Jan 3, 2016

App Store Optimization - A Language Trap (ASO part 2)

Looking at Google Play download statistics I noticed the following in the early days:

For some reason English downloads, with the US the biggest user space, are low compared to the peer group of similar apps. Typically, US-English should represent 20-25% of app downloads according to Google Play. I am seeing 2%. This is not good.

Lost in Translation
I am German. In Germany we use the term ‘babyphone’ - everyone knows what a babyphone is even though ‘phone’ is an english word. Pah! A quick check on the web reveals that ‘babyphone’ is not actually an english term, at least not one commonly used. It should be ‘baby monitor’, this is what I really meant. I stepped right into a language trap ... how could this happen? To me?

A/B Test
Before I change texts in the app store listing I'll give this idea a verification. Another A/B-test is set up quickly in Google Play, this time it's a localized test to compare different texts in the English listing.

However, this A/B test is not showing any meaningful results. Either actual download numbers in the US are too small to produce meaningful statistics, or the text doesn't make a difference at all. Maybe parents in the US are not checking on their babies? Hm...
Looking at this for a while I noticed that in the A/B tests only the description texts can be changed while the app title remains:
Probably, the app's title is actually what users look at most but the title cannot be A/B-tested. I went to try something different. Fortunately, there is a separate language provisioned for 'English - United Kingdom'. So there is a separate English language to play around with while keeping US unchanged. The app's English-UK downloads should acommodate for 7% of overall downloads according to public Google Play overall statistics, whereas I am seeing 3% for my app.
Testing with English-UK
I added a new language entry in the Google Play listing for English-UK and also updated the apk file to contain English-UK texts, changing 'Babyphone Wifi' to 'Baby Monitor Wifi'. After a few days UK downloads have increased to match the expected overall share of 7%:

Interestingly, also US downloads have increased a little but. It seems that some users in the US have set their phone to English-UK.

Doing the Change
With all the testing there now was enough confidence to change the name of the app from 'Babyphone' to 'Baby Monitor' for English users. With this change, cumulated downloads of English-US and English-UK users increased significantly - by approximately 200%.

Result: App store optimization is not always straight forward and may require a second thought.
Update: Not only 'Baby Monitor' is a good description of the app, I also use 'Baby Alarm' meanwhile