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How To Optimise App Store Screenshots

To maximise your app’s conversion rate for the lowest possible user acquisition cost, it is crucial to understand how to optimise the sequence of screenshots on the App Store page. In this post, we examine those high-converting screenshots that drive more traffic to your app’s page and, in turn, lead to more app downloads.

According to research firm Forrester, 63% of apps are discovered through App Store searches. This makes App Store browsing the most used method for discovering and downloading apps. Consequently, if you’re not using App Store Optimisation (or ASO for short) to increase your app’s search ranking, you’re missing out on the largest discovery channel available to your app.

At its core, ASO is about increasing your organic installs by showcasing (or teasing) your app’s features quickly and succinctly. But to maximise your conversion rates for the lowest possible user acquisition cost, you must understand how to optimise the sequence of screenshots on your App Store pages.

Previously, we touched on how to pick the best ASO keywords for naming your app and designing your app’s Landing Page to draw in users and stand out once installed. In this post, we’ll go over what screenshots to place on your store page to convert views into installs, as well as the A/B testing you can do to optimise conversion rates.

So, without further ado, here’s how you find those high-converting screenshots to increase downloads on the App Store.

 

Making Screenshots that Showcase Your App

Whereas an icon might hint at your app’s quality and general utility, screenshots and videos paint a clear picture of what your app actually does. The best screenshots clarify your app’s unique value proposition and key selling points. How you demonstrate this, however, differs by app type.

Optimising For: Games

Angry Birds

Angry Birds 2 on iPhone shows off both gameplay and graphics. It doesn’t waste space showing how to launch a bird.

Games need screenshots that impress potential users with context about how fun the gameplay is as well as high-quality visual design. Angry Birds 2 is a great example that leads with its lively characters and physics-based gameplay, as established in the original Angry Birds. Adding key benefits at the top-left or bottom-right (e.g., “Multi-Stage Levels!”) is another best practice put in motion by Rovio’s designers.

Optimising For: Apps

CatchoftheDay

CatchOfTheDay on iOS tells a story to engage audiences.

For apps that aren’t games, we suggest showcasing screenshots that inform users how the app works. CatchOfTheDay is a perfect example. First, it hooks shoppers with the lead screenshot (beyond using Apple’s well-known brand and products, it also showcases being ‘Australia’s #1 Shopping Experience’). Then it proceeds to explain the shopping experience by visually outlining the main features the app provides to users.

 

Making Screenshots that Engage Users

Users are selective. You only have one to three seconds to get them to pay attention (Industry experts call this the “three-second rule”). There are several fundamentals to practice to convert the most installs.

Clumsy Ninja

Clumsy Ninja on Google Play leads with an entertaining video to engage Android users.

You’ll want to lead with at least one clear high-definition video. Keep it short and simple – ideally 15 to 30 seconds long. As a rule of thumb, your trailer’s duration should be less than half the time it takes to download the app itself on a 4G connection.

It’s even more important to leverage an app trailer on Android, as your lead video appears at the top of the Google Play store page. Clumsy Ninja does an excellent job of utilising this video top space with its engaging video.

For screenshots, always lead with the highest-converting image based on non-incentivised traffic. This may require some A/B testing, which we will cover later in this post.

 

How to Design a Great Screenshot

It’s very important to have concise and scalable screenshots, as users will be browsing on a range of devices including desktops, laptops, phones and tablets. File format is also a consideration — to get your screenshots onto Google Play and iOS App Store, they need to be saved as either JPEGs or PNGs.

If it’s your first time making App Store screenshots or you need assistance with your next project, you can use AppIconTemplate.com’s handy iOS and Android screenshot PSD templates.

One Minute Closer Apple iTunes

One Minute Closer on iPhone uses some text, while having a visual sense of hierarchy to explain the app’s core values. Source: iTunes

In general, text should be light and used to help frame the visuals. This translates to a font size around 65pts for the body and 100pts for the header. Overall, you’ll want to communicate visually and be supported by — not reliant on — text. Tinder employs this strategy by using text to enhance the visual message.

