Mobile apps have become an indispensable element of our lives. They allow you to correspond, pay for goods and services, and, among other things, sell these services. But before selling and uploading the app to the stores, it is essential to analyze the competitive environment.
ASO specialists conduct a competitive analysis to identify the demand, development opportunities, and many other things that the development team is interested in. A detailed study of the text and graphics of competitors is the starting point for collecting the semantic core and forming the first ideas about the metadata of your app.
In this article, we are going to talk about the ASO competitive research, why it is important, and how to perform it correctly.
Why Is It Important to Monitor Your App’s Competitors?
Competitor analysis will help you to:
- Collect semantics for promotion. Unlike search engines, the App Store and Google Play do not provide keyword popularity statistics, so we recommend analyzing the queries for which competitors receive the most installs. To correctly distribute efforts during the promotion, it is necessary to evaluate the popularity of requests.
- Improve visual design. It is not a secret that the app design directly affects the conversion from a page visit to an app install. Sometimes changing screenshots or icons can increase or decrease conversion by 20-30%. A competitive analysis will allow you to determine the most popular elements and colours that the competitors use and visually stand out.
- Find growth points and identify user needs. In the reviews, users write about what annoys them and causes a negative user experience, or vice versa, what features they like. Such an analysis will allow you to avoid the mistakes of competitors and understand what you can improve in your app.
- Estimate the approximate cost of promotion. An analysis of the number of installations, positions, and the review growth dynamics will allow you to estimate the budget for advertising campaigns.
3 Steps to Perform ASO Competitive Research
To carry out ASO competitive research, follow these steps:
Step 1: Choose the right competitors for the analysis
The main goal of analyzing the mobile apps of competitors is to research the apps in the same category as well as to search for ideas for successful growth and promotion.
What are the criteria for selecting competitors for analysis?
- Search your app’s category for leaders whose level you are striving for and select these apps for the analysis.
- Select apps from the top 10 search results for the most popular queries for your category.
- Select apps with high income for the last month.
- Explore related apps recommended by the stores. But you need to study each app in detail. Stores can select them based not on a similar thematic, but on the overlapping audience.
Step 2: Analyze competitors from the top 10
Considering the top 10 competitors, you should set aside the well-known brands that have firmly taken their positions at the top and have been there for years. You can obtain much more ideas and solutions by analyzing projects that have recently entered the top and are actively involved in ASO. If you have a unique or highly specialized app with no competitors or very few of them, you can select near-thematic apps with which you may have overlapping requests.
Step 3: Perform the comparative analysis of your app
Now you can analyze your app based on the following parameters:
- text optimization
- graphics optimization
- rating and reviews
- in-app purchases
- other parameters: size, the “what’s new” block, frequency of updates, localization, etc.
How to Use the Results to Benefit Your App Growth
Now it is time to process the analysis results and improve your app based on them.
Text optimization is the process of including relevant keywords in indexed text elements: title, subtitle, description, and others. They differ depending on the store. Be sure to keep an eye on the text optimization of competitors:
- what keywords they use and how they rank,
- how successfully they move in positions,
- how often new ASO iterations are made,
- whether they use advertising traffic, etc.
Your task here is to write meaningful and logical headlines and descriptions that engage users and contain key queries.
App name limits are 30 characters on the App Store and 50 on Google Play.
- Keywords in the name carry the most weight. Add the most popular keywords from the list to the name.
- Use your brand in the name, because users are looking for either specific keywords or the name of the app.
- Indicate the key function in the name of the app (if it is a non-game project). It would be perfect if the main function of the app coincided with the most frequent keyword request from the semantic core, e.g. “food delivery”.
Subtitle (only in the App Store)
The App Store allows 30 characters for the subtitle. Keywords in the subtitle carry less weight than those in the title. Add words that are often found in queries. For example, if you specify the word “online” in the subtitle, the app will be shown for queries like “buy online”, “order online”, etc.
Short description (only in Google Play)
It is like a subtitle, the only difference is that it is not visible on the search results page. A short description affects the conversion, so we recommend supplementing the keywords with a call to action.
The allowed length of the app description is between 1,500 and 4,000 characters.
- Write about the functions and features. Publish announcements and promo codes, give links to social media and the website.
- Study the texts of competitors: the style of narration, the structure of the text, what they emphasize, what advantages they list, etc. Your description should be no worse than that of competitors.
- First, write the text without thinking about optimization, and only then add keywords to it (for Google Play). Place the most important keywords in the first 5 sentences, and scatter the rest throughout the description, duplicating them a couple of times.
- The description should be concise. Do not forget about the structure – headings, paragraphs, and lists.
- Google Play allows you to use emoticons in the text and highlight the font with colour and bold (HTML tags). In the App Store, you can style text with symbols.
