Twenty seven-year-old Aykut Karaalioglu, founder of San Francisco-based app store optimisation startup Mobile Action, has some advice for developers: spend time understanding how various app stores work. And he should know. After all, this is the guy who was given $1 million to boost eBay’s App Store ranking when he was 23 and achieved it by spending just $20,000.
“One of the most common mistakes is that developers do not understand the respective app stores and their differences. Apple’s App Store and Google Play do not work in the same way,” Karaalioglu (pictured below) told Mobile World Live.
What’s more, “there are so many things that go into gaining greater exposure, including titles, keywords, location, season, the market, competitors, timing, and more. Real visibility requires optimising for these things on all fronts,” he added.
“Lots of developers do not maximise their titles and keywords, or they do not include enough engaging app screenshots for potential users to see. Mobile Action is built to help address these mistakes. We provide over 50 actionable items that a developer can do to improve discovery,” he said.
He also believes the ideal budget for app marketing “totally depends on the app – what category it is in and how high in the app store rankings it wants to be.”
Downloads vs user retention
In the debate regarding focus on downloads versus user retention, he thinks “both are important, but ultimately you cannot have retention without a download. Focusing on downloads has to come first.”
As for getting users to stick around once they download an app, he thinks great design and utility is key for users.
“People are only going to put apps on their phone and use them when they improve their life in some way. Beyond that, there are a number of tools app developers can use to re-engage the user, such as push notifications or email newsletters.”
So how did he set up this company at such a young age?
“The idea for Mobile Action came from my passion for apps and my interest in helping developers get their apps discovered. I have had a successful career building apps and generating downloads for them, and I wanted to create tools that would enable me to share this expertise with others,” he reflected.
No need for $1M
More than his young age though, his claim to fame may be that he was given a million dollars to increase eBay’s iOS app store visibility and helped it reach the top five in the entertainment category with just $20,000 spend.
“The trick was to first figure out the ideal sources that an app can use to gain users organically, without spending any money. With eBay, we optimised its app page and in-page product features. Then we finalised a strategy on the best time to run and optimise ads and did this for every single update,” he explained.
“We optimised for seasonality for eBay as well, which dramatically helped its numbers. eBay’s already strong velocity plus ASO plus well-timed small ad buys helped the app soar up the charts,” he elaborated.
He has also been credited with gaining exposure for StubHub, FitBit, and New York Times.
As for future plans for the company, “grow, grow, grow!” is his mantra.
His company has 20 employees and is looking for more.
“We are continuing to build out our services and insights for developers and provide useful metrics like our daily app visibility score. The new tools that we are launching over the coming quarters should really help developers and differentiate us from other ASO companies out there. It is a very exciting time for us,” he enthused.