Screenshots should have a sense of hierarchy, displaying the app’s core features and unique selling points first. This way, the consumer can quickly grasp why your app is better than or different to competitors.

In the Tinder example, users quickly learn that the app shows local people, the ability to quickly like or pass and what happens when a match occurs. This helps it stand out against other dating apps.

Lastly, always make sure screenshots are consistent with the look and feel of the app UI/UX. Otherwise, users will become confused when they open your app and you’re likely to run into user retention problems.

 

Combining Design with A/B Testing

The quickest way to know you have the best screenshots and optimise conversion rates is through sequential A/B testing. However, how you execute this method differs by App Store:

  • Google Play – Android developers have it easy thanks to Google Experiments, which lets you set up tests and collect results within Google’s dashboards.
  • iOS App Store – For iPhone and iPad apps, we recommend using Facebook advertising campaigns prior to an app’s soft launch. The click-through rate for each screenshot will allow you to evaluate which ones drive traffic towards your app and, as a result, will lead to more downloads.

Based on you’re A/B test findings, you should optimise the order of your screenshots so the highest-converting one (among your target users) is first. Furthermore, you need to account for common behaviour across devices where your user views your store page. When they come across your page, they could be on their desktop, laptop, phone or tablet. To maximise your conversion rates, you must not only have the best set of screenshots, but also know the correct order to present them.

 

Key Takeaways

According to analytics firm App Annie, a 10% improvement in your conversion rate can lead to 10% more app installs or 10% less user acquisition to reach your target market. In short, optimising your screenshots will improve your user acquisition.

However, design principles and A/B testing methods differ between apps and Apps Stores, so be sure to keep our guide handy to help you through the process. In time, you’ll discover which screenshots are leading to the most downloads and, in turn, receive the fruits of your App Store Optimisation efforts.

Are there any ASO tools or resources with should be checking out? Let us know in the comments below.

 

How To Make Your App A Money Maker

How can you be sure that you are moving forward with the best monetisation strategy for your app concept? We examine the ideal business models available to help you generate the most revenue.

When entrepreneurs and start-ups decide to develop an app, they do so with a variety of goals they want to achieve. More than likely, one of those goals is to make money.

In March 2015, a survey from App Annie found that 70% of app developers had an objective to earn revenue within the App Store (E.g. In-app purchases, paid downloads), while more than 45% wanted to generate income through in-app advertising (E.g. Banner Ads).

So the clear favourite goal for developing an app is to earn revenue, but what is the best monetisation model to achieve this?

As part of our Rocketfuel Workshop, I have collaborated with entrepreneurs on a variety of app projects to answer that very question. From my experience, the most effective monetisation models have been implemented based on the conceptualised app idea, the user experience it provides and what works in the current app market.

To help you move forward with the right strategy, let’s examine the three main monetisation models you can choose to generate income from your app.

 

Freemium

The freemium model is considered to be the market-leading method for app monetisation. Under this strategy, the app is available as a free download with in-app purchases and/or subscription options for a defined price set by you.

From 2013 to 2014, app revenue generated from the freemium model grew by over 70% across both the App Store and Google Play. This substantial growth can be attributed to freemium’s appeal to a broader user base by eliminating up-front costs, while also creating ongoing revenue streams for entrepreneurs.

When applying the freemium model, there are a number of value propositions to consider so the model is aligned with the app and it’s user base:

  • Usage – The app offers limited usage, so the user pays to raise or remove those limits (E.g. Tinder).
  • Free Trial – The app offers full functionality for a limited amount of time, and then the user pays to continue using these functions after the time period is up (E.g. WhatsApp Messenger).
  • Functionality – The user pays for virtual items, content, add-ons, upgrades, services or capabilities (E.g. Clash of Clans).
  • User experience – The app that is ad-supported, so the user pays in-app to remove ads or through a separate paid download (E.g. Words With Friends).
  • Combination – The app applies two or more of the value propositions (E.g. Evernote – Functionality and Usage).

So what are the right value propositions to choose as part of your monetisation strategy?

