5 Ways to Stay Ahead of Your Competition

« Keep your friends close and your enemies closer. »

This quote, although attributed to Sun-tzu, a Chinese military strategist in 400BC, couldn’t be more true in today’s mobile app battlefield.

As an app marketer or developer, competition monitoring should be part of your daily routine. If you want to stand out from competitive apps, you will need to understand how they work, who they target, what they offer, and when they plan on doing it.

The objective is to keep your app in the race and hopefully ahead of the others. Ideally, competition monitoring will enable you to anticipate your competitors’ next moves and therefore take the lead.

In the app industry, analyzing your competition can be a great source of inspiration for your own app. It can be very helpful for pre-launch but it can also help you optimize your ASO and marketing efforts, which will increase your app rankings, downloads, and ultimately result in a higher LTV rate.

Here are 5 important elements to monitor, track, and analyze in order to get ahead of your competitors.

1. App Category Selection Analysis

Apple allows you to select 2 of the 25 present categories while Google enables you to choose only 1 possible category out of 29.

It can sometimes be challenging to decide which primary category your app should stand in. An app can match multiple categories when looking at its core function. For example, Tinder falls under the “Lifestyle” category but could also go under “Social Networking” or “Entertainment” categories.

If you want to maximize your chances of success, you should take the competition into account.

First, some categories can be more competitive than others. If a category is too competitive, it may be smarter to target a less crowded one with less apps. This could improve your app discoverability.

Most importantly it is essential to monitor and track your closest competitors’ categories. That way you can decide to fight in the same field or, on the contrary, try your luck in another one. Don’t forget to monitor your competitors’ categories choices on a regular basis as they could decide to change their strategy at any time.

2. Keywords Selection and Rankings Tracking

Keywords certainly represent one of the most important aspects of ASO and app discoverability. The Apple App Store algorithm takes into account keywords from your app title and from the 100 character keyword field.

On Google Play, keywords from app titles and app descriptions are taken into account, as there is no keyword field. For Google Play apps, it is important to look at the keyword density in your competitors’ description. You will easily find which keywords they’re targeting.

Keywords help users find your app. It is essential to try finding the right balance between the volume of search and the competition of a keyword. A great keyword is a keyword that is popular (searched by users) but doesn’t match too many apps, while being relevant to the app at the same time.

Keyword selection is very challenging but if you target the right keywords, and if you rank well for them, you will increase your organic downloads and rankings drastically.

A great way to optimize your keyword research is by looking at your competition. It is very interesting to find out which keywords your competitors are ranking to determine keyword competitiveness. But it is also important to find keywords that they aren’t ranking for. This will give you a huge opportunity to catch users they will not be able to get.

Source: AppTweak App Titles’ Comparison feature showing recurrent keywords.

AppTweak’s ASO tool enables you to get the “Top Keywords” that your competitors are ranking for. These keywords are terms ranking your competing apps between the 1st and 50th position.

It is also recommended to track the evolution of your competitors’ keyword rankings in time, as it could change faster than you would expect. Don’t forget to track various languages and locations.

Source: AppTweak’s Competitors Keyword Ranking History feature.

3. App Rankings Monitoring

Another very important metric to monitor is your competitors’ app rankings. An app has both a category and a global app store ranking. It is essential to measure and track your competitors’ performance regularly.

It is even more interesting if you compare your performance evolution to your competitors’ in time. Benchmarking app rankings can help you optimizing your ASO and your app marketing strategies. It also enables you to monitor and measure easily your marketing efforts.

Finally, it is crucial to monitor your competitors’ rankings in different locations. This will help you understand their global performance over the world. App store localization is a great way to increase reach and revenues. If your competitors are not optimized for certain countries, you can try to take the lead in these regions.

4. Updates and Releases Tracking

It is always recommended to update your app regularly (every 2–3 months). First, it enables you to fix some reported bugs and show your users that things are moving forward. Second, you show Apple or Google that your app is “alive”. Indeed, the freshness factor weights a lot in the app stores’ algorithms as opposed to the disliked “zombie apps”.

To reward your new update and to encourage your efforts, Apple and Google enlist your new app version under a special “New and Updated” app category. This gives your app more visibility and increases your chance to be discovered drastically for a short period of time.

As always, it is important to keep an eye on your competitors’ news releases and updates. Understanding their updates strategy can help you:

  • Find the best time to issue your own updates and create a release timeline. You can choose to launch your releases in between their launches or at the same time.
  • Anticipate the date of their next move and/or the new features that will be implemented by reading their release text.
  • Figure out when they probably maximize their paid acquisition campaigns (usually at the same time of a new launch).
  • Understand how their updates have influenced their position in the store.

Source: AppTweak’s Version & Release History feature.

5. Reviews and Ratings Analysis

Last but not least, competition monitoring wouldn’t be complete without a thorough analysis of your competitors’ reviews and ratings.

Although built on different algorithms, both Apple and Google attribute a huge importance to reviews and ratings to rank apps. Moreover, users trust other users. They often read users’ thoughts and impressions before downloading an app.

It is crucial to encourage active users to rate and review your app using push notifications. At the same time, it is important to try avoiding negative reviews. Don’t hesitate to reply to your unsatisfied users on Google Play.

Analyzing your competitors’ reviews and ratings can help you improve your own apps in several ways.

First, it can help you better understand targeted audience, which would probably not be far from your closest competitors. By reading their reviews, you will get precious insights on what their users are appreciating or disliking and which features they’d like to have on the app.

It also helps you acknowledge important elements that you will need to focus on: is there a recurrent feature or bug mentioned?

Finally, reviews and ratings are a gold mine for keywords. Who will talk better than your targeted users about your app? Pay attention to the terms and key phrases used in your own reviews but also in your competitors. It will give you a lot of new keyword ideas you probably would not have thought of.

Source: AppTweak’s Reviews & Ratings History feature.

Conclusion

Competition analysis should be a crucial part of your ASO and app marketing strategies. Nowadays you can’t succeed in the app world if you don’t properly understand your market and how your competition works.

If you put the time and the effort required in your competition analysis, and if you implement a thoughtful strategy according to your conclusions, you will certainly achieve higher results and increase your organic downloads.

Since competition monitoring requires a certain amount of work on a regular and structured basis, some ASO tools like AppTweak were built to help you save a lot of time in the process. AppTweak provides the easiest competitive intelligence feature on the market. You can try it out for free for 7 days.

About the Author:

Laurie is Inbound Marketing Manager at AppTweak. Passionate by new technologies and apps, she loves finding new ideas to spread valuable content on App Store Optimization and App Marketing. She’s in charge of the company’s blog, crafting articles helping users to increase their app downloads and rankings. She’s also at the head of the ASO University, teaching App Store Optimization basics through video tutorials, all available for free on the AppTweak blog.