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Want your App to Thrive? Here’s how to Study the Competition!

Entrepreneurs approach the world of app-making for many reasons. However, regardless of your goals, all appreneurs should start at the same place: learning how to study the competition.

Some have a groundbreaking idea for an app. Others have an existing business. They are looking to complement and grow it with an app that helps consumers shop, play, or access information.

Regardless of your goals for your app, knowing what’s out there already is critical to the success of your app.

Here’s why you need to know this, and how you can gather critical information the smart way.

Let’s get started!

More Than A Mic Drop

Think of your app as more than just your idea. Recognize that it is something that will exist within the context of a highly competitive marketplace.

It will likely need to evolve over time for a host of reasons. This can include bugs, app stores demanding updates, your business growing, and consumer demands evolving.

Your app needs to be ready for all of these future possibilities. It needs to be able to respond appropriately.

When you release an app, you are entering a conversation, not just counting on a single mic drop.

This is why you want to take a close look at the competition. This can help you brainstorm unique features. It can also uncover opportunities to innovate.

Remember, the last thing you want to do is release an exact copy of something else. However, at the same time, you don’t want to release something that is so strange and esoteric that users can’t figure out how to interact with it.

So, how do you actually do that? How do you find the balance?

Test Out Other Apps In Your Niche

Use other apps in your niche and take a close look at them. See what other companies are doing. Ask yourself these questions:

  • What do I like about using these apps?
  • Where do I think I could improve them?
  • What do all of these apps have in common?
  • Why are the top apps at the top? Is it their marketing? Their design? Did they innovate in a major way?

If you skip out on this, you run the risk of making something that is exactly the same as other apps.

In this case, why would users opt for your app? There are millions of apps out there. And, depending on your niche, there may be many others like it. What makes your app unique?

Also, without studying the landscape, you also run the risk of making something that is worse than already existing apps. This is the absolute worst-case scenario.

App development is a long and expensive commitment. You want to do all the necessary work to build something that is competitive and functional so it can truly thrive.

Using a good amount of apps can give you powerful insights. If you really enjoy using one of the apps or find it easier than the rest, take notes.

Likewise, if you find some of the apps unpleasant or unusable, also take notes. These can be things as small as not liking the color palette of an app or thinking the font is difficult to read.

Whatever your observations are, you are likely not alone in your tastes.

Expand Beyond Your Own Opinions

Ideally, before you even start building an app, you know what kind of audience it’s for. You should also know what kinds of apps this demographic is looking for.

Based on that knowledge, try to ascertain the general conversation online around apps they already use.

Take a look at the reviews on app stores, posts by bloggers, discussions in online forums and social media, and anything else you can find surrounding these apps.

These will give you an idea of what people like and dislike about these apps. While your own observations are important, what’s more important are the likes and dislikes of your target audience.

With that information, you can narrow in on what users want and create your app accordingly. You may even find direct things that you can improve upon in your own app.

You never know what might inspire you and inform your own app!

Make Specific Comparisons

As you try out different apps and research your competition, keep certain things in mind.

Think about how well or poorly they do certain critical things, or what strategies they use. This can include things like marketing and monetization.

For example, pay attention to how these apps are monetized. From the ground up, your app should be built with how you will monetize it in mind.

When it comes to app monetization, there are a few different strategies you can opt for. Many apps use a mix of monetization strategies.

These include things like selling ad space within the app, a subscription model, or letting users pay for in-app purchases.

In-app purchases tend to be the most common in mobile gaming apps. Users can buy special powers or character skins, for example.

Something that’s very common is apps offering a free version with ads, and a paid ad-free version. It is known as the ‘freemium model.’ This allows developers to make money in two different ways off of the same app.

For example, Spotify does this with Spotify Premium. They offer a free tier with ads and Spotify Premium, where users pay a monthly membership fee for an ad-free experience.

Also, take a look at the general conversation here as well. See what people are willing to pay for something in your niche. It is likely that if you go way above this price point and offer nothing new, people will skip your app.

Know What You Can Do Better

Compare elements like pricing, designs, user flows, and any advertising that exists for these apps. Then figure out what your app can do better. This is what it means to study the competition.

This doesn’t have to be complex. Maybe other apps lack accessibility. Perhaps the way they look is bland or gets in the way of use. Maybe no one ever heard of them because they had no or ineffective marketing.

While maybe you feel compelled to reinvent the wheel, you do not have to in order to build an app that people use and love. At its core, it has to fill a need that people have.

Remember, apps usually thrive because they provide an entertainment experience or make some sort of daily task easier.

Put It All Together to Study the Competition

Again, it is core to think of what you offer in the context of the marketplace.

If you can’t think of a reason why your app competes, and why users would choose it over others, it’s time to go back to the drawing board.

This is why industry trend analysis is critical. You need to know what your competitors are doing to release something that is well-priced and genuinely innovative. Learn from them on every level. Apply this to your app’s design and marketing.

By focusing on out-of-the-box thinking and smart industry trend analysis, you’ll have an edge in winning over users.

Final Thoughts on How to Study the Competition and Build a Thriving App

Overall, focusing on the competition and building a thriving app does not have to be a daunting task.

Taking the time to analyze and assess your competitors can provide key insights that may help you strategize and make better decisions when it comes to developing your app.

If a competitor has an advantage in a certain aspect of the market, use it as a learning opportunity to determine what they are doing differently or what user demand they are meeting that others may not be.

With careful consideration and planning, using these methods will allow you to stand out from the competition while also meeting user demands.

Do not forget to also prioritize user experience – create something unique, fun, and intuitive for users.

By focusing on these goals, you can successfully build an app that stands apart from the rest!

What do you think? Comment below.

Since 2009, we have helped create 350+ next-generation apps for startups, Fortune 500s, growing businesses, and non-profits from around the globe. Think Partner, Not Agency.


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