The Optimization Station: Topps

Lior Eldan

Welcome to our first ASO app review. We believe this is the best medium to learn how to do ASO for your app. In this series we are going to thoroughly analyze many popular apps utilizing (or not utilizing) ASO the right way.

The first app we are featuring is a Major League Baseball digital trading card game app developed by Topps Sports, best known for their line of basketball, football and baseball trading cards.

Let’s get down to business.

 

App Title

Choosing a title for any product is a hard process. But, choosing a title for an app may be even tougher as along with it comes the additional challenge of choosing relevant, yet non-spammy keywords. A well balanced distinct title, which tells us what the app is all about, and includes the right keywords is a tricky one to find.

Below are the different titles Topps chose for the Google Play Store and Apple App store respectively.

 

 

  • We like the fact that Topps chose to utilize different titles for each app store. It shows that the developer understands that each app store has a different allotment for title character usage.
  • You do not have to be a mathematician to notice that Topps is not utilizing all the characters the app stores allow them. We recommend apps to use every character available on the Google Play Store and 65-75 characters on the Apple App Store.  We will discuss this in depth below.
  • Be descriptive in your app title. On the Apple App Store, I understand through the title that this app is a game. I do not get that through the Google Play Store.
  • For ASO purposes we do not recommend putting your developer name in your title (this apps developer name is ‘Topss’). Check out the screenshot below which lists the top search results in the Google Play Store for the keyword ‘Topps’.

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Notice that 2 of top 4  search returns do not even have the word ‘Topps’ in the title! Clearly

 

Keywords

More keyword research leads to more app visibility. It is essential to include relevant keywords in your title and description.

We selected a few appropriate keywords and analyzed them using the Sensor Tower tool to see how the app is doing.

Just in case you have never used SensorTower before here is some basic information you need to know.

The ‘SensorTower Keyword Traffic’ metric lets app developers understand what kind of traffic they can expect to see for a high ranked keyword. The rating scale is from 1-10.  The MLB traffic of 6.2 (see below) is considered high on this Sensor Tower scale.

We determined where Topps Bunt could rank by comparing it other apps that were ranked above it.

 

capture 1

 

see, MLB is a pretty strong term that gets some serious traffic. It makes sense to include this keyword in the app’s description and title and maybe promoting it a bit more in order to increase visibility.

 

Capture 3

 

not make sense to include ‘MLB’ in the title, as it is extremely long. However, including it in the description, as Topps has done, is a smart move.

 

App Icon

 

app icon

Love it. I really do.

  • Mike Trout is a very famous Major League Baseball Player who year in and year out is a MVP candidate. Most baseball fans (the target market) will recognize his face.
  • The word ‘Topps’ is in the icon. Most baseball fans are familiar with the Topps brand and will be interested in downloading an app that they already have a relationship with.
  • Including a face in the icon was a good decision, as people like seeing faces and they prove to be well received among users.

 

Screen Shots

 

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Above are the 8 screenshots from Google Play Store.  Screenshots are hard to judge from an ASO perspective without A/B testing. With that being said we would love to share some of our thoughts on the current visuals Topps chose to present to prospective users.

  • Treating this space as an advertising space and including text alongside the images is great, and Topps has managed to do a relatively good job.
  • However, most screenshots are similar to one another, which could easily bore users and drive them away. It’s important to use visuals to tell a story, which unfortunately does not happen here.
  • Topps could have been more descriptive in the copy they chose for their screenshots. Straightforward is great, but to a certain limit.

 

Ratings

Ratings are important for the app store algorithms and to reassure potential users that the app is worth downloading. Ideally you want your app to have 4-5 stars.

A quick look reveals that the Topps app is rated much higher on the Apple App Store than the Google Play Store.

One of the main reasons apps are rated low is because of product bugs. In fact, 8% of the users in the Google Play Store and 10% of the users in the Apple App Store labeled the app as ‘buggy’.

 

reviews 1

 

Let us dig deeper into the high correlation between product bugs and low ratings.

Topps updated its Google Play app on September 4th. How do you think the update went? Check out the chart below

 

reviews 3

 

As you can see from this Sensor Tower screenshot, right after the update bad reviews quickly followed. This obviously negatively affects the cumulative average rating Topps has worked so hard to keep near the 4 star rating.

During this time of crisis, if your app is on the Google Play Store,  we recommend responding to every bad rating. If your app is on the Apple App Store, we recommend fixing the bug as soon as possible as users only see ratings for the current version.

 

Localization

Although Baseball is considered America’s “National Pastime”, baseball is a global sport. Localization is the process of getting your app maximum visibility to everyone everywhere.

Unfortunately, these apps are not localized on either app store.

Localizing your app is not something you can do in one night. Our suggestion is to start small and just translate one or two additional languages and optimize for 2 or 3 countries. Below are the top 6 countries where Topps Bunt is ranked highest in the ‘sports’ category in the Google Play Store.

 

dr

 

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Two-thirds of the countries are Spanish speaking. If this app was localized there would be even more downloads in these baseball loving countries. Even the MLB, a huge brand,  recognized this and localized the “MLB.com At Bat” app for the Spanish speaking countries.

 

Link Building

With the recent introduction of app indexing and deep linking ASO is slowly becoming closer to SEO. Not only is link building helpful to drive in more traffic from external websites, links also impact the Google Play Store Algorithm.

We saw the app mentioned on PR Newswire, Twitter, Personal Blog posts, and digital trading card marketplaces.

*http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/topps-bunt-2015-continues-to-revolutionize-baseball-cards-300061058.html

*https://twitter.com/toppsbunt

*http://www.sportscardsuncensored.com/first-impressions-of-the-new-2015-topps-bunt-app/

*https://www.digitalcardmarketplace.com/

 

To improve your ASO the links should lead to the app page (on both app stores) and not to the website, causing users to lose interest and the app to lose users.

 

A/B Testing

A/B testing is so important. Below we see that based on Sensor Tower, on the Apple App Store Topps changed its icon from blue to red and back to blue. Clearly the red icon did not help with downloads. Maybe Topps needed to do some more A/B testing before they made the change.

icon 1  icon 2

 

Final Thoughts

Topps Bunt is one of baseballs best mobile games. We hope that they can implement some of the advice presented in this article so they can increase their organic downloads at a much faster rate.

Have any ideas for which app we should feature next? Let us know in the comment section.

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Lior Eldan
Lior Eldan
Lior Eldan is the Co-Founder & COO of Moburst. As an ASO and Mobile media expert, Lior mentors and supports startups, helping them develop and execute their mobile marketing strategies.

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