App Store Optimization Best Practices

by Fergus Hurley

The Apple App Store is an ever changing marketplace that requires app developers to constantly adjust their strategies to out perform the competition in the largest, most lucrative digital store in the world! Below are some of the key components that every app developer should be iterating to maximize their success. The example I use below is based on the fitness app, P90X app but could easily be adjusted for any app.


The app title should start with the product name but include top keywords (P90X Fitness – Total Beach Body Workout System)


Should include descriptive text overlays with screenshots of the app. These are more marketing screens than “app screenshots” and this is the first thing and most prominent item on App Store pages. See Vine and Cut the Rope as a good example of this.


The description should be short and sweet as the the goal of it is to get people to download the app. Try to use special characters such as stars and all caps strategically to draw the user to the most important information.

What’s New

This text gets the same preview area as the description and all previous versions are viewable by clicking on Version History. Therefore, this should be considered marketing copy and not simply say “bug fixes”.

Search Keywords

  • Name and all misspellings (P90X, p ninety x, p ninty x90x, p90, 90, etc.)
  • Gyms (Crunch, Equinox, 24 Hour Fitness)
  • Competing products (Insanity, Jillian Michaels, Jazzercise, Zumba)
  • Related terms or categories (Fitness, workout, cardio, gym)

Free/Price Changes

For paid apps a useful distribution tactic is to drop the price to free for a short amount of time and run a cost per install (CPI) campaign at a cheaper rate. Dropping the price also enables you to get picked up in the blogosphere and app review sites which will drive organic downloads. Plus, services such as Free App a Day and App-o-Day can promote the price drop in their distribution services if you do a deal with them directly.

In App Purchase/Packs System

At least one of the fitness packs should be free in the app so that when a user downloads the app they get instant gratification and see how it works. The packs should then be sold in packages which heavily encourage people to buy the most expensive pack by discounting it in comparison to the combined price of each pack i.e. save 40% by buying all packs.


Just like with regular gyms most members join for long term subscriptions and although it costs a lot to acquire a customer the life time value (LTV) of the customer makes it a profitable strategy so adding a subscription to updated or new monthly exercises could be another long term revenue source.

User Reviews

If a user launches the app 5 times then they probably like the app. Therefore, you should show a popup to these users asking them if they like the app and if they select yes then to write an App Store review of the app. If you see negative reviews it is worth reaching out to the user if you can find their contact details and then trying to solve their problem and asking them to update their review. For every 1 star review you need nine 5 star reviews to maintain a 5 star status!

App Promotion Ad Creative  

Including memes and clear calls to action just like web banners is very important: “P90X: Want to be HOT this summer? Yes ” (Yes is a button). Also, using different ad creative in different context/apps is important as is refreshing the ad creatives (creating new ones) every few weeks.