How many times have you studied your app’s competition? No, I mean really studied your app’s competition?

You may have put off this process because you thought it was too time consuming or simply not worth the effort. Well, in this post, I’ll show you why researching your competitors is absolutely necessary to ensuring the success of your app.

I’ll also give you some tools and shortcuts that can make your job easier and make the task much less daunting. Most of these strategies are for both the App Store and the Play Store. But there are a couple that are store specific.

Features Your App’s Competition Should Add (or get rid of)

It can be easy for app publishers to fall in love with certain features of their app. But there can be a huge disconnect between what they think is cool and what their users want.

So before you launch a similar feature blindly, be sure that you do some market research and get a feel for what people are talking about. You can do this by surveying your users, or you can look through user reviews of competing apps.

You can look through App Store and Play Store reviews manually, for free, but that will take a lot of time. The alternative is to use something like Review Analysis to search for keywords in reviews and uncover this information.

For example, if you were looking for features of the app that people like, you could do a search for the keyword “like,” “best” or “love.”

When I searched for “best” the second review makes a good point. Since you have to wait for resources to be generated in the game , you don’t play as often and thus are less likely to burn yourself out.

This is something that you could build into your app or highlight in your marketing.

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Likewise, look for features that users don’t like in other apps and steer clear from them. This one exercise can save you hundreds of hours of development time.

Bugs

Closely related to app feature requests are bug reports. You can search for keywords like “crash” or “bug” and see what people are having trouble with in an app.

This is a good example of a long app review that I sampled from Pokémon Go. This might be more of a feature complaint than a bug report, but I wanted to feature this review because of the level of detail that this person goes into.

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Getting this information about your app can help you fix bugs quickly. Debugging a vague bug report can take a lot of time. But having details about the device, OS and the specific steps that the user followed, can save hours testing time.

Fixing bugs quickly also helps keep your ratings as high as possible, which in turn, helps your app store keyword and Top Charts rankings. Using an email alert service can help you monitor your rankings closely.

When you research the bugs that are in other apps, you will understand what frustrates the people using that app. You can possibly use this information in your marketing to how your app does that specific function better than your competition.

 

Google Play Backlinks

As you probably know, backlinks are an important part of app rankings on the Play Store. So you need to have a plan to steadily build backlinks from highly related and reputable websites.

Well, why reinvent the wheel, when you can simply look at what your most successful competitors are doing? You can use a website like Open Site Explorer to see the web pages that link to your Play Store page.

For example, here are the first few results for Evernote.

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As you can see, a lot of their backlinks come from tech news sites. You might not be able to get on the bigger sites right away.

But there are some sites on the list that newer apps would have a good shot at being featured on. A little research can go a long way here.

All you need is one high profile mention to get the ball rolling for your app.

 

What SDKs are They Using?

This is a little more technical, but if you want to find out what kind of technology an app uses, you can use a site like Mighty Signal to do some research. The free version will give you a partial list of installed and uninstalled SDKs.

For less complex apps, this free list may be enough for you to understand their stack and possibly implement some of the same elements in your app.

If your app is more complex, having a full list of the technology they are using can be a great help in finding good solutions to use in your app. For example, what are they using for their database? What are they using for customer support?

You may uncover better and lower cost solutions that you didn’t know about before. Having this information can also show you some marketing strategies that your competition is using.

Here’s an example from the ESPN app.

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Get Their Keywords

Now let’s get into keyword ASO. Obviously, you should research all of your competitors and find out if there are any keywords that would be a good match for your app.

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You are looking for keyword that has a high level of download intent, low competition, then high search volume…in that order. Then track those keywords and be sure to keep detailed notes on every keyword.

You can add notes to remind yourself of things like: adding a keyword to the next update, a keyword was tested and didn’t work, and much more.

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If you want to save some time, the Mobile Action platform also provides an estimate of how much each keyword contributes to their overall organic downloads. Starting with these keywords will give you a head start and save you the headache of sifting through every single keyword.

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Downloads and Revenue

Another important metric to understand is approximately how many downloads an app is getting and how much it is making in terms of revenue . Since that data is private, you cannot get exact numbers.

But estimates will get you pretty close. Once you know this information, it will help you understand how to set your goals.

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The Mobile Action Market Intelligence module will allow you to get these estimates, in addition to the following information.

DAU/MAU

Daily Active Users and Monthly Active Users is a key measurement of the overall health of an app. Many top app companies will use these metrics to determine if a game is worth keeping or not.

Again, this data is estimated. But if you think that a competitor is a market leader but their numbers say otherwise, you have saved yourself time and energy, by not studying the wrong competitor.

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Audience Location

Localization can be a great strategy to increase the user base of your app, by several orders of magnitude. But where is the best place to start?

Well, that is going to depend on the type of app you have and where people are most likely to use your app. But your competitors can help you out in this department.

Take a look at all of your competitors and get the estimated audience distribution for each app. This shows you the estimated app usage by country and can help you choose a country to target next.

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This information is also available in the Mobile Action Market Intelligence module.

Paid Ads

Is your competitor’s growth mostly organic or are they spending a lot on ads too? There are a few different ways to figure this out.

You can visit their website, then see if ads for that app follow you around on Facebook or Google Adwords. A simple Google web search or an app store search for related keywords will also reveal ads from your competitors.

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Studying these ads will give you great ideas for messaging and branding. It can also give you a ballpark of how much they are spending every month, based on the keywords they are ranking for.

Social Media Shares

The next thing that you will want to know is how much social media traction your competition has. If your competitors have a website, you can put it into Buzzsumo and see the most shared content for that site.

Then you can possibly create similar content, but put your own spin on it.

Interestingly, when you put in Uber.com, the most shared content on the site is not in English. Hmmm….maybe you should localize your website too?

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New Mentions

Finally, you need to stay on top of new marketing strategies that your competitors are using and new features that they are launching. There are two easy ways to do this.

Google Alerts

Google Alerts is a really convenient way to get new blog posts and competitor mentions in your inbox. It saves a lot of time and you might be surprised and some of the things that Alerts digs up.

When setting up an alert, be sure to use exact match by putting the name of a competing app in quotes. This will give you much better results.

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Also search for keywords related to your market. For example, we track the keyword “App Store Optimization.”

Twitter Searches

Next, you can setup Twitter lists to track your competition. Of course, this assumes that your competition is on Twitter.

I’ve found that the easiest way to track Twitter lists is with Hootsuite. You can setup a list in Twitter or inside Hootsuite.

Then add a stream inside Hootsuite. Here’s what it looks like.

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Conclusion

Use all of the strategies above to find out as much about your competitors as possible. You just might uncover some things that even the publisher of the app doesn’t know about.

Understanding what is working for other apps can potentially give you powerful strategies to help you get more downloads and increase your revenue.

Now go see what you can uncover!