ASO LOCALIZATION FOR SUCCESS IN JAPAN

WHY TRANSLATION ALONE WON'T WORK


Japan’s mobile gamers are known for their high Average Revenue Per User (ARPU). Based on a recent study, 41% of users worldwide would prefer learn more or to download the first app they see in the ranking, even when actually searching for other apps. Indeed, making your app stand out in a competitive market is highly challenging. With 65% downloads coming directly from the App Store Search, App Store Optimization (ASO) now becomes a critical tool for app discoverability and conversion.



Farewell lost user growth and welcome revenue gain! In this article, Septeni Global Experts have rounded up some key points on optimizing your ASO to unleash the app’s full potential.

Localized ASO = Improved CVR


Tired of optimizing on User Acquisition campaigns with various media channels using different creatives and targeting, yet facing low Conversion Rate (CVR) and high Cost Per Install (CPI)? Maybe it’s time to reconsider your marketing strategy. After all, that is the storefront for your users and the last step before they click the “Install” button. Since most of the people in Japan are not good at English, your App Store page should be localized in Japanese, and a simple direct translation won’t do the job right either. ASO is a combination of art and science that requires a deep understanding of the local culture and art preferences, in addition to the user journey from ad impressions to the final download.


Unlike English, which consists of roman letters, the Japanese language (as illustrated below) consists of kanji, hiragana and katakana, and it has multiple ways of saying the same thing using various language components.



For example, a simple search keyword “food delivery” in English would have multiple counterparts in Japanese because people’s language preferences differ based on their generation, gender and cultural background.


Furthermore, even though the Japanese use the same alphabetic numbers as the rest of the world, the spacings between the numbers are different, and they also have a kanji version of the numbers as well. Therefore it is crucial to have the local team analyze the right keywords for your app. In order to maximize the benefits of search optimization, a curated keywords selection should also pair with localized texts and designs to streamline the user experience.


5 TIPS ON ASO LOCALIZATION IN JAPAN


#1 AESTHETICS MATTER


We explained Japanese preference on ads design in general in this previous article, similar rules will be applicable to ASO as well. In addition to the screenshots and video designs, it is important to comprehend the App Store ranking rules inside out and incorporate the knowledge into composing the app description for improved results.



For example, the Japanese prefer reading descriptions with lots of catchy subtitles that naturally divide the content in blocks. This way, it saves them time because they are accustomed to glance over the overall content in bullet points first before reading the details further. Also, the highlighted subtitles give the creator another chance to emphasize keywords and appealing points to increase CVR.

#2 SPEAK YOUR TARGETS' LANGUAGE


Localizing the App Store in Japanese is not enough. The screenshots and descriptions should be easily comprehensible to the target audience as well. What is this app used for? What benefit will it provide? How to highlight this throughout the process? As users quickly scroll down their screen, the screenshots, preview video and descriptions for the app need to truly stand out to improve your CVR. Below is a quick example of how you can customize the order and content of the screenshots for best results.




Since the first screenshot is the most prominent one, in this case we recommend using video first to target all three tiers of audience to prevent churning. Then follow up with screenshots to target the core and main audience to increase CVR among high quality audiences. Of course, each app has different appealing points and target audiences, and the best practices for such genres in Japan vary as well, so we always endeavor to perform deeper analysis on the overall strategy before jumping into the details.

#3 DON'T FORGET THE ADS!


The ASO not only improves CVR for organic downloads, it contributes greatly to paid user acquisition campaigns as well. Before visiting the AppStore, target users would have already clicked certain ads, and if the advertisers can reinforce the appealing points that brought in the target audience in the first place, it will complete their emotional journey and enhance their CVR.


For a certain city-building app, we already know from our media consultants that static images featuring the city-building elements tend to have better performance, so with that in mind, we designed the screenshots with the assumption that core users have already clicked those ads and want to learn more. Before the ASO, the previous advertiser used the following screenshot vertically and placed it on the second page.


However, we proposed dividing the appealing points of city building into two elements, namely from zero to one (build new), and one to one hundred (upgrade existing), and highlight these in a horizontal format so that the image can take up a larger space of the screen for stronger message delivery. With a combination of improvements in title, preview video, screenshots and description, we were able to increase the CVR by 27%.


#4 LET ASO ACT AS A SPOKESPERSON FOR YOUR BRAND


ASO as your storefront reflects the brand identity. With all the bells and whistles available at our disposal for localization, in the end it should also adhere to the advertiser and stakeholders’ brand identity and tone manners for brand consistency and recall. This is especially true for IP titles since the ASO localization needs to adhere to the brand’s global standard. Therefore, understanding the brand’s regulations and design experience accumulated on a practical basis are becoming more important. The most versatile experts will strike a balance between creativity, best market practice and brand prerequisites for a smooth and efficient process.

#5 LOCALIZE WITH BOUNDARIES


AppStore has its strict regulations. No matter how great the localization is, if it is against the regulations, one cannot succeed. Don’t spend your time and resources on the ASO only to find out in the end that it will not get approved. For example, unlike Google Play Store, AppStore requires the actual gameplay screenshots to make it a true reflection of the game itself. This limits the design options, but also presents a test for the designer’s creativity. The designer should take into consideration regulations such as cutoff zones and safe area trimming, so that the new design can convey the right message across devices. We recommend working with the experts to start the project right and avoid unnecessary revisions and setbacks.

This sums up the 5 tips that we think are essential when it comes to ASO localization. Hope this will help your ASO localization efforts as well. If you want experts’ advice, please feel free to reach out to us. We have various know-hows in Japan’s culture and language, expertise in advertising design, in addition to knowledge related to keywords, search logic and copyright writing.

If you are interested in localizing your ASO for the Japanese market, feel free to reach out to us at hello@septeniamerica.com for a free ASO consultation.


KOTARO // CREATIVE DIRECTOR

Joined Septeni (Now Septeni Global) in 2018. Has previous experience as a TV program director, TV commercial director and designer. As a Creative Director at Septeni Global, Kotaro has been leading creative operations for a variety of campaigns focusing mainly on global gaming clients, leveraging his experience in video creation and graphic design. His area of expertise is creatives that require film production for user acquisition.


ABOUT SEPTENI GLOBAL


Septeni Global is a global organization that specializes in digital marketing. With end-to-end services, we are committed to providing solutions from strategic planning to creative production that centers on brand awareness and user growth in the digital domain.

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