Welcome to App Teardowns, a series where we analyze the strategies apps and games use to gain visibility and downloads on the App Store and Google Play, their performance, and competition.
Coinbase, a trading app for Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, IPOd last week. I've been using Coinbase for a long time now, and have been following financial apps for enough time to know that Coinbase is a well-oiled machine when it comes to App Store Discovery.
In this App Teardown, we'll analyze Coinbase's performance over the years, the competitive landscape, its keyword strategy, and on-page visuals with the goal of learning from their success so you can achieve it yourself.
Overall, Coinbase earns an A+
In this Teardown
- Coinbase by the Numbers
- 2021 Will Be Coinbase's Biggest Year to Date
- Coinbase vs. the Competition
- How is Coinbase Found?
- Keyword Analysis - The Obvious Parts
- What's in the Keyword List?
- Screenshot & Video Analysis
- What Data is Coinbase Collecting?
- A Quick Look Under the Hood
- The Verdict: One Now a Million Later
- The Tools I Use
Coinbase by the Numbers
Here's how Coinbase is performing in the U.S. App Store, based on our Competitor Intelligence:
- 📈 813.6K estimated downloads in the last 30 days. But most of those came in the last few days. A "real" 30-day average is about 30% lower.
- #️⃣ 2 in the Finance category.
- ⭐️ 48.9K new ratings in the last 30 days. 94.5% positive.
- 👋 Audience is young and leans male.
- 🏅 Competitors include Robinhood, Binance, Trust, Voyager
2021 Will Be Coinbase's Biggest Year to Date
Let's take a look and see how Coinbase got to nearly a million monthly downloads in the U.S. App Store. Here are downloads, across both platforms and globally, over time.
It's fairly obvious that downloads are correlated to interest in cryptocurrency, namely Bitcoin. When Bitcoin makes the news, Coinbase sees a surge of new downloads. We can see it back in 2017/18, and then again in 2020/21.
Some may see it as a negative, but if you think about how adoption for cryptocurrency is rising, Coinbase being the most obvious place to trade Bitcoin and other such currencies is a huge positive, and one that's making competing with Coinbase very difficult.
That's primarily why it was able to IPO, and where investors see future gains.
Coinbase vs. the Competition
Competition for Coinbase isn't as straightforward as for most other apps we've analyzed before. While there are other apps with the same features, the real challenge for Coinbase is getting more people to understand what crypto even is.
Judging by the numbers, the Coinbase team fully understands its challenge!
Competition is stiff. According to a search in Explorer, there are 630 apps with "bitcoin" in their name. That's a lot of competition. But even so, the most downloaded ones are the ones I've collected above.
Of that collection, Coinbase is by far the top dog. With a polished UI and sleek marketing, Coinbase has made owning cryptocurrency as easy as Robinhood made owning stocks.
But if we skip Coinbase for a quick minute and instead focus on the rest, it's obvious that the rest is fairly close. Eventually, some of those competitors can merge to give Coinbase a good run for its money. IPO and all, Coinbase's top position isn't really guaranteed in any way.
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How is Coinbase Found?
We've got a pretty good idea of the competitive landscape and the environment Coinbase exists in. Now, let's dig into its ASO strategy, starting with a high-level overview of where Coinbase shows up in the App Store, which we can get from the Discover Keyword report.
Coinbase is found in the top 10 results of nearly 100 popular keywords in the U.S., which is quite a few if you compare it to other apps we've analyzed. Really earning that A+!
We'll dig deeper into how it managed to do that below, but to see the impact of great ASO, here are just keywords mentioning "bitcoin," a very important keyword for Coinbase:
This is a really great example of what good ASO looks like in the wild. By that, I mean, when the keywords in the name, subtitle, and keyword list combine so well they generate a lot of strong signals to the App Store's algorithm.
Keyword Analysis - The Obvious Parts
- Name: Coinbase – Buy & sell Bitcoin
- Subtitle: Secure cryptocurrency wallet.
Strictly based on these, here are the popular keywords the algorithm sees:
- bitcoin wallet
- buy bitcoin
- buy cryptocurrency
- coinbase wallet
- cryptocurrency wallet
- secure wallet
Concise but comprehensive, if I had to describe this list quickly.
This list holds the main and moot relevant keywords that are popular in the crypto space, from the most popular currency, to where you store it.
I have no doubt this name and subtitle combination is the result of careful consideration, research, and even iteration. It may "make sense" for some of you just by looking at the space, but there are so many bad combinations.
