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Competitive Benchmarking for App Developers: Tips and tools

PUBLISHED

17 September, 2023

Tope Longe
Tope Longe

Growth Manager

Competitive benchmarking for app developers

Things change quickly in the mobile app market, and staying ahead of the competition is crucial for sustaining success. In this blog post, we explore the concept of competitive benchmarking and how tracking and comparing mobile apps can help app developers make strategic decisions that drive growth and engagement.

From identifying key performance indicators to understanding the competitive landscape, we discuss the essential steps and tools for analyzing your rivals and enhancing your app's performance. By embracing competitive benchmarking, you can gain valuable insights, refine your products, and ultimately, ensure your app remains a strong contender in the global app market.

With that, let’s get started!

What is competitive benchmarking?

First, the basics. Competitive benchmarking is a form of business analysis where you assess your products, services, and performance by comparing them to your competitors. By using rival businesses as a benchmark, you can evaluate your relative advantages and disadvantages and use these insights to improve your standing in the market.

On an operational level, competitive benchmarking entails researching existing and upcoming competitors, comparing relevant metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs), and converting these insights into initiatives. This means using them to inform best practices, highlight areas for improvement, and make strategic decisions impacting pricing, product, customer service, marketing, sales, and more.

Competitive benchmarking for app developers

The benefits of competitive benchmarking extend to mobile app and game developers as well. By tracking and comparing rival developers, you’re able to make prudent decisions on feature updates, release schedules, keyword optimization, app store optimization (ASO), and more. In turn, these decisions help you build stickier apps, improve your app store rankings, and bolster conversions.

While for some businesses the marginal costs of monitoring competitor KPIs may outweigh the marginal benefits, it’s still important for them to understand the downside of abstaining from competitive benchmarking altogether. If you don’t keep your ears to the ground, you’re significantly more likely to miss important market trends, squander capital on features that users don’t want, or misprice your products.

In addition, if you lack a firm understanding of the competitive landscape, you’re more likely to struggle with business management initiatives like securing investment, implementing effective sales and marketing strategies, or pivoting based on prevailing market conditions.

The most important KPIs and metrics for benchmarking app developers

The most relevant KPIs and metrics for competitive benchmarking vary from developer to developer, but there are nevertheless a handful of no-brainer insights that pretty much all app developers ought to be tracking. These are as follows:

  1. Performance metrics, like downloads, monthly active users (MAU), top chart rankings, ratings, and reviews.

  2. App updates and developer changelogs, including release notes, version updates, policy changes, and newly added or removed features.

  3. Techstack insights, like integrated SDKs.

  4. Required permissions and capabilities, including insight into sensitive permissions.

  5. App details and metadata, like categories, genres, IAB categories, titles, subtitles, and descriptions.

  6. Monetization techniques, such as app price, in-app advertising, and in-app purchases.

  7. Localization strategy, including country and language availability insights.

Of course, depending on the industry you operate in, there may be more pertinent insights; but the metrics above are widely valuable. They’re essential for product roadmapping, strategic planning, and understanding competitor market share.

How to do competitive benchmarking

Alright, let’s look at how to get started with competitive benchmarking. We’ll focus on the following five steps:

  1. Define your objectives

  2. Identify competitors and data sources

  3. Collect and analyze data

  4. Identify and Implement changes

  5. Track the impact of your changes

1. Define your objectives

First and foremost, as with any project, you need to set some parameters. This means defining your overall objectives and making explicit the scope of your analysis.

Begin by outlining what you hope to achieve and identifying which apps or app aspects you want to benchmark. Next, assess which metrics ought to be used to measure the success of your project. For example, new conversions, uninstalls, monthly active users (MAUs), user interactions, etc.

2. Identify competitors and data sources

Once you’ve settled on your objectives and established the scope of your analysis, you need to identify the competitors you want to use as benchmarks. This involves researching which app developers compete with you most directly and which apps overlap the most with your own.

Next, find data sources to use for your analysis. Needless to say, the best data sources for your needs depend on the aspects of your competitors you’re trying to benchmark. Industry reports, customer reviews, and competitor websites are great for basic, ground-level data; but if you want more granularity, especially for app performance and technical specifications, you’ll need to identify specialized data sources.

For the app market, benchmarking platforms like the 42matters App Watchlist are a great place to start, enabling you to track and compare mobile apps available on Google Play and the Apple App Store. More on this in a moment!

