Downloading apps is emojinal ๐Ÿš€ - a simple hack to get more downloads

Denis is a Product Owner at Novoda. He fills products with a vision and aligns objectives with features while ensuring a smooth development process. In his spare time he enjoys kitesurfing and hiking.

People โค๏ธ๏ธ emojis. They are a quick and easy way to express a mood, feeling or reaction via chat apps, social media and email. Now Hollywood is even making an Emoji Movie where Patrick Stewart plays ๐Ÿ’ฉ. In the last couple of years marketers have started using these smiley faces in email subject lines and push notifications, hoping to increase open rates by making their messages stand out.

In the spirit of continuous app store optimisation (ASO), we decided to find out ourselves if we could increase our downloads by adding emojis to an appโ€™s short description in the Play Store. We decided to specifically test the short description as itโ€™s seen by the most visitors.

App Store Listing with Emoji in Short Description

Adding the ๐Ÿš€ emoji to the short description increased downloads by up to 20% in Germany.

Localise your A/B Tests

Thanks to the integrated A/B testing tool in Googleโ€™s Developer Console, hypotheses such as โ€œemojis in the short description generate more downloadsโ€ are easily testable.

After we identified the emojis we wanted to compare ( ๐Ÿš€ ๐Ÿšฎ ๐Ÿ’ฏ ), we set up a multivariate test by adding these variations to the existing short description. We didnโ€™t change the copy or any other aspects so the emojis would be tested in isolation to give the clearest results. Then we ran localised tests in several languages to see if our findings were consistent.

Each variant was rolled out to 16.6%-25% of visitors. Based on the impact of each variant, the tests would then run for between two and seven days. The exact length of the tests is determined by the Google testing tool, which decides when it has gathered enough information to form a conclusive result.

Our Findings

We ran this test in eight different languages and saw positive results in 50% of the languages/countries.

Using emojis in the short description had a significant positive impact on downloads in Germany [German], Italy [Italian] and Poland [Polish] of up to 20%.

Winner in Germany: ๐Ÿš€
Adding the ๐Ÿš€ emoji to the short description increased downloads by up to 20% in Germany.
Winner in Italy: ๐Ÿ’ฏ
Adding the ๐Ÿ’ฏ emoji to the short description increased downloads by up to 20% in Italy.
Winner in Poland: ๐Ÿšฎ
Adding the ๐Ÿšฎ emoji to the short description increased downloads by up to 7.5% in Poland.

In English speaking countries on the other hand, the original short description generated more downloads than the versions with emojis.
There is one caveat to these results: we havenโ€™t (yet) localised the English language listing so all English-speaking countries see the same version.
Once we are able to break out the different countries we can explore the differences further.

Winner in English: No Emoji ๐Ÿ˜ข

Some of our tests returned inconclusive results. This means the differences were too small to get a clear indication on whether emojis had a positive or negative impact on the download rate. These countries were Russia, Spain and France.

Results in Russia: ๐Ÿ˜•

No conclusive results in Russia

Results in Spain: ๐Ÿ˜•
No conclusive results in Spain

Results in France: ๐Ÿ˜•
No conclusive results in France

Conclusion ๐Ÿ

The key take-aways from these tests are:

  • App store optimisation (ASO) has real and measurable effects on your revenue KPIs ๐Ÿ’ธ
  • Emojis can boost your downloads in some countries ๐Ÿ“ˆ
  • But not in all countries ๐Ÿ˜•
  • Different countries like different emojis ๐Ÿ™€
  • Localise your tests to get the best results ๐ŸŒŽ

By constantly optimising and testing the Play Store listing, we have increased our global conversion rate (view / download) by over 4.5%. This translates into hundreds of thousands of new downloads and paying customers.

Time to start optimising and testing your listing! ๐Ÿ˜‰

[UPDATE 30.01.17]

We've split our US listing into several regions and tested the effects on Emojis in the UK's listing with positive results! With the ๐Ÿš€ emoji, the download conversion went up by up to 7.1%!

Winner in UK: ๐Ÿš€
The ๐Ÿš€ emoji in the short description increased downloads by up to 7.1% in the UK.

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About Novoda

We plan, design, and develop the worldโ€™s most desirable software products. Our teamโ€™s expertise helps brands like Sony, Motorola, Tesco, Channel4, BBC, and News Corp build fully customized Android devices or simply make their mobile experiences the best on the market. Since 2008, our full in-house teams work from London, Liverpool, Berlin, Barcelona, and NYC.

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