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Drive Downloads and Boost Loyalty: 9 Tips for Mobile App Success

Ashley Sefferman, Head of Content at Apptentive, guest blogs today giving us some insight into how to drive downloads for your app, and how to boost loyalty.

Increasing your app’s discoverability in the app stores is crucial to success. With over 1.6 million apps in the Google Play Store and 1.5 million apps in the Apple App Store, competition is fierce across all app categories.

But what happens after you get customers to your app? How do you keep them engaged and turn them into loyal customers? Focusing on retention opens up a whole new set of opportunities for your brand to drive customer love.

In today’s post, we cover ASO tips to help with app store discoverability, as well as some in-app communication tips to help engage and retain current customers. Let’s get started!

Increase your app’s discoverability

Organic search helps customers find your app, but there are additional considerations to plan for before a customer will download. Here are a few tips around app store optimization to help you rank highly in the app stores, along with making your app attractive to download for prospective customers:

  1. At least a 4-star rating

Let’s face it: Apps that don’t have high ratings don’t rank in the top 100. In a recent consumer survey, we found 92% of consumers consider star ratings to be an essential part of their evaluation of a new app, and roughly 60% of respondents said that they “usually or always check ratings before downloading an app.” See our survey data below for more detail:



  1. Recent five-star reviews

Similar to ratings, reviews are a huge trust signal when people debate whether or not they’d like to download an app. From our research, 70% of people read at least one review before downloading an app. Additionally, 75% of our survey respondents identified reviews as a key driver for downloading an app, and 42% view app store reviews as equally or more trustworthy than personal recommendations. If you app does not have recent, highly-rated reviews, it’s time to go back to the drawing board and improve your customer feedback channels (and implementation strategies).

  1. Keywords, keywords, keywords

Once upon a time, keyword stuffing was a great way to rank highly in the app stores. But the app stores caught up to this black-hat tactic, and keyword stuffing is now punished in ASO in the same way SEO keyword stuffing was punished years ago. As a best practices, it’s important to stay away from keyword stuffing in your app’s title and description, and instead, provide readers with the content that will give them the best experience in deciding whether or not to download your app.

Additionally, be sure to include your dominant keywords in the title of your app. This may seem like a no-brainer, but many app marketers still debate whether or not to include the keyword they’d like to rank highly for in their app’s title. Based on our research, it’s usually a good idea to make sure it’s included when optimizing for search.

  1. Include a compelling icon

Top apps grab people’s attention by offering a compelling icon right away. Your app’s icon is one of the first major points a potential customer will see as they debate whether or not to download the app, so making a good icon impression is key to driving a high number of organic downloads.

When approaching your icon design, it’s important to note that the App Store and Google Play vary in their approach to, and rendering of, app icons. Both stores have preset standards for the ideal size, geometry, and color scheme of app icons, designed to match the rest of the OS.



For iOS icons, the most important thing to note is that icons should be sized to at least 1024×1024 pixels, the dimensions required by the App Store. From here, the Apple OS will resize your icon for any other applications, including app icons (180×180), navigation icons (66×66), and tab bar icons (75×75). Your image must therefore be designed with the meticulous detail of a 1024×1024 icon and the simplicity necessary to still look good scaled down to the smallest size.



When designing an Android icon, the only difference is that Google Play requires a 512×512 icon, rather than 1024×1024. While not required, Google recommends designing app icons in accordance with its material design guidelines, which details everything from icon anatomy to lighting and shading.

  1. Update content regularly

Top apps are updated regularly, with many being updated at least once a month in order to provide customers with new content, features, promotions, experiences, and more. Keeping your app’s content fresh is also a great way to re-engage users and drive retention, which is important to keep in mind as you plan your app’s update schedule for the upcoming months.

To come up with a general recommendation for update frequency, we scoured the 500 top-ranked apps and found that the average update frequency was between 30 and 40 days. Keep in mind, however, that each time you update an iOS app, your ratings reset—and with that, your rank temporarily plummets. As a result, frequently updated iOS apps experience slightly higher app store rank volatility, while frequently updated Android apps experience reduced volatility.

In-app communication helps engage and retain customers

Now that you have customers in your app, it’s important to retain them. Here are a few tips you can use when communicating in-app to help engage and retain your current customers:

  1. Integrate a third-party ratings prompt, or build your own

Rating prompts are a double-edged sword that can disrupt the customer experience, but are one of the best ways to get more high-quality ratings. If used correctly, ratings prompts can increase your app’s rating, but if abused, can lose you customers.


Screen Shot 2016-06-03 at 12.02.19


When you’re creating a ratings prompt, be sure to understand customer sentiment before asking for a review in an app store. We’ve found that segmenting customers and only guiding those who love your app to the app stores is the best way to boost ratings and reviews, while engaging unsatisfied customers in a conversation or survey to learn what could be better.

  1. Set up analytics to learn about customers

Analytics allow you to understand who your customers are, what they care about, and how to talk with them. Once you gather data around your customers, you can leverage the data to communicate more personally and more effectively in-app.

Analytics platforms can be created on your own, or you can integrate a third-party to help fit your needs. Whatever you decide, be sure to think about the type of data you’d like to gather before pulling the trigger. Be sure your platform can handle insights into customer history, usage, demographic data, etc. to give you a full view of who your customers are and how you can better serve them.

  1. Deliver ratings prompts at the right mobile moments

The “right mobile moments” are the key moments of engagement every customer experiences. To find the right mobile moments to prompt customers within your app, you have to start by finding the right place, right time, and right person for your in-app communications, and spend time thinking about how to treat your mobile experience with the personal touch customers deserve.

Most times, the right mobile moment to prompt a customer takes place after an action or task has been completed. Here’s an example around how the wrong mobile moment can play out: A customer opens up your app and is expecting to book an airline flight, but the first thing that happens when the app is opened is that you send them a message saying, “Hey. Rate us in the app store.” How many times have you seen that? So frustrating, right? Unfortunately, this happens over and over again, and is not the right mobile moment for any customer. It’s interrupting them right when they’re trying to complete a task with your app, which is not the right time.

A better time to prompt may be after your customer has actually gone through the task they’re trying to do. They’ve accomplished their task, they’re ready to move on, and they’re more open to communication, especially rating your app in the app store.

  1. Respect your customers’ communication preferences

Unfortunately, there will be a segment of customers who may always choose to not rate your app. In this case, it’s important to respect their communication preferences and not re-trigger ratings prompts to those who choose not to rate. The experience will soon get tiring for the customer, who may be less inclined to use your app due to distraction, or ultimately, may leave your product/service all together.

It’s also important to not over-prompt customers as they experience different version of your app. In general, it’s good practices to only prompt customers once per app update. Otherwise, your updates will become a nuisance rather than a place to share feedback, and customers may get frustrated with the experience.

Wrapping it up

Driving new customers to download your app and keeping them engaged over time can be challenging, but there are many places app publishers can start. I hope the tips above will help you drive downloads and build loyalty. See you at the top of the charts!


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