What is ASO (App store optimization)? Why should you consider it in 2021?

What Is ASO - Blog Image

The going has been undoubtedly tough for app marketers with the number of mobile apps inflating at a daunting rate. There are about 4.47 million apps that are currently vying for attention on Apple’s App Store and Google’s Play Store combined. As apparent, beating the odds on ‘App Visibility’ is getting challenging like never before.

This is where App Store Optimization (ASO) comes into the picture, functioning as a dose of vitality that gets your app on the map.

Just as ‘Content is King’ became a marketing mantra, ‘ASO’ has earned its right as one of the best app marketing mottos.

Let’s see how it works and why it deserves a pole position in your 2021 app marketing strategy.

What is ASO?

App Store Optimization is a process that optimizes your app for better visibility and conversions on the app stores. It involves understanding how the app stores work, who the target users are, the keywords that can be targeted, and much more.

The following are the typical results of such a strategy:

  •  Maximum app visibility when users submit searches
  •  Improved organic visibility in the Explore section (when users browse)

Screenshot 2021-03-04 at 12.39.13 PMSource: Neil Patel

  •  Boosting the conversion rates for app downloads by reducing user acquisition costs and it encapsulates the following elements:
  •  App name, title & subtitle
  •  URL
  •  Developer/Brand Name
  •  App Description
  •  Promo text
  • Keywords
  • Category
  • Icons/ Screenshots
  • Video
  • Ratings & Reviews

App Store Optimization - The New SEO

Source: Quora

Is ASO any different from SEO?

Search Engine Optimization is one of the most popular techniques used to amplify the rankings of websites on search engines. It uses a combination of keyword research, UI/UX tweaks, link building, and quality content creation to make brands more visible and presentable to readers.

The performance of a website’s SEO is directly proportional to how it is ranking on the SERPs.

Quite similar to this, the objective of ASO is to boost an app’s visibility and the number of installs on app stores. Just as SEO is different for varying search engines, ASO also changes based on which app store is being targeted. Both SEO and ASO demand a keen understanding of potential consumers in order to be effective as highly targeted marketing vehicles.


 Source:  Medium (Ganga Asati)

Benefits of App Store Optimization

App store optimization can instantly boost your efforts to reach your short-term business goals. It can positively impact your annual marketing plan of action as well. Here are some of the benefits of implementing ASO:

Lowered user acquisition costs

The average cost of acquiring a new user for mobile games has risen 16.5% since last year to reach $4.37. If you are in this ballpark and are aiming to reduce it, ASO is an organic and trust-centric method of attracting new users. With a perfect blend of retargeting and automated marketing, you can expect to lower the CPI significantly.

Increased engagement

Churn rate refers to the number of app users who leave your app - either by uninstalling or by not engaging with it over a given period. This is a critical factor in your app’s ranking, as calculated by the stores. Paying regular attention to ASO activities helps you keep pace with user feedback and drive engagement.

More downloads

ASO affects the visibility of your app across all the marketing channels offered by app stores including Featured, Top Chart, and App Store Search. With an aggressive ASO strategy, you can increase your app's total number of downloads by up to 10 times.

How to implement app store optimization

Before planning a digital marketing or PR campaign to drive traffic to your app, take an objective look at whether it is hitting all possible notes to attract your target audience.

Learn to plan and execute an ASO strategy with this comprehensive To-Do list:


The app name/ title is by far the most important discoverability factor in app stores. Rather than just the brand name, adding the main features of your app in the title can be impactful. Take full advantage of the character limits and add strategic keywords to reach more potential users. Adding a keyword to the title of the App leads to an increase in the search ranking of that app by a whopping 10.3%!

Keyword research

App stores offer keyword suggestions, which are very helpful to gain a toehold. But once you have established your app, it’s time to invest in deeper keyword research and analysis. For example, you may want to switch to mid-tail keywords that will attract a more valuable user who might make in-game purchases. Use keywords in titles, URLs, and descriptions for the maximum effect.


