The Christmas and New Year period is an excellent opportunity to obtain more organic downloads. However, choosing the right store listing assets that convince users to download your app or game is crucial as competition for users and their wallets is high. Even after Google cleaned up its Play store in 2008, there are still almost 3m apps available for download – all competing for a piece of the action.
In this article, we’d like to show you what top publishers like Rovio, Wooga, Romwe or Walmart do with their assets over the festive period. We hope to inspire you and help you increase your downloads and sales in the next couple of weeks.
How do Christmas and New Year impact organic downloads?
Organic downloads increase during Christmas and New Year because:
- Users spend heavily during this period.
- People naturally spend more time with their devices during the holidays.
- There are a large number of users who are playing with new gadgets they may have received as presents or picked up in the sales.
The numbers grow year-on-year year as this graph of the US iOS + Google Play markets demonstrates.
Some categories of apps can utilize seasonal opportunities more than others. Take the example of ‘Shopping’ where users can find great deals during Cyber Monday, Black Friday or Christmas.
Fitness apps are also well placed to increase downloads as users are more motivated to lose weight, gain muscle or to live more healthily as part of their New Year’s resolutions.
During this busy period, you can see a significant spike in searches for the phrase “weight loss” in Google Trends.
Below you can see a great timeline provided by Mobile Action that illustrates the impact of New Years Resolutions on the Category Ranking.
In the games category, it’s unusual to see such extreme spikes in searches, i.e. a keyword “sniper” will still have the same popularity during Christmas. However, the trends show an increase in spending during the holiday season year after year. Over Christmas and New Year users are making more in-app purchases than at other times.
“Mobile games accounted for the majority of U.S. App Store spending on December 25 at $37.9 or 70% of the total. This was approximately 25% higher than the $30.2 million spent in games on Christmas 2017.” – Oliver Yeh, Sensor Tower
Users spend more on games than any other category. To compete in the market, you’d better make sure that your game’s icon, screenshots or at least cover of app preview video is eye-catching so that you can grab a bigger slice of the money pie.
How to secure more app downloads during Christmas and New Year
One of the best ways to increase downloads is by effectively using store listing assets including icons, screenshots and app preview videos.
Two main advantages of updating your store listings before the end of the year are:
- After seeing your seasonal assets, users can be confident that your app is up to date.
- Seasonal assets can encourage users to download your app because there might be some exclusive seasonal content inside, like special offers, gifts or discounts.
Here are some tips for improving games:
- Offer Christmas levels with a winter theme.
- Introduce new time-limited characters such as Santa, elves or any Christmas related equipment.
- Example: The well-known app Doodle Jump created a beautiful icon, winter themes, new Christmas related characters and gifts that appeared in the app.
Tips for fitness apps:
- Introduce a unique onboarding flow targeted at people making New Year’s resolutions.
- To increase revenue, consider offering a discount for new users who download the app during January. This can provide an additional motivation for them to meet their fitness goals!
What follows are some examples of the assets app publishers have used before and during the Christmas and New Year season. We’ve chosen a cross-section from a variety of different categories to illustrate our point.
Romwe is one of the top shopping apps in the App Store. If you check the backlog of their changes, you can see that they regularly play around with their assets based on different events.
Last year they changed all their store listing assets to make them relevant for users during Black Friday and Christmas. For the icon, they had Black Friday design and then in December, they changed it again, in Santa style with their logo ‘R’ inside.
During the New Year period, they also changed screenshots from the Christmas theme, offering an eye-catching “90% OFF”. They included an aggressive call to action “Don’t miss out!”. It created the feeling that users needed to hurry up and buy, or miss out!
Romwe’s designers ensure that every detail in their choice of screenshots is relevant to the specific seasonal period. See that clock behind the mockup where there is a transition from 2018 to 2019? How cool is that?
Retail giant Walmart updates their store listing for the Christmas season.
They changed the background of their app, using Christmas topic headliners designed as Christmas lights like the ones we all have at home. Doing so helps to personalise the brand.
