Guest post by Adam Rakib, co-founder of StoreMaven, the leading platform for testing & designing app store creatives. 

For years, the app stores were a black box - there was no visibility on what users did, where users dropped off, what drove them to install, and even how many of them actually downloaded your app. As such, some major misconceptions have been guiding strategy for App Store Optimization (ASO). Now that the black box is wide open, we’d like to clear a few things up:

Myth #1: Users who click on your ads have already decided to install 

Users click on ads when their curiosity is piqued, but just because they’ve shown interest doesn’t mean they’re ready to commit to a download. In fact, on average over 90% of paid traffic users drop off at the App Store without completing a download. Your App Store page still needs to work to convince users that the promise delivered in the ad is confirmed in the Store page.

How to fix it

First and foremost, design ASO needs to be part of your marketing strategy. Invest time and resources into designing your images, icons and text and continue to optimize and refresh your creatives in the store as you would in your ad campaigns. You need to ensure there is cohesion between your ads and your App Store page, particularly in the “above-the-fold” content.

Myth #2: Your App Store images should follow a chronological order

Logically, you’d assume that your screenshot gallery should build a storyline of app usage. You start with this, end with that. The reality is that few of your users will actually scroll through your full gallery, or even past your 2nd image.

In iOS, 9% make it through the full set, and only 2.5% in Google Play. You don’t have 5 - 8 images to craft your message, you have one - two if you’re lucky. Outside of your image gallery, the majority of your page will also be ignored by users. Between 50 - 95% of users will only view content above-the-fold before deciding whether or not to install.

How to fix it

Make your first image one that contains your strongest message and visual. Don’t build up to a story and don’t save the best for last. In Google Play, put maximum focus into your Featured Graphic and short description text.

Myth #3: You can’t go wrong with video

Videos (or App Previews in iOS), have tremendous potential to give users a real, live glimpse of your app and sell them on why your app for them. However, adding in a video does not universally boost your CVRs. When you add in video, users who were ready to install immediately upon arriving to the page decide to watch prior to installing. If the video is not effective (either it doesn’t meet user expectations or isn’t of a high enough quality), those users choose to drop instead of install, and your conversion rate goes down significantly. When testing video presence, adding or removing videos can significantly improve your CVR.

How to fix it

Similarly to your screenshot gallery, make sure your strongest message comes right at the start of your video. Not everyone will complete the video to the end. In addition, don’t add video into your store without testing it first. With StoreMaven’s Video Analytics platform, when you test out a video, you can pinpoint the stronger sections and weaker ones by seeing which seconds drive users to drop off vs. which seconds they decide to install. This type of data will help you understand what content users are drawn to.

Myth #4: The same creatives work with both Google Play and iOS

Though both platforms have the same general set of assets and serve the same purpose, the structures are quite different, and in turn create very different user bases. You can’t simply transfer good converting assets from iOS into Google Play and expect the same results. StoreMaven ran a series of tests comparing the user trends in both app store platforms, and found that Google Play users are 40% more likely to show decisive behavior, making their decisions without interacting with the page at all. Those who do explore the page are most likely to watch your video. In iOS, users focus much more on your image gallery and are more likely to engage before installing. Read about the full differences to understand why user behavior varies.

How to fix it

Design each store separately. Optimize assets individually on each platform (even icons) to increase conversions on both. For Google Play, focus on your Featured Graphic, Short Description and video. In iOS, your priority should be your screenshot set.

Myth #5: Your icon is the most important App Store element

Your icon is the one element that follows a user post download, and deserves appropriate consideration, but it is by no means the most important element in your store. When it comes to persuading users to download, your images, video and ratings are much more influential than your icon. Outside of your store page, users simply do not notice minor icon tweaks. Changing colors, the orientation of a character, the position of your brand name...these are not elements that are make or break for users browsing through the store.

How to fix it

No one is saying don’t focus on your icon, but know that hours spent on small icon changes are probably better spent focused on some of your other page elements. When testing icons, focus on testing fundamental differences. Test a brand name icon against a character icon. Try one indicating an element of your app’s functionality. Understanding which works best with your target market helps you understand what your users will respond to.

As important as it is to understand what to do when it comes to ASO, it is just as crucial to know what not to do. An essential part of ASO success is identifying the pitfalls - the common myths often mistaken for facts. With sufficient effort, you can help maximize your app's potential through consistent ASO planning and management.

Let's put these tips to good use

Grow your app business with ironSource