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Mobile Marketing

ASO Tactic: Pick a Great Name

Guest Blogger  //  November 24, 2015  //  8 min read

What’s in a name? Your app’s title is one of the most important marketing messages your potential customers associate with your app before they download.

Although app keywords and screenshots are a more important factor for App Store Optimization and discoverability in the app stores, your app’s name is the single hook potential customers make with your app. If your app’s name doesn’t stick with your customers, you might as well throw your towel in the ring.

How do you come up with an awesome app name? These tips will help you crush it in the app stores.

Avoid Unpronounceable And Ambiguous Names

Your app’s name should be easy to pronounce. Don’t try to be overly clever, and don’t pick a name that uses an ambiguous spelling. It’s of course your decision to come up with a clever name (or not), but it’s best to give your potential customers a name that’s easy to remember. You don’t want to miss out on app sales, or lose app engagement, because your app’s name is too hard to pronounce.

If you have difficulty coming up with a good name, start with a simple word and ideate from there. Or use a thesaurus to help you to find a word that has a similar meaning to your original idea or Unique Selling Point (USP).

Here are two examples of unique names you’ll be familiar with:

  1. Google comes from the word “googol”. It’s the mathematical term for the digit 1 followed by a hundred 0s. It’s claimed that “google” was an accidental mispelling from the word googol. The name signifies the archival and searchability of large quantities of data.
  2. Tinder was first called Match Box, but it changed its name because it was too similar to online dating website Match.com. The founders stuck with the spark-the-flame theme though: tinder is the bast fibre and small pieces of wood you ignite a fire with.

Make Your App’s Name Recognizable

Apart from being easy to pronounce, your app’s name should be recognizable. This factor alone plays a huge role in a potential user’s decision to install and try your app. If you want to attract prospects to install your app, the best way to do it is to come up with a name that resonates the USP of your app.

Recognizability is key for your app’s name, your app store page, keywords, screenshots—basically every marketing effort you make should march to the exact same beat. It’ll help prospects make a better purchase or install decision, and ultimately will result in higher quality sales and engagement.

  • Square, the financial services company, has a number of popular apps. Square Cash, one of their apps, has only one purpose: send cash to friends. If you look closely to their app page screenshots, captions, and keywords, it becomes very clear that all words are specifically chosen for recognizability and similarity. Between the “Send Money For Free”, the dollar-green UI color, the repeated use of hassle-free words like “any,” “only,” “just,” and “instant,” you can clearly see the intent to make this the world’s easiest money sending app ever.
    Screen Shot 2015-11-24 at 9.26.38 AM
  • Apple itself is very clear about recognizability. The iOS Human Interface Guidelines state you should use “universal imagery that people will easily recognize” for your app icon. Moreover, the App Store Review Guidelines prohibit the use of names, screenshots, and other meta data irrelevant to the content of the app. In other words, Apple underscores the importance of a coherent and recognizable app marketing message.

Know Thy Enemy (i.e. Check What They’re Doing)

It doesn’t matter how original you think your app idea is. Chances are a similar app is already available on the app stores. When you’re naming your app, check out the app titles of your competitors. You don’t want to pick the exact same name, but you don’t want to steer away too far from your competitors either. The fact that an app is already available on the App Store doesn’t mean it’s a bad idea to build a better app. The opposite isn’t true, either: an app that doesn’t exist yet can simply mean no one really wants it.

By checking out your competitors, you are able to create a name that stands out from the rest of the pack. It’s good to be different, but not too different. Looking up competitors can also give you information about the size and profitability of your market and give you ideas for building a better app.

  • AppAnnie is an incredibly helpful tool for researching app ideas and app names. Simply typing in a keyword in their search tool already returns dozens of results for similar apps. You can check out which search queries people use when finding these apps with the App Store’s search feature and most of AppAnnie’s app data includes detailed overviews of number of installs.
  • Quora isn’t just a questions-and-answers community. Many companies respond to customer support questions on Quora or use the platform to gather feature requests. You can use the same information to beat your competitors. Is a user complaining? Perhaps you can chime in on the conversation and convert the unhappy user to your camp. Likewise, Quora yields many ideas for potential apps. People ask questions about topics they’re passionate about. You bet Quora has a target demographic with a specific problem that you can solve with an app.

Use A Keyword Tool To Optimize For ASO And SEO

Marketing your app in the App Store is all about App Store Optimization and it’s older brother Search Engine Optimization. SEO has taken a new turn when Google started including deeplinks (links directly into apps) in its Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs). App Store Optimization is key to marketing your app in the App Store, by testing and tweaking your app’s keyword, description and screenshots.

You can use tools like Moz and SEMrush to help you find strong keywords that match your goals. Likewise, use AppAnnie to measure competition and potential for App Store search keywords. Working with search query phrases has an additional benefit: it’ll help you think and talk with the words your customers use!