In the first screenshot, the statement “Light Up Christmas” includes clear instructions on what the user should do with the app. On the second screen, we can see that they also altered the UI to create even better relevancy by offering a “Gift Guide” with some examples.
If your app is in the Shopping category, then you should ensure your store listing assets are up to date and relevant during the festive period. Users are always searching for discounts and better deals, so having an updated icon as well as fresh screenshots and a new preview video can be a huge advantage. Why? Because only a few apps in this category use this seasonal strategy!
This leading app in the fitness audio niche has already prepared screenshots ready for upcoming seasons and events. They produced their current screenshots in July, for example. Still, I’m pretty sure that they will come in handy, especially in January 2020 where there is a high spike in organic downloads in the Fitness category. You can see this in the image below.
Source: AppTweak (Aaptiv, estimates of organic downloads)
These are the screenshots that Aaptiv had before and after the update. In the new screenshots, the first part attempts to motivate users to create New Year’s resolutions like the desire to lose weight, gain muscle etc.
From my own experience, I know that many people are motivated to improve their health during January, so the headline “A New You in 30 Days,” is the perfect strapline for such a period.
Also, the rating in the screenshot with “+10 million downloads” demonstrates to potential users that this app is well established, creating trust. The second screenshot pushes motivation more, giving users the feeling that they are not alone. And that’s exactly what users need to see in screenshots during January in the Fitness category!
Romwe showed us that details are crucial when it comes to seasonal assets.
We’d recommend changing the photo of “Summer Bootcamp” to a more seasonal picture. You could use the “Weight Loss Bootcamp” or “Post-Christmas Bootcamp” shots, for example.
One of the top app publishers in Fitness category, Fitness22 knows very well what users are searching for when New Year comes around.
That’s why they show a clear, motivational quote in the cover of their app preview video. Another top publisher Sworkit shows in the app list of workouts called “Reach Your Goals” that users will appreciate during the post-Christmas period.
The majority of fitness apps use optimized graphic assets for New Year with paid UA, so they should also do it for organic.
Here is an example of app publisher Noom that was running Facebook ads during January 2019. The cover of the video shows a cake, clearly targeting users that want to lose weight in the New Year. Ideally, they should have done the same cover for their app preview video on the App Store.
Here is another example from Aaptiv who targeted users with Facebook ads in the New Year.
The Fitness category is one where users are inspired to download an app during the New Year. Every fitness app should play around with their store assets, and attract motivated users that want to lose weight.
Even an app publisher of Rovio’s size optimizes their assets for wintertime. Optimizing assets like this isn’t just about increasing the conversion rate, the main goal is to make users believe that there might be some Christmas related content inside, including discounts and gifts. That is exactly what Rovio is aiming for with its assets. Everybody knows Angry Birds, but not everybody knows about the new levels on offer.
Angry Birds Friends:
Angry Birds 2:
1. screenshot before the seasonal update:
2. screenshot after the seasonal update:
Wooga is another large publisher that cares about their store assets during the festive period. Usually, they optimize their screenshots for some games as well as icons, as you can see in these examples.
1. screenshot before the seasonal update:
2. screenshot after in wintertime:
Splitmetrics has a great case study about this app and the A/B testing of this icon that was optimized for winter. They achieved a 40% increase in conversion rate, which is massive!
Many top app publishers in the Games category develop their store listings during Christmas. If you have a game, we recommend that you do some research and check the backlog of changes that your competitors have made. We advise you to avoid following the same colours and wording. Note that most publishers only optimize their icons for Christmas, so if you upgrade your screenshots as well, then you’ll have an advantage.
Even if there is no new content in the app itself, a relevant store listing tells users that a game is up to date. You don’t have to update your app for every event during the year, but you should seriously consider Christmas and New Year – remember the second graph I showed you!
Deezer ran a seasonal campaign in December 2018 that focused on Christmas and New Year. You can read a full blog post about it here.
