29. June 2015 · Comments Off on Creating a Blueprint for more App Downloads With ZERO Budget · Categories: App Updates, Apple, ASO · Tags: , ,

app downloadsGetting more app downloads starts with number crunching

Developers can create the best game in the world, but without putting on their marketing hat, the app will fail.

Oh, we do the minimum: some keywords; a nifty title; a Facebook post and a Tweet, but it’s not nearly enough to truly earn a high number of downloads, sales and ad revenues.

So, we decided to back up a little bit and create a simple blueprint on how to get more downloads for our apps. An “App Downloads and Revenues” Template is available here for you to download.

In our next series of blogs, we’ll walk you through our step-by-step process of improving downloads and revenues of three (3) of our apps.

However, the past month and past quarter, we wanted to see what three apps have been earning the most downloads.

Then, we wanted to see the top revenue numbers by ad companies (AppLovin, Chartboost, etc.). This told us that, perhaps, we were giving too many ad impressions to “Ad Company A” and not getting any clicks or revenues and that maybe we needed to dial down “Company A” and give more impression opportunities to “Company B” and so on.

Next, we ranked the Top 10 apps that created the most ad revenue followed by the Top 10 apps that were generating the most Apple revenue (i.e., in-app purchases; app upgrades, etc.).

This simple spreadsheet can offer a few surprises when you look at all the categories.

For example, our top game by downloads is also No. 1 in ad revenue, but it’s not No. 1 in Apple revenue, which means we should work a little bit on improving or promoting our IAPs within the game.

We also found out a few games were doing well in ad revenue, but are low in download numbers, so we need to increase the downloads, etc.

When you view the good numbers, try to figure out why IAPs are great in your top three games and see what you can do to improve your IAPs in the games that are ranked No. 8, 9 and 10? Why is your No. 1 game earning twice as many downloads at your No. 2 and No. 3 game? Ask yourself questions like these and then come up with a plan for moving forward with improvements.

What’s next?

We selected three games for improvements. Some of these will include minor updates, but our July 2015 focus will be primarily on App Search Optimization (ASO and sometimes called “App Store Optimization”) and marketing techniques. We also plan to roll out this entire improvement project with ZERO budget.

As we move forward, we’ll share more information with you as well as our work progress and download updates.

Download the worksheet here:

App Downloads and Revenues Template (Microsoft Excel version)


24. March 2015 · Comments Off on Why Your New App Bombed · Categories: ASO · Tags: , , ,

Everything, you feel, is in place for your app launch!

The best keywords have been selected.Why Your New Apps Bomb

You wrote an awesome and well-optimized app description and have applied other app search optimization (ASO) techniques.

Your app was translated in every possible language.

Your screen captures best reflect the app.


Launch day is here and, unfortunately, nothing happens.

A few downloads. A couple of in-app purchases were made and you collected a few bucks from Chartboost (or others). No reviews. No buzz. Nada.

What happened? Now what?

Yep, we’ve been there. Done that. We’ve expected many of our new apps and game releases to set the world on fire and we’ve suffered a little post-release letdown. It’s going to happen.

Here are some ideas that might help your next app launch return better results.

Create some pre-launch buzz

Start a count-down of sorts on Twitter and other social media channels letting everyone know “our cool app will be launched on Friday!”

Release screen captures (think #screenshotSaturday) every day of your app as you get closer to the launch date.

Consider offering promotional codes prior to launch. Maybe those receiving an advance copy will be kind enough to publish a review of your new app.

Create a contest leading up to your launch date.

Write and distribute a press release

This can be effective if you use it for a big launch (not for every reskin release or app update). In most cases, your local media might be interested in your new app launch.

Some feel press releases don’t create more downloads. However, it depends on the app. Do gamers read press releases? Maybe not. However, if you’re releasing a business app, that might be of interest to business publication readers.

Write a blog

You should be writing at least one blog post a week (no matter what). However, as you get closer to releasing an app, users like to read the story of ideas; app creation; hurdles, etc. Think ahead as you create the app and tell the story along the way. Post a bit.ly link to your blog in Twitter, Facebook, etc.

Be real

In everything you do with your app’s pre-launch and launch activities, be a real person talking with real people.

Use your own voice. Start a conversation.

Don’t SPAM Twitter or Facebook with constant app release posts and telling everyone how awesome your app is. They will get ignored. If you talk with your audience along the way, they will be very interested in your new app.



