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Target audience and competitor analysisWith so much competition across the app stores, it’s essential for businesses to consider their marketing strategy long before the planning and build of their app, not just as an afterthought.

There are a huge number of apps out there. The market leaders, Apple and Android, have nearly 800,000 in their individual app stores.

The Windows Phone Store now has over 150,000 and BlackBerry announced 70,000 apps at the Blackberry 10 launch in January.

With so many apps to contend with, it’s essential for businesses to be conducting target audience analysis and competitor analysis right from the beginning in order to stay ahead of the competition.

From our experience, it seems that some businesses are forgetting that basic marketing rules apply to apps as well. 

Target audience and competitor analysis

Target audience analysis

An essential starting point businesses need to think about for their app marketing strategy is their target audience. It’s too easy to make assumptions based on what is read in the media or personal opinions for example.

There is no better way to find out information about a target audience than to ask them directly. This can be done through asking people to participate in focus groups or even through simple questionnaires and data collection.

Taking this a step further, some businesses will choose to launch a private beta or prototype of their app to get immediate feedback and assess what their audience really wants before going to market.

A good way to really get to grips with a target audience early on is to develop user profiles for each type of user. Create real or imaginary characters of each type of person in the target audience, give them a name, profession and age, and then work out what they will be wanting from the app.

Here it might be a good idea to research around mobile preferences and behaviours for each type of user. 

A good example of mobile preferences and behaviours is around devices. Research around different mobile devices and operating systems is absolutely essential to targeting the right audience.

We often read in the media about BlackBerry being ‘dead’ and although this may be the case for some age groups or countries, it isn’t the case in the UK among 18 to 29 year olds for example. If this is the target audience, this device should at least therefore be considered.

Graph: Our Mobile Planet

Competitor analysis

By researching competitors and finding out what’s already on offer, businesses can see how their competitors are performing in the mobile space and also learn from their successes and downfalls.

Downloading and playing with apps, as well as looking at app reviews, are great ways to understand the major pluses and negatives of the apps already on offer. This type of feedback is essential for businesses to work out what their own USPs will be.

A standard SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities & Threats) can work really well when thinking about app competitors and how they are performing. When we think about the strengths of an app we will usually think about its USPs; what sets it apart from its competitors and what makes someone choose it over a similar app?

The weaknesses might include a lack of availability on certain platforms, a lack of marketing plan for launch, or scalability issues for example, all of which are often dependent on the initial budget and time available.

Knowing what’s out there already in terms of threats and opportunities is also a vital part of any analysis. Future opportunities might include things like international expansion, app updates which enable a business to vastly improve the UX, or even new revenue models. Threats might include a competitor upgrading their app and taking a USP, as well as new players (competitors, devices, operating systems) entering the market. 

During competitor analysis, where relevant, businesses may need to consider the revenue model of their app. Options may include charging for the app, in-app purchases or mobile ads for example.

Whatever the decision, this needs to be considered early on to make sure the revenue model is suited to the app. For example, there is a certain user expectation when it comes to downloading a paid for application and ads need to be researched and considered very carefully in order to avoid turning customers away. 

Back to basics 

Basic marketing methods like target audience analysis and competitor analysis should take place right at the beginning of any app marketing strategy. We often come across businesses who are forgetting that basic key marketing methods are just as important now as they were ten years ago.

When a business can fully grasp who their target audience is and who their competitors are, they can then go on to develop how their app will be marketed at launch. 

Clair O'Neill

Published 15 April, 2013 by Clair O'Neill

Clair O'Neill is Marketing Assistant at mubaloo and a contributor to Econsultancy. You can follow on Twitter and Google Plus, or connect via LinkedIn

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