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How to do App Store Research for Startup Founders

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How to do App Store Research for Startup Founders

This is our latest guest post on blog! It is targeted towards new app business entrepreneurs, founders, marketers, and developers planning App Store Optimization for a new app launch. Discover our tips to benefit from App Store Research in your ASO strategy!

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The Benefits of App Store Research

So your app is finally ready to be published on the Apple App Store or the Google Play Store! You’ve also heard about the importance of App Store research and App Store Optimization (ASO). However, you don’t really know where to start in order to maximize your app’s potential for discoverability. Follow this step-by-step guide, full of actionable tips, and give your app an impactful competitive edge!

As a startup founder, you probably have already faced a lot of challenges. At first, you had to find a great product or service idea. Then, you had to turn this idea into a concrete and functional mobile app, which is hopefully answering a specific problem or precise need, while providing the market with something that does not exist yet - or that offers something better than what exists.

You’ve probably also struggled to raise some funds or to find associates and/or employees. Or maybe neither of those as you’ve decided go “solo”, with no team and no budget.

Either way, you’ve reached the moment of being ready to publish your app to the store! Congratulations: this is a key moment for you and your business, as it is - hopefully - the beginning of your success story.

Building a great app is a good start, but your work definitely does not stop here. With nearly 3 million of apps on both the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store, the increasing competition makes it difficult to stand out from other apps and actually be discovered.

Along with your app-launch marketing strategy (which is hopefully already elaborated, whether on a budget or otherwise), it is important to build an effective App Store Optimization (ASO) strategy and integrate it into your global marketing strategy. Working on your ASO will enable you to increase your app’s visibility and discoverability on relevant keywords, earning you vital, free downloads.

A great start to building your ASO strategy is by performing in-depth App Store research. This will help you to not only understand the market and the current trends, but also to find opportunities for your app and be ready to tackle your competition.

Here are the 3 crucial steps you need to undertake in order to benefit from App Store research for your ASO.

*Note: although these tips focus on the Apple App Store, much of the advice can be applied to Google Play Store apps.**

1. Choosing the Right App Store Categories

One of the first and most important tasks is to choose a primary and a secondary category for your app. Although this task seems obvious and easy, it can be challenging to find the best categories representing what your app offers accurately, even more-so if your app offers multiple functions. Tinder, for instance, falls under the “Lifestyle” category but could also go under “Social Networking” or “Entertainment” categories.

This is probably the reason why Apple allows you to choose 2 categories for your app. However, bear in mind that the first category is the most important one in terms of app discoverability on the App Store. Indeed, it is in this category that your app will appear when users browse the App Store.

Categories help users to discover apps that may best fit their needs, and enable the algorithm to deliver relevant results on specific search queries. It’s like in the grocery store: you will not look for nor find meat right in the middle of vegetables. Grocery stories are designed to make it easier for shoppers to find what they’re looking for, in a smart and relevant way.

There are 3 elements that you need to take into account before choosing your app’s categories:

1. Relevance: you must choose a category that matches your app’s purpose. Make sure to choose a category that best describes what your app contains or does.

If your app has several functionalities, think of the one that first comes to mind when thinking about your app. Think of the way you would describe or pitch your app.

Don’t forget that your app’s categories names are indexed - there is no need to repeat them in your metadata.

2. Competition: a great way to make your decision is to check your main competitors. Track similar apps to yours and see in which category they are categorized. Make sure to check competitor categories periodically, as they could change at any time.

For researching the competition, there are two main types of strategies:

  • Following other apps: It can be easier at the beginning to align your app with your competition, given that users most likely associate your app’s type with that category.
  • Using another category to stand out: on the other hand, you might want to try going with another category that may be a little less relevant, but less competitive. We recommend starting with the first strategy and then testing the second one once your app has been in the store for a little while.

It is also interesting to look at the overall competition within App Store categories. Here’s the breakdown for the United States App Store.

Image Source: Statista

With over 25% of total apps, the “Games” category is clearly leading the App Store. Given this impressive level of competition, you can choose two Games subcategories to categorize your app and facilitate search.

Taking out the top 5 leading categories, the amount of apps across categories seems to be equally spread. It is actually insightful to see that the interest is concentrated on a specific portion of apps.

A great strategy is to choose the category with the least competition (but is still relevant to your app, of course) in order to increase your chances of being visible. Again, you can test multiple strategies and see what works best for you.

2. Understanding your Competition

Although we already mentioned the importance of competition monitoring to find the best categories for your app, it is crucial to invest some time in an in-depth analysis of your competitors.

We recommend taking the top 10 apps from your app’s primary and secondary categories. Use an Excel sheet to list all their features and strengths. You want to find the characteristics that made them a success and get inspired by them.

On the other hand, you can do the same with a few competitors that are less successful. The point is to detect their flaws and learn about their mistakes - either in terms of product or in terms of app marketing strategy. That way, you’ll avoid repeating what did not work and thus will have more time and resources to focus on what will actually give positive results.

A great way to monitor competitive apps is to […]

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