What are custom store listings and how to use them?
In early 2019, Google Play announced a new feature for ASO and marketers in the Play Console called custom store listings, meant to enable any app to better target specific customer segments in its key markets. While the intent showed Google’s goodwill to allow better quality app marketing, we’ve seen custom store listings remain a somewhat obscure feature that not every app developer knows how to use. Today we take a look under the hood to help you assess if custom store listings are a feature for you, and how you can get the most out of them.
What are custom store listings
Custom store listings are a Google Play Console feature meant to allow developers to create alternative product pages for their app by uploading assets and texts that will be shown to users based on their Google Play store country or app install state, instead of their device language and region. Up to 5 custom store listings can be created in the Google Play Developer console in the Grow > Store Presence > Custom Store Listing menu of your app. The feature is meant to give marketers better accuracy in targeting users with specific offers and value propositions, as we explain in the paragraphs below.
Creating your first custom store listing
The first thing you should remember about custom Play Store listings is how creating one is very similar to creating any localized version of your main store listing. When creating a custom store listing, you will have the option to upload a new version of any of the following store listing elements:
- App title
- Short description
- Full description
- App Icon
- Feature graphic
Based on this, creating a custom store listing should feel very familiar and intuitive. In fact, the only difference you will notice is that you are required to give your custom store listing a name and set a specific targeting at the top of the custom store listing creation page.
This is where custom store listings differ from your regular main listing: instead of creating a store listing that is shown to users based on their language and region, custom store listing target users based on two specific criteria: their Play Store country, and their install state.
Country-based custom store listings: improve your message and tailor to local regions
Many service-based apps (and other types of apps as well) tend to offer specific contents and/or offers depending on the country where their users are in. This has led developers and marketers to localize their app’s main store listing so they could deliver the right message to their target, however with the localization of main store listings being defined by language and region, it left two issues unanswered:
- Being able to adapt your message to users from different countries in the same region:
Let’s say for instance that your app offers a wide variety of local content in Latin America. In such a situation, you would likely want to promote popular Argentinian content in Argentina and Colombian content in Colombia, but would be prevented from doing so because both countries are grouped under the same “Spanish - Latin America” store listing in Google Play.
- Avoiding that users outside your target market would be exposed to a different value proposition: imagine you want to promote a specific subscription offer to your French users. The “French - France” store listing would surely help you spread the word, however it would also show the same offer to French speaking users in Belgium and in other French speaking countries where users are not eligible to benefit from the offer. In a worse case scenario, this could even lead to some user frustration and hurt your app ratings.
In both cases, creating at least one custom store listing targeting a specific country will help tailor your message to your audience (in the above examples, you would create at least one custom store listing for either Colombia or Argentina and use the main Spanish - Latin America listing for the other country, and create a specific custom store listing for France).
Install state specific custom store listings: pre-registration marketing
At this point in time, the only “install state” for which Google Play allows the creation of a custom store listing is targeting pre-registered users, making the option quite limited as it can only be used by not yet released apps willing to give more information to their future users regarding upcoming content and offers. Nevertheless, the filter should not be underestimated if it can be relevant to your launch strategy.
This filter could also offer more opportunities in the future, as there had been mentions of being able to target already existing users with the app installed and even users that had uninstalled the app when custom store listings first came out.
What are the rules and tips to use custom store listings with the maximum efficiency?
1. Google Play allows a maximum of 5 custom store listings per app, therefore, it is crucial you use custom store listings in the context where they will have the biggest impact. For instance if you want to create a country specific store listing, try and estimate what the impact on your store KPIs will be compared to having “only” a localized main store listing.
2. To that end, don’t forget you can run some Google Play Experiments on your custom store listings. The total amount of experiments you can run simultaneously remains limited to 5, but it’s worth noting you can run experiments on your custom store listings while also having a live worldwide experiment on your main store listing (that experiment will not be shown in countries targeted by a custom store listing).
3. One custom store listing can target several countries at once, and/or include several translations. That means you can deliver a message tailored to one specific country or a subset of countries in several languages that are spoken there. For instance let’s say your retail app offers free shipping to the US and Canada, but not the rest of the world, and your main store listing uses English - US as the default store listing for the entire world. By creating a custom store listing targeting only the US and Canada and uploading specific translations and assets in “English - US”, “Spanish-US”, “English - CA” and “French - CA”, you can highlight the benefits of free shipping to all your American and Canadian users without being at risk from having other users complain you are falsely advertising you offer free shipping.
4. Conduct a specific keyword research before creating your custom store listings. Having a custom store listing will not double the amount of keywords you target in every country, but simply “replace” the keywords you target with your main store listing by the ones you selected for your custom store listing. Since people speaking the same language in different countries do not always use the same words or have the same interests in your app’s benefits, using an ASO Tool to conduct your keyword research will help you determine what word will grant your app the most visibility in each country.
5. You can’t have two custom store listings targeting the same country. If you want to show specific items to pre-registered users while also differentiating messaging per country to non-pre registered users at the same time, create one custom store listing for pre-registered users worldwide with several translations, and other custom store listings per country.
Overall, custom store listings are a good addition to the Play Store console to give app developers better control over what their users see, helping them market their app better towards specific audiences, and further improvement could be possible in the future if Google chooses to offer more options in creating different listings for different install states.
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