Turning Page Views into Downloads with App Store Optimization
We've covered a lot of different ways you can leverage App Store Optimization to get more people to find your app, from how to identify the right keywords to how to use them. But getting more people to see your app is only half the battle.
The second, which is as important, is turning these views into actual downloads. In this guide, I'll explain what that's all about, how to measure the effectiveness of your app's page, and how to get it to convert more views into downloads.
In this guide:
- How Good is Your App's Page?
- 4 Mistakes That Lower Conversion
- 6 Ways to Convert More Views Into Downloads
- What's a "Good" Page Conversion Rate?
- Whatever You Do, Don't Do This!
How Good is Your App's Page?
First, we need to talk about how to measure how good your app's page is. This is a critical step because it establishes a value you can track over time to tell if you're doing better.
That number is your Page Conversion Rate, which we calculate simply by dividing downloads by page views and multiply by 100. For example, if your app had 5,000 page views and 250 downloads in the last 30 days, your conversion rate is 5%.
FYI - For iOS and Mac apps, use
Unique Product Page Views.
What your PCR measures is the likelihood of a view turning into a download. Said otherwise, it's how many views you need for a single download. Ideally, that would be 100%, so every view turns into a download, but in the real world, where there's lots of competition, that isn't realistic.
Take a quick break, sum up downloads and page views for the last full month, and divide. That's your PCR, and that's what you need to improve.
4 Mistakes That Lower Conversion
I've analyzed hundreds of apps and games, popular and not so much, from big brands and indie devs, and they all generally make similar mistakes that hurt their conversion rate. Here are the top mistakes:
- Optimizing for irrelevant keywords. When you optimize for keywords that aren't precisely focused on what your app provides, you may get users to see your app by being #1 in search results, but as soon as they see the app doesn't serve their purpose, they'll leave the page and go elsewhere.
This would result in low PCR.
Almost everyone makes this mistake, especially when just starting out because ranking well for any keyword feels like a win. If keyword space didn't have a limit, and you could optimize for all keywords, it probably would be. But keyword space is limited, and optimizing for irrelevant keywords costs space that could be used for relevant ones, so you actually lose by doing that. Even if you get a lot of views.
- Your icon doesn't "sell" the app. What's the first thing people see when they land on your app's page? The icon.
Does it really need to have so much emphasis? Maybe, but that's not the question here. The question is, what does your app's icon tell people who see it for the first time. Does it hint at what the app or game is about? Does it clearly mark your brand? Did you think about it before making it?
Some developers don't, which may seem like a wasted opportunity to hook the user early. But it's actually worse. A good icon can earn interest and get a download more quickly, but a bad icon can just as easily result in a user swiping back and choosing a different app.
- The screenshots don't tell the app's story. Once a user's ready to verify the app does what they want or that the game will be entertaining, they head straight to the screenshots section. Think about the way you use the description text to describe the app, and now ask yourself if the screenshots tell the same story. The answer isn't always yes.
Back in the early days, screenshots used to be just that, screenshots of the app or game in action. Those days are long gone. In 2021 screenshots are the visual description of what you'll get out of an app or game.
The major component of the visuals is still the app or game itself, but they also need to use captions and contrast to describe the value.
- Not enough (or negative) ratings & reviews. Every search in the App Store and Google Play results in lots of apps, making it hard to choose which result to go with. Optimized screenshots help ensure the app or game offers what the user wants, but there's one more thing that "seals the deal": ratings.
How other people like the app has a direct impact on downloads because people trust other people.
But ratings aren't always easy to control, and some developers let users control them all together. Uncontrolled, it could become a problem for two reasons: low average and low ratings count. The former indicates people don't like the app, so why would a new user download it? The latter means not enough people download the app, so it's not a sure bet.
Both aren't great.
6 Ways to Convert More Views Into Downloads
How many of these mistakes are you making? Let's fix them! Here are my top go-to ways to improve the page conversion rate, which I've used for apps and games across almost every category and platform with positive results:
- Create a short list of the main reasons why someone would want to use your app or game. This is a fundamental step to pretty much every ASO. You need to know who you're selling to. If you just mumbled "everyone," that's 100% the wrong answer. You may have an app that caters to multiple audiences, but most apps don't target "everyone."
So, you need to figure out exactly who it is you're targeting and what they need.
