How to optimize and market your app for maximum downloads

Effective app marketing is not about generating app page traffic, but rather about ensuring your app is discovered by targeted and relevant users who will install your app and use it regularly.

According to Forrester, 63 percent of apps are discovered through app store searches, and with over 2 million apps in major app stores, optimizing your app for search and users should be a top priority. Unless you are launching a revolutionary social network or service, getting your app on the top 25 most downloaded apps will be a tough sell.

Follow these tips to maximize app installs and usage, and optimize your app for the app store of your choice.

#1: Understanding your customers: Keyword research, page title

An effective and successful app marketing campaign depends on your knowledge of your target customers. Before launching into keyword research for app pages and content, the following questions need to be answered:

  • What language do my customers use?
  • What terms do they use in searching for my app?
  • Customers intent before installing my app?

For a market with an established competitor or competitors:

  • What keywords do my competitors use?
  • What terms are my competitors targeting?
  • Should I optimize for the same keywords, or optimize for the overlooked keywords and use them as my competitive advantage?

Research by Tune on the top 25 apps showed that apps with a relevant keyword in the title ranked 10.3 percent higher than apps without a title keyword. When it comes to keyword research, you can either opt for a dictionary or go for the nerve cracking Google Keyword Planner.

Bear in mind, Apple’s app store has a 100-character keyword field limit while Google Play Store offers a 4,000 character limit, taking an approach similar to SEO.

Look out for keyword opportunities on both Google and Apple’s app store, brainstorm, and prioritize keywords with app marketing tools such as AppCodes and AppAnnie.

#2: Mobile app descriptions

Optimizing your app with keywords will aid your marketing efforts in exploiting Apple and Google’s algorithms, but the real business comes in when it comes to downloads.

Your app description and page content will be read by users or prospective customers, hence keyword-stuffing your page content or description will come across as spammy and incomprehensible to your visitors.

Your target customers are humans just like you and I. We don’t care about keywords, we care more about what your app can do for us, and make sure our private information will be in safe hands. Compelling copy converts customers and focus should be placed on the first three sentences to grab your customer’s attention.

App titles can be up to 255 characters, making enough room for keyword optimization. Bear in mind, however, that an app name is bigger than branding and app store optimization (ASO). Keep your app name succinct and include the keyword in the app title.

Remember permalinks in SEO? They apply to ASO too! Use succinct permalinks instead of random characters, as iTunes use apps’ numeric IDs to locate apps without expressive permalinks.

#3: Use of imagery and videos

Your app icons say a lot about your app, the business, and its owners. An app icon can grab a customer’s attention allowing for an increase in app page visits or result in bad reviews and recommendation.

Both Google and Apple have preset standards in the icon geometry, size, and color scheme for an enhanced user experience in their respective app stores. For iOS, icons should be at least 1024 x 1024 pixels so they can be cropped for use by the various elements of the operating system and for Google, the minimum pixel dimensions are 512 x 512.

Images and videos bring life into descriptive text and they should be used generously in your app page. While they may not directly affect search rankings, images drive installs and usage among users. Screenshots of the app UX is required for your app page and iOS allows you to upload five screenshots while Android allows up to 8 on each app.

For best practices, use screenshots of the apps UX instead of generic images to convert customers, taking lessons from Candy Crush Saga for both iOS and Android.

#4: Ratings and reviews

Ratings and reviews can make or break your marketing efforts both from the app store algorithm angle and from users too. No one will download an app with numerous negative reviews, irrespective of its use, and app stores love to see apps with a convincing number of ratings and reviews. Positive reviews and ratings will contribute to convincing users to download your app.

For best practices, the following guidelines should be adhered to:

  • Solicit for feedback instead of negative reviews from users, and act on it promptly.
  • Check periodically for low ratings, ask for the reasons behind customer criticism, and offer help.


App store optimization (ASO) takes time and needs to be tweaked constantly. For businesses who are willing to understand, strategize and track the performance of their ASO, they should see an increase in downloads, revenue, customer engagement, and satisfaction.


Laurynas Skupas is the co-founder and CEO of ChameleonJohn, a website offering coupons, promo codes and online deals. He has been a consultant in online marketing for more than 5 years.

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