Digital Marketing

App Store Optimization and Localization Can Lead to Revenue Gains

App Store

Smartphones have evolved into the human appendage we can’t live without. This is great news for the mobile app industry. According to, despite a 2% decrease in year-over-year global consumer spending across app stores in 2022, downloads increased by 11%. And consumers still spent $167 billion. The key is to convert app downloaders to invested users who are willing to make in-app purchases.

Mobile ad spending is expected to reach $362 billion in 2023, but it’s not just about throwing money out there to see what sticks; marketers need to have smart and effective strategies that will resonate with their target audiences.

App Store Optimization (ASO) is an important aspect of launching and maintaining a mobile app’s popularity and performance. It helps with rankings in search results in Apple’s App Store and Google Play, as well as app conversion rates (CVR). Ranking high in the app store is half the battle – marketers and developers also need to optimize for high click-through rates, so users click on the app store listing once they see it.

Rovio’s Angry Birds is a good example of ASO’s role in the app’s visibility and user appeal. The Rovio Classic performed so well, it hindered the brand’s newer versions like Angry Birds 2, Angry Birds Friends and Angry Birds Journey. This is likely because a good portion of consumers prefer to learn more about or download the first app they see in the ranking. In a recent statement posted on Twitter, the company announced it would no longer list the flagship app in Google Play and would rename the app to Red’s First Flight in the App Store, in hopes more users would find and download the new games.

Seize the mobile gaming app digital marketing opportunities

Mobile gaming apps comprise the largest market share of consumer spending, accounting for $110 billion in 2022. Additionally, global downloads increased to 90 billion. This arena is rife with opportunities for marketers and developers who are savvy with their ASO strategies.

Another consideration is where the big spenders are located. For example, Japan’s mobile gamers are known for their high average revenue per user (ARPU). Although they download fewer apps (640 million, which is less than 1%), they represent 11% of global consumer spending with $13.1 billion. The right ASO strategy can improve CVR, but it’s important to note cross-border marketing campaigns aren’t plug-and-play – localization is key.

5 tips for a localized ASO strategy in Japan

Most app downloads in Japan come directly from the App Store Search, so these tips are specific to Apple’s ASO.

  • Aesthetics count

For improved results, it’s important to completely understand App Store ranking rules and incorporate them when composing the app description.

The Japanese prefer reading descriptions that are divided by lots of catchy subtitles. This saves them time since they are accustomed to reading the content in bullet points first before diving into the details. Subtitles also allow the developer to emphasize keywords and selling points to increase CVR.

  • Speak your specific target’s language

Translating the App Store text into Japanese is not enough. Screenshots and descriptions should easily resonate with the target audience (e.g., hardcore, main and general users) as well indicate what the app is used for and what benefits it provides. As users quickly scroll down their screen, the screenshots, preview video and app descriptions need to stand out to improve CVR.

For example, when designing the first – and most prominent – screen, using a video to target all users can help prevent churn. Following up with screenshots to target hardcore and main users can increase CVR among those audiences. Remember, every app has specific demographic targets and selling points, so the ideal hardcore, main and general users may vary. 

  • Remember the ads

ASO improves CVR for organic downloads, as well as significantly contributes to paid user acquisition campaigns. Target users would have already clicked certain ads ahead of visiting the App Store. If advertisers can reinforce the selling points that attracted the target audience in the first place, it will complete their emotional journey and enhance their CVR.

  • ASO is an extension of your brand

ASO as your storefront reflects the app’s brand. As such, it should adhere to the advertiser’s and stakeholders’ brand identity and tone for consistency and recall. This is especially true for IP titles since ASO localization must adhere to the brand’s global standard. Therefore, understanding the brand’s regulations and accumulated practical design experience are becoming more important. The most versatile digital marketers will strike a balance between creativity, best market practices and brand prerequisites for a smooth and efficient process.

  • Localize with limits

The App Store has strict regulations that must be adhered to, no matter how great the localization is. Don’t spend time and resources on ASO only to learn it will not get approved. For example, App Store requires screenshots of actual gameplay to reflect the game itself. This limits design options, but also tests the designer’s creativity. The designer should consider regulations such as cutoff zones and safe area trimming, so the new design conveys the right message across devices. Working with experts to start the project off on the right foot is highly recommended.

The Visibility Advantage

There’s a lot of opportunity for mobile app marketers and developers to improve app visibility and conversion rates, ultimately, increasing revenue. The key is strategically using ad budgets to reach the right audience in the right way. And, sometimes, to find the right audience, you need to look past the consumers in your own backyard.

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