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iOS 11 App Store

App Store Optimization in iOS 11

Posted Sep 26, 2017

iOS 11 has already hit upward of 25% of consumer Apple devices in the short time since officially launching. That number will only continue to grow, and with a completely new App Store design to think about, developers and publishers should think about their discovery and UA strategies.

Launched with iOS 11, the complete overhaul to the App Store on iPhone and iPad has a new design that will look familiar to users of Apple Music. The redesigned store page for each app includes more detailed information, more prevalent screenshots, more videos, and of course a purchase button.

Most importantly for developers, the store features new tabs for App of the Day, Game of the Day, and The Daily List.

With more options to attract users, but paradoxically less space to do so, publishers and developers should take stock of these changes to maximize the impact of other user acquisition efforts.

New App StoreFrom Eyeballs to Downloads
Since it’s installed (and can’t be removed from) every Apple iOS device, the App Store attracts a gargantuan number of visitors. At WWDC earlier this year, Apple noted the App Store sees 500 million weekly unique visitors. Converting those eyeballs to actual downloads has always been a bit of a challenge, which is one of the main driving reasons why today’s top publishers have strong dedicated user acquisition budgets.

With the top grossing chart gone, simpler “Top Paid” and “Top Free” lists have stepped in as replacements. The reason should be obvious — consumers don’t care about how much money an app is making.

This creates a huge opportunity for developers and publishers to gain notoriety on those charts — the more downloads, the higher it goes. The higher it goes, the more people see it. These new charts place all the emphasis on installs, so a healthy UA campaign driving downloads is now an even better way to help push an app up the charts, garnering organic downloads from eyeballs.

In the new App Store, the “editorial voice” with Today and Apps/Games of the Day now gets top billing.

These improved visibility options make it easier for users to discover new apps on a daily basis. Apple is hoping to improve on the 51% of users downloading “basically zero” new apps per week statistic comScore reported recently. Unless they’re Millennials, then it’s try try try.

The redesign of App Store search results to feature more previews has a major drawback too — there’s more space for potential users to see a competitor’s app. Publishers should make sure their app preview images are indicative of the content of the app itself, legible at the smaller size, and above all else inviting. If you have the creative resources to create a short video, that’s even better! Remember promotional videos are now auto-playing. The sooner a user clicks on an app, the less time they’re looking at a competitor!iOS search comparison

Gaming Gets its Due
Apple is placing a greater emphasis on games than they have previously. Even though Apple has touted games on the App Store at events and in advertising, games have always been “just” a category within the list of other app verticals. Now, the top charts are even separated into those for games and those for non-game apps. Users who are looking for games have one place to go, and developers won’t have to compete for user eyeballs across categories.

Combined with the Indie Game Storefront (though we don’t yet know how it will make the transition), Apple’s commitment to keeping the App Store charts shaking and accessible to developers of all sizes has never been more evident.

How to get featured though? That’s always the question. For once though, we have an answer.

For the first time ever, Apple is soliciting applications for getting featured via a new portal. This is something every developer large and small should be setting its sights on immediately — the potential ROI to being featured so heavily in this new App Store environment can’t be overstated.

What’s in a name?
With iOS 11, Apple will be shortening the app name from 50 characters to just 30. At the same time, Apple is also giving developers the chance for a subtitle. Rethink that long name before Apple just cuts it off.

This will help users get a better idea of the apps they’re downloading, and discourage App Store Search optimization purely through the name. If your app is called “Clash of Call of Mario: Craft Wars with Dragons HD Pro” then time’s up on gaming search.

Review Redux
Ratings and reviews are also now much easier to find and display the overall score, not just that one for the current version. This means an app won’t have its review score hosed by a few bugs or server-side issues. The real big change in iOS 11 developers and publishers should take note of is the outright ban custom review prompts in apps across the board. Now Apple provides their own API that developers can add to an app to allow the consumer to submit their review within the app.

However, developers can only prompt each consumer for a review only three times per year. That’s a big change, especially for some of the more aggressive app review requesters. It’s important that app publishers be extra thoughtful and analytical about how they should use the Apple API.

Some developers will continue to push off Apple’s own review API calls behind internal gatekeepers as they’ve been doing for some time, but time will tell how Apple reacts to these sorts of end-runs around their new user review policy.

Early Days
It’s still dawn in the world of the new App Store. As developers and publishers experiment and push the envelope of Apple’s intent, new paradigms will continue to emerge. The redesigned App Store poses incredible opportunities for apps to gain visibility and attract an even larger user base than ever before.

Stay tuned for more tips on how to maximize App Store presence and make the most of user acquisition budgets and campaigns.

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