App Teardown - Turo Wins the Car Rental Game
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.
Summer's here, and after a loooooong year of very minimal travleing, it's finally safe(r) to move around the cabin. Many expect this summer's travel to be done by car, making it incredibly important for car rental companies to be found easily on the App Store.
In today's Teardown, we'll look at Turo, an Airbnb for unique (and regular) cars that's seeing downloads skyrocket and is investing into ASO. Also, the #1 result for "car rental."
Overall, Turo earns an A+
The gist: Turo's ASO is very focused, its screenshots are clear and actionable, and we can quickly see what that translates into—top ranks.
In this guide:
- Turo by the Numbers
- Travel's Back!
- Turo vs. the Competition
- How is Turo Found?
- Keyword Analysis - The Obvious Parts
- What's in the Keyword List?
- Screenshot & Video Analysis
- What Data is Turo Collecting?
- A Quick Look Under the Hood
- The Verdict: Start Your Engines!
- The Tools I Use
Turo by the Numbers
Here's how Turo is performing in the U.S. App Store, based on our Competitor Intelligence:
- 📈 235.9K estimated downloads in the last 30 days.
- #️⃣ 18 in the Travel category.
- ⭐️ 87% of new ratings were positive in the last 30 days.
- 👋 Audience is a notch above young (25 - 34) and leans male
- 🏅 Competitors include Zipcar, GetAround, Enterprize, Hertz, Avis, and SIXT
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Turo has been on a beautiful growth path for the last few years. 2020 put a dent in the trend, but the last few weeks have shown that trend is back in full force now.
Since 2017, Turo's downloads nearly tripled, according to our estimates, reaching 100K last week. The most downloads Turo has ever seen in a single week.
Lots of downloads are a great incentive for improving organic discovery. Something Turo does very well, as you'll see below.
Turo vs. the Competition
Turo competes with a few companies that aren't exactly alike. Some are more established than others, but really, it's about how they work.
Traditional car renters like Enterprise and Avis own cars and the locations where you rent from. It's pretty safe overall, but also pretty set in which cars you have access to, and not always cost-efficient. Zipcar owns its cars, but they're spread around, so you can be less sure of what you'll get.
Then you have Turo and Getaround, where you're really borrowing someone else's car. It can get pretty sketchy. And I say that having used both, and at least one multiple times.
Why is that car rental explanation important to downloads and ASO, you ask? Well, it's important to remember that Turo isn't just competing on discovery. It also needs to establish its brand. We'll get to why and how that's done later in the teardown.
In numbers, Turo is the leader of the pack. One of its advantages is that it lists very exotic cars at fairly reasonable prices, making it a top destination for those who want to cruise in a nice Tesla for the weekend. At 236K downloads, it outperforms traditional Enterprise by more than twice and the OG rent-by-app Zipcar by a factor of 5.
But downloads alone aren't getting Turo top ranks. Those come from having good keywords.
How is Turo Found?
The good thing, which also happens to be the bad thing, about an industry like the one Turo is in, is that there aren't that many combinations of words people can use to describe what they want.
This means apps can focus their ASO on a small set instead of having to compete on too many and dilute their competitive ability.
It also means there are fewer long-tail options, so that focus has to be right.
Turo's focus is just right, and the result is top ranks for popular keywords as, we can see from the Discover table above.
There are a few strange and irrelevant ones in there, but for the most part, the list consists of popular and relevant keywords such as "car rental" (#1), "rental cars" (also #1), and "car sharing" (#2).
Keyword Analysis - The Obvious Parts
- Name: Turo - Better Than Car Rental
- Subtitle: Unique Cars. Local Hosts.
Strictly based on these, here are the popular keywords the algorithm sees:
A short list, yes, but very focused.
Car rental is a competitive niche, so Turo's strategy of focusing on the most important terms is a great strategy. And, in addition to getting all the right terms in place, Turo's name is also great for humans, who get an idea of what the app does and why it's unique, immediately.
- Focusing on a small set of keywords is a powerful way to improve ranks, even when competing with strong competitors.
- Your app's name is a great place to describe it and even build its brand. Remember that people read your app's name too, so write for them and not just the algorithm.
- Iterations make good keyword sets great, so you shouldn't set-it-and-forget-it. When you do, you could be losing good momentum.
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:
The focus we've seen in the name and subtitle carries on into the keyword list, and it's working out very well. As we've seen before, keywords in the keyword list are split into groups. Here you can see it as well.
"auto" is another way to say car, a few variations of "rent", and also variations of "luxury". I do believe "budget", the name of a competitor, is in there but only that competitor. Other competitor names don't give too strong a signal even though Turo ranks for them—that's something the algorithm does on its own.
