Inspiration can come from anywhere. Usually we look to familiar sources, but what about going behind enemy lines?

App Store Optimization (ASO) and analytics tools can help app publishers look at their own results, but they can also be used to research, monitor and benchmark similar apps. Conducting a competitive analysis and diving deep into competitor data can help you optimize your ASO efforts, resulting in increased traffic, higher ranking and more downloads!

So what insights can your gain by monitoring your competition? Here’s a list of the 7 areas you’ll want to monitor to optimize your app store listing, convert more users and increase profitability.


1.  Target Audience

Wouldn’t it be nice to know what type of user your competitor’s app attracts? Knowing the age, gender, income and education level of users of successful apps in your category can help you make important decisions when developing and promoting your app, right? Thankfully, tracking tools are able to provide all of this info about your competitors.

app audience intelligence
Demographic data can confirm your assumptions about your audience and help you differentiate  your offer (Source: App Annie)


How to use these insights:

  • Demographic data can help you position your app in a saturated market. For example, use age insights to differentiate and target segments your competitors aren’t attracting.
  • Demographics data like age and education can guide your overall content strategy, including the complexity and format.
  • Use demographic data to guide decisions about your app design, style and even features. For example, if you’re targeting a specific age group, like millennials, you might select different aesthetic styles, navigations, and even social logins, than you might for an app targeting baby boomers.
  • Tapping into income levels can help you define your monetization strategy, from deciding to make your app free or paid, to influencing the type of offers you promote to mobile users to build loyalty.


2.  Category rankings

Categories on app stores are used to group similar apps together and help people find new apps. Publishers are required to select one or two of the preset categories on stores. When focusing on ASO, it is essential to look at your own and your competitors’ category ranking so that you show up in search results.

app store category rankings

Tracking and benchmarking category ranking can help you select the right category for your app (Source: MobileAction)


Improving your vertical ranking can also help you with discovery by getting your app into the app store’s related app suggestions:

related apps google play

Related app suggestions from Google Play and Apple App Store for Airbnb


How to use these insights:

  • Use competitor insights to position your app in the right category, after checking the difficulty level.
  • Compete within the category to increase your ranking within that section and, ultimately, overall ranks.


3.  Keyword Rankings

Keywords impact your ranking in organic app store search results. For new and veteran app publishers, keyword research can help you select the best keywords and there’s no better place to start your search than looking directly at your competitors!


ASO keyword competition

See which keywords similar apps have selected to determine competitiveness (Source: SearchMan)


How to use these insights:

  • See which search terms your competitors are and aren’t ranking for to optimize your own selections.
  • Look at keyword selection and density in your competitor’s app descriptions to help you write your own keyword rich copy.


4.  Screenshots & App Preview Videos

Screenshots play a big role in getting users to notice your app in search results and click through to your app page. In addition to screenshots, app promotional videos show people your app in action and play a major role in driving downloads.

apple app store screenshots - vine

Apps with appealing screenshots can benefit from higher search result click-through rates


How to use these insights:

  • Seeing what works (and what doesn’t) for other apps in your category can inspire your own design and help you write copy that “sells” your app.
  • Improve on what your competitors are doing by focusing on benefits rather than a basic screenshots from your phone.
  • Supplement your qualitative research with more quantitative data like competitor ranking and downloads to see how effective their screenshots and videos really are!


5.  Monetization strategy

App publishers usually have an idea about their monetization strategy before they even start designing their app, but just because you’re convinced about your pricing model doesn’t mean you shouldn’t look at what your competitors are up to.


appshopper price

Monitor price fluctuations individually per competitor (Source: AppShopper)


How to use these insights:

  • Are the majority of apps in your category Paid or Free? Going against the trend could help you stand out.
  • Setting and monitoring the price of your competitor apps can help you avoid the effects of sudden price fluctuations whether it’s going from paid to free, or vice versa.
  • Are competitor apps generating revenue with in-app purchases or advertising? Understanding how your competitors are making money (and how much!) can help guide your own expectations and help you budget for paid acquisition campaigns.


6.  Reviews and Ratings

While people read reviews and ratings to decide whether or not to download your app, Google Play and Apple Store’s give both some weight in their ranking algorithms. Looking at the reviews and ratings of other apps can help you unlock some important insights to improve your ASO activities.


get more ratings and reviews

Blast past your competitors with a strategy to get more ratings & reviews (Source: AppTweak)


How to use these insights:

  • Do your competitors have few or poor ratings or reviews? Lead the pack by implementing a strategy to get your most active users to rate & review your app.
  • Reading through your competitor reviews can give you invaluable information about bugs that you might want to address in your app. For example, if users complain about the checkout process of your main competitor, make sure your mCommerce checkout is flawless!
  • Get suggestions for new features. If users are celebrating the addition of Facebook login in a competitor app, you may also want to add it.
  • Get keyword suggestions. Since reviews are written by actual users, they can be a data mine of new keywords you may never have thought about.
  • Get a feel for how publishers communicate with their users by reading how they respond to reviews on Google Play.


7.  App Updates and Releases

Starting from a technical point of view, it is always useful to refresh your app and upload it again to stores. When publishers update new source code, their apps are also re-enlisted under the “New and Updated” apps in Google Play and “Best New Apps” on the Apple Store, which is a free chance to show up on the home page! Monitoring your competition can help you update and leverage this opportunity in the best way possible.


update schedule

Seeing a timeline of your competitor’s updates can help you time your own release schedule (Source:  SearchMan)


How to use these insights:

  • Monitor when competition launches to see trends and either choose to coincide on same dates or in between launches.
  • Checking your competitor’s release will give you the choice to either compete simultaneously or wait till they are off the updated apps’ section. Keep in mind that updates require as much time as uploading an app the first time.
  • Remember to read through competitors release notes to inform your own development roadmap (ie. what features and fixes are they focusing on).
  • Many publishers deploy their marketing campaign alongside their app update, so take a look. It’s suggested to keep a lookout for paid advertising campaigns when app updates get approved by stores.


In conclusion, competitor analysis can be your secret weapon for building a better app and for achieving a boost in quality traffic, increases in ranking and more downloads. Tapping into the sheer amount of competitor iOS and Android apps data out there, benchmarking your rankings can help you gauge your results and optimize for the best return on all of your app promotion activities. For more on creating your app promotion strategy, download our free ebook which goes into detail on the topics of ASO, paid and viral acquisition.


This article was submitted by George Nader, App Marketer at AppsBuilder  – a cloud-based development platform that makes app creation easy. George writes blog posts about app marketing, promotion and user acquisition. Born in Lebanon, he is a mountain and outdoor enthusiast. You can read more of his posts on the AppsBuilder Blog or by following them @appsbuilder.