AppClover guest post: The 5 proven phases of app marketing research, part 1: Idea exploration

By Ioana Cailean on June 10, 2013 4 Comments

This is the first post of our first five-part guest series by AppClover’s co-founder and COO Matthew Lutz. Along with his business partner and CEO Len Wright, he is working at creating and maintaining a global app marketing resource hub and community, along with publishing the world’s first monthly app marketing and monetization mobile magazine,, and building a platform for people to publish their own Apple Newsstand app, Appzine Machine.

Before you develop even a single line of code on your next app or work on your next update, I’d like to illustrate why adding a lot more firepower to your market research is so critically important. Figures pulled from various media sources about the app market status quo include the following:

• There are 800,000+ apps available in the Apple App Store
• There are 800,000+ apps available in Google Play, and
• 70 billion mobile apps will be downloaded in 2013

Now I’m sure you’ve probably heard some of those stats, or similar. And at face value it seems like these numbers are great. It means that apps are popular and it’s a rapidly expanding market, right? While that’s true, the flip side of that coin is that the competition is swarming the market at breakneck speeds with no signs of letting up.

Put another way, the already over-populated sea of apps is going to continue to flood over at an exponential rate. And this can present a bit of a hurdle for the current appreneur who’s thinking about how to get their app to stand out from the other nearly 1.3 million apps out there in the collective app stores.
So, what’s an app developer to do? Market research. And lots of it, at every step of your app’s lifecycle.

Let’s begin with the first stage of app marketing research…

Phase 1: Idea Exploration

So, you’ve got an idea for an app you think will become the next Angry Birds meets Instagram meets Draw Something, right? Now it’s time to check out the market viability and see if your brainwave holds any water. It’s time to break out your trusty smartphone and conduct the kickoff of your market research.
Start by searching out competitors to see who the players are. This first piece of research is a doozy. If the developers of a similar app are one of the big boys like Zynga, Rovio, EA or similar, you might just want to tuck that idea away for a while. At least until you have a kajillion-dollar marketing and advertising budget (give or take) to go head to head with those 800lb gorillas. However, if your only competition is just a handful of indie developers, that won’t present the same uphill battle for you, and you can feel free to proceed with your idea.

Your next step would be to check out a handful of those competitors’ apps and examine them with a fine-toothed comb, in order to find areas of potential improvement and differentiation when it comes to developing your app. First analyze their icons, screenshots, keywords and description, and then look at things like the available features, the user interface, design and how the app feels when you use it. Your aim should be to be better than them in all aspects.
Drill down further, and read their reviews; not just the 5 star reviews but also the 1 and 2 star reviews. The users who left less than positive reviews are your new unaware, unpaid focus group. They’ll provide you great insight and I’ll bet you a dollar to a donut that as soon as your app hits the market, they’ll jump ship.

Once you’ve finished exploring the competition, take out a notepad and jot down all of the things you think you can do better, record all of the gripes and complaints from unsatisfied users, and how you can set yourself apart graphically.

Check out next week’s post for AppClover’s second phase of app marketing research, market validation.

Did you, or will you, carry out competitor benchmarking in your app research?