A Guide to Conversion Rate Optimization for Your App

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Oliver Hoss
A Guide to Conversion Rate Optimization for Your App

Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) is a complex task because it includes a lot of different tasks:

  • composing app titles and subtitles (or short descriptions)
  • writing an app (long) description
  • designing app icons, screenshots, and preview videos

To make the most out of your product page, you should choose a coherent design for all of these metadata elements. This design depends on three factors: relevance, guidance, and beauty.


You have probably heard about relevance in the context of keyword research. Only terms that are relevant to your app are worth being implemented into your indexed metadata.

Leverage their relevance by making these keywords visible. Users who search for a specific keyword and see this term in your app’s metadata will perceive your app as relevant to their problem. They will be more likely to investigate your product page further and download your app. Thus, you should invest some time to highlight keywords so they draw users’ attention towards them.

Highlighting Keywords in the App Description

Pulling readers’ attention to the keywords in your app description increases its relevance immediately. The actions you can take in this context are very different on iOS and Google Play.

Designing the Google Play Long Description

With HTML formatting, you can make keywords bold or italic, underline, and even color them. This is true for all text elements on Google Play: app title, short description, and long description. In the description of the fitness app BestFit, you can find a lot of highlighted keywords.

Let me illustrate how HTML tags work. To make the first sentence appear like in the picture, you would have to write it like this:

BestFit helps you to <b>build muscle, burn fat, increase strength and fitness</b>.

The first tag <b> tells Google that the following text should be bold. The second tag </b> indicates the end of bold text. The same principle applies to italic, underlined, and colored text. These are the proper tags:

The last example works with other colors, too. Instead of color names, you can also use hexadecimal color codes.

As you can see, BestFit not only uses different text styles, they also have emojis in their app description. Emojis work great as an eyecatcher. But you need to consider carefully whether they are appropriate for your app. For some app categories, they might be too playful.

Designing the iOS app Description

On iOS, your options for styling texts are limited, because Apple doesn’t allow HTML tags. To highlight keywords, you can only use all capitals. Additionally, think about using special characters like the plus (+), the asterisk (*), or the tilde (~) before and after a keyword to emphasize it.

Implementing Keywords in Screenshot and Video Captions

You should make your essential keywords visible in metadata elements that do not matter for the search algorithm, too.

Add keywords to your screenshot captions and to your videos. Both should show your app’s most relevant features anyway. So adding relevant keywords to explain them is a logical consequence.

The screenshot by uSwitch is a good example. It contains a lot of relevant keywords for their business: compare, energy, broadband, mobile, switch, providers, save.


Guidance is the second criterion for a well-designed app page.

From coming across your app for the first time to finally clicking the download button, users have to make several decisions:

Do I want to investigate this app further? Is it worth my time reading the app description? Do I want to swipe through the whole screenshot gallery?

To help them make these decisions and finally download your app, you must guide them in two different ways:

Explanatory Guidance

If users don’t understand what they see or read, they will lose interest and leave your product page. So you need to take them by the hand and guide them through their experience by properly explaining your content.

A congruent story is a basis for explanatory guidance. Address the user’s problem and leads to the solution — your app. You can tell your story in your app description, but you can also visualize it in screenshots and videos. Here are three story types that make sense:

  1. A transaction story follows the in-app user journey. It is a great match for apps with a linear journey and a clear result at the end. For example, the transaction story in Lyft’s screenshots looks like this:
    • choosing a destination
    • checking the price
    • tracking the driver and the ride
    • paying
  1. A progression story emphasizes the long-term benefits of using an app. This is an excellent way to explain fitness or educational apps. They have a linear journey as well, but using them once will not create impressive results. Only long-term engagement will deliver the desired outcome. Here is an example of a progression story for a fitness app:
    • selecting an exercise
    • reading the instructions
    • doing the workout
    • starting over again
  2. Finally, some apps offer multiple functions, but these functions are not connected to each other. Instead of linear journeys, users experience individual journeys based on their needs. If that’s the case, it makes sense to present features ordered by their complexity. These complexity stories make sense for many apps in the tools category. For a calculator app, it could look like this:
    • basic calculating with addition and subtraction
    • showing intermediate calculations with percentage or fractions
    • introducing complex operations like integral calculus and vector analysis

Visual Guidance

In addition to explaining your content, you also need to guide people visually. Make them see what you want them to see.

I have already explained one way to do so for your app description: using HTML formatting. Single terms that are bold, underlined or colored stand out against the rest of the text and draw the reader’s attention towards them.

For screenshots, you need other techniques. In most cases, you want viewers to direct their attention to a specific part of a screenshot, for example a small navigation element or an icon. Here are some options for this purpose:

  • Partial devices: If a part of your raw screenshot is important and the rest is not, simply cut off the rest. When you show only half a device, you can enlarge it and make the relevant content more legible for users. Have a look at the example screenshot from FlyUIA below. They cut off the lower half of the raw material and focus on the upper part to show the mobile boarding pass in more detail.
  • Magnifiers: In the German screenshot of the shopping app Joom, you can see a magnifying glass that enlarges a small section of a price table. Without understanding the German captions, can you guess which feature the screenshot shall emphasize? It is the free shipping.
  • Augmentation: A technique that works similar to magnifiers is augmentation. It is about cutting out a specific component and popping it up to the foreground. When combined with a rotated device, augmentation not only emphasizes the details you want to push into the user’s focus, it also creates spectacular 3D effects. Check the screenshot from Out of Milk below.

No matter which technique you choose, don’t overdo it. Too many highlights will confuse viewers rather than guiding them.


The third criterion of a good product page is beauty. Your visual creatives should simply look great and stand out against your competitors’ product pages.

A crucial aspect of beauty is accessibility. To optimize users’ experience when browsing your product page, you should take care of several things:

  • Give your app description a proper structure. Nobody wants to read a blue-streak-style wall of text. Create paragraphs with bold headlines to tell users what each paragraph is about. Use blank lines to separate them from each other. Replace running text by bullet-point lists if possible.
  • The techniques to make keywords stand out (see above) are suitable to make your description more beautiful, too. Compare the two app descriptions by Pedidos’Ya (left) and Glovo (right). Both have a proper structure with headlines and bullet-points lists. But Glovo’s description is much more appealing because it uses HTML-formatting and a unique star-bullets.
  • Use simple vocabulary and short phrases. Make your texts understandable for people from all walks of life.
  • Make sure that text in screenshots is big enough to be readable in SERPs. Try to keep caption length to 4 to 5 words per screenshot. In videos, also take care about reading time. Make sure the text is visible long enough, so people can read it before it disappears. Give them at least one second per three words.
  • Keep app icons clean. Use two or three simple pictograms and only few colors. Less is more, and especially for the app icon, you should keep it simple. Check out the Adobe portfolio. Their icons are all very simple, yet recognizable: black background, colored border, and simple pictograms using the border color.


All of the three criteria are similarly important. But as relevance depends on your keyword research, you should start drafting your metadata from there. Decide which keywords you want to emphasize. Then draft a story around these terms. Finally, apply the techniques for beautification. Learn more about ASO optimization from our ultimate ASO 2019 guide.

Especially beauty is a rather subjective criterion. So test, test, and test again which designs result in the best conversion rates.

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