One clever or creative thought can change everything. Don’t believe it? Check out this real life example from our colleagues at Social Quantum. Catherine Sibirko, a Senior ASO specialist at Social Quantum, shares how a mobile game can quickly achieve extraordinary results.
Social Quantum is a video game company whose #1 game, Megapolis, was first launched back in 2011. Megapolis is a long-standing city builder that has become one of the top worldwide mobile games over the years.
Since the very beginning, the company worked primarily with paid traffic. Back then it was enough to attract gamers. But as the app stores were growing, it became obvious that using only paid acquisition was not enough anymore. For Social Quantum it meant looking for additional ways to acquire more gamers. So we decided to turn our attention toward organic traffic and ASO.
Setting up an ASO strategy can be tricky. Specifically because you can’t be sure which assets or keywords will work, and the results may not be obvious while you’re experimenting. In the case of Megapolis, we tried several strategies before finding the right asset that led to a nearly instant boost of installs.
Let us go over the main steps.
Every app has some basic ASO on their app store page, even if they don’t focus on App Store Optimization. At the very least you have an app title, icon, some descriptions, and screenshots. In the app store the game page is the face of a product, and a good-looking page attracts far more users. What is even more important is the way the game looks from the search page.
So the first thing every developer should do to get more users is to renew a game page according to the latest trends of the mobile games market. And it is a burning problem when it comes to old-school games.
Step I: Icon and keywords
Megapolis started its return to glory by conducting several tests on the icon. The old icon looked too archaic for new players.
After several tests, we have found the highest performing icon — the fourth one in the graphic.
Additionally, the ASO managers used the AppFollow Keyword Research Tool to find essential keywords for the title, subtitle, and game description. It was the first time we worked with keywords deliberately, and it absolutely paid off.
Among game developers there is the opinion that you must not include keywords in the app title — your brand name should work for you instead. We decided to bend this rule and added keywords in the app title. We found the best fit for our category and used keywords like “city building” in Megapolis’ app title.
After that, we updated the subtitle and description (on Google Play) and filled in the keyword field in App Store.
Soon we noticed that the number of keywords in the top 10 doubled in Google Play and increased threefold in App Store. Adding new localized keywords in every localization had also improved the game’s organic visibility.
Still, that wasn’t enough for Apple App Store. So we continued to experiment.
Step II: App preview video
Social Quantum already had app preview videos before, so we decided to start from there.
This is the preview video used back in 2017:
We made a deep analysis of this video, as well as our competitors' videos, and found out that it had become completely outdated. According to the market trends, we needed a more dynamic video with more diversifiable content and shorter CTA captions. And this was our growth point.
Alongside our product team, we chose the main mechanics we wanted to show. Therefore, we removed the characters we previously used to encourage users to focus on the game features. The video has become more dynamic and the call-to-actions are shorter and clearer.
This is the final version of the preview video:
Due to Megapolis' game age, we made a pre/post test for the video. This approach doesn't require extra test tools, we just measured conversion rates and number of installs before and after this change. The most important thing is to make sure you only change one asset in the update. Otherwise, you can’t be sure which one of them made a difference. We perfectly understood that this kind of risk could be costly, but we still decided that it is worth trying.
The update with the new App Store preview went live on the 11th of December. Despite being released for English locations only, we saw the first splash in installs the day after. It was a perfect reason for celebration, but we also understood that because it was the holiday season, the results could be affected by a seasonal install spike.
Today it’s almost been 4 months since we have had our video live. While writing this we have localized this video and noticed even more conversion rate growth. That’s why we are confident that it definitely doubled the number of organic installs and increased the conversion rate in general.
The new preview video worked out unbelievably well. However, we couldn’t have gone this far without our previous work with keywords. New keywords allowed new users to find us in the search and the top charts, and the preview video convinced them to download and try out our game. These assets affect different types of conversion rates — impressions to page views and page views to installs.
Overall, we approximately received a 110% increase in installs and an 82.7% increase in the conversion rate from impression to install.
If you are not satisfied with your conversion rate and are dreaming about improving App Store Optimization, open up your game page and ask yourself:
- How much time has passed since the last update of my video and screenshots? If it has been months and they aren't bringing enough results, think about some updates. Consider switching from horizontal screenshots to portrait, or vice versa, and measure the results;
- Do you know what your competitors’ videos look like? Analyze what features or game mechanics they show and adopt their best ideas.
- What does your preview video show? Make your video tell a story; a gamer should know what to expect from an app or game in an accelerated way.
And don’t forget about the icon and keywords. For example, if you only use the app name try adding two more essential keywords (and use AppFollow Keyword Research Tool to find the best ones). Or think of how understandable your icon looks from the search page — what does it say to a user that sees it in a featured collection?
The answer will give you a clue about how to improve your game's visibility.
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