Want to know more about ASO?
ASO specialist is a relatively new position that interests many application developers. We interviewed the CMO and DEVGAME co-founder Elena Naumova and figured out what ASO is, and how the department operates in the company.
  • Let's start with the basics: what is ASO, and why do you think it is necessary?
ASO allows you to basically manipulate the user and lead them to your product and to in-app purchases :)

Seriously, though, ASO (App Store Optimization) is a continuous and complex process of mobile apps promotion. This includes optimization of the name, description, keywords and graphics in order to maximize the resulting installs. An ASO specialist has to analyze the niche in this way and arrange all the things mentioned above so that the application is seen and downloaded by as many users as possible. But their work does not end there since it is not enough to prepare everything once and for all. One has to constantly analyze application performance, conduct a/b tests, iterations, monitor reviews and competitors. In general, working as an ASO specialist is very interesting since you are an analyst, a copywriter and a designer rolled into one.
  • What is your story with ASO, and how did it start?
It all started 7 years ago with a marketer role in a company that made kids' games, and no-one knew anything about ASO then. Once, my colleague Sveta - she is, actually, a co-founder of DEVGAME, too - and I got to an event where we met the head of AppFollow (a mobile application monitoring service), they had just entered the market back then. At that event, we grew fascinated by ASO. We learned that there had been an internship as an ASO specialist at AppFollow, so we applied and completed the test task. Later, we got our training and were given project work, which we did in our free time. It was much easier to work together because we supported each other and learned together.

Later, when we just launched DEVGAME, ASO was the only free available means of promoting our projects, and we made the most of it, honing our skills. This helped us bring ASO to a size of a full-fledged department with its own recruitment and training system, and the whole company understands its importance for our overall growth.
  • How is ASO done in the company? Are there any guidelines or rules?
Before, I just used to teach employees everything I know, but as we grow new regulations, methodology, and rules emerge, and new employees are trained in compliance with them. Everyone has a clear understanding of when they start and finish ASO (spoiler: they don't, we maintain all our projects non-stop).

The ASO department steps in at the stage of creating a concept: we research it, analyze competitors, work with a game designer on a chosen niche. In our company, ASO specialists can even influence the project direction, and that's a right thing because everyone is interested in promoting relevant entries and getting relevant traffic. From their perspective, an ASO specialist sees the occupancy of different niches as well as the number of competitors, and predicts how and where the application can be promoted more effectively.

Then everything is just like everywhere else: texts, graphics, keywords, store profiles, and maintenance. We also have reports on projects that are conducted by ASO specialists, with all the release dates and result statistics. Although we have 50 global projects including many languages we try to maintain all of them.
  • Any difficulties you can face?
The hardest part about ASO operation is finding employees. All experienced professionals are already taken, and inexperienced ones "grow" very slowly, so we employ newbies who have not dealt with game development at all, but have good copywriting skills, know languages and have heard a word or two about SEO. That is not much, of course, and it is difficult to predict whether you are going to get any specialist eventually since sometimes people quit during the internship. On the other hand, those who stay acquire unique skills and become part of a strong team which develops and grows constantly. We, in turn, get qualified employees who can be offered a position senior than just an ASO manager in the future.
  • Any interesting cases?
Our game, Kid-E-Cats: Doctor, was blocked on Google Play for advertising, and all the keywords were deleted. We struggled hard for a long time to get everything back, and the person who helped us, in the end, was a Google Play manager. He advised us to delete the game and upload it again with a new bundle id. After that, we regained all our former positions in a couple of weeks.
  • How about fails?

There was one, yes. We decided to rename the company on Google Play in order to add keywords to its name but because of this, we lost on downloads from the Interesing category. Google Play excluded us from everywhere mistaking us for a new and unknown company. As a result, we changed the name back and, after a while, got included into all the lost categories again.
In general, over the past 7 years I got to try many different roles: it all started with a junior marketing specialist, then I was one of two ASO specialists who did literally everything. Later I became the head of the ASO department, then a marketing manager, and now I am a CMO. And a co-founder of DEVGAME, too :)

I realized that on the way to any person's professional development people around them is what actually matters. The co-founders and I always support and guide each other, learn and deal with problems together, make mistakes and work on them. We plan our future and take risks, and we look for the same qualities in our employees. That is how you get such a wonderful company as DEVGAME.

In game development in general, everything goes hand in hand with risks, and it is important to understand this. After all, taking risks feels like jumping off a cliff and hoping for your wings to spread and bring you up.
11 March / 2021