You have the perfect app, this app will allow you to order a vegan paleo pizza while riding an uber to the concert you backed on kickstarter. Who wouldn’t want this app? You are going to build it, make it beautiful, and it will be on iOS AND Android! You are going to launch this app into the app store and make millions. Sounds great, right? Unfortunately this is very unlikely.

According to Statistica, there are about 2.9 million apps across the iOS and Google Play app stores:

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According to Nielsen,  app users only use 29 apps per month. How are you going to compete with the other 3,000,000 apps out and be one of the 29? Prior to this year, Apple had a New Releases section, where all new apps would get some free exposure but as of this year, this is gone: Apple Revamps The App Store’s Games Section With Increased Focus On Editorial Content.  If you are one of the lucky apps to capture the attention of Apple’s editorial team, you can get some free exposure, but the probability of that is low. Your cool app is not enough, you need a plan to drive those downloads.

Paid Advertising

If you have the budget, there should be a plan for purchasing traffic via mobile ad networks, which also include social platforms like Facebook and Twitter.  With some good targeting and constant refinement, these serve as a reliable way to get downloads.

Press

Prior to your app launch, you should create a list of publications to target that a) have a similar audience to your app’s target audience or b) have written about similar apps in the past. You don’t want to email the Wall Street Journal about your new kids gaming app, make sure the target publication is relevant to your app. If executed properly, this can give your app a big jump.

ASO (App Store Optimization)

Last but not least, we have ASO, this is the most important app growth tool because it is free and should be strategized before your app is live.

The main goal of ASO is to have your app show up when users search the app store. The higher your app is when the user searches the store, the more likely they are to discover and ultimately download your app. According to Tune, about 47% of users discover apps through search.

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The process of figuring out what your app should rank for should come during development, as you need to refine who your target user is and what search teams are relevant to them. Once you have a list of keywords, you need to look at how much volume and how much competition each one has. A tool such as Sensor Tower can help with this analysis.

Once you have a list of keywords that you want to target, you should incorporate them into your title and in the keyword field. For Apple, you have 100 character allotted to the keyword field, you should use every one of those characters, so do not leave any spaces between the terms.

Keywords in the title weigh more in the rankings, so you should reserve your most competitive keywords to place in your title. Therefore as you brainstorm the title of your app, you should think of keywords as well.

Once you rank, you want to focus on the app page views to install ratio. When the user sees your page, you need to make sure your app appears attractive. This is your app’s billboard.

Icon: Make sure your icon is bold and stands out without too much text or clutter.  Use a tool like Testico to see what your app will look like on all devices. This tool will also give you a link to share with your network to get feedback.

Screenshots and App Preview:  These are the only ways to show what is in your app, use strong images and make your app preview in a way that makes the user excited to try your app. Think of movie previews, they are made to make an audience excited to watch the movie and your app preview should do the same.

Reviews:  This is very important as users put a lot of trust into other users’  feedback. You should include prompts in your app to encourage reviews from your most engaged users.

The best app growth strategy combines all of the aforementioned methods.  This needs to be incorporated from the development stage and needs to be continually monitored. The app store is constantly changing, therefore you need to constantly tweak your strategy to keep downloads rolling in.