Pro tip: The period at the end of the subtitle is a "hack" where some believe Apple drops the last characters of the subtitle, so introducing a character that is dropped anyone ensures the last keyword is recognized correctly. I can't say for sure this is the case here, and it might be that whoever wrote this wanted to be proper, but I suspect grammar isn't the case.
What's in the Keyword List?
Now, let's reverse-engineer the keyword list. The list isn't public, but we can attempt to uncover it by looking at all other keywords the app is ranked in. We believe it looks something like the following:
Coinbase's main benefit is the ability to trade cryptocurrencies. Bitcoin is the most popular, so it's in the app's name, but there are other popular (enough) cryptocurrencies that people search the store for, including Ethereum, Bitcoin Cash, Litecoin, and very recently, Dogecoin.
Coinbase seems to be targeting all of those, as well as their currency codes, in the keyword list. This is a great strategy given how optimized the app's name and subtitle are and how well they combine together.
In addition to currencies, we also see some of the less important features of the app mentioned, which makes perfect sense and combines very well with the currency names and code, as well all the actions from the name and subtitle.
This is a great way to really amplify what the algorithm sees, which means more discovery. Well done Coinbase!
Screenshot & Video Analysis
So far, Coinbase’s has been doing a good job with their ASO, and their screenshots push that good to great!
There’s no video, which I think could help a bit, and a competitor has one, but it’s hard to fault them for this, given how well thought out everything else is.
There’s a lot of great here, so let’s break it up:
- Contrast. Black on white is a very safe color scheme. While the text feels a tad bit squeezed, it's still very readable.
- To the point. Bitcoin raises a variety of concerns, and these screenshots put them to reset very quickly.
- Actionable. Every caption gives another reason to download.
- Concise. Driving action with a full sentence is easy, but in most cases, long sentences are ignored. These make it happen fast.
- Interesting visuals. The UI fits perfectly in every screenshot and aligns with the caption. This enforces the "Should I download this app? Yes!" line of thinking.
- 90% coverage. There are 9 of 10 possible screenshots, which is 2 above the average we've seen so far. That means Coinbase has more chances to convert the page view into a download.
This is a really great set of screenshots, and I wouldn't be surprised if it was tested over enough time and iterations and didn't just happen on the first attempt.
What Data is Coinbase Collecting?
In this new(ish) section, we look at the privacy labels apps declare on the App Store. Coinbase is definitely collecting, but considering it's a free app, it's not too bad.
Data Used to Track You:
- Usage Data
Linked to You:
- Contact Info
- Financial Info
- Sensitive Info
- Other Data
- Usage Data
Coinbase seems to be asking for a lot here, from financial info to usage data and sensitive data, a blurry label. However, when you think about the nature of Coinbase's business, all of these make sense.
A user exchanges money through the app, which explains the need for identifiers, purchases, and financial info. The rest, again, make sense in the same context.
This is why privacy labels have to evolve to give insight into how these are all used and not just that they are collected. But... I've ranted about this more than once before, so I'll spare you this time.
A Quick Look Under the Hood
Here are all the SDKs and APIs we see powering Coinbase:
3rd Party + Open Source Projects:
- AppsFlyer (Attribution)
- Braintree (Payments)
- Firebase (BaaS, Analytics)
- React Native (Development)
- Apple Authentication
- Apple Local Authentication
Glancing over this short list we can quickly tell Coinbase is non-native (React Native) and that it's spending on ads (AppsFlyer), both make sense for this type of app and service.
It's using CoreLocation, but its labels don't include location data, which is interesting. However, that can probably be easily explained by the need for fraud detection that may not be tied to personal data, so it's safe.
The bottom line: Coinbase's SDK list is pretty clean for such an active app.
The Verdict: One Now a Million Later
Coinbase changed how we, mere mortals, think about cryptocurrency. They've made it accessible and legitimate. That's no easy task. Sure, market conditions, support from popular celebs, and the opportunities for amplifying money helped, but Coinbase right at the center.
Evidence? When a cryptocurrency is in the news, be it a popular one like Bitcoin or a joke one like Dogecoin, Coinbase is the one who gets most of the downloads.
Discovery plays an important role for a service like Coinbase that's slowly growing into the only one of its kind most people will know, and every iteration right now will yield exponential results in the future.
Coinbase seems to agree.
The Tools I Use
I did this entire analysis with our ASO tools and App Intelligence, the same ones hundreds of thousands of app makers rely on to monitor and optimize their apps. Check out some of my hands-on sessions to see it live.