March 23, 2021
App Store Optimization (ASO): Why it matters and how 24i can help
It’s hard to believe that Apple’s App Store is still not quite a teenager! From it’s launch in July 2008, it has grown to offering more than 1.96 million apps. It has also inspired many equivalent marketplaces on other platforms, most notably Google’s Play Store which itself boasts in excess of 2.87 million apps. The world has become increasingly hooked on apps. One study found 21% of Millenials open an app more than 50 times a day! But there are many app store pitfalls that app publishers - including 24i’s streaming customers - need to avoid if they are to maximize their reach.
In this incredibly crowded marketplace, discovery is a major challenge. App publishers need to make it as easy as possible for consumers to find their app. Optimizing your app name and description can help with this, especially if you’re hoping for consumers to discover your app by chance when searching for similar or competitor services. But the algorithms that govern app store search results also look beyond the simple relevance of the search terms, taking into account the number of times an app has already been downloaded (popularity breeds visibility) and how existing users feel about the app as expressed in ratings and reviews.
Ratings and Reviews: a five star challenge
Both Apple and Google have gradually increased the importance of ratings and reviews in recent years. App store search results prioritize the highly rated and well reviewed apps, and a higher ranking in the store boosts your chances of getting seen and downloaded. The ratings and the reviews of existing users will also have a significant impact on whether they actually decide to download your app. Research suggests the majority of users check reviews and ratings before they download, and that increasing your rating from 2-star to 4-star can boost conversions by as much as 540%.
In our recent whitepaper, several of our OTT customers spoke about the importance of launching fast with a minimum viable product (MVP) and then iterating as you build an audience. Unfortunately, this means bugs and glitches from an earlier version of your app can continue to have an impact on your market share long after they’ve been fixed.
App store optimization support
Thankfully, there’s plenty you can do to improve your app rating and reviews, even if a previous version of your app continues to drag down your overall score. But you need to know where to start. Much like search engine optimization (SEO) specialists, there’s a growing industry of ASO experts carving out a niche in boosting app store rankings, but 24i also has a track record of supporting our clients through this process.
Many content owners - for example sports leagues and broadcasters - are now going direct-to-consumer (DTC) for the first time with their own video streaming apps. “Some of our clients have many decades of industry experience, but software development and app stores are an entirely new arena for them,” says Linda Abrams, 24i’s head of business development for North America. “Our service delivery and account management team are already providing support with the process of submitting the client’s video streaming apps to the various app stores, so it makes sense for us to also provide proactive guidance on app store optimization where it's needed.”
Senior Account Manager Azul Islas has worked with several 24i customers on campaigns to improve their app store ratings and address a legacy of unfavorable reviews. “There are so many reasons why your app store rating might be lower than you’d like,” she explains. “Sometimes it’s a bug that’s causing the app to slow down or crash, sometimes it’s a CDN issue that’s increasing video loading times, and sometimes customers are just frustrated about the content selection. It’s important to start by classifying any poor reviews so you can identify the highest priority issues and take action that will have the biggest impact.”
Letting the consumer feel heard
Another important factor is how the app publisher responds to negative reviews. “We’ve seen really positive impacts on app store ratings when our customers respond directly to users who’ve left negative reviews,” says Islas. “I’ve walked several customers through this process and it’s a really simple way to improve user loyalty. Consumers want to feel heard and a well-timed follow-up on the app store can be enough to persuade someone to give your app another chance and re-rate it. The right interaction can turn an angry reviewer into a brand advocate.”
Asking for review and ratings - a matter of careful timing
Just like restaurant or hotel reviews, the majority of us are only prompted to express our feelings about apps if we’re really impressed, or really disappointed. So it’s important to catch satisfied customers at the right time and gently encourage them to leave you a review while they’re in a good mood.
“With one 24i customer, we suggested they take a proactive approach with an in-app pop-up that requests reviews,” reveals Islas. “It was important to time the request carefully so users were only prompted after a good experience and weren’t interrupted too often. For new users we showed the pop-up after they’d watched several videos in a row. For existing customers, it was a more nuanced approach, taking into account the total number of streams completed. It’s a simple step, but the app saw a three-point increase in ratings over a relatively short period of time in one app store - making a significant impact on their ranking.”
For more hints and tips from our streaming customers on how to survive and thrive in the cut-throat world of OTT, download our whitepaper, Tales from the OTT Frontline.