Crafting the Perfect App Description and Keywords

The product description might be one of the most overlooked marketing opportunities available to developers. Yes, a well written product description entices people to tap that darling Download button so they can get the full picture. But more importantly, a good description is packed with just the right keywords, fueling  discovery.

So why do so many app developers fail to use this marketing tool productively? Persuasive writing isn’t easy, and many developers simply get app-store-writers’-block. To keep you from getting stuck, the following formula is designed to maximize searches and discoverability while also selling your app using the best words possible.

The perfect elevator pitch

To start, put yourself in the customers’ shoes and pretend you don’t know anything about your app. Then think really hard about the words that would make the app become irresistible to you. What adjectives truly describe the sterling qualities of your app? Pick two or three of its best benefits not features. Then work in a background or setting that will have an emotional meaning to your audience. Tie in the audience you’re trying to appeal to. The trick is to keep your description to just two or three sentences and stop before you get into too much depth. For example, which of these two apps are you more compelled to download?

“The Bad Piggies are after the eggs again—but as usual, nothing is going according to plan!”
“The intuitive and responsive multi-touch user interface makes our game amazing and easy!”

Reaffirmations, reviews, ratings, and rewards

Before plying folks with your elevator pitch, dedicate your first 200 characters to really hook them. These are the precious few lines of text that show just below the screen shots.
Grab their attention like this:

■ Promote any price reductions and let folks know when the sale is ending.
■ Brag about any awards your app received or blogs that recommend it.
■ Boast whether it’s been featured, highlighted, or promoted by Apple.
■ Highlight any reviews by well-known publications, people, or your audience.
■ Blow your horn about getting only five-star reviews.
■ If yours is the number one selling app of its category, share the good news.

If you could think of only one thing you would want your audience to know about your app, this would be it. If your highlights are more than 200 characters, keep the list flowing but not so long that people never actually get to read what your app does. It’s okay if people have to tap More to read a description about what your app does, but if they only discover endless lines of praise they’ll get confused and hesitate downloading the app.

Craft an awe-inspiring benefits list

Rather than listing the features of your app, list the benefits of using your app instead. For example, use “brings out your creative side” rather than “photo editor with filters”. Also, people will read a short sentence over a paragraph of text, so try to keep your description to bulleted lists of four or five items.

Leave out the technical details – this list is intended to sell your app, not for someone to build it, so don’t copy from your design spec. Think about all the ways your app benefits your customers and highlight those points.

Share upcoming enhancements

Create a “coming soon” section and share any future enhancements you’re planning to add into the app. Customers might have been hoping to find certain features in the app, but they are willing to use your app as it is now knowing that those features are coming.

Add in a personal note

At the bottom of your description, include a personal note thanking people for helping make your app so popular and ask them to rate your app. Include your social media links and mention how much you would appreciate it if they took the time to rate your app. At the very end, nudge them to tap the Buy button by saying something like, “Download [app name] today and experience the best [your app benefit] on the iPhone!”

Improve discovery with the right keywords

Perhaps the second most overlooked marketing opportunity, just after the product description, are the app’s keywords. These are the words or phrases prospective customers are most likely to enter in the App Store search box when looking for your app. You want to make sure that the app’s keywords appear in either your app name, description, or iTunes Connect keywords. Selecting the right words for your app is absolutely essential for people to find it.

Because you have only 100 characters for your keywords, don’t repeat the same words that are in your app name. Choose wisely because after you submit your app, you can’t change the keywords until you submit an updated version of your app.

To discover the terms people are using to describe your product, ask the king of search, Google. To make it easy, Google’s Keyword Tool tells you how many searches are occurring for specific words as well as other relevant words. Brainstorm all the words that would describe your app and type them into the tool. Google will help you discover new keywords you might not otherwise have thought of.

Other keyword tactics involve searching competitor names or including their names in your own keyword search. You can also look at the keywords similar apps are using on their websites by following a few simple steps:

1. Go to a competitor’s website.
2. Click View and then click Source. This opens the source code for the website.
3. Search for “keyword.” It should be at the top portion of the code. Now you can see what might be your competitor’s top keywords.

It’s a good idea to test your keywords first by entering them in Google or Wikipedia, as well as running them past a couple of friends. Selecting the wrong words could actually hurt sales, so take some time to get them right.

We do pay close attention to App Store search optimization. Build A Train is currently the top result in the store on a search for “train”, which is a fairly high volume term that gets us some consistent exposure. —Christopher Taylor, founder of Playtend (Counting Ants app)

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