Incipia blog

ASO Lessons Learned: Optimization Prioritization

Gabe Kwakyi | December 21, 2016

Where should you spend your effort in ASO?

Keyword optimization is a great place to start and can produce excellent results (we nearly always see 10%+ gains in impressions from a single round of keyword optimization, and it's not uncommon to see an impression volume improvement of more than 100%). Yet, conversion rate optimization should not be overlooked, and is a key factor in determining whether you are able to keep gains earned from keyword optimization, as your conversion rate often declines after boosting impressions.

So which app page elements should you bother to optimize?

As an ASO shop, the answer is naturally all of them. But, if you are limited in terms of resources and time, you can work through this prioritized list of elements:

  1. Icon – typically testing a new icon gives the best chance for producing a significant change in install conversion rate, given that it's the only visual element in an Android search, and is the first visual element that users see when scrolling in an iOS impression. We've seen successful icon tests produce improvements as high as +50%, with actual improvements after pushing a test live holding true to tested expectations better than any other element tests.
  2. Screenshots – because screenshots show in a search impression for iOS and are a top consideration for users to determine whether or not to try an app out, screenshots can arguably be considered more important than the icon for iOS ASO. Successful test results show improvements more consistently positive than feature graphic tests, typically ranging from 20-30% and sometimes showing improvements rivaling successful icon tests. Screenshot tests typically hold true after being set live most of the time.
  3. Feature Graphic – the feature graphic is located in Android above the screenshots, which can make it in some cases as important or more important than the screenshots. Successful tests typically show results in the 10-15% improvement range, but can go as high 20%+. Tests set live hold true about as often as do screenshots.
  4.  Short Description – your short description is very important for Android conversion rates, given it shows above your full description and is easier for users to consume as a factor in deciding whether or not to download your app. Successful tests show gains typically in the 5-15% range, but have gone as high as +22% or +28% vs the control. Short description improvements don't typically hold out as well as visual tests, yet hold true better than full description tests. Be aware that your short description also affects which keywords you rank for.
  5. Full Description – your app's description is one of the elements that can produce good incremental returns over weeks, but will not show as much movement as any of the aforementioned elements (mostly under 10%). The first 5 lines are the most important of the whole description, and as with the short description, keep in mind that your description affects which keywords you rank for (for Android).
    1. That said, don't discount the power of testing different opening lines of your description. This type of continuous optimization has enabled several apps we have worked with to earn steady, week over week growth and ultimately excellent gains for minimal effort.
    2. See our YouTube video for optimizing your iOS description using pre-post analysis, and refer to this screenshot showing an example of the results that a single description optimization (12/2) can produce.

ASO description optimization

Lastly, here are some reasons that results after applying A/B tests may not match up with the yield promised during an experiment:

  • The test reduced (text) your relevance/ranking for keywords.
  • The test reduced your conversion rate in pivotal areas, such as top keywords or category views.
  • The test included too little actual install data to be reliable.
  • The test sampled data from a period of particularly high or low performance (e.g. a weekday vs weekend).

That's all for now, folks! Be sure to bookmark our blog, sign up to our email newsletter for new post updates and reach out if you're interested in working with us.

Incipia is a mobile app development and marketing agency that builds and markets apps for companies, with a specialty in high-quality, stable app development and keyword-based marketing strategy, such as App Store Optimization and Apple Search Ads. For post topics, feedback or business inquiries please contact us, or send an inquiry to