ASO vs UA : where should you start

When getting started on a mobile marketing strategy, there are several steps to take. Two of those, the biggest ones are App Store Optimization (ASO) and User Acquisition (UA). They are two sides of the same coin, essential tools to help your app or game grow. But where should you start? Don’t worry, we’ve got it covered!

What are they?

Let’s start at the very beginning, what exactly are App Store Optimization and User Acquisition, and how do they differ. Once your app is up and running you have two options on how to get users: 

  • you can either do it organically, meaning get users who are already in the app stores and drive them to download your app, ASO will help you do that
  • or you can promote your app thanks to ads in order to attract users, this is called paid user acquisition (UA)

ASO aims to improve your app’s ranking and get it noticed across app stores. It brings organic installs. On the other hand, paid UA is bringing you paid installs. Through that tool you’ll promote your app on multiple platforms going from social media, to search engines or even in-game ads. 

Here are the main UA channels:

Why do you need both for an efficient growth strategy?

Separately, paid UA and ASO are great tools for app growth, but they work even better together. They’re two sides of your growth strategy. ASO will enhance your presence in the app stores and UA will bring people to the stores to download your app. Both aim to boost your conversion rate and drive users to your app.

A good ASO strategy is essential to boost your presence in the stores. But you can’t rely only on users that are already in the stores. As Ryan Kelley, ASO Consultant said, “if you want more installs, bring more people to the store”. That’s where UA comes into action, through paid UA you can build your brand and drive users to the store specifically to download your app.

source: MobileAction

ASO as a starting point

Both ASO and User Acquisition may be essential to an app marketing strategy, but if you don’t have the time or resources to do both right away, you should start with ASO. Not to mention that a poorly done listing page could negatively impact even the best of UA campaigns.

In one of our App Marketing Snack episodes, we asked Milan Strba, Head of Growth for SuperScale to tell us whether it was best to start with ASO or User Acquisition. He said to us that ASO was always the first step and that it was “like a building block for supporting paid user acquisition. Because if you start with paid user acquisition and your store is in very bad shape you will feel it on the performance of paid user acquisition”.

According to Storemaven, 60% of installs come from organics, it’s more than half of them. This is why you need to ensure your app’s listing page is up to standards. 

App Radar’s growth framework is also putting ASO as the first step. After all, the app store product page is highly essential. Every user that downloads your app will end up on this page, regardless of where they’re coming from whether they came here organically thanks to your keywords for branding or after clicking on an ad.

So a well-optimized store listing page can only help your advertising efforts, it can ensure that users that clicked on the ad won’t have second thoughts and will effectively convert. You can even use the newest ASO tools such as custom product pages (on both the App Store and the Play Store), to ensure that the entire experience is seamless.

A poorly done listing page would have a negative impact and would prevent conversion. As it is, ASO is the final touch of a UA campaign so you can’t start your campaign without having done ASO first. 

You need your app’s listing page to be the first thing ready, because it will be the final step for both organic users and paid users right before downloading your app, and you need to make the most of that. 

ASO may be the foundation but UA is the cherry on top

Your cake would be less tasty without it. Both of them are complementary, if you had to start somewhere, you need to start with ASO because it’s the final step of the conversion funnel. You can have a great UA campaign, if your app listing page is not high-quality, you won’t convert users. 

But a paid user acquisition campaign can bring so much more. With the latest ASO tools, you 

can even mix UA and ASO in a more organic way, whether through search with Apple Search Ads, or in-app events (or LiveOps in the Play Store)

All in all, they are often considered separately, but they are deeply intertwined, and if you’re aiming for long-term growth and success, you should leverage both of them together. According to Storemaven’s research, “when you increase UA spend and drive more paid installs, you also see an increase in organic installs”. You can’t have one without the other, they’re both essential to help your app grow.

Even though UA and ASO each hold a special role, harnessing and combining them is the winning solution and will give you a competitive advantage. 

Marine Nozerand

Hi there, I'm Marine (she/her), I'm a Content Manager at Apptamin. Apptamin is a creative agency specialized in app videos (video ads, app store videos, etc.).
Marine Nozerand

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