iOS 11 App Store Optimization: What App Marketers Need to Know Before It Goes Public

6 min read

Today is the first day of WWDC17 and Apple has announced the usual array of exciting new improvements to their software and hardware products.

Apple’s strategy to make a gradual progression from desktop to mobile is becoming even more evident in the iOS 11 update for iPad. The new dock looks very similar to see what we are used to on macOS.

iPad Pro
Image: Apple

This is in stark contrast to Microsoft’s bone-jarring, Jekyll and Hyde transition strategy that we have seen in Windows. It’s a great sign for the future of mobile apps on iOS.

But you can read more about the consumer-side features on sites like TechCrunch. In this post, we will go over what you need to know about App Store Optimization in iOS 11. Then we will also take a look at how some of the new features can help app marketers, in general.

iOS 11 App Store Optimization Tips

As with all big updates to the App Store, you need to understand how the updates will influence your ASO strategy. Here is what you need to consider when doing your next update.

App Name

Remember when you could have 255 characters in your app’s name?

Well, in iOS 11, the opportunity to put valuable keywords into your app’s name becomes even more restricted. Apple is reducing the maximum characters in the app name from 50 to 30 characters.

App name 30 characters
Image: Apple

So now it’s even more important that you pick the right primary target keyword to include in your app name. If you need help with picking the right keywords for your app, read this complete guide on iOS ASO.

App Subtitle

Since the maximum number of characters in the app name is being reduced, it is likely that Apple decided to add the new app subtitle field to make up for the loss. This is similar to the short description on Google Play and is limited to 30 characters in iOS 11.

Use this field to communicate the value of your app. The keywords in your subtitle will be indexed, so be sure to add a few of your best keywords. 

The exact impact of the keywords in this field remains to be seen, so subscribe to our newsletter to get updates when we find out more.

Promotional Text

This is another new field that appears above the app description. It allows app publishers to use a maximum of 170 characters to further communicate the value of their app.

The best part about this field is that changing it does not require a complete app update. 

You could use this field to announce events in your app, share news, or promote limited-time sales. Even if you don’t want to utilize it for these reasons, this new field will allow you to test different messaging quickly, without doing an update or using third-party A/B testing software.

App Preview Videos

Preview Videos get an upgrade in iOS 11. Given the new features, it’s probably going to be more important than ever that you have a Preview Video on your App Store product page.

Here’s why…

  • Display up to 3 videos on your product page
  • Videos can now be localized
  • Videos autoplay without sound on your app’s product page
  • Videos appear before screenshots

The autoplay feature in particular will probably do a lot to communicate the benefits of your app.

Increased Ratings Display Control

New ratings screen

In iOS 10, the average rating of the current version is displayed in App Store listings and whenever an update is published, the average rating of the app is reset. That punishes app publishers who keep their app up to date because the number of ratings of the app will always be low.

The iOS 11 solution should strike a good balance between allowing publishers to correct their mistakes and providing an accurate representation of how good the app really is.

Only the overall average rating will be displayed in iOS 11. You will also be able to determine when you reset the average rating of your app.

When used properly, this new feature will allow you to erase mistakes that you have made in the past, so your ratings properly reflect the current quality of your app.

Expanded Search Results

In iOS 11, other elements of your app will appear in search results, not just your app’s profile page.

This includes:

  • Developers
  • In-app purchases
  • Categories
  • Editorial stories
  • Tips and tricks
  • Collections

Of particular note are editorial stories and tips and tricks. This is Apple created content that will highlight noteworthy iOS apps.

Apple Music has been using a similar type of curation process to help people discover new music. Presumably, this has been working well and Apple has decided to implement this strategy on the App Store too.

So in order to increase your App Store visibility, you will need to figure out how to get Apple’s attention. These are the things that they are looking for.

Apple mentions that you should put in your request to be featured 6-8 weeks before you officially launch a new feature or app. 

