How to Harness ASO During the Holiday Season

How to Harness ASO During the Holiday Season

The holiday season is nearly upon us. Whether it is Thanksgiving, Halloween, Hanukkah, or Christmas, the end of the year is packed with seasonal celebrations. Whilst it is the perfect time to celebrate and spend time with friends and family, apps tend to play a special role during this time, be that to purchase gifts, entertain or get organised. 

That is why, during these next few weeks, we are going to guide you through the seasonal opportunities that can give your app the competitive edge in the app stores, all the way from seasonal app store strategies to seasonal retention and engagement tactics. 

In this post, we will be focusing on the power of seasonal App Store Optimization strategies. As consumer behaviours shift during this time, great seasonal strategies can help to acquire and re-engage users more effectively. As the app stores function as their shop fronts, you can make a significant impact by adapting your typical ASO efforts to the holidays relevant to your brand and services. Depending on your app you may see natural growth during seasonal periods.  

How seasonality impacts app growth 

How seasonality impacts app growth

Seasonality can have a significant impact on consumer behaviour. You should give yourself ample time to prepare your ASO strategy for relevant seasonal peaks such as: 

  1. Festive Holidays: This includes major holidays such as Christmas, New Year’s, Valentine’s Day, Easter, Halloween, and other festive periods when app usage, searches, downloads, and spend tend to spike due to increased time spent on mobile devices. This is a great time to highlight your shopping app’s deals around Black Friday and Christmas or align your positioning for your Health & Fitness apps in light of users achieving their New Year’s fitness goals. 
  2. Back-to-School Season: During August and September, there is an uptick in app downloads as students and parents seek educational apps, productivity tools, and organisational apps for the new school year.
  3. Changing seasons and Events: Apps related to weather, outdoor activities, fitness, or travel may experience seasonality changes based on the seasons. For example, travel apps will see increased downloads during the months leading up to the winter or summer holidays. 

A great place to start to identify these trends is turning your chosen app intelligence tool to analyse your competitor set. By delving into a 365-day view, you can start to map out spikes in keyword installs or keyword visibility. As an example, the PrettyLittleThing app unsurprisingly experienced a surge in downloads around Black Friday. The allure of Black Friday sales and substantial discounts typically attract users seeking bargains via mobile and app, as part of the wider consumer purchasing journey. The great news is, there are plenty of ways to draw users to your app during this time purely through your ASO efforts. 

Source: PrettyLittleThing Apptweak Downloads, 31st October – 20th February (iOS, UK) 

How to get your ASO ready for the season

There are key App Store Optimization elements that you can optimise to be in line with seasonal fluctuations. This includes: 

  • Seasonal metadata, such as keywords and subtitles 
  • Seasonal creative updates, such as icons and screenshots 
  • Seasonal In-app Events to cover relevant deals and updates 

Changing your creatives to match the season

Seasonal app icons: 

Changing your app icon to align with the season is common practice among many apps and is a quick win to display to your users that your app has something relevant to offer. The icon is sometimes overlooked by app brands as a static asset on the app stores, which shouldn’t deviate from regular brand guidelines. However, the app store is a great space to exercise flexibility and take a more creative approach to your app store assets and overall branding. The icon is an essential creative that can impact Tap Through Rate (TTR) and Conversion Rate (CVR) significantly. Keeping your design fluid can ramp up engagement with your listing and ensure you increase downloads of users who are looking for relevant apps for the season. 

This is a great tactic to use for apps in the Gaming sector. Looking at the Halloween season in particular, leading gaming apps like Subways Surfers and others have updated their listings with Halloween-themed icons. This indicates that these apps have something new to offer users.  

Source: Seasonal gaming icons on the app store 

Seasonal app store screenshots: 

In addition to changing the app icons, another creative element you should consider is the screenshots of your app store listing. These seasonal screenshots can be more than just a visual change; they can be enhanced with thematic effects, such as snowfall or pumpkins, to showcase the relevancy of your app and seasonal screenshots also indicate high levels of optimisations are positively picked up by the app store algorithms.  

