How do you capitalize on market intelligence and competitor research?
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In our recent webinar, our own Jaap Gerritsen and Jonny Davies, as well as the CEO of Qonversion.io, Michael Stysin, explored how to leverage market intelligence into greater revenue. In this article, we'll explore why focusing on the competition is a really good idea.
Getting into market analysis
The app market is expanding rapidly, with 3,800 new apps added daily on the App Store and Google Play, in addition to the five million already existing apps. To stand out, you must understand your competitors' features, performance, user satisfaction, and target markets.
You would come up with new ideas, test them, run experiments, and get feedback. That's fine if you have a large team and if you have time on your side. But that's not the reality for every company out there, especially these days.
The key to acquiring and keeping them coming back is to deliver a superb user experience. But how to do it right?
Keep an eye on what the competition is doing. That stuff's kind of for free, right?
You can have a look at what your direct competitors are doing, what those indirect competitors are doing, and even those in adjacent markets. It's not just about those in your exact category, but those that serve your same customer, the same persona, and the same profile. There are very large teams behind successful top apps—it’s worth checking what they are doing since they obviously invested a lot into their research.
Traditional market research includes many ways to gain information, including focus groups, surveys, review analysis, and even social listening. Of course, smart online tools with amazing data sets are also great options—including AppFollow and Qonversion. By analyzing what your competitors are doing well, you can improve on their success, and you can ultimately grow your app and revenue much quicker.
Analyzing competitor strategies
So, how do we make a competitor list?
It depends on understanding the problem your product solves and the industry you're in. You can make a list of direct and indirect competitors. Talk to your customers and internal teams, and use tools like App Store rankings and SEO to identify competitors.
The App Store provides rankings where you can quickly see the top 100 apps in each relevant category. Just figure out the relevant category and check out the most relevant competitors.
There are other review sites that act as stores where you can see the top players in your industry or space, combined with user feedback on why people like those apps. Start with finding at least a couple of competitors and Googling them—you’ll find the review sites soon enough. User feedback is a powerful data source, although it should be taken with a pinch of salt as it can be influenced by heated moments or issues.
Taking a look at pricing
In the case of subscription apps, the crucial aspects to consider are pricing, subscription duration, free trial availability, onboarding experience, payable experience, monetization features, and the feature set of competing apps.
The market is moving towards subscriptions, and people are more comfortable with them. Subscription revenue now constitutes around 50% of the total market, up from 20% several years ago. People have become more sophisticated and understand better how subscriptions work, including cancellation processes. It's important to build a good product, provide a good user experience, and clearly communicate the features and benefits to users. A bad experience may result in negative feedback that others learn from, so it's not worth it in the end.
For instance, huge apps like educational apps like Duolingo present you with a paywall and subscription options during the onboarding period. All of them are offering a 12-month plan as the main subscription, and all (except one) are in the top six prices between 80 to 90 Euros.
If you see it in all top-ranking apps, it is likely proven to convert well, and users are willing to pay this price. You might want to do the same.
That falls within the product scope and where you want to go based on what your competitors are doing. For instance:
- Figma came to be to allow more designers to collaborate in a browser tab.
- TikTok learned a lot from Vine and witnessed their fruitless attempts at monetization, bad algorithms, and lackluster content creation tools.
- Zoom made video calls free and amassed a lot of users, but couldn’t reliably convert users into customers because they would just rejoin after a free 40-min time period.
And then there’s Blinkist. They implemented a pop-up informing users that they will be automatically charged with subscriptions once the trial ends. By being transparent about the trial and how to cancel if needed, Blinkist created trust and openness with its users. The result of this change was an increase in trial signups by 23%, a 50% reduction in customer complaints, and a 74% increase in push notification opt-ins. Many people are inspired by Blinkist, and other apps have adopted similar strategies.
First impressions and transparency play a crucial role in attracting and retaining customers. Analyze personal experiences with competitors, from discovering the app to onboarding, using the app, and unsubscribing if applicable. Additionally, checking reviews and ratings in app stores and using analytical tools can provide a 360-degree overview.
Getting the most out of market analysis
Analysis and the voice of the customer must always be on the agenda in your business, especially if you're an established business with multiple apps. A great tool and great data is one thing, and you may be passionate about telling a story and building the next great feature, functional monetization strategy. You need buy-in from your team and those above you who invest in your team and the app.
In AppFollow, there are two ways to look at competitive data and compare data points.
- One way is to compare feedback, ratings, and reviews of your app and your competitors. You can see how many users rated these apps, their popularity, and their ratings.
- Another way is to look at how apps differ in different countries, segmenting based on different personas or regions. You can see the ratings versus the amount of reviews and evaluate popularity over time.
Another perspective is comparing the discoverability of apps in the App Store. With so many apps out there, it's crucial to stand out. You can see a visibility score based on ASO data, search visibility, ratings, and reviews. It also considers if your app gets featured or receives updates.
You can see the app rankings worldwide and over time, as well as the performance of keywords and visibility.
Once you have the information you need and it’s time to act, don’t rush it, however.
Don't copy the competition blindly. Figure out if it works for you and why it works for them. Approach every change to your product with proper research to understand the risks and hypotheses. Measure and see what works for you. Just because it works for someone else doesn't mean it will work for you. A/B testing is the best way to figure this out.
Sometimes, implementing a feature can be difficult and time-consuming. You can do a fake door test and have a survey to understand the value behind the feature for your customer base. Learn the fastest way to reduce risk and move forward.
There are also apps using GPT-4 or similar technologies. They are gaining popularity in the App Store, and this can have a significant impact on various industries, such as language learning. Don't ignore AI; look at what others are doing, and consider creating something new.
In the long and short of it, don’t be afraid of seeing what your competition is doing and nicking the good approaches. They likely work, but you’ll need to carefully consider if that’s going to be your case as well.
A/B test, keep exploring new hypotheses, and move fast. To do that even faster, use the tools like AppFollow and Qonversion, as these platforms can trivialize market intel gathering on a whole variety of levels.