Search Scrum: Paid Search Marketing Optimization | Round Barn Labs


May 21, 2019

Paid Marketing
Tye DeGrange

Are you building a mobile app? Have you launched and looking to improve the efficiency of customer acquisition? If you are at this stage then you’ve likely thought a lot about how you can optimize your position in the App Store. If you are not thinking about, now is your chance.

Mobile apps that spend money on paid ads without investing in ASO are losing money.

At Round Barn Labs (RBL) we have worked with hundreds of clients on growth, paid marketing, and conversion rate optimization (CRO) and User Experience (UX). To be as efficient as possible with your hard-earned media dollars, ASO is part of this “channel mix.”

App Store Optimization (ASO) is one of the more important areas for modern businesses to acquire customers. As users have flooded to the App Store (iOS) and Play Store (Android) so have developers and hundreds and thousands of apps. There are a ton of options for customers to consider in each category. As a result, the need to rise above the noise and tell a clear compelling story to your prospective customer is more critical than ever and only growing more challenging.

What is ASO?

App Store Optimization (ASO) is the art and science of optimizing an app’s page listing features to increase organic installs. ASO allows you to improve your app’s visibility on the store (via app keyword rankings), Tap Through Rate (TTR), and Conversion Rate (CVR).

Why ASO?

ASO lowers your CPI

Paid Marketing is great to acquire customers, but it needs to be complemented with organic efforts like ASO. Paid Marketing costs per download can range between $2 on the low end and as high as $8+ on the high end. Of course, this cost varies greatly depending on factors like the app store, country, app vertical, competition, and marketing channel used to send people to your page. We manage paid channels like Google Universal App Campaigns (UAC), Facebook, Instagram, and Apple Search Ads. Each of these will vary in cost, intent, engagement, and effectiveness to your North Star metric depending on product and advertiser. While calculating your CPI, try to think of the organic installs you gain by reacting with your store visibility and improving your rankings. Paid marketing without ASO can help improve your existing rankings linearly, but ASO improves them exponentially. Moreover, when ASO tweaks are conducted correctly and regularly, the newfound rankings from the push of paid ads can stick and keep your organic installs high even after finishing the paid campaigns altogether!

1 - Start of paid ads campaign without ASO
2 - Implementation of first ASO
3 - Keywords study and implementation of improved ASO

ASO improves your CRO

Think of your apps page as your products landing page. Especially while using paid marketing, you will want to send paid traffic to a well-optimized page that converts more efficiently and also acquires customers organically. That is where ASO can help!

What visual factors and inputs should we consider in ASO?

How do keywords impact ASO?

Each keyword is valued by its search volume (popularity), difficulty (competitors), relevancy, and its ability to interact with other keywords to create multiple search terms via combinations. It can also be evaluated more accurately through Apple Search Ads for Tap Through Rate (TTR), Conversion Rate (CVR) and Cost Per Install (CPI) on the Appstore, and via the User Acquisition feature on Google Play Console.

How are the keywords implemented into the different listing features?

Keywords should be implemented in a way that will have a positive impact on the platform’s keywords indexing algorithm. Each store’s algorithm is different - while Google Play favors repetition, it would usually be a bad habit to use on the App stores listing.

Why was my app rejected?

The approval process on iOS is human and therefore may be quite random. There is not always a way to foresee a rejection since it depends very much on the specific person the app was assigned to. Many times an app could get rejected for a specific reason, and upon the next update, Apple will actually approve the change they’ve previously rejected. It is important to note that once an app was rejected, it sticks with the person it was assigned to until its approval, so it’s important to take their notes seriously and implement the changes they require.

This is your canvas

One of our favorite things to take advantage of is the limited real estate that we do have in the App Store listing. We do not have much to work with, so we do need to make the most of it. Here are a few visual examples that we find have improved Conversion Rate (CVR) in our various A/B tests.

Always Be Testing

This is something that lives on our beloved RBL T-Shirt and is said regularly by the team and in posts like these. Here are some of the recommended A/B testing tools and part of our marketing stack that we have found helpful. One of our go-to A/B testing and Conversion Rate Optimization tools VWO outlines a way to set up mobile app testing in this how to article. For clients with larger budgets, Optimizely can also be a great option. This case study outlines how they were able to A/B test to improve ROI for Secret Escapes. The original app signup screen allowed users to skip registering or logging in (Left), while the variation made registration mandatory (Right).

Contrary to what the team expected, a mandatory signup gate was the more optimal experience. It more than doubled the signup rate and did not lead to negative reviews or comments.


App ratings and reviews are one of the most significant factors leading to ranking, CTR, TTR, and CVR. Users rely on reviews to trust your app. Review volume, freshness, and rating all matter. You need to have a framework and strategy for generating regular reviews and replying and improving. This is a good resource to learn more about review plans.

ASO time

Like SEO this is an opportunity to improve your brand’s presence organically. This time from within the App or Play Store. If you have a mobile app and you have further questions, let us know, we are happy to help.

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