Customized experiences and services that are exclusive to their location are being preferred by 61% of mobile users today. Globalization or hyper-localization - developers have choices to make as consumer expectations of personalized experiences grow steadily.

Language options

It is no longer difficult to create a multilingual app, with the number of translation services and input keyboards. And the benefits are exponential - up to a 54x increase in downloads.

App Description

The content in your description is indexed and crawled by the app stores, just like your website is, by search engines. Use the knowledge gained from your SEO strategy to optimize the content with short headlines, colourful bullet points, and emojis. We would recommend A/B testing of your headlines but app stores have recently made it more difficult to make edits in between releases.

Icon/ Logo

App users often skim over text and look for visually attractive elements. Your app’s icon/ logo is hence one of the most critical pieces of the conversion puzzle. Even minor changes to your icon can affect your CTRs, so pay due attention to the color, design, and font style used.

Images & Videos

Screenshots contribute to a 33% increase in app downloads. Take advantage of all the visual tiles/slots available in the store and ensure that each image is complemented with a concise description. Use high-quality images and videos to make a great first impression.

Rating/ Reviews

The feedback from initial users of your app can help you tackle low-hanging fruit such as bugs, typos, and glitches. Pay attention to them to gain meaningful insights such as new feature ideas or where your competition is lagging.

Inbound Marketing

Bringing in new users is still the top priority for 63% of businesses. To that end, an integrated campaign that spans your website, blog, and all social media channels is necessary to implement ASO successfully.

Create a sustainable strategy

Data-driven ASO can bring up insights about your app users, which can be used to create a sustainable long-term marketing strategy. The key KPIs that you should track and monitor are:

  • Total installs and uninstalls
  • In-game Purchases
  • Keyword Rankings
  • Relative Positioning of the App - also check Top Charts (overall, category, etc.) regularly to analyse your competition
  • Ratings and Reviews

5 Reasons why you should consider ASO in 2021

This year, we are going to see the full impact of ASO strategies with new opportunities springing up, heightened competition, and a boom in usage across the world. We explore the top 5 reasons below:


With the pandemic, consumers are spending 20% more time per week on apps compared to last year. You should definitely take advantage of this trend by optimising your game/app, broadening your market size, and reaching new users.


Source: App Annie Intelligence

Ride the 5G wave

Get ready for a massive growth opportunity over the next 3 years as 5G takes off across the world. With it, will come faster Internet speeds and higher expectations from mobile users. Any plans to globalise your app and fine-tune your ASO strategy should begin right away.

Smarter algorithms on app stores

Search has improved on app stores, with fundamental changes to their indexing exercises expected soon. Finding new users has become easier, with search now accounting for 65% of downloads from the App Store. As Google and Apple tweak their algorithms to prevent black-hat techniques,   organic ASO strategies will take the lead.

Like SEO, it’s future-proof

There is scope to continuously improve your CTRs by optimising for recommendation engines, Featured Apps, App Ranking, and media.

Get a leg up with the competition

Let’s face it, your competitors are already using ASO. It’s time to fight back for the ranking you deserve. A long-term app store optimisation strategy improves your brand’s credibility and lays the foundation for the launch of your next game/app.

Looking Forward

The writing is on the wall. Annual mobile app downloads are expected to soar by 45% from 178 billion in 2017 to 258 billion by 2022. With such a large variety of apps to choose from, churn rates will continue to test app developers.

Meanwhile, the average cost per install (CPI) for mobile apps (global and across app stores) is at $2.54 and rising steadily. Whether your monetisation strategy is advertising or in-app purchases, App Store Optimisation will help you balance your ROI. In fact, we predict that adopting ASO will soon become a ‘hygiene’ factor as companies approach the next phase of mobile app growth.

At Fractional CMO, we create bespoke marketing campaigns that scale with your business. 

Reach out to us to understand how we can help you.

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