When the business world—and, more recently, the world at large—goes through changes, the companies that adapt are the ones that will outlast the competition.

As the app ecosystem is affected by shifting mobile trends and the wide-reaching effects of COVID-19, businesses need new strategies for reaching consumers. For businesses with apps, app store optimization (ASO) has become more important than ever—especially for B2B companies, which must optimize for business clients.

Now that demand is growing for telecommuting, team chat, and employee-tracking mobile apps, it's the perfect time for B2B app developers to invest in ASO.

The Potential of ASO

App store optimization is valuable in mobile marketing because it improves organic discoverability and helps apps gain more installs. With proper optimization, an app can index higher in search results, greatly improving the likelihood of being installed.

Why do search results matter? Search has consistently been responsible for 70% of app discovery since 2017, according to Apple, and that number is holding. App developers who want to reach the most users need to optimize for visibility in App Store and Play Store search results.

Companies that use ASO to improve their app's search rank are more likely to gain new users.

The impact of recent transitions to work-from-home is clear: Conference call app rankings have significantly increased due to COVID-mandated lockdowns, whereas job search apps (previously at the top of their category) have fallen.

Impact of COVID-19 on iOS category ranking (category: business)

When such a sudden shift happens, how do you work with or recover from the changes it brings? If you want your app to grow, you'll need to implement a successful ASO strategy.

Analyzing Your App and Opportunities

When you begin the ASO process, you'll need to consider several factors that influence how you position your app in app stores.

Audience Targeting

What does your app do, and whom is it for? The first thing users need to know when they come across an app is what it will provide for them. You must convey the uses and purpose of your app to potential users.

Does your B2B product offer a to-do list or time trackers for HR representatives? Is it an invoice app for financial teams? Is the app multifaceted, made both for team leaders and for team members?

Understanding the key features of your app helps you target users who are looking for its specific functionality. Build a strategy for your audience while also providing a focus on the features they want.

Knowing your audience will guide your decisions for how to present the app in its screenshots and description. In addition, it can help you focus on targeting keywords directly relevant to your users.

Keyword Targeting

Keywords are the most important factor in determining what searches your app appears in. Consider for which terms you want your app to appear in searches. What keywords are relevant to the app and your audience? Do they have high volume?

Consider keywords that are relevant to B2B apps. Is your app focused on business communications? Work-from-home? Research keyword volume and competing apps to ensure you are targeting relevant keywords that can help you grow.

However, search trends on the app stores are not the same as those on the Web. Research your terms using ASO software instead of Web tools (such as Google Keyword Planner), or the data guiding your updates will be flawed.

Competitor Research

What other B2B apps are you competing with, how do they rank, and what keywords are they targeting? Competitor analysis is crucial for developing a proper ASO strategy.

Though you should not simply copy everything other apps in your category are doing, you can identify trends or designs that successful B2B apps use and draw from them for inspiration.

Metadata and Conversion Optimization

Optimizing your store listing's metadata will increase your search traffic. Structure it to target relevant terms and phrases: If your app is relevant to the terms you target, you will improve your app's rankings in search results.

At the same time, search volume must be considered. High-volume terms and phrases will provide the most traffic, but you must ensure that those terms relate to the B2B audience instead of general consumers. Keyword volume may not lead to high traffic if the app doesn't appeal to users searching for those terms.

In some cases, it is effective to target low-volume terms with high relevance to your app. Doing so can help you focus on a niche but specific audience that can provide high-quality, longtime users.

Targeting the right terms can help your app gain more visibility. By taking the time to research keywords, you can ensure that your B2B app is reaching the business audience it needs to reach.

Conversion and Generating Clicks

How does metadata optimization influence your rankings? Your ranking in top positions for each keyword is determined by clickthrough rates—the number of users who click on your store listing or install the app when they see it in the store.

As your app gains more clicks, its ranking increases. The more its ranking increases, the more users see it and the more clicks it has the potential to gain.

B2B apps face a distinct challenge here. Because they are typically targeted at a specific audience rather than a broad consumer audience, they require focused targeting. An install for your B2B app from the wrong user may lead to quick uninstalls or negative reviews.

B2B app owners must ensure their creative elements are optimized. If your metadata is optimized and users can find your store listing, they still have to decide whether to install the app. Optimizing for conversion can increase the chances of users' installing your app by establishing relevance through creative assets such as icons, screenshots, and videos. To get downloads from the right audience, ensure that those assets convey what your app does and whom it's for.

Creative optimization strategies can include...

  • Using keywords in the screenshot copy
  • Presenting value propositions
  • Displaying unique features in each screenshot and video

Using best-practices can show that an app is relevant, up-to-date, and effective. Expanding on that by tailoring your creative to the right audience makes the app more attractive to businesses looking for new solutions.

Paid Visibility

Paid campaigns, such as Apple Search Ads, can further improve your reach and generate clicks. You can bid on a particular keyword or range of terms related to a common concept; that way, you can focus on making sure your app appears in searches for relevant results.

When your app appears as a search ad for the terms you bid on, clicks gained there will count toward improving your organic ranking, which will also improve organic visibility and installs even outside of your paid marketing.

For B2B apps, a paid strategy should target specific searches relevant to your vertical and demographic. It can give your app a boost and make it stand out in searches against heavy hitters such as Zoom and GoToMeeting, while also growing your organic ranking.

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Why B2B Apps Need App Store Optimization Now More Than Ever

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image of Dave Bell

Dave Bell is a co-founder and the CEO of Gummicube, a global provider of data, technology, and services for app store optimization.

LinkedIn: Dave Bell