Since 2008, the world has witnessed the App Store revolutionize the way software is bought and sold. This year, the App Store turns ten; in a decade, Apple has built a brand new business ecosystem and opened the doors for countless emerging industries. With the App Store attracting more than 500 million weekly users, the mobile app development industry is stronger than ever and last week’s iOS 12 release reveals some significant changes to compliment last year’s redesign.
The aesthetic changes to the iOS 12 App Store boarder on unnoticeable, but mobile app owners need to keep an eye on the changes to product discoverability in this release. The changes over the past two years are indicative of Apple’s strategic plan to enhance the overall user experience of the App Store. With iOS 11, the strategy focused on making apps easier to find; with iOS 12, Apple makes finding apps personal. Here’s what you need to know.
If you’re the type of person who pays attention to small details, you may notice the subtle changes to the iOS 12 App Store interface design. For the most part, the design tweaks are largely undetectable. Similarly, many of the content categories will remain the same (noteworthy content, apps and games of the day, developer spotlights – the usual). Additionally, talks were circulating during the iOS 12 beta about a new “You Might Have Missed” tab that limits the amount of top performing content you see from the previous week; however, I have yet to see the change on my device in the official release.
Design decisions aside, the most important change in this year’s App Store update is the elements of personalization throughout the entire store. Personalization is a principal theme in iOS 12; it is evident in many of the native iOS app development features Apple is rolling out in this release.
The concept is simple; iOS 12 personalizes the user experience by giving users content and apps they are likely to be interested in based on data points like previous downloads, purchases, and browsing behavior. As well, personalization is central to many of the new feature additions in iOS 12 like Siri Shortcuts, enhanced machine learning, and push notification content.
What does this mean for mobile app owners?
With that, there are several best practices strategies you can put in place to increase the likelihood of your product’s App Store success.
Personalizing the App Store content may make it more difficult to get your app featured in the store, or at the very least, lessen the reach of your product feature.
We recently wrote about the difficulties and benefits of winning a featured placement in the App Store. In short, being a featured app is great for brand identity, awareness, as well as driving conversions; however, earning featured recognition is even better for your product when it appears in a targeted search or a niche category. Your efforts to get a product featured in the App Store will need to combine traditional marketing tactics and elements of personalization for the best results.
To improve your chances of being featured in the App Store, a worthwhile tactic is to schedule your release dates or product updates with each iOS version release. Apple is going to give more consideration to featuring mobile apps that give users a chance to use the new features they’re currently promoting. For example, if you own a QSR app and your most recent update allows users to create a Siri Shortcut to order their most frequent purchases, you improve your chances of getting noticed by Apple. By the same token, if you own a password management or productivity app, leveraging Apple’s new Account Authentication feature is a strategic move to make alongside the iOS 12 release.
With the release of iOS 12, mobile app owners need to ensure their existing App Store Optimization (ASO) strategy is designed to accommodate App Store personalization. Specifically making sure the strategy puts greater emphasis on the user from their unique pain points, to their search queries, and right down to their aesthetic tastes. Precise and unambiguous user insights are necessary to make sure the right people are finding your product’s App Store listing.
If you haven’t already, it’s time to hone in on your keyword research and targeting. The keywords you decide to rank for will be the pillars of your App Store presence, and it’s crucial to make sure they align with your users’ search queries. Getting the most out of iOS 12’s personalized App Store will require both an ASO and a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) strategy to establish credibility and position your app as a reliable solution to user pain points.
Approximately half of the iOS app installs come from App Store Search. If you’re not optimizing your App Store listing for your target audience’s search queries, you’re ignoring a significant promotional opportunity for your product. There are several important fields throughout your App Store listing that require attention including the app’s meta title, meta description, and any other relevant keyword fields.
Your app store listing is the touchpoint in the user journey where the final decision to install your product takes place, with this new trend of extreme personalization, if your App Store listing doesn’t reflect what users are searching for, your user acquisition efforts will suffer.
When you’re building your product strategy and planning product requirements, keep this personalization trend at the forefront of your mind.
Start by asking yourself purposeful questions like, what is the objective of this mobile app? What should the app be able to do, and what features are required to make this functionality possible? It’s unlikely that you will be incorporating personalization in the early stages of your mobile app, but creating a solid vision of how your product will grow will give you a better understanding of how personalization will fit into your strategy down the line.
Participating in Product Discovery will build a foundation for your mobile app to incorporate functionality that truly benefits your core user base. A Design and Discovery phase is orchestrated to set product goals, understand clear business outcomes, and prioritize features for the first stages of your mobile app.
At Clearbridge Mobile, we guide our clients through a concentrated five-day Design and Discovery workshop that is both intensive and collaborative. At the end of one week, participants walk away with key product features, user journeys, wireframes, mockups, and a clickable app prototype. The overall goal is to recognize your product’s success metrics and validate your ideas early on in the development process. Learn more about how Design and Discovery can help you get started on your mobile app project; start a conversation, today.