Yesterday Apple unveiled iOS 11 during the WWDC 2017 keynote in San José. It was expected that the Mountain View based technology giant would announce its new mobile operating system to the global developer community. However, most people weren’t expecting big changes to the App Store. Since Apple launched Search Ads just a couple months ago, the developer community was expecting the existing App Store format to stick around. Wrong so it appears.
The changes made to the App Store can be called fundamental. The whole Mobile Store concept basically changed overnight. This will have a significant impact on the way mobile marketers and startups should position their respective apps. With over two million applications in the App Store and over 65% of downloads generated through App Store browsing and searching, making your app as discoverable as possible is vital. If people aren’t able to find your app, you basically don’t exist. It’s really that simple.
Luckily there are a number of tools such as SensorTower, Mobile Action, and App Annie to help you with your ASO efforts. ASO, short for App Store Optimization, is the art of tailoring your product page, your keywords, and your visuals to maximize discoverability, consideration, and conversion. Other elements to take into account when upping your searchability are ratings and reviews as well as the download volume. Needless to say that ASO should be the main focus of every mobile marketer launching an app (together with generating awareness through social media and Google).
So what’s this fundamental iOS 11 App Store shift?
We talked about a conceptual change previously. The App Store is turning into an App Story. This basically means that the storytelling aspect of apps is gaining momentum. App Store content marketing is going to be one of the main things to look forward to. Crafting compelling stories around your app from use case points of view instead of writing short and sweet product descriptions. The why of your app instead of the what? Forget about features, think about problems your solving. User-focused writing instead of product-centered. It’s going to be huge.
To enable the App Story concept, Apple is introducing a couple of new concepts to help users discover new apps. First and foremost there’s the Today Tab, which will serve as the App Store homepage. Today will feature exclusive app premieres, new releases, and favorites. Moreover, and this is where the content marketing really kicks in, the homepage will feature how to guides for apps, interviews with developers and talks with influencers and celebs about their favorite apps and games. Crafting compelling stories will be a vital element to make your app stand out, ergo, mobile content marketing skills are going to be key here.
Games, being the biggest App Store category, get their own tab. This seems to indicate two things. First and foremost Apple really wants to push mobile gaming by making games more visible than ever. This can be fully understood within the context of the Apple ecosystem future in which gaming (VR and AR) play a crucial role. The current generation of iPhone and iPad have the hardware to support AR. VR might be pushing the limits for now. However, in September Apple is set to announce the new mobile generation. Maybe VR and mobile will be one then. Anyways, secondly, the dedicated Games Tab means that Apple is exploring the option of splitting games from apps. Which can again be fully understood given the fact that the App Store is basically exploding quantity wise. Over one-third of apps are games. Splitting apps and games will definitely boost discoverability, one of the biggest challenges the App Store is facing.
The Product Page has been fundamentally redesigned as well. Ratings and reviews are now front and center, which could indicate Apple is changing its discoverability algorithm to be more review and rating determined. Vertical video will also play a crucial role to make your product page as engaging as possible. Over are the days that screenshots made the difference. Welcome to the era of snackable and vertical video. Well, you will still be able to add five screenshots to your product page, but let’s be blunt here. Video outperforms image any given day.
There are quite some unknown unknowns left and future will tell what this monumental change will bring. The main thing to remember is that preparation and anticipation are key here. Already start researching how to best tailor your app story to be ready when iOS 11 goes live later this year.