Graphical optimization is complex work on all graphics elements: icons, screenshots, and videos. In short, icons should be catchy and clear whereas screenshots should be informative.
Stores have different requirements for graphic elements, which may change over time. You can find up-to-date information on creating a visual in the store guides.
The app icon should not merge in colour with competitors, but at the same time, you should not overdo it. This is because the colour, among other things, should inform the user about the app’s thematic at the level of associations.
Most users do not read the description and download the app impulsively based on the graphics alone. Therefore, it is important to make screenshots that show in a few seconds why the user should install your app. Please note that in the search results of Google Play, the user sees only icons – the screenshots are displayed only by name. In the App Store, you can already see screenshots in the search results.
You can upload up to 10 screenshots to the App Store and up to 8 to Google Play for each supported device type.
- It is important that the colours of icons and screenshots harmonize with each other without annoying users.
- The text in the screenshots should be short and clear. At the same time, it should be readable and contain the key benefits of the product. Place one benefit per screen.
- The font on the screenshots should be large enough to be readable on small screens.
- Add a call to action to the screenshots. It will also have a good effect on the conversion.
- Benefits should interest users. On the first screenshots, highlight unique features that competitors do not have. A common mistake is when the screenshot indicates the obvious functionality, e.g. “order a taxi” for a taxi app or “order food” for the food delivery app.
- When creating screenshots, consider regional specifics.
- To maximize conversion, make sure that the title and screenshots are relevant to the user’s query.
- Be sure to track the work of competitors on graphics: how often do they optimize the visuals? Do they use situational marketing? Are the graphics different in different stores?
Not all apps have a video preview, but video previews can increase conversion by over 25%. Additionally, in the App Store, automatic playback of a video will grab attention in search results.
- In the App Store, videos for different devices have their own resolution. If you use multiple locales, you can upload separate videos for each locale. If the video is horizontal, the screenshots will also be horizontal, and vice versa. The video plays automatically and without sound.
- On Google Play, the video is uploaded to YouTube. It is better to use a horizontal video so that it opens in full-screen mode.
- In the App Store, you can upload a video with a length between 15 and 30 seconds, and in Google Play – 2 minutes. But most users only watch 7 – 15 seconds of video, so a short 15-second video will be enough. If the video turns out to be longer, try to place the key points at the very beginning.
What should be in the video? For games, it can be interesting gameplay moments. For non-gaming apps, it is a demonstration of the interface and main functionality with an emphasis on benefits.
Previously, the banner was displayed for all Android apps, which greatly affected the conversion to installs. Now Google has removed the banners completely, leaving only screenshots and videos. Banners have appeared in the App Store since iOS 11, but only the “chosen” apps have them.
To make a quality graphical ASO, observation and testing are essential. The more you analyze someone else’s graphics, the easier it is to understand trends and find solutions to stand out. But personal taste is not always enough. It is important to conduct hypothesis testing and choose the most converting graphics.
Rating and Reviews
Rating and reviews are a source of insights. It is better to learn from the mistakes of others. You can analyze what the users do not like, what they are unhappy with, and where are the bugs. If the reviews are positive, this is also a chance to get information for your own development. Evaluate how competitors communicate with the audience and deal with negative feedback.
Having published the app in the store, do not rush to run ad campaigns. Having zero ratings and no reviews will negatively impact the conversion. To effectively use your advertising budget, you need to get an initial rating before launching a campaign.
How to get reviews without installs? You can ask friends, relatives, or colleagues to install the app and write reviews.
- If reviews on Google Play contain keywords from the collected semantics, then the app will be indexed faster by these keywords.
- Respond to reviews. Stores appreciate a quick response. There is also an opinion that operational feedback affects the ranking.
For iOS apps, it is possible to analyze the promoted in-app purchases (promo IAP). It is important to monitor the offers of competitors and their ranking by keywords. In the first case, it is worth analyzing the format and prices. Let’s take photo editing apps as an example. Competitors may offer annual and monthly subscriptions to the service with a free trial period. They can sell photo editing presets. They can collaborate with someone and arrange promotions, offering something exclusive as an internal purchase. It is important to note ideas and monitor prices.
The Bottom Line
Competitor analysis has a crucial impact on your app’s ASO and visibility in the stores. It will help you to:
- Collect semantics for promotion
- Improve the text and graphics
- Find growth points and identify user needs
- Estimate the approximate cost of promotion
To perform the ASO competitive research, you need to choose the right competitors for the analysis, select the top 10 that perform best, and analyze your app based on the data from the competitors. After that, you can use the research results to improve the ASO of your app, which consists of the following parts:
- Text optimization: name, subtitle, and description.
- Graphics optimization: icon, screenshots, video preview, and promo banner.
- Rating and reviews
- In-app purchases
Knowing your competitors will help you make your app better, boost conversion, and stand ahead of the competition. Good luck!