Operators about to launch their app for ordering food often ask about how to drive engagement and get people to continue to use their app following download rather than rashly deleting it when they need space for photos or music.  Strong engagement and offering real value within the mobile order app is hugely important but unless your guests can find your app, they won’t download it in the first place.  This blog takes a look at how app store optimization (ASO) can help your mobile ordering app stand out amongst the millions of apps in the store making sure you have top billing for the long term.

What is ASO?
Kissmetrics has a good way of describing ASO: it’s the process of optimizing mobile apps to rank higher in an app store’s search results.  The higher your app ranks, the more visible it is to potential customers.  That increased visibility tends to translate into more traffic to your app’s page in the store so searchers can take a specific action: download your app.

Why is ASO so important?
According to Forrester, 63% of apps are discovered through the app store so if you’re not optimizing your rankings on app stores searches, you’re ignoring the largest discovery channel available for your app.

How can I improve ASO?
ASO is an ongoing process, similar to the SEO work you do with your website.  The best time to start on ASO is before you launch your mobile food ordering app because you can take to review its logo, icon, title, name, description, keywords, app category, videos and screenshots.  Additional important items on your ASO checklist should include:

  • Know your customers. Understand your competition.  This is what your ASO strategy should hinge upon.  The questions you need to ask yourself when trying to understand your customer and competition might include: how would they describe my restaurant’s app?  What is my USP? Can I compete easily against apps with the same keywords? What questions led the customer to my app?
  • Take time to work on your keywords. Try and use all the allotted characters the app stores allows in descriptions and listings to maximize keyword opportunities or if you’re required to describe your app in natural language as with Google Play, try and include your keywords where they make sense and not just repeat the keyword (called ‘keyword stuffing’).
  • Make sure your app’s name is right. Check the keywords you decide to use are in the title as this heavily influences instore app search results. Keep the name short and sweet and use url-friendly characters in the title as symbols will only work against you when it comes to app-store search.  Why keep it short?  Longer titles will be cut off and as the single most important piece of search metadata, you don’t want it to get chopped.
  • Design an eye-catching icon. Despite the old adage of ‘never judge a book by its cover’, first impressions are vitally important.  The icon is your customer’s first impression of your mobile order and pay app so make sure it packs a punch.  Also, bear in mind your design will be scaled down when presented on the phone so make sure it looks good when it is.   
  • Consider local languages.  If your audience reach is global, make sure your app is too.  Consider creating different versions of your app title, description and screenshots in different languages, that way, more customer will be able to find your app using the keywords in their own language.
  • Create backlinks. As with SEO, your app will rank higher in the listings the more traffic you drive to it.  So think about a PR, social media and paid channels strategy to promote you app.
  • It’s not all about the ratings. Given the amount of times you’re harassed by apps to provide a review or rate their app, you’d think ratings would be critical when it comes to ASO.  Ratings are good but in terms of rankings, they actually don’t have a huge impact.

ASO, much like SEO, is a generous mix between art and science and it can be a daunting world to venture into.  But if you stick to some key guidelines of getting into the mindset of your customers, understanding your competition and doing some hard graft on your messaging and keywords, you’ll be making a really good start.  And if all of that makes your head spin, why not get in touch with an experienced ASO agency?  Agencies such as Waracle, Mobtimizers and Redbox Mobile can work with you to take the pressure of effective ASO off your shoulders and ensure your post-launch success.