The publisher updated all app creatives with a Christmas theme. This increased downloads by 300 every day for two weeks!
Deezer was also running TV campaigns during Christmas and New Year and optimized its screenshots to align with these campaigns.
In the first set of screenshots, below you can see how they were optimized for New Year. On the first three screenshots, you can see straight away the date “31.12.2018” so for users searching for a New Year’s music, this app is the right fit. On others, they’ve added snowflakes to the background and added more Christmas stuff.
These screenshots were optimized for the French market. In the first one, there is the name of the playlist with a famous Christmas song called Le Grand Noël.
In this example, we can see that apart from elements in screenshots, seasonal content like Christmas songs or artists that will be playing live on 31.12. can make screenshots even more attractive.
PHOTO & VIDEO
Piscsart is a top app publisher with almost 1 million downloads a month. To celebrate Christmas they made this beautiful icon. A Few snowflakes, cap, and scarf are enough to make the icon relevant for the festive period.
Collage apps are no exception when it comes to seasonal screenshots. Piccolage had already optimized their screenshot for Christmas by the 6th of November!
Here you can see a showcase of what they did in the past and what they have now.
In December 2018, Piccolage had seasonal screenshots already. Their screenshots included festive details like Christmas decorations and gifts. In January 2019, the publisher optimized their screenshots for the new year. You can see that the background and all other images were changed. You’ll notice that the headlines in screenshots remained the same.
However, they’ve changed their approach for this year by changing the headlines. The screenshot on the right has “Digital Christmas Cards”. On the left, we can see that the publisher has also optimized its screenshots for Halloween. For users, this is great as the app gives them relevant content for their needs during many seasonal events.
As you can see in this example, some publishers optimize their assets for almost every event. It’s not just about Christmas, New Year or Halloween – you can optimize assets with the winter theme (or any other relevant season) and still stand out in search results. However, be sure to make all the details relevant, including editing all headliners, graphic elements and even the UI of the app if possible.
The time is coming, start ASAP!
You’ve seen some great examples of how to acquire new users during the Christmas and New Year period. Now it’s your turn to upgrade your assets with some Christmas or New Year tweaks (Note: In case you decide to create fresh new assets, the ACE framework might come handy. Detailed explanation is here: https://appagent.com/blog/2020/09/16/efficiency-in-mobile-ad-creatives-production-ace-framework/). Even if you’ve not started yet, you’ve still got time – and doing anything is better than doing nothing.
1. Create seasonal content in your app
Don’t think about increasing conversion rate only from a marketing standpoint, think more in-depth about what seasonal content you should create in the app. Always ask yourself what users will need during Christmas and New Year.
- Show Christmas card gifts in the store assets for a collage app.
- Add seasonal avatars, free gifts or discounts if you have a game.
- Offer suitable workouts for the post-Christmas period in your fitness app as users will want to lose weight after eating a lot of food. You don’t need a lot of resources, simply be creative: for example, rename your current workouts “Six Pack for 2020”.
2. Be original
Think about how you show the new content. Check your competitor’s backlog changes to see what they did during the Christmas and New Year period. Check their current assets and ensure that you use different colours, styles, elements and wording so that you stand out in search results.
3. Optimize all store listing assets
Change all of them if you can: icon, screenshots, app preview video or at least the cover of the app preview video.
4. Optimize descriptions and promotional text
Some top publishers even optimize the long description and promotional text. This is a change that you can do by yourself, without investing in new creatives.
5. Have two sets for the end of the year
When designing assets for Christmas, you should also be thinking about assets for the New Year (if applicable) as demand will be huge. This is especially important if your app is in the Shopping, Fitness and Games categories.
6. Copy matters
Don’t forget about seasonal details. Captions should include keywords like “New Year” or “Christmas”. Visual elements and the background should all be present during this period.
Users love apps that are regularly updated. They appreciate the effort that you’re making. As Christmas approaches, time is ticking, and Santa will be delivering new users soon. Make sure you’re the one who wakes up to them under your Christmas tree.
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