New Featured Apps Layout

With this new emphasis on curated content, the Featured Apps layout will change from this:

iOS 10 featured apps

To this:

Featured

Yeah, getting featured is going to be an even bigger deal, since there will be fewer apps visible at a time.

New Menu Structure

This increased focus on editorial content can be seen in the new App Store menu too.

iOS 11 App Store Menu

The Categories, Featured and Top Charts are gone and Today, Games and Apps will be added. The first three tabs will feature Apple curated/created content.

Top Charts Rankings Still Displayed

Although the Top Charts option will be removed from the iOS 11 menu, the category ranking will still show up on the product page. So it will still be beneficial to rank well in a category, but it may not be as beneficial as in previous versions of iOS, since people cannot easily browse the Top Charts from the main menu.

Top Charts rank

Promote In-App Purchases

Another new addition to the App Store is the ability to promote your in-app purchases on your product page. Each IAP will have its own title, promotional image and description.

You can display a maximum of 20 IAPs on your product page.

Since your IAPs will also show up in search results, it is vital that you give them a descriptive name and target keywords that you want to rank for. It is also beneficial to expand your IAP offerings, if that makes sense for your app.

This will give you a larger search footprint.

If someone finds your IAP in search results, but doesn’t have the app installed, the App Store will prompt them to download or purchase the app before proceeding.

iOS 11 App Marketing Tips

Alright, now that you have a good idea of how ASO will change in iOS 11, let’s step back and look at the bigger picture.

What are some ways that you can leverage iOS 11 to improve your app’s functionality and overall visibility on user’s mobile devices?

Here are a few ideas…

Business Chat

This is an interesting one.

It’s something that wasn’t talked about in the Keynote presentation, but it is a feature that is on the Developer website and the WWDC session video will be available soon.

Why should you care?

Well, from the very limited description, it looks like Business Chat is meant to replace Facebook Messenger, Twitter DM and to a certain extent, apps like Intercom, as a way for customers to live chat with companies.

Apple Business Chat

This removes the need for customers to have a Twitter or Facebook account, in order get real-time responses. It remains to be seen how well this will work.

But it has a couple of big potential benefits to app publishers who provide this support.

Better App Ratings

First, great app support can lead to better app ratings. As you know, app reviews are very important for App Store rankings.

So if you have the capacity to provide this type of support, Business Chat is certainly something that you should keep your eye on in iOS 11.

More App Engagement

When you respond to users in real-time, they are more likely to use your app because they will be able to get past roadblocks or understand the value of the features in your app.

Bottom line…if Business Chat does become a primary way for customers to communicate with app publishers, then it can lead to better user satisfaction, increased app engagement and more revenue.

Even More Visible Messages Integration

iOS 10 introduced iMessage Apps and iOS 11 will give users a new app drawer to have easier access to iMessage Apps. So if you don’t have an iMessage compatible app yet, then consider creating one.

App drawer

Even if it’s just a stickers app, if people love it and use it a lot, then it will remind them to use your primary app too.

Augmented Reality Support

We talked about AR vs VR in a previous post and looks like Apple has chosen a side. iOS 11 will feature ARKit and give developers the tools to create immersive app experiences.

If this is something that you can implement in your app, it can help you stand out from the crowd.

Conclusion

Whew, so that’s everything you need to know about optimizing for the next version of iOS. There are quite a few changes and we will be busy updating our content to reflect these changes.

iOS 11 will be available to the public later this summer. So get a jump on your competition and be prepared for the update.

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5 Replies to “iOS 11 App Store Optimization: What App Marketers Need…”

  1. Great recap.

    Regarding videos, I’d just add that in addition to autoplaying without sound on the app product’s page the first app preview also autoplays without sound in the search results. Makes it quite visible and attractive to the eye (especially for landscape apps).

  2. Thanks for this great update, really useful for us developers. Since iOS 11 will be available to the public later this summer, this means we should implement ASO changes you talked about at that time, right ?

    Thanks,
    Arthur

    1. Hi Arthur,

      You should implement them as soon as they are available in your developer console and be prepared even sooner 🙂

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