App Store Optimization: Money for nothing, and installs for free

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Organic installs are hugely important for mobile app marketers.

For the average app, they comprise 70-80% of all your installs, and they can be among your most valuable installs in terms of life-time value, user engagement, and customer life-cycle. While they’re seldom “free” -- everything you do to incentivize, encourage, and promote organic installs has a cost -- they can be significantly cheaper than paid install campaigns.

App publishers who implement ASO can realistically expect a 20% lift in organic downloads, and can in some cases double or even triple their organic downloads. That’s huge, and reduces overall cost per acquisition of each mobile user.

However, most ASO vendors have only a very rudimentary sense of what app store optimization is, or to be more explicit, what it is becoming. Four very significant changes are massively change app marketers’ jobs today, and in the coming months:

  1. The move from app store searches being based on predefined and publisher-supplied metadata about apps to searches influenced by actual live data inside apps

  2. The move from search in an app store to search on a platform, as mobile OS-level searches now bring in relevant apps as part of their results

  3. The transition from apps from on-device only to apps as front ends to massive integrated systems … and from isolated silos to linked and interconnected sets of functionalities

  4. The increasing capability of Google to index in-app content and display that in search engine results pages with direct links into your app -- installed or not

While some of these are futuristic, all are already in progress.

App marketers still need traditional app store optimization -- and will continue to need it for quite some time. But they also need to be familiar with these changes, which will completely revolutionize ASO.

Finally, as with all things mobile in a time when app publishers are buying TV commercials, ASO is also increasingly an off-app-store project. Social, web, mobile web, email, SMS, in-person, and all other marketing channels are increasingly important in organic discovery.