Mobile apps are, and have always been at the center of consumer behavior in China. China’s app economy surpasses most other markets in consumer spending, the number of apps used, and the overall time spent in apps. Nevertheless, getting your app discovered and downloaded can be quite a challenge considering how fragmented the Chinese app market is with more than 400 third-party app stores available to consumers. Taking full advantage of App Store Optimization (ASO) can ensure that your app is favored over the competition. Whether you are brand new to app store optimization, or eager to fine-tune your ASO strategy, these tips will assist you in maximizing your app store success.
Why is an effective ASO strategy important in China?
Aside from promoting app downloads, ASO can help you increase brand exposure, grow user engagement, lower acquisition costs, and gather customer reviews. Many brands have entered the market with the wrong mindset regarding what it truly means to localize. You might think its effective to use Google Translate, random keywords or take shortcuts without adapting the right icons or screenshots, but inaccurate translations will destroy the effectiveness of your marketing and can easily lead to greater costs for your business in the long run. Using an effective ASO strategy can mean the difference between winning over Chinese consumers. It helps build brand credibility and consumer trust, which is absolutely necessary if you want to gain exposure in China.
Top 10 Tips for App Store Optimization in China
1. Localize for the Chinese language
When localizing your app for the Chinese audience, it’s important to not rely on Google translate. Understanding which segment of the market you are trying to reach has never been more important. Translate all content, from titles, descriptions, texts inside images, error messages and feedback requests. Leaving anything out could risk your app getting deleted or getting skipped altogether. Your app name should also be localized with flexibility in mind.
Translate the very essence of what your app stands for while considering Chinese traditional and cultural values. Although the official language in China is mandarin, one translation approach doesn’t fit all. There are plenty of dialects and regional terms that need to be accounted for when localizing your app. The Gan dialect can be heard in western parts of China, Xiang is a southern dialect concentrated in Hunan, and Shanghainese is spoken in Shanghai to name a few. For example, Shanghainese use 吾 instead of 我 to represent “I”, and 勿 instead of 不 to represent “not”. In most scenarios, it will be best to collaborate with a skilled translator, native speaker or agency skilled in app marketing to enable your app to be more accessible and useful to the local audience.
2. Research Relevant Keywords
Keywords play a very crucial role in App Store Optimization. Implementing the right keywords in your app store profile will definitely increase your ranking and your rate of app downloads. Be mindful of who your users are and what keywords they would mostly use to search for apps in your industry. You should plan to include any and every search term that may be relevant to your mobile app and stay up-to-date with the competition to get an idea of what is already working.
There are also many ASO tools that you can use such as keyword explorer and auto-suggestions to help you get started. It’s also important to take note how data and Chinese character presentation are completely different. When adding keywords, hieroglyphs should have no indents or spaces between words, and you should avoid any ambiguity of hieroglyph combinations to maximize your reach. It is always best to have your title in Chinese using relevant keywords, but having a title in Chinese followed by the English version with brackets is also good practice. Again, it’s best to trust localization to native Chinese speakers who are experienced in the field to avoid any hiccups.
3.Don’t disregard App Store Search Behavior
To get the most out of your app optimization results, it’s essential to understand how Chinese users are searching. This can include analytics on the breakdown of conversion results based on app category and time of day. For example, research shows that users are more open to re-targeting late in the evening for personalization and utility apps. Most app downloads also result from search queries and click-through-rates, so it’s important to use mobile data and testing strategies specifically for the app store you use to showcase your mobile app.
4. Take Advantage of Multiple App Stores
In China, for users with Apple devices, Apple has a localized app store for the Chinese market. However, the case is not the same when it comes to the Google Play Store. Google Play is blocked in China, but the top 20 third-party stores in China cover almost 90% of the Android market. Each store has its own unique features and tools for ASO promotion. The top 5 app stores on the market include Myapp, 360 Mobile Assistant, Baidu Market, Huawei App Market and Oppo Software Store. We recommend utilizing multiple stores, so you can reach a wider audience and improve your app visibility.
5. Create Original App Store Content
Original app store content created with quality can be as important as if you were creating content for a website. A lot of brands forget about or disregard localizing their app page. The store might be one of the first places where people first see your app and quality app content can help connect with your audience and facilitate organic engagement. You need to make sure that your text, keywords, videos, screenshots and app previews reflect the likes and interest of the local market. This could also include adding voice search support.
6. Frequently Update your App
Mobile apps in China tend to come and go over night, so we recommend updating your application at least once every 2-3 weeks. Keeping your app continuously up-to-date is one of the best ways to stay relevant in the Chinese market. Frequent updates play a role in your app store ranking and decreases the risk of user abandonment due to bugs and user function issues. Considering how fast paced digital marketing can be in China, apps with updates tend to be more relevant and drive more positive reviews from users. It’s good practice to include this as an on-going expense when budgeting for your app.
7. User Ratings & Reviews are a Key Component
Chinese consumers rely heavily on advice from peers and product reviews. Creating an original and encouraging in-app feedback system will ensure that users are leaving engaging reviews about your app. The more positive reviews that your app has, the easier it will be to organically spread your app through word of mouth, shares and to simplify consumer download decision making. It’s also important to consider where and when to ask for feedback. It could be after completing a game level or finishing a purchase.
8. Build with Electronic Wallets in Mind
Almost every Chinese app is utilizing WeChat and Alipay, and it would be extremely wise for you to do the same if you plan on making some type of sale on your mobile application. These forms of payment bring a feeling of trust and security to Chinese users and they will be more willing to make in-app purchases for products and services. You can manage your payments from one screen and also take advantage of QR-codes. Selling something within your app also increases the visibility as in-app purchases get indexed by app stores.
9. Make your App Social
One of the most effective ways to increase the visibility of your app can be through in-app advertising and social media channels. You can take advantage of contextual advertising on Toutiao and Weibo. Toutiao ads can be an effective way to drive individual traffic to your app while Weibo ads can be more effective for generating a lot of views. It is also beneficial to create a brand presence on WeChat and make use of video platforms such as Youku for video advertising. The most successful Chinese apps utilize some form of social sharing ability in their screen shots on app stores and app indexing to make their app searchable on the web.
10. Test, analyze and test some more!
As soon as you’re finished implementing and updating the above tips, it’s time to analyze the performance and test ways to further improve your app store optimization marketing strategy. Test different elements including keywords, screenshots and download rates based on different app stores. If you’re not experiencing the results you want, be willing to changes things up a bit because app store optimization is an on-going process.
China is a complex market to promote and advertise in, so we recommend to just embrace app store optimization and follow these tips to maximize your app store marketing results. ASO can give you a boost in users and help tailor efficient promotion strategies to expand your audience. You have to constantly adapt to the changing competitive environment and Sekkei Studio has the service and expertise to make sure every ASO change that you make is a turn for the better.