ASO Teardown: PicsArt Does A Wonderful Job Getting Downloads on the App Store

Ariel Michaeli Ariel Michaeli
Nov. 3, 2020 #app-store
ASO Teardown: PicsArt Does A Wonderful Job Getting Downloads on the App Store

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.

Armed with a mobile phone, everyone's a photographer these days. That's why phone makers keep putting focus on better cameras. But taking pictures isn't as simple as point-and-shoot. No no. Taking pictures also means applying filters, throwing on some stickers, and beautifying selfies.

Lots of photographers = lots of demand for photo editors = lots of apps, and PicsArt, which we'll analyze today, is the top dog!

Overall, PicsArt earns a well-deserved A+ ๐ŸŽ‰

PicsArt by the Numbers

Here's how PicsArt is performing in the U.S. App Store, based on our Competitor Intelligence:

  • ๐Ÿ“ˆ 761.8K estimated downloads in the last 30 days.
  • #๏ธโƒฃ 6 in the Photo & Video category.
  • โญ๏ธ 93% of new ratings were positive in the last 30 days.
  • ๐Ÿ‘‹ Audience is young and split fairly evenly across both men and women.
  • ๐Ÿ… Loooots of competitors, big, small, and everything in-between...

Nothing but Growth

These are great numbers to have.

I looked at the last few years to see if this year was different in any way, and the answer is no. These download estimates make it clear that demand for photo editors is constant and only growing, with downloads growing 160%+ since 2017, based on our App Intelligence.

When I look at this trend, I see all the more reason to spend time on organic growth (aka. App Store Optimization.)

PicsArt's Beats its ASO Competitors

There are more than 1,500 apps that have "photo editor" in their name on the App Store right now, according to Explorer. That's quite a bit of competition!

But, when it comes to App Store Optimization, your competitors are the apps that rank in the keywords you are targeting. Here are the top 5 results for PicsArt's most obviously important keyword—"photo editor":

Not only is PicsArt the first result for "photo editor," a keyword with a popularity of 74 (which is a lot!), it's also the leader in downloads, bringing in twice as its nearest competitor. That's a great position to be in, and as you'll see from the rest of the analysis, it's not by accident.

But, Downloads != Revenue

PicsArt's lead over its competitors in downloads is quite large. More than double, to be more specific. But, when it comes to revenue conversion, PicsArt isn't leading but rather trailing.

We can see it by dividing the total estimated revenue for the month by the total estimated downloads. This is a very simple metric and has a fair share of flaws (namely, accounting for subscriptions.) But its simplicity means you can calculate it quickly and get a better understanding of how much these downloads are actually worth, and you can do that for any app.

PicsArt's primary competitor, FaceTune2, gets half of the downloads but almost 30% more revenue. Its estimated revenue per download is much higher when compared with PicsArt. Instasize, the runner up, is also converting downloads pretty well.

This may seem bad, but I see it differently. To me, that means there's a pretty good opportunity here for PicsArt to improve its conversion and grow their revenue without getting more downloads.


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Keyword Analysis - The Obvious Parts

Let's kick off the analysis with the keywords PicsArt is using in its name and subtitle. Those send the strongest signals to the App Store's algorithm.

  • Name: PicsArt Photo & Video Editor
  • Subtitle: Sticker, Meme & Collage Maker

Strictly based on these, here are the popular keywords the algorithm sees:

Not bad! Now, let's take a look at where PicsArt is ranked for these keywords:

When you do enough research, you can find a good number of popular keywords that combine well, and by the looks of it, the folks behind PicsArt did just that.

In addition to targeting the most obvious keyword, photo editor, they managed to target a few others that have a high popularity score, and it all sounds pretty smooth when read by a human.

Takeaways:

  • Spend that extra 30 minutes to evaluate keywords. It'll be worth it in the long run.
  • Target your most important keywords through the name, and insert the long-tail ones into the subtitle.
  • Apple gives you 30 characters for the name and 30 for the description. Use as many of those as you can.