10. March 2015 · Comments Off on Indirect ASO Techniques To Improve Downloads · Categories: ASO · Tags: , ,

While App Store Optimization (ASO) focuses on keywords and earning higher ranking positions in App Stores (Apple, Google Play), etc., there are other improvements you can apply using indirect ASO techniques to help increase your app downloads.

Picking the best keywords for your app title and other app meta tags should be your No. 1 priority, but once your app is ranked in the Top 10 (or maybe the Top 20) on a targeted keyword, these other techniques will help catch the users’ attention.

Best of all, these ideas are all free. They include:

Improve Your App Icon

Your icon is the first thing everyone sees in search results. Does it stand out against your competition? Will it attract a click? More downloads? If your app is ranking high on targeted keywords, try testing a new icon.

In our game “Bath Bubbles Tap & Pop Multilevel Challenge,” an icon change definitely helped downloads. We switched from an icon featuring a low-quality stretched little boy in a bathtub full of bubbles (with a blue background) to an icon with no characters and a standalone bathtub (with a green and black background).

Bath Bubbles Game

Icon Before

Bath Bubbles Game

Icon After

Don’t be afraid to test an app icon change for 30 days. You can always switch back to the original icon with your next update.

Improve Your Screen Captures

After your game icon, the next thing users are going to see are your screen captures.

We would highly recommend that you use all the screen captures allowed by the iTunes App Store, Google Play, etc. One or two screen captures may not accurately reflect the necessary features in your app the user needs in order to download.

The first screen capture is the most important one. Within search results, users will see your game icon and your initial screen capture. An initial “action” screen capture is better than your app’s splash screen.

Also consider taking your screen captures one step further by adding short text annotations to better describe the capture. In our game “The Trout Family Swim and Fish Adventure,” we have used speech bubbles so that the main character describes how to play the game (which bugs to eat; what to avoid, etc.).

Improve Your App Description

While game descriptions don’t help your app store rankings in the iTunes App Store, they are an important factor in Google Play.

If you’re in iOS world, you should still write strong game descriptions as they will help influence a user to download your app. Long descriptions aren’t necessary. However, your description should give the user enough information about the app and its features. Tell them why they should download your app (but don’t be too salesy and tell them your app is the best app in the world).

One developer wrote the following app description about his new game:

“If you like Minecraft, then you’ll like our game.”

That’s it. A one-sentence app description which basically tells the user this game is a copy of Minecraft.

We created an app description template for staff to use for all of our games, so they follow a specific format. This helps speed up writing our descriptions, but gives the user enough information to consider before they download our app.

03. March 2015 · Comments Off on Using Keyword Research Tools for ASO · Categories: ASO · Tags: , , , ,

App Annie keyword research tool for ASOOur journey to find and utilize the best keywords for our app continues as we now start to utilize a few online keyword research tools for ASO.

Some tools are free, while others are free with feature limitations. Those are good places to start so you can get a feel for the tool before slapping down your credit card for a subscription. Introducing:

App Annie http://www.appannie.com/ – Store Stats are free; other services start at $59 per month. We highly recommend App Annie, especially for its daily e-mail reports and analytics. However, this tool is often overlooked for its app store optimization features.

The Market Data section breaks down the top app companies; top games (and more) by Store (iOS and Google Play); by country and by month. For example, in January 2015, the top iOS game downloaded worldwide was Trivia Crack.

On the ASO side of things, you can dig deep into any app to view its targeted keywords and rankings. The app’s Rank History; Reviews; Ratings and how many times it was Features in the iTunes Store are also available.

Once you have an app published, App Annie tracks all the aforementioned stats for your company. For example, on the keyword “trout” our game “The Trout Family Swim and Fish Adventure” ranked No. 4 in the iTunes Store with 117 total apps optimized for the “trout” keyword. Not bad!

Sensor Tower http://sensortower.com/ – 14-day free trial; then $79 per month and up. We use this online tool every day and it’s we’ll worth the monthly fee. With an “Indie Developers” package, you can track up to 80 keywords for approximately 4-5 apps, depending on the total number of keywords.

There are many awesome features, but we are especially fond of Sensor Tower’s Keyword Research and Keyword Suggestion tools. The Keyword Spy feature allows you to take a peek at the keywords other apps are targeting which help generate good keyword ideas.

Keyword analysis, ranking and tracking your own apps is a given here, but a quick glance gives you a daily snapshot of how well your app is ranking for each keyword in both iPhone and iPad search results.