Taking a holistic approach is essential. If you have updated content, products or promotions that are relevant to the season, you should swiftly reflect this in your app store screenshots to make your existing and new users aware. A popular approach by many e-commerce apps is highlighting Black Friday positioning in their first 3 screenshots around the week of the event – this indicates new products and deals that can increase conversion of those looking to snap up a deal. In the gaming sector, games may release limited seasonally inspired levels. Below, you can see that ‘Subway Surfers’ changed their regular screenshots to promote the ‘Haunted Hood’. By highlighting the relevancy of your content, you are increasing your chances of engagement with your product. 

Source: iOS Subway Surfers App store listing

Use seasonal in-app events and promotional content

Whilst your app icon and screenshots are hugely relevant for driving new customer acquisition, you can leverage seasonal in-app events or seasonal promotional content to ramp up user engagement. Seasonal events like Christmas sales or Valentine’s Day-themed challenges can serve as prime examples of how in-app events can capture users’ attention. 

There are two compelling reasons for incorporating in-app events into your seasonal strategy.  

  1. These events provide extra engaging content for your users, which is pivotal in maintaining app engagement, especially during intensely competitive periods like Black Friday and Christmas.  
  2. They can help re-engage users who haven’t interacted with your app in a while, encouraging an increase in re-downloads.  

B&Q ran an in-app event in late September to early October, to highlight their furniture, targeted at university students. This is to take advantage of the time when university students would be looking for new furniture to add to their houses.  

Source: B&Q Back to Uni In-App Event 

It’s worth noting that Apple is more inclined to promote apps that utilise in-app promotions, making this approach not only user-centric but also valuable for increasing your brand’s visibility in the face of strong competition. If you want to learn more about In-App events check out this blog.

Update keywords in line with seasonal trends

To enhance the visibility and effectiveness of your app on the app store, updating your keywords with seasonal terms is crucial. Also, note when you are researching these keyword trends, don’t forget to lean on your intelligence tools, competitors, Apple Search Ads, and more, to identify seasonal keyword opportunities.  

Maintaining an agile metadata optimisation framework is essential year-round, but it becomes even more critical during seasonal spikes in user engagement. To capitalise on these opportunities, thorough research is imperative. Utilise intelligence tools to identify trending seasonal keywords; for instance, the popularity of keywords like ‘Black Friday’ can surge ninefold during the holiday week (AppTweak, 2022, iOS UK). A fitting example of incorporating seasonal keywords is B&Q. The app adapted its metadata optimisations to capitalise on this increase in keyword visibility for Black Friday in 2022. They included words like ‘Black Friday,’ ‘Deals’ and ‘Discounts’ to best target users who would be searching for these terms around the Black Friday Season.  

Source: B&Q Black Friday metadata update, App Tweak (Android, UK) 

Outside of keyword trends, you can also turn inward and review your user data to inspire your seasonal keyword bank. Analyse product and revenue data to pinpoint what has historically performed well during the season you are targeting. For instance, if ‘winter coats’ or ‘Christmas gifts’ experience a significant boost in in-app engagement, this insight can guide your keyword choices. It is important to cross-reference this data with search popularity scores from your intelligence tools to ensure that the selected keywords are not only relevant but also possess high search potential, so you do not waste those valuable characters.

Conclusion

In conclusion, preparing your app for the holiday season and harnessing ASO and creative strategies is essential for maximising your app’s reach and engagement during this festive period. The holiday season is a time when certain apps experience significant natural growth, and it’s crucial for app developers and marketers to adapt and thrive in the competitive app market. Incorporating the strategies, we have outlined above and being agile in your approach to ASO and creative elements during the holiday season can give your app a competitive edge. Make sure to keep an eye out for our two other ‘Holiday Season’ blogs coming out in the next few weeks. 

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