Imagine trying to find someone you’ve never met before at the Mall of America, which is so large that seven Yankee Stadiums can fit inside. Now think of this same challenge in terms of app marketing.

How do you help consumers find their way to your app’s location in the Mall of America-sized app stores? What strategies and signs can you can use to help them navigate? In the language of mobile marketing, how do you best perform app-store optimization(ASO)?

In eMarketer’s “Mobile App Marketing: 10 Tactics Used by Successful App Marketers” report, Patrick Haig, vice president of customer success at MobileDevHQ, noted that app stores have shifted from being an “ameritocracy” (in which the best apps got noticed because of their merit or greatness) to being an overcrowded marketplace in which it’s really easy to overlook even the greatest apps.

The question is: How can we, as marketers, optimize search within the app stores so that new users can discover our brand’s amazing app?

To answer that, you have to ask yourself another question: Have we created compelling content? Doing so happens long before the ASO stage. If you haven’t created something that is worth searching for, the first user who finds you won’t announce your presence to the rest of the “mall.” Organic or viral marketing will be halted dead in its tracks.

I hate to break the bad news, but if you suspect that your app may be less than great, go back to square one and bravely enter the process of app optimization before you waste your time marketing a product people won’t talk about. Once complete, follow these three steps.

Step 1: Map Out Each App Store’s Algorithms

As you probably know, each app store (Apple, Google Play, etc.) has different algorithms that “dictate what results are returned when a user types in keywords like ‘home automation’ or ‘puzzle games.’” Algorithms are both mysterious and discoverable. They are a great example of the science and art that marketing is so famous for.

So how can you figure out each app store’s algorithms in order to essentially draw a mall map, or a way to help customers navigate their way to your amazing app? The eMarketer report explains: “The key to success is knowing which areas affect search results. This is not as easy as it sounds, given that search algorithms are unique to each app store. And, in the case of Apple, the algorithm is somewhat of a mystery.”

However, eMarketer recommends that marketers focus on the following search features in the ASO process:

Like eMarketer, Intuit also consulted various organizations and brands about its ASO processes. Its ASO findings and recommendations differ slightly from eMarketer’s, including a few more search features for marketers to focus on, such as app downloads (in Apple iTunes) and video previews (in Google Play). Here are Intuit’s ASO findings:

Step 2: Start A/B Testing
Yes, you should make your best guess in how to promote your app, but you should also try different approaches. While testing the waters, you should apply scientific principles, such as A/B testing, to figure out what works and what doesn’t. For more on A/B testing, read “Stop the Insanity and Start Measuring Mobile” and “Optimize that App: Why Guess When We’ve Got Science?

Step 3. Videos Work, You Should Make One
If app stores are like Mall of America-sized stadiums, then ask yourself this: What will be on the screen or center stage? As users browse these enormous app stores, you should aim to surprise them with an amazing show. Now and in the near future, I believe that app promo videos will become your brand’s opportunity (and challenge) to really shine.

As I wrote in “Tablets And Video: A Match Made In Mobile”: “Video as a platform continues to grow. The sheer volume of advertising dollars spent on YouTube is proof enough. EMarketer reports that YouTube will bring in $5.6 billion in gross ad revenues in 2014.”

App promotion videos or trailers are simply short video clips (approximately 60 seconds) that show real people benefiting from your app. These videos are more than simply informative–they should be creative and engaging, providing your consumers with “wow and delight.” Instead of just reading a description, your potential customers can watch your app perform.

There’s some good and bad news, though. To date, Apple hasn’t allowed any videos for promotion in the App Store except for Clumsy Ninja, its latest Editor’s Choice app. However, Google Play does allow video.

Don’t Give Up Hope That Your App Will Be Found
In closing, remember: App store optimization may sound easy, but it’s not. Each app store is unique and a lack of transparency remains. Don’t give up, though. If you begin to implement these three simple, yet complex strategies, you will reap the benefits over the long haul.