Finding Opportunity in the App Market: Competitor Research
This is part two of our “Finding Opportunity in the App Market” blog series. You can find part one here.
Once you have determined who you are going to target, it’s time to analyze your competition to identify what your product is up against in the app market. Statista records confirm that Android users alone were able to choose between 2.2 million apps on the App Store just last month. Competitive analysis has become an essential part of business strategy in order to stay ahead, particularly in the tech industry. A successful app is one that adds value for users and solves their pain points, which we mentioned in the previous post. But your app ultimately won’t be successful if your competition has more to offer. Here are 9 research techniques to help you establish a competitive edge:
1. Know Your Unique Value Proposition
Competitive research is about revealing your competition’s strengths and weaknesses in order to define your own competitive advantage. Building a product that offers the same features as your competition’s won’t help you win over many users. A unique value proposition (UVP) is the first step you need to consider to optimize user loyalty and overall business success.
You’ll want to begin by answering these fundamental questions:
- What has your competition done right?
- What are their strengths and weaknesses?
- What are your strengths and weaknesses?
- How will your solution be different and add value for potential users?
Many companies fail to properly assess their full competitive set. If you don’t understand what your app’s strengths and weaknesses are, you won’t be prepared to successfully market your product. You should be able to clearly identify and communicate your unique value proposition to set your company and product aside from the rest of the market.
No matter how unique you think your product or service is, it’s likely to be very similar to a product or service that already exists. The important thing to remember is how your app will add value in a way that your competition doesn’t. Your UVP will give you a competitive edge, surpassing your direct competition before even launching your app.
2. Who Are Your Competitors?
Once you fully establish your UVP, you must assess who your current or potential competitors are. Make a list of 5 of your direct competitors to assess their strengths through a general search using keywords. If other companies use the same keywords as your own, you’ll most likely be competing for your users’ attention. A helpful tool we like to use is Owler, a competitive intelligence resource that gathers data about your competition including revenue, newsworthy events, company initiatives, and more.
When conducting a general search, look at your competitors’ target audience, revenue, product offerings and features, customer support, and marketing strategy, to name a few. Researching your competition’s’ products is just as important as how they target, market, and interact with their users.
After a basic understanding of what your competition offers their users, some companies decide not to move forward because it’s too difficult to win market space, or costs more than they originally anticipated. This is a good time to reassess your product strategy and possibly reestablish your branding strategy or your target audience, for example.
3. Examine Their Online Presence
Social media offers multiple opportunities for competitive research that go far beyond the number of followers they have. Follow your competitors’ Twitter and Facebook accounts, and subscribe to their newsletters and blogs to learn how they digitally brand themselves. Also, take a look at who follows your competitors. How do they acquire their followers? You should also look into your competitions’ influencers, which will give you an idea of key industry leaders and spark ideas for engagement with these influencers.
4. Analyze Their Content Marketing Strategy
Analyzing your competition’s content marketing strategy surprisingly holds significant value. Every marketing strategy will reveal insights to their targeted sets of users. Analyze their publication frequency, quality, relevance to their product or services, and how they are targeting their users with their content.
5. Ask Prospective Users
Now you need to start digging even deeper by directly asking prospective users what they think of any similar products in the market. This is a simple yet accurate way to confirm your assumptions about direct competition in order to improve your own product and marketing strategy.
6. Ask The Business Experts
Another beneficial technique when conducting competitive research is to talk with other business experts in the industry. Ask what has worked, what hasn’t, and any future trends that they foresee. At Clearbridge, we have in-house business analysts that will provide you with the information needed to help you make smart product decisions.
7. Keep an Eye on Indirect Competition
This technique may not seem important, however, it will prove to be beneficial simply because of the fact that indirect competition still poses as a threat when it comes to targeting the same set of users. While they may not build mobile apps, they are still winning over your users somehow with another product or service. Don’t focus on the products or services they offer your users but instead analyze how they are targeting and retaining their users. What makes them successful in doing so? What are they doing that could be improved upon? Where is there overlap with your company? Will they become a direct competitor in the future? Competitive research should go far beyond the product itself to examine their overall branding strategy and management. Both you and your competition are battling for the attention of your users, whether it’s a marketing strategy or the product itself.
8. Attend Industry Conferences
A great way to learn about who your competitors are and what they offer is by attending professional conferences and trade shows. Here, you’ll be able to see how your competition interacts with customers and how they attract customers.
9. Analyze Industry Reports
Many companies will release trend reports, specifically in the tech industry. Reading about what was popular in the last year may spark new product ideas for the year to come. The tech industry is continuously evolving so it’s no surprise that companies need to stay ahead of the game to remain in the competitive market. Keeping up-to-date on the newest technologies will help you stay ahead and will reveal key information about competitors such as their new products and features, which will either propel you in another direction or evoke new ideas for improvement. Leading tech companies are able to anticipate gaps, problems, and most importantly, competitive threats in the market.
Keep Monitoring Your Competition
Not only are these 9 research techniques highly beneficial before your product is developed, but will serve you best when used throughout the entire product lifecycle so that you can adjust and adapt to changing user demands. Keep a list of your top five competitors and monitor their websites, social media sites, and their branding, and marketing tactics regularly. Use a media monitoring and analytics service to track company mentions, such as Google Alerts to reveal new businesses entering the market. This information should be used to your advantage to improve your strategies, such as offering better prices and features.
It’s important to avoid imitating your competition after conducting your research but instead, you should be able to understand the attitudes and behaviors of how users are interacting with other brands, whether directly, or indirectly. A simple assessment of their online presence is often not enough, which is why these techniques will cover you on all bases so you can enter the app market with a thorough understanding of who you are up against.