AppCodes http://appcodes.com – $14.95 per month; free demo account for testing the service; easy to use. A simple search for a keyword will return a list of apps (in ranking order) optimized for the targeted keyword. The service’s Search Queries feature quickly reveals six columns of information, including a conservative “chance” you have of ranking well on that keyword.

SearchMan http://searchman.com – Sign up for free; $25 per app per month. We recommend signing up for free and doing a test drive, but this online service may prove to be a little pricey for some developers.

Now you are armed with some great online ASO keyword research resources.

Start digging!




24. February 2015 · Comments Off on ASO Starts With Very Simple Research · Categories: ASO · Tags: , , , , ,

Finding the best keywords for your app is the basis for good App Store Optimization (also known as “ASO”).

However, before you start digging through online app research services such as Sensor Tower, App Annie and others, there are some better avenues you can utilize to do some basic keyword research.

Let’s say, for example, that we have a game app about sailboat racing. So, without relying on Internet keyword searches, come up with an “off-the-top-of-your-head” list of keywords. In less than a minute, I came up with the following quick list:

  • Sail
  • Boat
  • Race
  • Water
  • Ocean
  • Sea
  • Motor
  • Wave
  • Mast
  • Bow
  • Stern
  • Aft

Now, we’re ready for some more help in expanding our list with simple internet searches.

Since I’m looking for terms, I did a simple Google search for “sailing terms” and found the following additions:

  • Nautical
  • Port
  • Docking
  • Anchor
  • Starboard
  • Gooseneck
  • Hull
  • Cabin
  • Keel
  • Rig
  • Rigging
  • Yacht
  • America
  • Cup

I noticed that during my simple research that my terms were getting too technical, so terms like “gooseneck” might not work. I kept the term “cabin” for now, but I might later find out that more users are searching “cabin” to find “cabin rentals” or “cabin vacations” and not for “sailboat cabins.”

I could easily make the above list longer, but I think I have a good, simple start on “sailboat” terms, but I need more “racing” and “water” keywords, including:

  • Sea
  • Lake
  • Coast
  • Crest
  • Marine
  • Tide
  • Current
  • Fast
  • Speed
  • Regatta
  • Course
  • Series

In search for “racing” terms that apply to our sailboat racing app, we found tons of keyword opportunities for auto racing and motorsport racing. However, we continued to dig and started looking for particular “sailboat racing” events to find some more terms including:

  • World
  • Tactics
  • Cup
  • Key West
  • Recreation
  • Vessel
  • Offshore
  • Inshore

That’s a good start!

Next week, we’ll take a few of our starter keywords and dig a little deeper using some online app keyword research tools.


17. February 2015 · Comments Off on True ASO Key To More App Downloads · Categories: ASO · Tags: , ,

As developers we tend to spend a lot of time perfecting, tweaking and updating our apps in hopes of building the next “Flappy Bird” or “CaTrue ASOndy Crush.”

We think: “This game is going to be so awesome; I’ll be able to (fill in the blank with your dreams here)!”

However, many apps are missing the one true element that keeps users from finding it: App Store Optimization, also known as ASO.

ASO is like SEO (search engine optimization), except it’s strictly for apps in the Apple Store, Google Play Store, etc.

It includes these key elements:

  • Researching and finding the best possible keywords for your app.
  • Writing a strong app title.
  • Selecting the best keywords for your app’s keyword section.
  • Writing a well-optimized app description (although some say descriptions don’t factor in app rankings, it’s still your opportunity to sell your app).

Like SEO, true ASO isn’t a one-and-done task. Just like updating your app with new features, you’ll always want to continue to improve your app store optimization.


  • Using app ranking and keyword tools such as AppAnnie, Sensor Tower and others. If your app isn’t ranking high on certain keywords, then you may want to consider using different keywords.
  • Research your competition. What keywords are they targeting, and why? Don’t copy the keywords from the top-rated app and expect your app to earn higher rankings. Instead, research all the top apps for a particular keyword. Dig deep and find some better keywords!
  • If your app is ranking high on a particular keyword, then you may want to consider keywords related to your best keyword. For example, one of our apps ranks high on the keyword “trout,” so we might want to consider other “fish” keywords such as “bass,” “catfish,” etc.
  • Improve your app description. If you’re stuck, read other app descriptions for motivation and ideas. Don’t steal description content.

By applying these basic ASO principles, you’ll start to see improvements in your app’s rankings and downloads!