How To Do an App Competitor Analysis in 7 Easy Steps

David Morneau

By David Morneau
10 min READ | Jan 20 2023

Table of contents

Otto von Bismarck once said that “only a fool learns from his own mistakes. The wise man learns from the mistakes of others.”

He ended up building modern-day Germany and becoming its first chancellor, so you may take his advice for granted.

In the world of marketing for mobile apps, that entails doing a thorough app competitor analysis. Apart from learning from others’ mistakes, this also helps you identify opportunities that your direct competitors aren't taking advantage of.

And both those things will help position your brand better in app stores and beyond.

This article will take you through all the necessary, actionable steps of completing that competitor analysis. And we’ve compiled plenty of examples to help you understand better.

Keep reading below.

What Is a Competitor Analysis in Mobile Apps?

Competitor analysis in mobile apps is the process of gauging the performance of the apps developed by your direct and indirect competitors. Understanding their results and comparing them to yours allows you to:

  • Learn from their mistakes so that you can improve your marketing strategy
  • Learn from their successes so that you can adopt tried-and-tested strategies, thus saving your resources
  • Identify open niches and business opportunities like word-of-mouth marketing
  • Find deeper insights and position yourself differently in the minds of your potential customers. That way, you can slash your cost per conversion by 80% and reduce your startup costs

So you’re not just trying to be better than your competition; you’re trying to satisfy your customers’ unique needs in a completely different way from your competitors.

As a result, you will improve your product strategy, SEO strategy and app performance to gain that competitive edge.

Who should make this competitor analysis?

Auditing your competitors should be a team effort across multiple departments. Your web development, creative, and marketing teams should all be involved. Alternatively, you can hire a third-party audit agency to conduct this research.

The 7 Steps of Your Competitive Analysis

Now that you know the theory behind this competitive analysis, let’s see how you can implement it.

1. Identify Your Competition

The first thing you must do is make a list of competitors using these variables:

  • Category used on mobile app stores
  • Audience
  • Features
  • Keywords in app store listings and search engines

Apps that you overlap with are most likely your competitors.

Here’s an example if you’re searching by “budget planner” on app stores. All the apps in this screenshot compete for this particular keyword:

budget planner app results in search

Let’s analyze the keywords that the top two budgeting apps above are using in the “About this app section:”

  • The Money Manager by Realbyte uses more generic, though relevant keywords: #1 financial planning, expense tracking, and personal finance management
Money Manager app
  • The Budget Planner by DigitLeaf uses more specific keywords: Monthly budget, daily expense tracker, and wallet app
Budget Planner app

Here’s the most interesting keyword that the second app is using: “save money.”

This defines a unique selling point and simultaneously a benefit for the audience.

Lessons learned:

  • Use long-tail keywords or include more low-hanging fruit keywords in your app description. This will help you rank better than your competition in a specific niche defined by those keywords.
  • Choose keywords that express benefits and functionality.

2. Analyze Their Messages

Brand messages help you (among other things) to:

  • Distinguish yourself from competitor apps
  • Engage with your audience or persuade your prospects

A mobile app competitor analysis may show that your competitor’s messages are:

  • More effective than yours: Try to adopt their tactics
  • Less effective: Learn from their mistakes
  • Simply different: Find out the unique selling point they offer and then offer a different one

Specific elements to analyze within the message include:

  • User-generated content, like testimonials and reviews from active users
  • Brand voice
  • CTAs
  • Color schemes
  • Characters
  • Logos
  • Buttons
  • Special offers
  • Movement

Some of these elements will help you grasp your potential competitors’ intentions. For example, an “apply here” CTA clearly shows the campaign aims to increase conversions. Similarly, some offers may indicate a customer retention campaign.

Let’s see how the Perfect Piano app communicates with its prospects right from the Google Play Store:

  • The title is a bit vague and generic.
  • The screenshots are very suggestive, highlighting the app’s benefits and functionality.
Perfect Piano app
  • The description is very precise, overcoming the title’s faults. People immediately understand how the piano simulator benefits users thanks to the relevant keywords included.
Perfect Piano about the app

Real Piano: Electric Keyboard is one of Perfect Piano’s competitors. This app has:

  • A better name: Potential users immediately understand what the app can help them with from the name
  • More colorful screenshots: These attract attention faster. By comparison, Perfect Piano’s screenshots look the same, and you have to read them carefully to understand the benefits:
Perfect Piano screenshots
  • The description focuses more on user experience than on the app’s benefits: Basically, this app tries to entice users by showing what they’ll get out of using this app:
Perfect Piano app description
  • The company that developed the app responds to user reviews in the Google Play Store, thus increasing engagement and customer retention:
Perfect Piano discussion

Lessons learned:

  • Focus on every aspect of the messages and every marketing channel you can find those messages on.
  • When you compare your messages to your competitors, bear in mind your audience and marketing goals. Messages aren’t just good or bad in themselves; they need to be judged in relation to more important variables.

3. Analyze Their Channels

Analyzing your competitors’ advertising channels shows you:

  • The audience they’re addressing
  • Their means of persuasion: offers, selling propositions, etc.
  • Social platforms that your active users are using and you didn’t know about
  • Market trends on those channels

Let’s see Asana Rebel Fitness App’s Instagram page. They offer actionable advice, such as real Yoga poses people can try for specific purposes:

Asana Rebel fitness app Instagram post

* Note the abundance of yoga-related hashtags, the branded “Asana” hashtags, and the very specific #fatburn, which defines a benefit their audience craves.