Well, the most commonly used by freemium app developers are Functionality (55% of developers) and User Experience (43%). This makes sense when you consider that both can lead to ongoing in-app purchases from active users. However, Functionality and User Experience may not be applicable for certain app concepts and target audiences, so be sure to assess each value proposition in relation to your app idea and the market you’re entering.

Here are a few tips if you choose the freemium model for your app:

  • Choose your purchase options wisely – Provide the user with multiple features they can pay for, but don’t charge for every valuable function the app offers! The user needs to perceive value from the free app’s functions in order to spend money on enhancing their experience. Also, make sure that the purchase is optional and not a necessity. The user will be eased towards a buying decision if the purchase does not disturb their app experience.
  • Focus on WHY users should buy – By making the app free to download, the user has already been provided with their preference to ‘try before they buy’. This decision is based on emotions for the user, and so are their subsequent buying decisions within the app. So when determining which features to make available for purchase, focus on WHY they would spend money on it. Finding and presenting the emotional reason to buy a feature will guide the user towards purchasing it.

Freemium Mobile App Development

Freemium is the top monetisation strategy in most app categories. Source: Statista

 

Paid and Paidmium

Charging a fee to download is the most visible and easy-to-understand way of making money from apps. When applying this strategy, you can either do a once-off fee to download the full version of the app (E.g. Minecraft – Pocket Edition), or make it a paidmium app with additional in-app purchases (E.g. Card Wars).

The simplicity of this monetisation model might make it the most appealing, as it is the strategy that most closely resembles the traditional way of doing business. However, the success of paid apps is entirely dependent on the uniqueness of the product and the marketing of the product’s value.

Consider the psychology of the user when browsing the iOS App Store. Most people are not going to eagerly wait to pay even the small price of $1.29 for your iPhone app – unless they have a compelling reason to do so. The majority of apps are given away for free to create an audience and then generate revenue from them. Once you have that audience’s attention, you can find multiple ways to make money through in-app advertising, in app purchases etc.

Pay-per-download can be a good revenue source under the right circumstances, but for first-time app entrepreneurs who don’t have a proven track record and an eager audience of users, you’re better off giving away your app for free. Get users to download the app, and then make the money.

Mobile Game Apps

Almost 50% of the most popular games on Apple’s App Store are paid apps. Source: Apple

 

In-App Advertising

In-app advertising is a core strategy used to make additional income in conjunction with an applied monetisation model. It involves having ads (E.g. Banner ads, video ads etc.) displayed in certain places within the app. The advertiser then pays you a defined amount whenever users tap on the ad and are directed to a particular link set by the advertiser.

When utilised properly, in-app advertising can generate a profitable revenue stream for app developers. Research from market intelligence firm IDC found that 49% of developers used paid advertising within their apps in 2014, which was an increase of 7% from the year prior. This increase can be attributed to developers more recently focusing on app functionality and the user experience. Therefore, it is essential to find the right balance between monetising through the app stores and monetising through in-app advertising.

You need to be strategic in order to make your app stand out in the mobile app market. This makes picking the proper format/s a key to maximising in-app advertising revenue.

Static banner ads and static full screen ads are the highest earning formats for the majority of developers, with nearly 40% earning most of their revenue from banner ads and a subsequent 25% from full screen ads. These are the recommended formats to apply for in-app advertising as they are less likely to affect the user experience and, in turn, generate the most overall revenue.

In-App Advertising

In 2015, Facebook combined app installs with deep linking so a specific in-app purchase ad opens once the app downloads. Source TechCrunch

 

So what’s the right monetisation strategy for your app?

When choosing the business model to generate the most app revenue, you need to understand your app product first and foremost.

Find the underlying value of the conceptualised idea. Examine the user experience it provides to the target audience. Research the current market your app will be entering.

For our recent app products, the most effective monetisation models have been a combination of freemium and in-app advertising, but even this strategy may not be right for certain apps.

If you have a large consumer base that you know WILL buy your app when it’s launched, then you should charge a download fee for the value it provides!

The decision you make will ultimately affect the success of your app in terms of download traffic and generated income. Choose wisely.

What other monetisation strategies do you think are effective for apps? Please share them in the comments below.