We employ three general methods to help our clients increase their app downloads: ASO, CPD, and offline sources.
The cheapest and most straightforward way you can acquire users and improve your app download rate on the Chinese app stores is to optimize your listing. We call this App Store Optimization (ASO). The goals are:
By launching Cost Per Download (CPD) ad campaigns in cooperation with the Chinese app stores, our clients can choose how much they want to pay while employing one of the most direct and efficient ways to gain users.
Finally, don’t forget to consider other off-store and off-line methods to drive users to download your app, which we will also cover in this guide.
Each app store hosts hundreds of thousands of android apps, and most users know that the bulk of them are not of good quality. Chinese users have also come to understand that, just as on Google Play, many apps are not well-vetted for quality and exist solely to serve annoying ads and spyware. They are also used to unofficial and outdated versions of apps that were long-ago scraped from Google Play to bulk up the app store’s offerings (which is why AppInChina offers a reclaiming service to our customers)
Your app store listing is your face to the world, and it should present your app in an appealing and trustworthy way:
Official App Mark: Not only does an official app badge influence the weight of your app in organic search, it also increases confidence for users to download it – they know it’s the official, supported version of the app they are looking for, and will likely be free from spyware and other nasty. To obtain this mark, the app owner must apply through the app store (the process will be unique to each store) and typically requires submitting additional documents, such as an ICP Filing. AppInChina can do this on behalf of our clients as part of our User Acquisition package.
Screenshots: Keep in mind that most people in China will not want to spend time inside an English-language app, so Chinese-language screenshots of your app are a must. If your screenshots do not reflect the version of your app that is localized for China, users will assume it is not localized to their language and avoid trying your app. If you need help localizing your app for China, AppInChina provides localization services as part of our standard package.
Proper Chinese: Simply translating your current descriptions with Google Translate can yield awkward and sometimes laughably bad results. This is why AppInChina provides native translation services as part of our standard distribution package. If you are doing this yourself, be sure to enlist a native Mandarin speaker to go over your final text to make sure it is grammatically correct and sounds natural.
Make sure appropriate keywords are associated with your app in the right way so your app will rise to the top of the search results when those keywords are searched by a user. The app store will capture most of these keywords automatically from the app name, subtitle, description, comments, and other elements in your listing. The store’s algorithm will then assign a weight to each keyword, prioritizing certain words over others.
Keyword optimization and ASO are both an art and a science, mixed with a bit of luck and strategic guesswork – and the parameters are slightly different for each app store.
A CPD is the most efficient way to acquire users, but it is an investment. For this, you set keywords and a bid per download during a time-limited campaign, operating much like Google Adwords. We highly recommend launching a CPD campaign on a few top Chinese app stores at the same time you first launch your app to boost traffic at the beginning.
CPDs are also another way to add organic keywords to your listing. For example, if you have a travel app, it’s difficult to organically optimize for popular keywords like “hotel booking” or “flight booking”. However, a CPD campaign can help you do just that: After you stop the campaign, nearly 20% of the keywords you purchased may remain as organic keywords (although this result varies per store).
To launch a CPD campaign requires interacting individually with each store in Chinese, which can be difficult for non-Chinese companies. This is why AppInChina provides this service in English as part of our User Acquisition package – we will set up these campaigns with the app stores so that you don’t have to.
There are a few creative ways to drive people to your app store listing:
Get It On AppInChina badge: Our clients have the option of adding a “Get It in AppInChina” badge to their website or other places online. Once clicked, it will send the user to a landing page of links to your app on each of the Chinese app stores it is available. This way, your customer can download it from the store they prefer. For our clients, the badge and associated code are available inside the dashboard, under the Distribution tab.
QR Code: They may not be so ubiquitous in the West, but QR codes have been quickly adopted and widely used in China. Add a QR code to your off-line promotional material – brochures, inserts, promotional mailings, signs and posters, business cards, packaging (if you are selling a physical product), etc – for a user to scan to take you to their site. Even when messaging through WeChat, users commonly share QR codes instead of links, which can be long-pressed to extract and send the user to the appropriate site.
In our AppInChina dashboard, we can generate a QR code for you that sends them to the same page of links as the Get It on AppInChina badge above.
Official WeChat account or group: Many products, brands, and services in China have an associated WeChat account, which provides a way to directly engage with users. This would be preferable over an email list because emailing is not common in the Mainland. Whether this makes sense for you depends on your business model and goals. WeChat accounts can be customized with menu options and messages that remind users about your app and provide an easy way to download them from the Tencent app store (links to other app stores will not work, as WeChat is owned by Tencent).
WeChat Mini Apps: WeChat Mini Apps are small applets that can be launched and run directly inside WeChat. You can launch a WeChat Mini App to capture additional market share and drive users to your app. Creating a WeChat Mini App does not take as much time or effort as you may think, and we are happy to assist our clients with this.
In practice, WeChat Mini Apps have proven to be popular with users, but retention rates are rather low. This means they may run the app once or twice, but not come back to it again, probably because it is not as visible and convenient as a standalone app icon on your mobile desktop.
Therefore, the strategy we recommend is to create a simple, stripped-down version of your app as a MiniApp, and use it as another channel to drive users to download your android app. Once users run the app, they should be presented with links and appeals to download the full version.
Chinese-language website: It’s true that Mainland Chinese increasingly spend more time in mobile apps, games, and walled social media gardens than surfing the web. However, if you want to increase your presence in China, launch a Chinese-language website that users can find if they search for your product, service or brand in a search engine such as Baidu. Your website should be mobile-friendly in simplified Mandarin, ideally hosted in China (for speed and guaranteed accessibility), and of course include QR codes, badges and links to send users to download your app from the Chinese app store of their choice.
We understand the Chinese Android app market better than anyone, and our international, English-speaking team can easily bridge the gap between the expectations of your marketing team and the different realities of the Mainland Chinese market. Launch your app in China with us and we can help you gain users quickly. Click here for more information.