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Holiday App Store Optimization

The holiday onslaught is coming, and if history is any indication it will bring along with it over $1 billion spent on the App Store. Just last holiday, Apple announced that over $1.1 billion in total sales were made in the two weeks following the holidays, $144 million of which was spent on a record-breaking January 1st, 2016. App developers are expecting a similarly massive haul this year, as new phones, tablets, and gift cards remain incredibly popular gifts.

However, just because hundreds of millions of dollars are flowing through the App Store ecosystem during the holidays, that does not mean users will magically start finding and spending on your app more. Apple’s top grossing apps – the top 1% in a system of millions – account for a vast proportion of payments made through the App Store. When you think, “$1.1 billion made in two weeks”, then, think of a massive proportion of that going to the best-optimized, most popular apps in the store.

In other words, there has never been a better time to optimize your app than right now.

But what is App Store Optimization, exactly? In short, ASO refers to utilizing market data to make more informed decisions about how to present your app. ASO includes finding relevant keywords which describe your app, and which users are searching for in great numbers. It also entails optimizing your app’s title to include those keywords, writing your app’s description so as to build relevancy for your core features, and updating your icon and screenshots so as to best communicate the core functionality of your app in a pleasing way.

A true optimization is not a one-time update, either; successful optimizations are ongoing, and take into account App Store trends as well as larger societal shifts.

ASO is crucial for the success of any app. If you have yet to perform an optimization, or if it has been a while since you have optimized your app, you owe it to yourself and your team to see how your rankings can be improved with just a few simple tweaks to your metadata.

Book now for 2017

Holiday App Store Optimization is a different beast, though. No matter how many optimizations you have performed beforehand, you will want to update one last time before the holidays. Don’t forget, iTunes Connect holiday shutdown 2016 is fast approaching, and you only have until December 22nd to have your app data up to date.

So what do you need to do in order to get your app ready for the holidays?

First, consider the type of your app and what unique services you can provide to users this holiday season. Many shopping apps run holiday sales and free shipping promotions, for example. Meanwhile, most popular games run holiday promotions and special events, or even launch whole new levels only available for the holiday season. These limited-time additions incentivize new and lapsed users to revisit apps, and they have the added bonus of keeping things fresh for longtime users.

It’s not enough to merely launch a new holiday feature, though. After all, how would your users know about these features unless you update your optimization in kind? In addition to adding a blurb to your description describing the new features and updating your ‘What’s New’, you should consider updating your keyword bank, icon, and screenshots.

In the above example, a shopping app introducing special promotions for the holidays may want to include “holiday shopping” in their target keywords. Alternately, a game with new holiday-themed levels could add “holiday games”. Both of these terms are highly searched around the holiday season in particular. Updating your icon and screenshots can communicate these new features as well, drawing the attention of users as well as platform holders – an important distinction when it comes time for Apple and Google’s holiday promotions.

A holiday app update ultimately has the same objective as any other optimization: to discover popular societal trends, and incorporate them into your app’s rankings in a way that is relevant and will convert more users. Position your optimization correctly, and this holiday season could be the breakout moment for your app.

By Dave Bell,

Dave Bell is the Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Gummicube. In this role, Dave is responsible for overseeing the business strategy for the company, driving growth and market development. Dave is a pioneer of the mobile entertainment industry with more than 15 years of experience publishing, marketing and distributing mobile applications and games across carrier, direct to consumer and app store channels.

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