An app revival of sorts.
A little under a month ago I wrote a blog article ‘Hows to revive an app – Maybe?‘ where I discussed my reasons for re-releasing one of my apps. My goals were to increase visibility in the app store, achieve a better conversion rate (more downloads) and eventually see if I can actually make some money from ad revenue for a change. In this post I am going to analyze the impact of my re-release on iOS (because traditionally I get better performance on iOS) and judge how successful I was at achieving my goals.
If you just want to see my findings then jump to the end to see my summary.
‘Brain Distraction’ was released on the 22nd of March, and although I wanted to wait a whole month before I did my analysis I have noticed that the impressions from ‘App Store Searches’ have shown a steady decline. I want to re-optimize my keywords before the month is up, meaning that I need to bring forward this analysis.
I am going to focus this post on the week prior to me writing it; April 8th – April 14 2018. As discussed in my original post I left ‘Zero IQ Test’ live on the app store so that I could do a better side by side analysis.
Visibility In The App Store
An increase in visibility would indicate that the keywords I have chosen are working. According to different articles I have read app visibility can be measured via impressions in the app store, keyword rankings, ranking in the app store, and whether or not it has been featured.
According to App Annie ‘Brain Distraction’ has not been featured anywhere : ( , so an analysis of this will not be included in this post.
According to iTunes Connect Impressions are ‘The number of times [my] app showed up on the App Store’. Impressions for me came from two sources ‘App Store Browsing’ and ‘App Store Searches’.
Here I believe the most important metric is the number of impressions that result from ‘App Store Searches’, as these impressions relate to what keywords the user typed in (whereas impressions from App Store Browse have little to do with what is searched for). You can see from the table above that over the same period ‘Brain Distraction’ received 93% more impressions than ‘Zero IQ Test’, this is not as high as I had hoped for but is not bad considering that I optimized my keywords about 2 months prior to release. I think this shows that I am on the right track with my keyword optimization, but there is still room for further optimization.
When I take a closer look at the high number of impressions from ‘App Store Browse’ I can see that quite a high percentage of them come from China (49%) which I have localized for, however, when I drill deeper I can see that I have no downloads from China over the same period. This is something that I should address in the future.
In my original post I discussed my reasons for choosing ‘Brain Distraction – Red Herring’ as my title on iOS. You can see from the table above that although I had good reasons for choosing these words that I have failed to rank well for any of them. I am slightly happy with ranking at 10 for ‘distraction’ as it had a chance score of 66 which made it a difficult proposition. I had a couple of family members search for the term distraction and download the app, this may have had something to do with the higher ranking. When I redo my keywords I will look at what words I could substitute ‘red herring’ for.
For the rest of my keywords I will focus on those words/phrases with a ‘search score’ higher than 30, as this means there is reasonable traffic, ranking highly for a word/phrase that has no traffic is not much use.
In the table above you can see that I managed to get two phrases ranking in the top 5, whereas with Zero IQ Test my best words rank at 55 and 61. This is to be expected since Zero IQ Test hasn’t been optimized since it was published in November 2017.
App Store Ranking
Neither Brain Distraction or Zero IQ Test have ranked very well, however, Brain Distraction seems to have ranked much higher peaking at 493 in ‘US Strategy Games’. Rankings seem to be tapering off which is another reason I want to re-optimize my keywords as soon as possible.
Overall Comment on App Visibility
While ‘Brain Distraction’ hasn’t raced to the top of the charts I am happy with how it compares with ‘Zero IQ Test’, according to all metrics analyzed here (Impressions, Keywords Ranking and App Store Rankings) it is doing much better. The fact that there has been a measurable increase gives me some level of confidence that the process I used to select my keywords is on point. I am hopeful that my next round of optimizations will deliver similar results, especially if I can deliver them in a more timely fashion.
Having successfully increased my apps visibility my next goal was to increase the number of people who clicked to view and/or downloaded the app. A higher conversion rate will show indicate that the $60 I spent on re-skinning the app was well spent.
For conversion rate there are two important metrics;
- Click-through rate (CTR): a percentage of users that come across your app’s snippet on the store (in Search, Top Charts and Featured), and tap to view its product page. This is mainly affected by your App Name and Icon.
- CTR = Average Product Page Views / Average Total Impressions
- Conversion rate to install (CR): the percentage of visitors of your app’s product page that have downloaded your app.
- CR = Average App Units / Average Product Page Views
First I need to acknowledge that I am dealing with relatively small numbers and therefore small changes or differences can have a big influence on the percentages, however I still find these results interesting as Zero IQ Test has a higher Click through rate (CTR) but lower Conversion rate to install (CR), this is not at all what I expected. I had hoped that Brain Distraction would be higher on both, but on the upside, this discovery may offer an opportunity going forward if I can work out the reasons for differences.
One thing to note is that since there is no way of disguising whether installs came from the ‘product view page’ or the search page (this is why it is possible to end up with a CR of greater than 100%), it is possible that the drop on CTR with ‘Brain Distraction’ is due to people installing the app directly without visiting the product view page.
Click Through Rate (CTR)
Earlier on I showed that Zero IQ Test had virtually no impressions from App Store Browsing, therefore, the CTR must result from App Store Searches.
