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How to get started with competitor app review mining

review mining

App reviews are a key driver of app success.

On one side, positive or negative reviews can either attract or deter new users, effecting acquisition goals and app store visibility. On another side, reviews can also give us insight into the user experience and sentiment, helping guide and prioritize fixes, functionality improvements or new feature development.

However, when we’re only looking at our own reviews, the practice of gathering insight is, for the sake or argument, reactive. Users provide their feedback and we react – but how can we flip the switch and better anticipate their needs and expectations? The answer may be as simple as employing some good old fashioned competitive analysis with a bit of review mining!


What is review mining?

Review mining is the process of digging into competitor app reviews in search of qualitative data that can help you increase your app’s visibility or quality. In short, it’s a way to proactively look at user feedback, in order to gain a competitive advantage.

Looking at competitor app reviews gives you access to huge amounts of customer opinion to inform important decisions about your app. For example, review mining can unlock insights about features and functionality that your market expects. You can also learn from your competitior’s negative feedback to avoid making the same mistakes – especially when it comes to pricing and features. Finally, review mining can help you optimize your own app store profile thanks to the incredible amount of data you can use for keyword generation.


How can I mine reviews?

There are several data mining techniques that you can employ to gather insights from competitor reviews. While you can pay for review insights from ASO platforms like SensorTower, MobileAction or AppTweak, you can also mine reviews on zero budget. Here are the steps you can use to perform a manual audit of your competitors’ app reviews:

1. Set up a tracking sheet

Before you start reading through your competitor reviews, set up a tracking sheet where you can record the data. The best way to do this is to create a sheet in excel where you can track keywords occurrences (or phrase matches) across app star rating. By doing this you can get an idea of sentiment (negative vs. positive) for select keywords, as well as keyword groups that may pertain to specific app features or functionality.

review mining template

Download this template here


2. Mine the reviews

If you’re competitors don’t have many reviews you can do this simply by reading through the reviews of the App Store and/or Google Play. However, if you are analyzing several competitors that have many reviews, or want to segment reviews by app versions, country, or date, you can use a platform like AppAnnie to copy and paste reviews into excel where you can breakdown the data into more manageable pieces. With App Annie you can filter reviews from star rating, as well as reviews that are critical or favorable.

app annie reviews



3. Analyze the results

Understanding which terms and lingo people use to describe positive app experiences can help you generate new keywords to add to your app store list and description. Furthermore, quantifying the quality or sentiment of groupings can help you benchmark your own efforts against competitors, as well as guide improvements and feature roadmap decisions. For example, if you want to zone in on pricing sentiment, track keywords across a couple of your competitors and benchmark your own results. In the example below, this app publisher may want to rethink their pricing strategy, drawing insight on what app A is doing wrong and what app B is doing better.

pricing sentiment

Similarly, by analyzing critical reviews you can learn what users dislike and make changes to your own app to avoid these mistakes. Likewise, favorable reviews can help you learn what users will expect from your app, helping you make the necessary improvements to ensure customer satisfaction.


Final thoughts

While manual review mining can be a bit time consuming, developing a tailor made tracking tool can meet your individual needs without spending much money. However, DIY review mining doesn’t necessarily scale well, especially when we start thinking about various languages. For this reason, larger app developers may want to consider looking into some of the enterprise review analysis tools offered by the app store optimization services mentioned above.

Are you using review mining? Tell us about the most valuable competitor insights you’ve gained to improve your app in the comments below!


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