Apple Peer Group Benchmarks & App Store Optimization - ASO Weekly

March 3rd, 2023

Apple Peer Group Benchmarks & App Store Optimization - ASO Weekly
David Quinn

by David Quinn

VP of Strategy & Partnerships at Gummicube, Inc.

In a March 1st 2023 Developer news post, Apple announced a big change to App Analytics: the inclusion of Peer Group Benchmarks.

From Apple:

Starting today, you can put your app’s performance into context using peer group benchmarks, which compare your app’s performance to that of similar apps on the App Store. Now you’ll have even more insights to help you identify growth opportunities.

Similar to the introduction of iOS App Store Product Page Optimization as the long-awaited answer to Google Play Store Listing Experiments, these peer group benchmarks are a long-awaited answer to similar functionality that has been available in the Google Play Developer Console. And just as PPO did not provide a one-to-one port of Experiments, Apple’s peer review benchmarks are a familiar, yet fundamentally different, implementation.

Evaluating performance based on these new benchmarks requires understanding what they are, and more importantly, what they aren’t. Read on to learn more about what data is available and how to best incorporate it into your App Store Optimization strategy.

What are Apple Peer Group Benchmarks?

Understanding how your app is performing can be challenging, especially for developers with only one or a handful of apps in their portfolio. Access to what Apple calls “accurate, relevant, and privacy-preserving comparisons for apps across categories, business models, and download volumes” allows for a look into how your app is performing relative to other similar apps, and helps get a sense of where your app is compared to the overall market.

Available performance metrics to compare against peers include:

  • Conversion Rate - Total Downloads to Unique Device Impressions
  • Proceeds per Paying User - Calculated by dividing total proceeds (including In-App Purchases) by paying users
  • Crash Rate - Rate of crash occurrences compared to total sessions
  • Day 1, Day 7, and Day 28 Retention - Percentage of active devices that opened the app 1, 7 or 28 days after the installing

Along with these metrics, performance can be filtered to show:

Apps by Download Volume - While Apple does not give specific numbers or thresholds, it does provide general groupings for smaller vs larger apps, and indicates where your app stands among these groups. Options include:
  • Low App Store Downloads
  • Medium App Store Downloads
  • High App Store Downloads
  • All App Store Downloads
Apps by App Store Category - Apps in different categories will of course have different engagement benchmarks. These filters allow you to see how your app is doing compared to peers in the same category, similar categories, or the entire App Store. Options include:
  • All Categories
  • Your primary category
  • Your secondary category
Apps by Percentile - To see where your reported metrics stand among other apps in the store, given the filters you’ve applied. Options include:
  • 25th percentile
  • 50th percentile
  • 75th percentile

Apple also automatically applies the business model of the app you’re looking at, which is not available as an adjustable filter. While this cannot be changed for an individual app, options include:

  • Free Business Model: free apps that don't offer in-app purchases.
  • Paid Business Model: paid apps that don't offer in-app purchases.
  • Freemium Business Model: free apps that offer in-app purchases.
  • Subscription Business Model: apps where at least 50% of the in-app purchase revenue comes from subscriptions.

Equipped with native App Store data you can more accurately make decisions concerning elements like your current app listing, Product Page Optimization tests, Custom Product Pages, and more. Below we’ll take a look at what this means for you when it comes time to use Apple’s new Peer Group Benchmarks to support your ASO strategy.

Use Peer Group Benchmarks Data to Support ASO

With new App Store data available, you can polish up your App Store Optimization for a coordinated marketing effort involving all factors that affect your app performance. Each metric Peer Group Benchmarks intend to target can help you adjust different aspects of your ASO to help your app grow.

While this data is valuable, be sure to understand some of the caveats focused on at the end of the article!

Increasing App Conversion Rate

While it helps to understand your total number of downloads, knowing your conversion rate in relation to competitors can provide insight into how you can organically improve your listing.

