There are a lotof apps out
there - a whole lot!

Fighting Zombie Apps


Whether you are an app developer, publisher or have any other connection to mobile app marketing, you know one thing: there are a lot of apps out there.
A lot. The Apple App Store hosts about 2.1M apps, Google Play another 3.2M.

So even if your app or game is original, exciting, fresh or unique, one big question arises: how do you get through to potential users?

There are a lot of ways to improve your app marketing, and in this article we are going to talk about a crucial part of it: App Store Optimization or ASO for short.


Adjust reported that as of May 2016, an incredible 90 percent of all apps were “zombie apps”, meaning apps or games that don’t show up in searches or ranking and that users therefore will never set their eyes on.

This applies to apps from all genres: with 91 percent, the Business category has the highest share of zombie apps, followed by Lifestyle and Education with 85 percent. In the Games category “only” 79 percent of games are considered to be zombies.

Before we begin, let’s take a look on how people discover apps:

Data source: Leadmill 02/2016, Mariya Danailova. Mobile marketing insights: How people discover and use apps.

As you can see, about half of all users search for an app to install. Therefore, it is most important that your app not only shows up in an app store search, but ranks among the top hits as well. Word-of- mouth advertising, online recommendations, app store rankings and app store features are also important factors, whereas web searches and social media recommendations only play minor parts (but also important ones, as you will see below).

How does ASO work?

As the name suggests, App Store Optimization covers all measures to improve an app’s visibility in the app stores. The goal being of course to increase download and revenue numbers. In order to stand out between your hundreds of thousands competitors, you need to optimize several key factors.

There are many attributes to be considered and they change over time and vary by platform. To get you started, here is an overview of several factors that can be optimized in order to increase downloads and revenue.

To rank highly in an app store search keywords play a very important role. That is why a keyword analysis should always be the first step of your ASO strategy. Find out what keywords fit your game or app best and which of these are most popular in your target group. Use your keywords not only in your apps’ description but, if possible, also in the title. But don’t overdo it: use a short and unique title and integrate your keywords in an authentic and realistic description without spamming. Also, make sure to follow the app stores’ guidelines on app names, character length, description and metadata. Unfortunately, this is an ongoing process, as the requirements change quite often.

Download numbers
To make it short and sweet here is the simple truth: apps with more downloads rank higher. This is where social media and web searches come into play: use a combination of fitting mobile marketing strategies such as content marketing or social media marketing to push your app and increase downloads. Once your download numbers go up the ranking will rise and you will get more downloads.

Choose the perfect app icon. Your app’s icon is the first thing people will see und judge your app by. If your app is published on several platforms make sure to use the same icon so platform-switchers or cross-platform users will recognize your app immediately. Screenshots (and videos) are equally important and a big part of your app’s presentation. Use as many high-resolution images as necessary to give viewers the best impression of your app. Again, make sure to follow the app store guidelines in terms of size, length etc.

Of course, ratings are also a quite important part of a user’s first impression. So make sure you are always offering the best version of your app and release bug fixes regularly. Also, take your users seriously: if they contact you, try to answer in a reasonable amount of time and help them out, if possible. Furthermore, get some positive reviews by using word-of-mouth advertising or by asking for a rating through your app.

The majority of users prefer to use apps in their own language. If you offer your app in several countries translate it for each country. This includes everything from in-app texts to the screenshots used on the app store.

As you see, ASO is a science in its own right, but most crucial to your app’s or game’s success. There are many factors to be considered and they change and evolve constantly. Following the latest developments and trends is essential to avoid falling behind.

If you have any questions or need assistance with your ASO strategy, we are happy to help you! Just send us a message or give us a call and benefit from our vast ASO experience!

Christian Hofbauer

This article was last updated on 07/04/2018

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