I understand that there is some difference in the way that iOS 11 and its predecessors display search results, but when I broke down my impressions by iOS version for Zero IQ Test I could see that only 10.2% came from earlier versions of the operating system. I think that it is therefore fair to say that iOS version is not a major influencing factor in the differing CTRs.
I designed the icon for ‘Zero IQ Test’, while I paid for (as part of the $60) the ‘Brain Distractions’ icon. Part of me would feel good knowing that the icon I designed was performing better than the ‘professionally’ designed one. The only way to confirm if the icon is having an influence on CTR would be to do some A/B testing. Since I am not a designer, this is something that I might consider in the future if ‘Brain Distraction’ makes any money.
I named ‘Zero IQ Test’ because the name sounded cool, whereas, ‘Brain Distraction: Red Herring’ was named as a result of research into keywords that would increase app visibility. I think that as a small indie developer these two ideas (cool vs visibility) will often conflict with each other and unfortunately, I am always going to have to choose words that increase my visibility on the app store. Big companies who already have made a name for themselves or have a budget for advertising have the flexibility to choose ‘cool’ names.
It could be that ‘Zero IQ Test’ is more catchy and drives more clicks, if this is the case then there is little I can do about it, I would also be extremely reluctant to rename the app for the second time. I may however look into changing ‘Red Herring’, I chose this phrase because it had a high search score and chance. If it is not performing for me then maybe another phrase might perform better.
Once again I chose the subtitle for ‘Zero IQ Test’ (Can you do the opposite?) – because it sounded cool, and ‘Brain Distraction’ (Worlds Easiest Reverse IQ Game) based on keyword research. Not surprisingly if I look at the rankings of the words/phrases in each subtitle I can see that none of the combinations within ‘Can you do the opposite’ rank at all, whereas different combinations of ‘World Easiest Reverse IQ Game’ rank in at 11, and 13. I had thought that if the subtitle matched closely to search terms then this could be a reason, but given the lack of keywords in ‘Zero IQ Test’ subtitle then this is unlikely to be a reason.
It is possible that ‘Can you do the opposite’ is a more compelling subtitle than ‘Words Easiest Reverse IQ Game’, in the future I might do some A/B testing to see if changing the subtitle increase the CTR, however, this would have to be done while considering keyword combinations and rankings.
App Previews / Screenshots
Here is where there is the biggest difference, ‘Zero IQ Test’ includes an app preview (video), while ‘Brain Distraction’ does not. This decision was not based on laziness, but simply because I was not confident in the quality of the app preview for ‘Zero IQ Test’ (since I made it). Maybe this decision was made in error and even a low-quality app preview is better than none.
Since the lack of an app preview is the most obvious difference I will aim to include one in the next update for Brain Distraction.
Conversion rate to install (CR)
The 57% increase in conversion rate would indicate that the changes I have made worked. This could include the new graphics and/or the rewritten description. I don’t believe that I will make any changes here until I have addressed the other issues above.
It is quite hard to do a proper analysis of money earned during this time as I am dealing with such small numbers and my ad provider tells me that things won’t settle down until at least 10,000 ad impressions per day (I am using an ad mediation service so it involves a lot of different ad networks). Currently, I am averaging only about 400 impressions per day and the money earned is quite inconsistent. My best day earned me about $7US for 321 impressions, but on other days I might receive twice as many impressions and receive nothing. I realize that there is a whole lot of learning required around how this works and I will get to that in due time.
While I am actually enjoying learning more about the non-coding side of being an indie developer the eventual goal is to learn how to make some cash, my goals are (in order);
- for my apps to pay for themselves (in the case of Brain Distraction that would require $60US).
- to have enough money to be able to ‘invest’ (i.e. graphics, a little marketing etc) in future apps without feeling guilty.
- to be able to pay support costs such as for the Apple Developer License and Adobe CC etc.
- a huge jump – be able to support myself on what I make.
I believe that I am on my way towards achieving my first goal for Brain Distraction, at this moment in time I have made a tiny bit over $38US on ‘Brain Distraction’ which I consider a major WIN. To put this into perspective, I only made about $11US over the 1 1/2 years prior to the release of ‘Brain Distraction’. Interestingly, ‘Zero IQ Test’ has also made about $6 dollars in the time since I released ‘Brain Distraction’, I am assuming this is from people who download ‘Brain Distraction’ and then check out other work from the same author.
I am pretty happy with how ‘Brain Distraction’ has performed, but as I have read in several different places App Store Optimization is not a one-off thing, it needs to be ongoing and live. Here is a summary of my findings;
- Impressions from ‘App Store Searches’ are up 93%
- A lot of ‘App Store Browsing’ comes from China, but the conversion rate (CR) is low. I will look into this.
- Keyword ranking in the title is not as high as I had hoped, but overall ‘Brain Distraction’ is ranking for keywords/phrases much better than ‘Zero IQ Test’. Keywords need to be reoptimized.
- App store rankings has improved, but is still quite low.
- There has been a drop of 26% in click through rate (CTR). I will add an App Preview to ‘Brain Distraction’ to see if this addresses this issue.
- There has been an increase of 57% in the conversion rate (CR).
- I am not making a huge amount of money, but there has been an improvement since I released ‘Brain Distraction’.