3. Collect and analyze data

Step three is to collect and analyze the data that you gather. This may involve perusing reports, culling competitor websites for relevant information, downloading performance metrics from app intelligence databases, researching integrated SDKs — you name it. The data you collect should be organized and analyzed in a way that allows for easy comparison between you and your competitors.

4. Identify and implement changes

Step four is the action phase — when you convert insights into initiatives. Using the results of your benchmarking analysis, identify areas for improvements and develop a plan for addressing them. These may be relatively lightweight tasks like altering your ASO strategy, or more substantial business decisions like tapping into new markets, adjusting your go-to-market (GTM) strategy, or pivoting your business entirely.

Of course, any changes you make should be done in a considered manner. To avoid confusing variables, make one adjustment at a time. Monitor and evaluate each one to ensure that the desired outcomes are achieved.

5. Track the impact of your changes

Finally, once you’ve implemented your changes, measure the overall impact of the benchmarking initiative. The first step here is to revisit the KPIs you identified in step one (new conversions, uninstalls, MAUs, user interactions, etc.) and see where you stand relative to the original benchmarks. If you’ve added new features or made improvements to user experience, you can deploy tools like UXCam to see how users respond to them and make additional refinements.

Then, rinse and repeat! Remember that competitive benchmarking is an iterative process — it’s not enough to do it once and call it a day. In order to build robust mobile apps that continue to deliver value to users, you need to make a habit of taking the market’s measure.

Tools for competitive app benchmarking

There are a number tools and data sources that app developers can use to benchmark their competitors. However, we recommend the 42matters App Watchlist since it's one of very few platforms that was designed specifically for benchmarking mobile apps and games.

As we noted, the 42matters App watchlist enables you to track and compare iOS and Android apps available on the Apple App Store and Google Play. It provides insight into performance metrics like downloads, top chart rankings, and app ratings; product decisions like developer updates (i.e. changelogs) and integrated SDKs; marketing strategy like ASO and keyword optimization; and app metadata and developer details.

In addition, its dashboards facilitate easy access to relevant competitor apps, with user-friendly data intelligence tools and near real time intelligence.

So, let’s pop the hood on the App Watchlist. Here’s what we’ll cover:

  • 30-Day App Summaries

  • App Performance

  • Global Top Charts

  • ASO Insights

  • SDK Analysis

  • App Details

30-day app summaries

The 42matters App Watchlist enables you to monitor any iOS or Android apps available on the Apple App Store or Google Play. So, to begin benchmarking competitors, you can pull up their apps on the App Watchlist.

Here’s the primary dashboard, which provides a 30-day performance overview for each of the apps you want to benchmark:

30-day app summaries

In the example above, we’ve added the iOS and Android versions of three shopping apps: Meesho, Magalu, and LimeRoad.

With the “30-Day App Summary” dashboard, you can track and compare downloads, top chart performance, new ratings, top countries, SDK count, changelog updates, and more. This will help you spot in near real-time when competitor apps begin to trend, where they’re having the most success, and whether or not they’ve been fine-tuning their app.

App performance

Next up, the “Performance” dashboard. With this, you can dig into historical downloads, ratings, top charts rankings, and changelogs.

First up, let’s look at the downloads feature:

App performance in 42 matters

Since the “Performance” dashboard allows for filtering by country and time frame, you can use it to see where and when your competitors are getting the most downloads. You can use this to inform strategic decisions about which markets to target going forward.

Along the same lines, you can use the ratings feature to spot sudden changes in user sentiment:

Rating feature in 42matters

For example, if you notice that a decline in ratings coincides with a newly integrated SDK or a privacy policy revision, you can avoid making similar mistakes.

The rankings feature is also handy in this regard:

Ranking feature in 42matters

You can use it to spot competitor performance in target markets and associate specific trends with specific actions.

The changelog feature gives you insight into these actions:

Changelog in 42matters

You can use it to gain insight into your competitor’s release schedule, including what changes they’re making and when. Indeed, you can use the changelog tool to uncover version updates, release notes, ASO practices, monetization techniques, metadata changes, content rating updates, SDK integrations, added permissions, and much more.

As noted above, since you can see the exact date these changes were made, you can associate them with trends in downloads, ratings, and rankings and use this data to inform your own strategic decisions.

Global top charts

Now let’s turn to the “Top Charts” dashboard:

Global top charts in 42matters

The 42matters App Watchlist lets you track global top chart rankings by country and category. As you can see in the image above, it shows you how each of the apps you monitor are currently performing across the globe, with an indicator showing you how the current ranking compares to that of the previous day.