  • Go to Meetup.com and check out tech meetups in your area. Most of these events include networking and drinks, so you get to meet other founders and can talk about your app. It may sound silly, but sometimes we forget that in front of all those computers and smartphones actual real people live. Real people interact with your website and your app, and have thoughts about them. You can spend a day optimizing your keywords
    to get more users, but it might be equally effective to get out there and talk with people about your app.
  • Content marketing is a great way to build a tribe and connect with people through information. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a story, an academic paper or a round-up post riddled with links: content connects people. A great way to get started with a blog around your app is to check out long tail keywords. Long tail keywords have a small search volume, but are highly specific. In the beginning stages of your app you might be targeting a small nice. That small nice has a specific need and most likely they’re searching about that need through long tail keywords.

Stick To 11 Characters Or Less

When picking a name for your new app, it’s best that you keep it at 11 characters or less. Yes, this includes spaces! On Springboard, the iPhone home screen, limited space is available below your app’s icon. Don’t run the risk of your app’s name being cut off.

Screen Shot 2015-11-24 at 9.52.34 AM

Which of these names is not like the other?

In the App Store, make sure you include keywords in the name of your app. The Springboard display name and App Store name can be different. It’s an App Store Optimization tactic: include keywords in your App Store app’s name and change it regularly based on the search queries you get from AppAnnie.

  • An incredibly easy way to test out whether your app’s name and icon look good on a user’s homescreen is to create a bookmark from Safari on your own iPhone. Create a simple HTML page that includes your app icon as its favicon, then create the bookmark from Safari. You immediately see that the iPhone moves characters of longer app names closer together and you can also check out how your app’s icon looks on different backgrounds.
  • It’s said that all one word and five character domain names are already taken. Thanks to the increase of top-level domain names like .ly, .io and .co app makers get better chances at securing a short and easy domain name. Is your app name already taken? Consider combining it with a short word, like “get” or “app.”

It’s OK To Make Up New Words

How many app’s do you know that have a name that’s not an ordinary English word? Plenty, right? It’s OK to pick an app name that’s not a real word. Moreover, sometimes that’s the only way you can make a truly innovative app.

If you are running out of ideas, pick up a pen and paper. Start scribbling down different ideas, even by writing something completely random. Create name associations from the words you wrote down, connect words to make combinations or fuse two or three words together to make something new. Remember: not too crazy, though!

  • Google, Digg, Flickr, del.icio.us, Goowy, Snocap, Topix, Quora, Zooomr, Vox, Twitter, Froot, Imgur, Uber, Shazam—the list of made up words doesn’t stop.
  • Facebook, Instagram, Zenefits, Goodbox, Styletag, Hoodline, Netflix, Twitpic, WhatsApp, Hipmunk—combined words, alternative spelling and portmanteaus can be incredibly powerful.

A/B Test Your App’s Name

When you are ready to launch the first version of your app, ask a group of trusted individuals to give your app’s name a review. It’s a good idea to test both your app’s UI, its App Store page, and your app’s name. Do a blind test on the name: don’t tell the reviewers what the app’s about, just show them the name. What associations do they have with it?

Then show them the app and check if it matches with their expectations. Keep in mind though that those closest to us will often respond positively to our ideas, regardless of their actual potential. Test your app with complete strangers too, and keep testing it even when it’s launched. Your AppAnnie account and App Analytics account contains plenty of intel on how to improve your app.

  • App A/B testing companies are on the rise. Unfortunately, your App Store page doesn’t support simultaneous testing: you can’t send one segment of visitors to page A, and the other segment to page B. Several companies solve that by creating a self-hosted version of your app’s page that looks similar to the real one, and then send traffic to it. If the traffic is of the right demographic and has statistical significance, you can learn a great deal from these automated A/B tests.
  • Your iTunes Connect account can tell you a great deal about your app’s page. Inbound traffic, referrer attribution and click-through rate all became quantifiable when Apple introduced their own App Analytics platform. It’s available by default through iTunes Connect. In light of the previous tip about content marketing: you can use App Analytics to measure where your app page’s traffic is coming fromand then attempt to optimize that channel.

Wrapping it up

Picking the best name for your app is important for app store success. Hopefully the above tips help get you started on your next app naming adventure. If you have additional thoughts or experiences, I’d love to hear them in the comments below.

About The Author: Reinder is an indie app maker who teaches aspiring app developers and marketers how to build their own apps at LearnAppMaking.com. He has developed 50+ apps and his code is used by millions of users all over the globe. When he’s not coding, he enjoys strong espresso and traveling.

About Guest Blogger

This article was written by one of our awesome guest bloggers. We're lucky to have these community members to share their knowledge with our mobile community.
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