These keywords complement the name and subtitle very well and extend it by combining (ex. "luxury car rental").
What this keyword list could experiment with is:
- Types of activities you can do with your rental car (like off-roading).
- Use the most popular car brands. This can get tricky because the reviewer may not understand why those brands are mentioned and could issue a metadata rejection. They also may understand that it isn't trying to infringe. Either way, it's easy enough to fix.
Both of these are fairly limited, so it probably won't double downloads, but both are worth a try.
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Screenshot & Video Analysis
It's video time! Turo has an App Preview, and it's exactly what a video should be like.
Let's have a look:
This video does a few things well:
- It tells a story, and it's a very simple one.
- It shows how easy it is to use the app to get interesting-looking cars.
- It teases you by showing different models, from a simple Toyota to a bright orange Lambo.
It does it all fairly quickly, so you don't have time to get into details but just have that "ooooh" feel.
If a user hasn't tapped the "GET" button with excitement after watching the video, the screenshots do a great job at "selling" all that Turo has to offer.
In addition to following screenshot best practices, Turo has also managed to highlight the right benefits early on, making downloading the app very tempting.
What I like about these:
- Every screenshot has a caption, and every caption is short and to the point.
- There's a lot of contrast, and the captions are very easy to read.
- The screenshots showcase the app is for everyone by showing a high-priced car as well as a low-priced car, but what's better, they show the price, which gets rid of uncertainty (and gets closer to a download).
- Seven screenshots is one screenshot more than the average. Having used the app myself, though, I'd add a screenshot showing the search options. I found them very useful.
Colors, contrast, and actionable captions are incredibly important. But, more important is that you always focus on showing what the user really wants (a nice car) as well as answering any questions they might be asking themselves (like "how much does this cost?").
What Data is Turo Collecting?
In this new(ish) section, we look at the privacy labels apps declare on the App Store. Turo is definitely collecting, but considering it's a free app, it's not too bad.
Data Used to Track You:
- Contact Info
- Usage Data
Data Linked to You:
- User Content
- Contact Info
- Search History
- Usage Data
Data Not Linked to You:
- Financial Info
That's a bunch of things to track, but considering what Turo does, I can easily explain them all. The one item I find peculiar and not common is "Financial info" in the "Data Not Linked to You", which indicates they're keeping track of aggregate payment information, likely for some type of internal intelligence by area, or may some other slice (car type?).
That's what I don't love about Apple's privacy labels. In theory, they offer a glimpse into what data apps use, but in reality, it's not all that useful. And I say that as someone who looks at these all the time across hundreds of apps + knows what they each mean.
To mere mortals, these probably are just another section to swipe through. I'm sure Apple will improve these, and I'm excited for v2, maybe at WWDC next week? A boy can hope!
A Quick Look Under the Hood
Here are all the SDKs and APIs we see powering Turo:
3rd Party + Open Source Projects:
- Facebook Analytics
- Facebook Login
- Facebook Share
- Google Maps
- Google Sign-In
- App Tracking Transparency
- Apple Authentication
- Apple Local Authentication
- Apple Pay
- Apple Watch Connectivity
- Core Spotlight
Glancing at this list, I can easily tell the team behind Turo is serious about growth. The list is pretty long but other than a focus on growth, I don't see anything obviously wrong here.
A few highlights:
- Turo is a native app written with Swift.
- The app utilizes paid/premium SDKs for growth-related activities such as Airship to engage users with perfectly-timed push notifications, SegmeAppsflyer for attribution (and hence a not-so-small ad budget), and Aptentive for keeping users happy.
These are great solutions that come with a monthly cost.
I poked at Turo's SDK graveyard (aka the SDKs that are no longer installed), and the one that caught my eye is Intercom, a popular service used for staying in touch with users. Although Intercome is used by nearly 30K apps, according to Explorer, I've seen more big names drop it over the last couple of years and moving to more integrated solutions. I wonder why.
The Verdict: Start Your Engines!
The travel category is seeing growth like never before due to the "great unlockdown". We can see it through the Mobile Download Index, which has the category growing more than 50% year to date.
That's great news for car rental companies and even better news for Turo, which currently has them all beat when it comes to App Store Optimization.
But... that doesn't mean Turo can sit on its laurels. App Store Optimization isn't a set-it-and-forget-it type thing because the algorithm changes, as do competitors and users.
Another reason to continue investing in ASO is App Tracking Transparency (ATT), Apple's latest move to strip big ad networks like Facebook and Google of their fine-grain personal profiles, making it much harder (read expensive) to do targeting.
If anyone from Enterprise, Zipcar, or any other direct competitor of Turo is reading this, I'd highly recommend taking the time to invest in organic discovery.
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.