Presented by Lab Cave

App Store Optimization (ASO) is the effort to improve an app’s visibility in the app stores — and it’s become a key resource in mobile marketing strategies since it brings qualified organic traffic and lowers User Acquisition (UA) costs. Among other things, a basic ASO project/strategy involves creative updates. The app icon and screenshots are critical to getting the user’s attention among thousands of available apps, and gaming apps in particular have learned how to implement these creative update strategies successfully.

In fact, gaming apps make up the most competitive category in the app stores and they have the flexibility to change their creatives and to use their characters in several different ways. Seasonal references such as Christmas are used to redraw icons. Special creatives are produced depending on which design has the best performance in each country.  That’s because A/B tests are incredibly useful and very accurate; you can see a precise estimate of how a new icon or screenshot would affect the app’s performance, and there are cases here at Lab Cave where we saw an increase of 45 percent after a creative change. So, with tested and data-driven creative strategies that clearly indicate an improvement in an app’s performance, what could possibly prevent you from implementing it?

Non-gaming apps vs. gaming apps’ creatives

Non-gaming apps do not have the same flexibility as gaming apps with their creative features. If a company only uses red in their communication efforts, it is not worth trying to persuade them to use a blue icon, even when tests bring good results. But one thing is clear: this particular characteristic of non-gaming apps does not have to limit ASO’s creative strategies. Actually, it is just another factor that must be taken into consideration when creating new icons and screenshots. A branding book focused on the main elements that must not be changed (such as color schemes and fonts) is the first step. The second step is agreeing on the variants that could be created.

It is normal to have this tense moment where some concerns could surface, but as ASO experts, we can guarantee that the results are definitely worth it. In addition to the A/B tests that will provide concrete data for decision-making, our team also has experience from almost 3,500 performed A/B tests — and the results pattern indicates that the creative updates have a considerable effect on the conversion rate (CR% ) of an app. In addition, it’s also clear that it would not help to create an icon or screenshot that is not aligned with the visual characteristics of an app, because the user would immediately notice the difference and the User’s Return Rates would decrease — of course, that’s not what companies are looking for and it should be kept in mind during the creation of new artwork.

First steps

We honestly believe that non-gaming apps can take advantage of the same creative strategies that gaming apps are now using. Albeit with mildly restricted creative freedoms to support the main branding elements, non-gaming apps can perfectly increase their downloads without giving up strong branding. This kind of strategy is based on reliable data and research, so there is no need to be afraid to update your icons and screenshots with new designs.

Perhaps the fear of investing in new creatives is a reflection of the lack of knowledge that still surrounds ASO. Although not so recent, ASO is still a strategy that is slightly explored in the apps ecosystem, partly because it is something innovative, but also because it requires a high level of technical knowledge and a considerable amount of implementation time to see results.

To better understand the fear of something new, it’s useful to look at a recent example: for many years, videos created for TV ads (lasting between 15 to 30 seconds) have been used in mobile marketing strategies. Nonetheless, it has since been proven that this strategy is not successful on mobile campaigns: videos with a duration of 6 seconds are beginning to be used and the results are impressive.

The observed resistance against new creative strategies for apps reminds us of the resistance that arose from shortening videos in mobile campaigns years ago. This makes us confident that we will see the same positive outcomes repeat themselves (this time for creative strategies) in the upcoming years.

Enric Pedró is CMO at Lab Cave.

Lab Cave (Twitter @LabCave) is a Mobile Growth Company that provides ASO and Ad Mediation services for mobile Apps and Games. Part of Fibonad Group (the largest Spanish digital advertising group offering Branding, Performance and Publishing services), Lab Cave has achieved more than 200 million organic downloads without running any paid acquisitions campaign. Learn more about us at our website

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