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How to better your mobile app marketing via competitive analysis

Posted by Ben Dickson on Sep 6, 2016 12:00:00 PM
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We've all read a lot about app marketing tactics and techniques. The basics, the tools, the procedures are generally the same. Organic marketing, paid acquisition, retention tools, analytics, app store optimization, iOS and Android hacks and whatnot are being discussed everywhere. But how is it that some marketers are more successful than others?

What makes the difference is how you combine your tools and put them to use together. One of the universal tried and tested ways to improve your skills and abilities is to learn from others. In this piece I will acquaint you with competitive analysis, a technique that will help you discover the secrets of your peers and competitors who are performing better than you.

find and analyze top performers

There are many challenges to leading a successful app marketing campaign. How and where should you spend your paid acquisition budget? Which social media platforms should you choose for advertisement?

At start your competitive analysis journey, begin by identifying brands and apps in your vertical that are leading a successful marketing campaign. You can use search results, media reviews, install figures, and apps that are tagged as editor’s choice or top developers in Google Play. You can choose as many as you want, but having 10 to 15 candidates would be optimal. There’s a lot to learn from other apps, even those that are half a step ahead of you.

Afterwards, you should examine and track the processes they use for marketing, and start building a plan that is feasible and more likely to succeed. This includes their budget, marketing tactics, tools that they’re using, their growth rates in different geographical locations, etc.

Take note that there’s no one-size-fits-all recipe that will work for all apps, but knowing what works for others is better than feeling your way in the dark.


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glean information

For each of the apps you select, try to identify the following information:

  • Launch date: Finding patterns in app launch dates between different successful apps can help you identify seasons, months and periods where apps of your genre will be more likely to be welcomed by your audience. It is also important to know how long it takes an app to rise in success. App launch dates can easily be obtained from app stores
  • Budget: It’s plain important to know how much a brand or studio will pay to market their app. After all, when spent wisely, money can shorten an app’s road to success. Finding budget figures isn’t that easy and not all developers share their numbers, but app reviews in authority websites and app blogs are places to look for such information.
  • Rating and reviews: User reviews and app store ratings are in direct relation with install rates, monetization and overall success. Of course, this isn’t an exact science, but you can find patterns and correlation factors when analyzing different successful apps.
  • Other apps by the same publisher: Many apps owe their initial success to other apps published by the same developer. Users are more likely to trust and install an app that has been developed by the makers of one of their favorite apps. Wise maketers also cross-promote their apps between each other.
  • Available platforms: Apps that are installable on different platforms (Android, iOS, Windows Phone) will receive more exposure. Supporting a single operating system will cut you off from a considerable portion of your potential audience, while offering your app on different platforms will allow users to invite their friends from other technologies. However, you should also identify the platforms that are dominated by your app category in order to give more focus to your marketing efforts.
  • Monetization: Monetizing apps is a very sensitive feat. While it generates ROI and provides your studio with the needed fuel for future endeavors, it may also turn down a percentage of your audience and prevent them from installing or actively using your app. Scan your competitors and see how they monetize their apps. How many of the features are available for free and how many are paid features? If it’s paid install, what are the price ranges? Does the studio offer other free and paid apps?
  • Install rates: Install rates should be examined from different perspectives, including date (daily, monthly, total) and geographical. Installation rates based on date ranges can help you determine how an app is performing over time while geographical installs can determine the areas where every app is performing better.

location, location, location

One of the keys to successfully marketing your app is to optimize it for different geographical areas. Every app should check its analytics and identify the markets where it can focus for better retention rates and monetization results. Being able to obtain ROI on your app and obtaining happy and returning users will depend considerably on their origin and the trends in their area.

You also need to know the important keywords for each geographical area. Trends and search habits change for different countries/regions and you should tailor your app description for the areas where it is most likely to be received well.

create a comparative sheet

After having collected all of the above information from the apps you’ve selected, compile everything into a spreadsheet that can help you compare and make decisions. The information for each app should be laid out in a row.

Looking at the figures can help you find the patterns for success and also help you find out what each of the apps are doing wrong and obtain clues on how you can get ahead of them.

where to get the data from

One of the tricky parts of competitive analytics is to find the information you need. Nobody shares all this information freely, and app stores are very secretive in sharing their stats. Following are some tools and services that can help you glean some or all of the data you require for your competitive marketing efforts:

  • Mobonaut: An ASO tool to unleash the potential of your local keywords and climb positions in rankings, for free
  • App Annie: App Annie will provide you with launch date and key ASO indicators
  • Sensor Tower: Sensor Tower can help you glean per-location information
  • Google Play: Google’s app store is where you can find other apps owned by the same publisher, as well as reviews and ratings
  • Apptopia: Apptopia is a useful tool that can give you monthly install rates and geographical divisions of app installs
  • SafeDK: This is a tool that can help you identify SDKs used by apps, which helps you open the hood and see what tools they’re using for analytics and tracking success
  • Plain a simple web search: Googling each app can help you find blog reviews, fundraising figures, expenditures, etc

final results

The result of competitive analysis should boil down to the following:

  • Geographical trends: What are the potential markets for your apps? On which locales should you be spending your most marketing efforts and budget? For which languages/regions should you do your ASO?
  • Goal ranges: What are the reasonable metrics of success for your app, including install figures, user retention rates and monetization?
  • Analytics tools: What tools/SDKs should you integrate into your app in order to glean the best insights on your app’s performance and success?

final thoughts

Competitive analysis is both fun and very effective. It can be your torch in the dark tunnel of app marketing, especially if it’s your first shot at it. Hopefully, the abovementioned guidelines will help you navigate your way in uncharted territories.

If you have tips to add, please share with us in the comments section.

Topics: App marketing

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