How to check if your app is on the right track

Hello, we are Checkaso — analytical ASO tool and we’ve prepared an interesting mobile marketing research for you. Since we are based in Russia, we’ve decided to explore the world of Russian apps in Google Play. We’ve developed a methodology and a set of criteria based on our ASO-optimization experience and ML magic that would help to determine if any given app is on the path to success and what needs to be done to ensure that there’s at least some chance to succeed.

To make things easier to understand for all of us, we called the aforementioned set of criteria ASOindex. What is ASOindex? It’s a numerical indicator of page optimization level in Google Play and App Store. ASOindex shows how solid your ASO strategy is.

ASOindex takes into consideration many things — whether audience likes the app, a chance of being indexed by relevant keywords based on text ASO, competitor analysis and their performance, keyword analysis, historical performance of the app and many other different indicators that influence store algorithms and user decisions.

So let’s dive in!

App sample

There’s more than 2.5kk apps available in Russian locale in Google Play. For simplicity’s sake we took only those apps whose physical address or website are located in Russia.

It’s slightly more than 22k apps and it’s not that much. Either it says that there are few mobile developers in Russia (which is unlikely) or that plenty of Russian developers do not mention their physical addresses on an app’s page.

As you can see, 87.5% of the sample apps’ developers have just 1 app on their developer account and only 0.5% have more than 5 apps.

Monetization approach

The majority of the sample apps is free — 94.5%.

16.5% of the free sample apps have IAPs:

Median price for paid apps is 1.54 USD.

Number of downloads

More than half of the sample apps have less than 1k downloads.

Number of reviews

Majority of the sample apps (84.8%) have less than 100 reviews.

Average rating

There’s plenty of researches that confirm again and again that apps with an average rating of less than 4.0 lose a big chunk of potential customers.

If we take the famous apps that continuously stay at the top of their niche and apps where the only reviews left are from mom and friends out of the app sample, we get a median average rating of 4.3 that you need to have to be ahead of more than 70% of the sample apps.

Some theory for determining the benchmark

According to the Adjust report more than 80% of apps are “zombies” — they generate little revenue and have low Conversion Rate and Retention Rate. This conclusion is further confirmed by Gartner.

There’s also some research that shows that only 15% of Google Play developers earn more than 5$k per month from all of their apps (1, 2). It is worth noting that the majority of such developers are not indie-developers.

And last, but not least there’s the Priory data report with more gruesome numbers — 1.8% of Google Play apps and 4.4% of App Store apps get over 90% of downloads. And only 0.06% of Google Play apps and 0.15% of App Store apps generate the majority of revenue in the market. To put things into perspective — according to App Annie worldwide App Store consumer spend is $101B in 2018.

So we’ve got somewhat of a Pareto principle inside another Pareto principle — 4% of apps supposedly generate 96% of revenue.

Benchmark criteria

Therefore, if we go with a Pareto principle for downloads, reviews and average rating for our app sample we will get such numbers:

It’s just 9% of Russian apps in Russian locale.

Correlation of app video-preview and success

60% of apps in the benchmark sample have a video-preview and only 13% of non-benchmark apps have one.

We can draw a conclusion that benchmark apps use video-previews as an instrument to increase Install Rate. Also such apps are more likely to have a budget for a good video-preview. All in all, we confirm once again that a video-preview is an instrument that might increase certain metrics, but having it doesn’t guarantee good installs.

Now let’s dive into ASOindex numbers.

Is ASOindex a good predictor of success?

Remember the Pareto principle inside another one that we talked about earlier? Where 4% of apps supposedly generate 96% of revenue? We will split the app sample in three groups according to that statement:

If you look at the picture below, you could clearly see the difference in ASOindex between apps that meet the benchmark criteria and the ones that don’t.

Well-optimized text ASO in numbers

What is a good text ASO? It’s an app name and short and full descriptions that have potential for being indexed by relevant keywords with enough traffic and are “selling” enough to convince a user that the app is worth looking into. We also look into historical performance of text ASO — if the app gets more well-performing keywords, how much time it took for keywords to be indexed and other things.

For the beginning, let’s take the sample apps sorted by text ASOindex from first and third quartiles to get rid of some basic statistical noise and compare their median values for several indicators. Depending on when the developers started to properly optimize their text ASO and a niche that they target, apps with well-optimized text ASO would have:

If we split the apps based on text ASOindex into five groups (0–2, 2–4, 4–6, 6–8, 8–10), we will find the same positive tendencies for apps that work on their text ASO.

Therefore, we can come to a conclusion that apps with a higher text ASOindex outperform their niche competitors when it comes to being visible for their target audience and CR and IR.

At the same time, we see that average rating doesn’t change that much — it is more about how satisfied users are with the app itself rather than about how much effort it took to develop a good ASO strategy.

Which categories Russian apps tend to favor more?

Racing, Action, Simulation, Sports and Dating — these are five categories where you can find Russian apps that generate plenty of revenue. Such apps have high ASOindex, plenty of downloads and reviews, are indexed by a good number of relevant keywords and ranking top 1–5. Basically, good TTR, CR and IR.

House and Home, Business, Events, Beauty, Libraries and Demo — these are five categories where most of Russian apps do not generate enough revenue. Either such categories are not that interesting for them or they are filled with apps that are difficult to compete with in the first place.

How many apps meet the benchmark criteria in 3 months since release?

How many apps meet the benchmark criteria in 6 months since release?

Some conclusions

On one hand, these conclusions are quite gruesome and pessimistic. On the other hand, it shows that you, actually, have few real competitors, since majority of new apps are invisible — either they most likely don’t have any marketing and ASO strategy or their apps are simply that bad.

Solid ASO strategy and proper marketing research — and you are on the right track.

Keyword indexing and ranking

Category indexing and ranking

Only 20% of apps that don’t meet the benchmark criteria are indexed in any category.

55% of apps that meet the benchmark criteria are indexed in any category.

If we take the top-20% of the apps that meet the benchmark criteria, we will see that 82.5% of them are indexed in any category.

Top-20 category indexing and ranking

2.75% of apps that don’t meet the benchmark criteria are ranking top-20 in any category.

12.5% of apps that meet the benchmark criteria are ranking top-20 in any category. All of them are ranking top-20 in at least two categories.

If we take the top-20% the apps that meet the benchmark criteria, we will see that 37.5% of them are ranking top-20 in any category. All of them are ranking top-20 in at least three categories.

“On the right track” checklist

As you can see, success is not something abstract — you can measure it and predict to a certain degree.

We hope this research will help you understand what parts of your ASO strategy you need to tweak and improve.

Good luck!