Boosting Welly App's Visibility on the App Store by 400% in Three Months

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7 min read
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Apr 2, 2024
Here we present a mini-case study demonstrating a strategy for promoting an app for search requests in a highly competitive vertical, Health & Fitness, on the App Store. We will show you how you can upgrade your app's rankings with the minimum investment, using low- and mid-frequency keywords.

Our experience with Welly proved that when efficiently utilized, organic traffic acquisition tools can ensure a flow of new users even with investments from $50. There might be enough accumulated data to conduct an A/B test, evaluate the key performance indicators, and calculate the economics — and eventually design a sound, viable business model.

For Whom This Strategy Will Work

This mini-case of ours will be helpful to marketers and project managers maintaining small projects with limited budgets, as well as indie developers.
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App Description

Today we're discussing Welly, an app that helps users improve their eating habits and control weight using the Portion Control method. Portion Control sounds like a perfect name for an indie music band, but it's actually a way to estimate the caloric content of your diet based on the volume of food you eat, but without weighing the food.

Welly is a pet project that saw very few installs from the start. And though the app had some paying users, it didn't have a sufficient budget to buy traffic from performance channels like Facebook or TikTok.

Promotion Goals and Situation Analysis

By the moment Welly's promotion campaign began, the app had a zero Visibility Score. The Visibility Score is an indicator counted on Apptweak that reflects the app's visibility on the store, based on its rankings for keywords and in its category.

It was LoveMobile's task to improve this score and thus upscale the number of impressions to potential users. That said, the team had to take into account all the budget constraints of the project and go with the most efficient and safe way to get enough installs to correctly calculate the economics and pay off.

Our first step was to conduct a competitive analysis, assess the target audience, and choose a strategy that would let us achieve the goal: improving the general Visibility and driving more installs.
We started picking hypotheses and realized there was no way to quickly boost the Visibility Score since such a move would either require great investments in purchasing paid traffic or attracting a huge volume of incentivized traffic.

Down the road, we decided to promote the app for low- and mid-frequency keywords. Such an approach would ensure a stable improvement of rankings, albeit not very fast.

What we also factored in was that summer was approaching, being a high season for the weight loss category. The App Store expected high demand in this vertical.

Choosing a Strategy

Why Canada Was Selected as the Target Geo

There were three key reasons why we focused on this market:
  1. The methodology behind the Welly app is of Canadian origin, and another coaching education project already exists there. Switching to Canada should have provided target traffic, as the methodology is more common there and users are already familiar with it.
  2. Cultural and economic similarities: Canada and the US have much in common in terms of culture, language, and user habits. This way, altering the target region wouldn't result in any significant changes in the product, meaning that the experiment wouldn't require any additional resources.
  3. Canada is a less competitive market than the US, which also affected the choice of this region for the Welly app.

Work Stages

Stage 1: Building the Semantic Core and Improving Textual ASO

Our starting point was preparing a set of relevant search requests. To assemble the keyword kit, our team analyzed the target audience and collected all semantics related to the app's functionality: phrases about improving eating habits and normalizing weight.

Then, using keyword research tools and the results of competitor analysis, we further expanded the list, by adding synonyms, word forms, and expressions. We also considered some local, region-specific factors shaping the keywords. In total, more than 300 search requests were collected.

The chart shows all collected semantics in terms of app rankings for search requests. You can see that some requests were out of the index. The Top 10 only included a part of the collected keywords that had already been used in metadata.
Following the semantics, the team updated the title and the subtitle. Updating text ASO laid the foundation for future organic promotion and increased the app's visibility.
Continuing ASO improvements, our team was gearing up to launch the second promotion component: incentive traffic*.

Incentive traffic involves users who make keyword-based installs. These users search for the app using a relevant keyword intended to increase the app's visibility, then proceed to download and launch it.

Stage 2: Promotion Using Incentive Traffic

When the promotion started, the app in Canada had about 30-40 installs per month, which is a small number for a large-scale campaign. To promote the app with incentive traffic, we used low-frequency keywords that we collected at the analysis stage. Having broken the list into groups, we focused on the primary keywords related to healthy habits. In total, we used 113 keywords in our campaign.
Breaking Keywords into Semantic Groups: Our Strategy and Approach
  • Search requests, promoted as one semantic group, help each other. In other words, a promoted query can have some words in common with another request, which we do not promote. The first request associates with other requests, and the app improves its rankings and generates installs for all the associated queries as well.
  • Not all requests are equally relevant to the app's vertical. We began our campaign with the most relevant keywords and expanded into less relevant ones.

The method the product relies on focuses on the audience seeking healthy weight loss through nutrition. So firstly we focused on keywords that contain the word healthy or a similar message, then we moved on to more general weight loss queries, and then to a category where the audience is looking for a different approach, being potentially interested in our product — calorie counting/dieting.
In numbers, 20-30 installs per day would be enough to ensure safe and efficient promotion for low-frequency keywords.
  • Our calculation was 2 installs per day per keyword (with popularity higher than 5) for 5 days.
  • If any keyword couldn't make it to TOP 1 or or drop down the search results right after we stopped traffic, we left it and moved on to the next query.
  • After a while, we went back to the keywords left behind and set a bar of 2 installs per day again.

Such a method lets us save funds and build a foundation for our further work with high-frequency queries. As we expected, the upcoming summer also brought some extra traffic in this vertical.

This is how the semantics chart changed in terms of the app's rankings for requests.

You can track how our app's rankings improved as we changed metadata and promoted the app for keywords.

Results

This growth stemmed from the balanced use of incentive traffic, ASO efforts, and target audience analytics.
  • We compared the number of organic installs before and during the keyword promotion. What we found was the 2.5x growth!
  • For the three months of the promotion campaign, the Welly app gained a 4x higher Visibility Score.
  • With that, our campaign paid off in just two months, while CPU (cost per user) for 3 months was just $0.75.
Efficient promotion in app store search, unlike classic performance marketing, provides a long-term effect. If you take your app to TOP 1 for a popular request and calculate traffic growth in a week, the acquisition cost per user is likely to be high. But things turn better if you take the app to TOP 1 and maintain its position for months. In this case, you will see CPU decrease month by month.

For small apps with limited budgets, employing low-frequency keywords should be regarded not as a short-term fix but as a strategic opportunity.

For medium-sized and major apps, low-frequency request promotion is a preparatory but optional stage that allows reaching the desired positions and laying a foundation for further, more profound promotion.

Even if we disregard the following promotion steps, this strategy has great potential. Many low-frequency requests ensured a stable flow of organic traffic.

To grow our project further, we can utilize several strategies. The first one is promoting for a greater number of keywords; the second is upscaling by reaching new regions.

We will continue our work on the Welly app and keep you in the know about our achievements!
We attracted target traffic for relevant requests, combining various organic traffic acquisition tools: textual ASO and incentivized traffic.