. Yet, in that tried-and-true nature of life, change became something that has the potential to bring new opportunities to grow, despite seemingly growing odds. This new opportunity to reconnect with the world had to involve taking a deeper look into what the consumer is doing and what the consumer needed. What the consumers needed was a connection point with the brands, places, and people. App store platforms like Google Play and Apple App Store became that crucial contact point more than ever before. 

Suddenly, more and more businesses were looking to bring their products and services directly to consumers through apps, foregoing their traditional brick-and-mortar stores as a means of conducting transactions.

Academic institutions were looking for apps to conduct remote learning while searching for security functionalities and interactive elements to reignite and mimic in-person engagement. 

People looked for apps with group video chats, social-distance-friendly means of communication, Black Friday delivery deals, contactless food delivery, and so much more. This was new, but it has since proved to developers that some trends pass, and some trends remain the same. App developers had to adjust their app listing through app seasonality updates. 

But what do app seasonality updates look like? 
The main goal of seasonality, as the name aptly suggests, is to increase visibility in the face of change. This could be a season, an in-app or external event, or any crucial app-facing occurrences. By nature, seasonality changes are temporary and directly address and speak to a specific event, like Black Friday, March Madness, or tax season. Whether long-term or short-term, seasonality updates help build relevancy and boost visibility among users considering these changes. 

There are a few ways to adjust for seasonality changes, and it takes more than just a quick keyword tweak or minute creative update – it’s a holistic approach to mobile marketing adaptation and ASO. That being said, it’s crucial for app developers to understand that seasonality shouldn’t be a fad in their ASO strategy.

Instead, with the right ASO technology, app developers can feel empowered in making seasonal updates that allow them to stand out from competitors and directly speak with their targeted users.

Metadata optimization for seasonality changes
App titles are one of the first points of contact with a user on both the Google Play Store and Apple’s App Store. Keeping an app title relevant, unique, and free of any extraneous characters or over-the-top emojis is a good starting point to create a balanced, informative, yet valuable proposition to users. 

App descriptions are an essential part of app value propositioning. In them, users can find a plethora of rich information regarding the features and functionality of an app. 

The Google Play App Store and Apple’s App Store use different methods to index keywords and where exactly they index the keywords from. Despite these differences, harnessing the power of relevant keywords is an app developer's best tool to simultaneously attract users in the “language” they speak, while also increasing their ranking for relevant and high-volume keywords.

Creative optimization for seasonality changes
Creative assets allow app developers to directly speak to consumers through eye-catching and engaging visual content. Creative assets like an app logo, screenshot set, and videos all serve two fundamental functions – that is to engage and ultimately, to convert. Since creative assets are indexed for keywords or other metadata elements, creative assets on both Google Play and Apple’s App Store are directly responsible for increasing conversion rate. 

While there are some differences between how these assets are presented to the user based on how they are funneled, creative assets are a great way to highlight any relevant seasonal updates that may be relevant to your app value offering. 

For example, with Super Bowl LVI, some apps embellished their screenshots with added imagery of footballs across their screenshots. A financial app, for example, may want to include “file your taxes”, in time for tax season in their screenshot visual copy. During the pandemic, many delivery apps included terms like “contactless delivery” in their screenshots to directly speak to consumers who were looking for safe ways to get the products they needed. 

Do paid campaigns help with seasonality efforts?
Paid campaigns have the potential to provide an app with an added boost in visibility. To harness a paid campaign's full potential, app developers should first invest in an ASO strategy that supports organic growth. Organic search growth is the backbone of any successful paid campaign for both Google Play and Apple App Store platforms. 

Seasonality plays a fundamental component in long-term success, and it may be tempting to indulge in a paid campaign to boost rankings and visibility. Yet, user and consumer behavior can seem unpredictable and human at their core. If a user were to see an app ad and decide that they’re not in the mood to shop or download now, will they be able to find the app in the app store down the line if it's not quite there yet organically? It’s not very likely. With the right ASO technology, app developers can confidently enact an ASO strategy that supports paid ad campaign success that accounts for user app consumption behaviors.

Seasonality updates offer app developers a way for their app to stand out from the rest. In the face of change, the difference between an app that soars and an app that doesn’t comes down to whether relevancy, visibility, and conversion can be maintained. With the help of a trusted ASO company, app developers can navigate seasonality changes for not just domestic markets, but for global users and competitors as well. Keeping in mind the differences in user and consumer needs at different times of the year enables app developers to make strategic decisions that impact their ASO strategy, no matter where their users are. 

About the Author
Dave Bell is Co-founder and CEO of Gummicube. Gummicube is a global leader in App Store Optimization with more than 11 years of experience optimizing and marketing apps. We offer the leading enterprise ASO technology and agency services, providing support to clients around the world. Our company is trusted by thousands of enterprise brands and leading startups including Microsoft, LinkedIn, Bethesda, SWEAT, GrubHub, McAfee and many others.