Other posts include challenges (again, watch the array of specific hashtags that help the post break through the noise):

Asana Rebel instagram post

And their ads are filled with user-generated content to assure prospects the app will work for them too:

Asana Rebel instagram post

Lessons learned:

  • Write down new ideas to implement for your posts – after thorough research to understand if these tactics work for your audience. For example, incorporating UGC for mobile apps has become widely popular.
  • Analyze the communication between your competitors and audience: This gives you a better idea of how your prospects respond to different messages.

Pro tip: You can use our free mockup ad generators to test different copy.

4. Look at Performance Data

The performance data you should analyze includes specific metrics:

  • Impressions
  • Click-through rate
  • Views
  • Shares
  • Comments
  • Average rating

Analyzing your competitors’ ads and social media messages in terms of these variables requires specific competitor analysis tools. Doing it manually increases the chance of errors and takes hundreds of hours.

For example, the Asana Rebel ad we posted above had 19,000+ views in just an hour at the time of this writing.

The Yoga-Go app’s ad below has barely 63 likes in one day:

Yoga-go app instagram post

One explanation could be that the Yoga Go app is less popular, with just 1.2 million followers compared to Asana Rebel’s 2.3 million.

But still, that is a small number of views even in this competitive landscape.

Another reason could be that Asana Rebel’s ad:

  • Looks more like user-generated content.
  • Uses video, thus keeping viewers engaged.
  • Feels less advertise-y, thanks to those reviews.

So, because Asana Rebel’s ad brings more value to people, more Instagram users interact with it. As such, Instagram’s algorithm makes the ad more visible.

Lessons learned

  • To penetrate the mobile app market, focus on your customers' needs first.
  • Derive as many insights as possible from the performance variables, but ensure those insights are rooted in facts.
  • Always consider how long the ad has been running.

5. Compare Unique Selling Points

After understanding all these, you should have a reasonable idea of your competitors’ selling points. You should also understand your USP – aka the value offering you’re bringing to your target users.

Remember: Your USP doesn’t just relate to your product. Variables to look for include:

  • In-app purchases
  • Loading speed
  • In-app ads
  • Response to customers
  • Updates
  • Data safety
  • Communication (e.g., your competitors may connect to users by appealing to shared values)

For example, Joggo App’s unique selling point is allowing people to calculate how much weight they can lose with this running app. For free.


Lessons learned:

  • Offering free tools to your target user base is a good way to create traffic to your website and social media channels.
  • Besides, those who end up using those tools are more likely to convert. And that means those tools allow you to qualify your prospects too, not just attract them to your channels.

6. App Reviews

Auditing your competitors’ app reviews allow you to understand how successful they are compared to you and where their business success stems from.

Look for:

  • Common threads
  • Recurring complaints
  • Common praises
  • The competitors’ responses

Use that info to improve your app’s existing features or develop new features to attract a new pool of customers.

For example, you may notice that your competitors reply with vague and generic comments instead of offering valuable help.

Here’s one good example from The Walking Dead Survivor Game:

Walking Dead game review

Lessons learned:

  • Keep an eye open for interesting variables you didn’t consider important, such as devising comprehensive tutorials.
  • Make a note to always give helpful replies to reviewers.
  • Take user feedback into account to adapt your product and content marketing strategy.

7. SWOT Analysis

Conduct a SWOT analysis based on what you learned for yourself and your competitors. The purpose is to understand the overall performance of your app and the apps you’re competing with.

Pro tip: Writing it down in a report helps you focus on the best solutions.

That means you will implement the right changes timely and in an appealing way for your audience.

Here’s another example from Joggo:

Joggo instagram post

Joggo devised the new Heart Rate Zones feature for their Apple Watch users, and they’re announcing it on Instagram. That channel is a great choice considering the 79k followers they have.

Pro tip: Notice the comments.

People are commenting with other suggestions, such as Garmin and Samsung Health compatibility. Someone even suggests a free trial.

Joggo can decide to implement new features and services based on these comments to attract an even larger audience.

Lessons learned:

  • Stay objective when you analyze your pros and cons, comparing yourself to the competition.
  • Try to transform those weaknesses into opportunities, listening to your users’ requests. That's how you can build long-term user loyalty.

Starting Your App Competitor Audit

Now that you’re here, you know how to start conducting an app competitor analysis. However, you need the right tools to speed up the process and help you derive useful insights.

Free ad intelligence tools like Facebook Ads Library allow you to see any ad from your competitors, your budget, and their campaigns’ duration. Twitter allows you to do the same with its Transparency Center.

Ahrefs is another good tool that you can sample for free.

Alternatively, you can ask for the help of a mobile app agency. inBeat is happy to support you with a useful market analysis. We can even help you build a comprehensive campaign based on those results.

Read our case studies to find out how thorough competitor analysis helped us grasp unique opportunities for our clients, such as and Hopper.

Hint: You’ll also learn how we solved their problems seamlessly through unique UGC campaigns.

And if you want to discuss more about the steps we presented in this article and how we can assist you, book a free strategy call with us.

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