In addition, you can sort these top charts by Overall rankings, App vs Game rankings, or rankings by app Categories.

ASO insights

You can also use the App Watchlist to monitor your competitors’ app store optimization and keyword optimization strategy:

ASO insights in 42matters

The “ASO” dashboard comes with a ranked keyword feature that helps you discover all the keywords your competitors’ apps rank for. Likewise, you can use it to track and compare keyword rankings over time and gain insight into things like keyword traffic metrics, ranking changes, and ranking difficulty. Moreover, the App Watchlist’s keyword Live Search feature enables you to see live rankings for any of the keywords you follow.

With these insights, you can see how your keyword performance stacks up to competitors and pick out high-value keywords you should be optimizing for.

SDK analysis

Next up, the “SDK Analysis” dashboard:

SDK analysis in 42matters

This provides insight into your competitors’ tech stacks. You can use it to track which SDKs they’ve integrated, which ones they’ve removed, and which ones they’ve never installed. What’s more, the SDKs are separated by category to help you understand their purpose without any extra Googling.

Clicking on an SDK name will direct you to its page in the 42matters SDK Explorer, which gives you more detail on the SDK of interest. This includes which apps integrate it, its market share by app category, similar SDKs, etc.

App details

Last but not least, the “App Details” dashboard:

App details in 42matters

This one is pretty straightforward. The App Watchlist shows side-by-side overviews of all app details. This includes in-app screenshots, store availability information, categories / genres / IAB categories, the most recent update, the current app version, publication status, and more.

Learn more about the 42matters App Watchlist!

Competitive benchmarking best practices

Now, before we sign off, we want to leave you with a handful of best practices for competitive benchmarking in the mobile app industry. Here are five things to keep in mind as you begin planning your path forward.

1. Start early and track progress

Gaining a comprehensive understanding of your competition and their strategies is essential for app developers to successfully navigate the competitive landscape. The earlier you embark on competitive benchmarking, the sooner you can transition from a reactive to a strategic organization. Establishing a measurement and tracking system is crucial to monitor your progress and ensure continuous improvement.

2. Align with your planning cycle

Competitive benchmarking can be time-consuming, involving competitor research, identifying opportunities for improvement, and implementing changes. Align your benchmarking activities with your company's typical planning cycle to make the most of the insights gained. This allows you to assess your performance against competitors early in the cycle, implement changes, and share the results for better planning in subsequent quarters.

3. Choose meaningful metrics

Selecting the right metrics to measure the overall health of your app is essential. Determine which metrics best define superior performance and top-notch customer support. Limit your benchmarking research to factors that are standard across the industry for easier comparison. Involve various teams to reach a consensus on how these metrics will be measured, and focus on KPIs like downloads, ratings, rankings, and MAUs for more effective competitor research and success measurement.

4. Prioritize operational improvements

Once you have a clear understanding of your goals, shift your focus to operational enhancements instead of solely emphasizing metrics. While statistics can inform improvements, concentrating on aspects such as team dynamics, processes, technology, and strategies can have a significant impact on your app's overall performance.

5. Select the right peer group

Consider factors like location, size, industry, product category, and business model when selecting your peer group for benchmarking. If your primary objective is to understand how your performance compares to similar companies, limit your peer group to the same industry. However, if you aim to gain new perspectives on business processes and encourage creative thinking, studying companies in different industries can be a valuable approach.

Conclusion

Mobile app analytics software like UXCam can help you discover invaluable insights that revolutionize the way you improve your app's performance. Instead of guessing what your users want, cut the guesswork out of the equation and use hard data to make informed decisions. 

These tools enhance the user experience, boost engagement, and ultimately, increase your app's competitiveness in a crowded market. Don't let your app fall behind – utilizing mobile app analytics software is the key to unlocking its full potential.

At UXCam, we empower mobile product teams with all the tools they need to put their analytics strategy into practice. With qualitative and quantitative tools ranging from session replay to tagless event tracking, we provide an all-in-one solution for your analytics needs.

Get started with a 14-day free trial and see the benefits firsthand.

You might also be interested in these;

Mobile app engagement benchmarks - How to measure success

Mobile app conversion rate: benchmarks & best practices

Funnel drop-off rates - benchmarks & strategies to improve

User segmentation examples - From data to action

AUTHOR

Tope Longe
Tope Longe

Growth Manager

Ardent technophile exploring the world of mobile app product management at UXCam.

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