Going Under the Hood — 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:

photo,video,editor,editing,edit,pic,picture,art,pixel,airbrush,filter,eraser,background,remover,cut

This keyword list is great!

It's got keywords that are relevant to the main set, repeats the very very important ones, doesn't include competitors, and most keywords combine very well with other keywords in the list as well as keywords from the name and subtitle to form even more variations. You can only win with a keyword list like that.

I also saw some indication of localized keywords in Spanish, which surprisingly enough, have a popularity score that's higher than I expected here in the US. That's a great addition.

Where Else is PicsArt Ranking?

This combo of name, subtitle, and keyword list gives PicsArt a bit more than just the name and subtitle alone. Here are some of the highlights:

PicsArt's keywords have been very on-point so far, but when we use the Keyword Discover report, they get even more interesting.

This app is ranking in a lot of keywords. Popular keywords.

Given everything I saw so far, I'm not at all surprised and would attribute that to ongoing iterations.

Screenshot Analysis

Just like its keywords, PicsArt does a magnificent job with its screenshots as well, adhering to (almost) all screenshot best practices.

  • The style of these screenshots matches the overall feel of the app, which you can see by looking at its icon.
  • Each screenshot has a clear caption that's pretty actionable and sounds like something I'd want.
  • The before/after took a second to understand, but once I did, it helped me understand what I can get with the app. That's a strong positive.
  • All 10 screenshot slots are filled, showing there's a lot you can do with the app. Another positive.

This is a great set to learn from!

But there are two issues:

  1. There's not enough contrast between the background and the text. It's readable on most screenshots, but requires effort. That's how you lose people.
  2. The mock iPhone frame is missing the notch (or the home button if targeting an older device). Apple's a bit pickier about it than I am, but to me, it looks more like an Android device, which isn't a positive on the App Store.

Video Analysis

For a video editor to have an App Preview video is... expected.

PicsArt's App preview video is stylish, energetic, and shows what I can do with the app. What I liked the most is that watching it made me want to take action because of its fast pace and abrupt cuts. That's a great way to get a download!

What's more is that it shows the UI, so not only do I see what I'm going to get, I also see how easy it is to get it. That's another important point an app with lots of competitors should emphasize, and the video is probably the best place to do that.

Takeaways:

  • If you're investing in an App preview, make sure to do it well.
  • Fast-paced videos can increase the chance of a user taking action.
  • Show your app in action and focus on what the user might see as a concern.
  • Use a similar overall style in your video, so the screenshots don't feel out of place.
  • Mention the app's name in the video to create a stronger association between what the video shows and the app itself.
  • Using people in videos makes it easier to "connect" with the app. It's true for screenshots as well.

The Verdict: It's Good to Be the King, But...

There is a lot to love about PicsArt's ASO on the App Store. Good keyword selection, iterative improvements, well-calibrated screenshots, and a great video all lead to obvious results.

Regardless of which category your app is in, make sure to read and re-read this analysis and take every single bit of advice you can get because this is how it's done.

But... getting downloads is only half of the equation in business. You also need to turn those downloads into revenue.

PicsArt beats its nearest competitor, FaceTune2, in downloads, in every single country:

But the situation is flipped when it comes to revenue, where not only is PicsArt making less per download, they also make less overall vs. the competition in every country (with a few tiny exceptions).

I have a few guesses as to why this is, and it has to do with the app's onboarding, feature-gating, and overall pricing. That's a topic for a whole different analysis, though. I hope the folks at PicsArt are already working to improve that.

The Tools I Use

I did this entire analysis with our App Store Optimization and Competitor Intelligence tools, the same ones hundreds of thousands of app makers rely on to monitor and optimize their apps. Get ahead + outsmart your competitors with Appfigures. Get started →

Download and revenue figures used in this teardown are based on estimates extracted from our Competitor Intelligence tools.


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