Whether you've got a calculator or a racing game, there are certain expectations (aka. intents) people have when they enter the store to find (and download) an app. You need to identify those and list them.
Having a focused list of things people need will help ensure that you drive the right people to the app's page.
My "trick" is to put myself in the user's shoes and ask, "what do I need." Notice I keep saying "need" not "want". You want to aim for the need because that's a much stronger driver for conversion, especially where the barrier to download (price) is low (free).
- Throw away irrelevant keywords. Let's fix mistake #1 from before by removing keywords that don't fall within the list above. Even if you rank well.
By removing irrelevant keywords you may lose views, and that's okay because those views aren't converting. They're just taking the place of a keyword that can bring in views that will convert.
Remove those irrelevant keywords from the app's name, subtitle or short description, and keyword list. You can keep them in your long description because you have the characters. It won't help or hurt iOS and Mac apps and could have a teeny tiny benefit for Android apps.
Looking for ways to uncover relevant keywords quickly? Borrow them from competitors. Here's how →
- Use relevant keywords in screenshot captions. Plain screenshots aren't just boring, they also make your page feel neglected. They also waste a good opportunity to describe what the app offers. So the first step is to caption your screenshots.
But don't just outline what's in the screenshot itself, use the keywords from step #1 to reinforce that the app or game is a good fit for the user. That's critical for increasing conversion.
If you want to get more advanced, you can try different combinations of captions, and different tones, like casual vs. formal.
We put together a guide with best practices for colors, fonts, and other screenshot dos and don'ts. Check it out →
- Create a walkthrough video that covers the same features the screenshots highlight. If a picture is worth a thousand words, a video is worth a thousand pictures. Screenshots describe what the app offers, much like the description, which only a few actually read, do. But... they still require being viewed.
A video shortcuts that, and in most cases autoplays, so the user gets the description without any real interaction, increasing the chance of conversion.
So, choose the best highlights, caption them if you can, and you'll be on your way to higher conversion.
One caveat - creating a quality video can take time or money, depending on which you have more of. If you can't afford either, it's probably best to leave this one alone and not produce a video because a poor video is more likely to hurt than help.
- Ask existing users to rate your app. If you have active users, ask them to rate the app using the native rating popup available for both iOS and Android apps.
It doesn't matter if you have 3 ratings or 300,000 ratings, every additional rating counts when it comes to the total because more ratings (usually) means more social proof that people use this app, which reduces the risk of downloading an unknown app.
The first step is to ask for it, the second should be to optimize how you ask for it.
In my experience, apps that ask existing users to rate them quadruple their ratings within a very short period of time.
- Reply to negative reviews. One and two-star reviews really hurt your overall average and look bad when a potential user reads them. In many cases, they're a result of frustration with the features or a misunderstanding of how the app works, which (in theory) are solvable.
So, use the reply feature that both Apple and Google offer to try and solve one and two-star reviews.
There are lots of different strategies and ways to approach replying. Too many to get into here, but we have a guide to help with that (below). The real key is to actually take the time to reply, with the intent of getting the user who left the negative review to change it.
Everyone, from banks to popular games, reply to negative reviews in order to get users to change their reviews. It makes a difference.
What's a "Good" Page Conversion Rate?
Short answer: any rate that's higher than your current conversion rate.
The long(er) answer: There really isn't an easy answer to that question because it depends on the type of app or game you've got.
Some apps are in very competitive categories with lots of other apps boasting the same feature set, so they may have a lot of page views, but because most people may check out a few apps before deciding, they won't have a high conversion rate. Photo editing apps tend to fall into this category. Niche apps, on the other hand, may have few page views but because those views come from a very targeted audience, will have a higher conversion rate.
Your goal should be to improve your current rate, and you can do that incrementally.
Whatever You Do, Don't Do This!
I talk to a lot of developers and marketers, and some of them tend to get the theory behind App Store Optimization but go with their gut instead of data. They'd guesstimate things like how popular a keyword is or whether the screenshots they have now are most optimal.
Guessing like that works a tiny fraction of the time, and by sheer luck. Most of the time, however, it fails.
If you're a guesser, please stop. Use the popularity and competitiveness scores to determine which keywords to optimize for, look at how many downloads are necessary to compete and filter out ones that are too high, and test your screenshots.