How you can user your app competition to improve your product

The only way to achieve success in the competitive online app store is to release a product that delivers something your competitors can’t.

And then to make sure you market it better than your competitors are!

So, today we’re going to take a look at some of the key ways to analyze your competitors in an ever-more saturated app market.

First things first, who are your competitors?

Luckily, analyzing this is simply a matter of using any good online keyword tool, and then trying to search through your target app store using these keywords.

Once you’ve done that, and also carried out a search by category, you’ll have gotten a comprehensive list of competitor apps.

One thing to bear in mind is that you only need to focus on the top 10 to fifteen apps. The app store is a ‘one or two winners take all’ market. So you want to start at the top: pick out the top apps, and focus on beating them with a better product.

The positive thing about app design is that there’s no barrier. If you work to make a great product that solves real user problems, and you market it effectively – you can beat your competitors.

But you do have to have one thing…

Use their offer to find your UVP

Your unique value proposition is the reason users will choose you over your competitors. It’s what you offer that they don’t.

Needless to say, the only way to find out which UVP you should focus on is to spend time analyzing what your competitors don’t do.

This is simple, but it’s not easy and it can be time consuming. Put simply, you need to spend the time downloading and trying all of your competitor’s apps.

Use them as you would if you were downloading them for personal use. Try all the features, see what the apps do that you like, and what they don’t do.

After you’ve been through ten, twenty and then thirty competitor apps – and many more, in the case of some niches – you’ll begin to notice patterns. You might find yourself regularly spotting problems that make it tough for you to use the app. You’ll also usually find that there are one or two features or usability issues that you want, but you can’t seem to find anywhere.

When you start noticing these patterns, you’re on your way to finding the ideal UVP for your app.

Access every area of their marketing

Once you’ve got your ten to twenty competitors in mind, do the hard yards and try to access every part of their marketing funnel.

You want to check out:

What their email content is like

Which social media accounts they use, and how they use them

Whether they’re running any paid campaigns, and what their copy is like

Whether they use microsites to advertise their app outside of the app store

And so on.

You cannot do too much research here. It’s important to re-iterate that.

The more research you do here, the easier it’ll be to plan your own marketing campaigns later on, because you’ll know what’s working.

If all of your competitors use a particular channel – Instagram, for example – the chances are it’s because they’ve tested the different options and found that Instagram simply delivers better results.

The other thing to take into account here is to check out who your major niche influencers are. This is simply a matter of seeing where their apps have been reviewed, whether in blogs, on social media or on YouTube.

Again, you’ll usually find a number of influencer names re-occurring over and over again – which means you’ve found someone you’ll want to get in touch with when planning your own app!

What are their app store listings like?

We’ve written a guide on app store optimization previously, and the chances are you’ll see some of those tips used in the top performing apps in your niche.

However, nearly every niche on the app store will have its own unique ‘enhancers’ – techniques that seem to get outsized results when compared to the others.

For example, it might be that your niche is very visual, in which case high quality images and videos should probably be a priority. Good reviews and social proof are always important, but they might be more important for a B2B app than a game.

Again, as with all forms of app research, keep an eye out for re-occurring patterns in app listing.

Whether they’re specific copy phrases that come up over and over, or even a particular color scheme used in the photos! Remember, if something is used over and over by the most successful apps in your niche, there’s a high chance that it’s because it works!

On the flip side of this, it’s also important to keep an eye out for negatives that occur in all your competitors, too. For instance, if you’re constantly seeing reviews that mention how apps ‘drain battery life’ or ‘are too complicated to use’, then you’ve got an opportunity to create a new UVP.

Approach the experts and influencers

In every industry, you’ll find specialists that aren’t app builders themselves. They might be social media influencers, journalists or simply bloggers that enjoy writing about your niche.

Don’t be afraid to approach these people and ask them questions about the industry. What do they think that apps in the niche do right? Or wrong? What do they think is missing from the niche? If they had the chance to create an app, what are the 2 or 3 features they’d want included?

They might be happy to chat, or they might want to pay for a consultancy, so this obviously depends on your budget.

However, it’s always worth asking. Anyone with a bird’s eye view of the niche – and importantly, anyone with an unbiased view of a market – is always worth listening to, because they’ll look at a niche in a way that a company selling to a market simply can’t.

And remember, keep an eye on the rest of the market

While you should focus primarily on the ten to twenty apps that lead your market, don’t forget to keep an eye on indirect competition, too.
There might be apps out there that don’t offer the same features as yours but do serve the same user base. Keep an eye on their marketing strategies and their reviews at the same time.

Why? Two reasons:

  • Firstly, if their user base is largely the same as yours, keeping an eye on their customer feedback is all additional insight that you can use to learn more about your own customers.
  • Secondly, you might pick up ideas that you can use to develop your own app. It might be that an indirect competitor is making a killing with a design layout that none of your direct competitors have cottoned onto yet, or perhaps has developed a great onboarding process you can use to beat out your direct competition.

Essentially, the more you can learn about your market as a whole – including what your indirect competitors are doing – the better chance you’ll have of creating a successful app of your own.

Get in touch today

If you’d like to learn more about creating and promoting an app that puts you far ahead of your competitors, get in touch with Iconic Solutions today, we’d love to help you.

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