The Global Mobile App Boom: 5 Tips for Reaching Millions

mobile-apps-300X300App stores operate as global distribution channels opening access to 155 territories on the iTunes App Store and almost all countries on the planet via Google Play. Hundreds of local app stores in countries like China and India offer additional opportunities.

However, most smartphone owners regularly use only a few mobile apps. These five tips will keep you on track as you run the race to gain attention, achieve downloads, and convert app installers into customers. Execute with care, and you will be well on your way to gaining higher visibility in local markets.

1. App names: You don’t need to translate them, but tag lines help buyers search.
You can keep an app name in its original language for branding purposes. To help buyers discover your app, add a descriptive phrase with translated keywords, sometimes called a “tag line.” The iTunes store allows up to 255 characters in titles, while Google Play’s limit is 30. Study how the name appears on home screens. With limited space, the rule of thumb is between 12 and 23 characters so that no characters get lost when displayed.

2. App descriptions: They’re your one shot at a smooth sales pitch.
Use the 4,000 characters allowed in the Apple and Google stores to insert keywords optimized and translated for each market. Focus on the first sentence because that is typically the only text that visitors can access without having to tap “… more.” Translate the description, even if your app is only in one language. People proficient enough in that language, but who might not have found the app otherwise, will be able to do so.

3. Translated screenshots: Leverage them for organic search.
No matter which culture or language, we’re all attracted by visual content. If your app is translated, take time to prepare and upload screenshots to the app stores. Avoid culturally bound text and images wherever possible. Review faces, backgrounds, proper names, locations, and maps. If you upload more than one, the first screenshot often shows up in organic search results.

4. App reviews: Google considers user feedback significant in its search.
The Google Play search algorithm ranks user reviews of your app in terms of volume and quality. Therefore, take advantage of this extra opportunity to insert more keywords. Respond directly to reviewers. Thank them for their feedback and address questions and suggestions in their language.

5. China: While choices seem limitless, there are only about 20 major app stores.
In 2013 China passed the United States as the country with the largest number of active iOS and Android devices. It’s now Apple’s largest market, with around 30% of the company’s revenue generated by selling into China. However, the distribution channel for Android is fragmented, with hundreds of stores – and ecosystems – run by telecom carriers, standalone third parties, and popular utility apps. Who’s missing? Google Play, of course.

Every phone sold in China is linked to a local app store and pre-loaded with several apps. You should be able to reach about 75% of the market via the top five stores. Currently, the top five app stores for Android in China are 360 Mobile Assistant (Qihoo), Myapp (Tencent), Baidu Mobile Assistant, MIUI (Xiaomi), and HiMarket (Baidu).

Rebecca Ray is a senior analyst at independent market research firm Common Sense Advisory 

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