yet another picture of someone on their cellphone
The iOS 11 update promises to expose consumers to richer content and more potential for storytelling in the discovery phase PHOTO: Josh Felise

With the exception of social network sites and messaging platforms, brands are up against big challenges when it comes to mobile. Consumers are becoming increasingly selective when it comes to apps, and the extent to which this is happening may surprise some people.

Adobe data — which analyzed 290 billion visits from over 16,000 mobile sites and 85 billion app launches — has shown that, while the most successful apps see their installs up 41 percent, average apps are only up 6 percent.

For many brands, their apps are getting lost in the crowd.

Big Changes Are Coming With iOS 11

As it becomes ever more critical to stand out from the competition, help will soon be on the way in the form of the upcoming iOS 11 update due later this year. Significant changes will be coming to the Apple App Store and brands need to be prepared.

With everything from new navigation tabs to an updated user interface, the new App Store environment has been rethought as a place to give publishers, developers and app marketers more opportunities to stand out from the crowd.

Although details are still forthcoming, the iOS 11 update promises to expose consumers to richer content and more potential for storytelling in the discovery phase. To make the most of these changes, here are a few tips for brands and developers to keep in mind:

Be a Storyteller

The new ‘Today’ section will create a daily destination for consumers to learn and discover new apps. By adding more editorial content, the App Store team is looking to do more storytelling to allow for more ways for individual apps to differentiate themselves from the large — and growing — repository of apps.

But to succeed in the new environment, brands must begin to think differently about marketing their apps. Just as with other products, marketers will need to move beyond an emphasis on selling features to focus on narratives and storytelling for their brands.

This will directly impact the content developed around the app itself — and for good reason. The increased emphasis on search to facilitate discoverability underscores the importance of better storytelling. 

Take a food app for example: instead of simply focusing on functionality such as daily recipes, a storytelling approach to marketing the app might emphasize its role in meeting health and fitness goals. Along the same lines, a productivity app promotion might go beyond logging hours to highlight ways that the app frees up time to spend with family and friends.

The Power of Pushing the Reset Button

App ratings have always been critical for attracting new users. With the App Store redesign, ratings will now be more prominently displayed, making them more important than ever.

One of the biggest changes for developers and marketers to take note of will be the ability to reset ratings. For example, say your app hits a rough patch and its ratings take a tumble. With iOS 11, once the issue has been fully resolved, you’ll be able to wipe the slate clean on prior ratings and start again from scratch.

iOS 11’s redesigned App Store will also give you many more tools and opportunities to optimize app store rankings. These include everything from A/B testing of different variations, to ‘deep links’ that will take users to the right destinations when they’re navigating across apps. And with enhancements designed to drive more user responses also coming to the review prompts, brands can’t afford not to polish their optimization strategies.

Bringing Video to the App Store

Since the App Store was first launched, video has become a dominant medium for brands to communicate with their audiences, so we’ll see this trend ramping up in the redesigned App Store as well. Across the separate ‘Games’ and ‘Apps’ tabs for instance, the editorial team will be promoting more videos as a key part of their overall content engagement strategy.

And even on an app’s product page itself, developers can now submit up to three video previews, the first of which will auto-play without audio, as Facebook does now.

Creating Lifestyle Content

These innovations reinforce the importance of creating compelling and channel-specific content. Apps can take advantage of these changes, not only to create or update explainer videos, but to create content that will be more lifestyle-oriented. So instead of merely walking your potential customers through the features of, say, your new payment app, you can now think in terms of producing a humorous 15-second clip of people trying to split a restaurant bill.