For the App Store, this means running tests that support decisions to modify your existing description, app screenshots, and app preview video. Try adjusting your message in your description slightly to see if it’s your copy that needed work or perhaps run an A/B test through Product Page Optimization to find winning creatives. This can all be done backed by the conversion rate data received through your Peer Group Benchmarks to help you potentially increase downloads and climb up percentiles.

Apple peer group benchmarks conversion rate example at 8.7% above the 25th percentile

For example, if your app has a conversion rate of 8.7% ranking just above the 25th percentile of similar ones, analyzing those product page elements that directly affect downloads can contribute to increasing your conversion rate and percentile position.

Keep App Users Engaged

You can also use the App Store’s Peer Group Benchmarks to help you understand when new users are falling off and at what rate to then take steps to mitigate it. While engagement largely relies on the user experience within the app itself, you can still take advantage of tools given by the App Store to improve your single and multi-day retention rates.

In-App Events are effective engagement tools that can help drive activity to your app by targeting existing and lapsed users with relevant offers, promotions, and events. An In-App Event can promote an offer aimed at increasing sales or in-app engagement to users who have just downloaded or are simply advertising a new feature that new users might not have been aware of when they originally downloaded. Users considering leaving your app in favor of a competitor may just change their minds if you have an In-App Event that resonates with them, further helping your retention rate.

apple peer group benchmarks retention rate with day 1 day 7 and day 28 retention rate examples

Suppose your day 1 retention rate positions your app within the 50th to 75th percentile of similar apps. Suddenly you observe a drop in your day 7 retention rate bringing your app down to just below the 25th percentile. An In-App Event relevant to users that falls within the timeframe when the drop-off occurs may reconsider.

Peer Group Benchmark Limitations

Apple’s Peer Group Benchmarks intends to provide a more detailed look into App Analytics than what was originally available. However, there are still limitations to the technology and you should tread carefully if looking to rely solely on the data provided here.

While your app is indeed compared to potentially similar apps or even direct competitors, there is a good chance that many of the apps you’re being compared against are not always relevant. App Store category, business model, and download volume are the three main attributes apps are measured against in Peer Group Benchmarks but do these accurately relate your app to the correct competitors?

App Store category is perhaps the most relevant one to associate your app with competitors. Nonetheless, you can at times browse an App Store category and find unrelated apps in a category you believed was destined for another type of offering. If an app developer considers themselves a part of the “lifestyle” category (a general category in itself) as well as the “productivity” category, the data can be skewed as it includes an app whose performance isn’t representative of your target market.

Your app business model is another characteristic apps are compared by. Then again, this places several different types of apps under an umbrella of different products that may or may not be targeting the same demographic and whose broader marketing objectives vary widely. A subscription-based dating app would not adapt their marketing strategy the same way a subscription-based news platform.

Download volume is another trait apps are compared against and can be effective in analyzing apps of a similar size and popularity – if they compete with you. Like the two previous attributes, it serves to know how other apps are performing if they can indeed be considered competitors. Studying app download volume across apps whose offerings vary widely doesn’t accurately reflect the overall performance share in your niche and how your app compares.

Beware of Worldwide App Data Traffic Sourcing

In case you were wondering where filters for traffic source and territory can be found, they can’t. Unlike Google Play Developer Console’s peer benchmarks, Apple provides data in aggregate from all traffic sources, worldwide.

Similar to Product Page Optimization metrics, data from peer group benchmarks cannot be drilled down to show how your app is performing among your peers in a given territory, or from a given traffic channel.

For apps to scale on a worldwide stage, only being able to view aggregate worldwide benchmarks from all channels severely limits the potential for insights from this new feature. When looking at benchmarks by channel and country in Google Play Developer Console, the difference between territories and traffic sources can be dramatic.

Even without access to a quick glance of Google’s benchmarks, a simple look at how design trends across different regions vary makes it clear that what converts in one market may not convert in another. Worldwide conversion benchmarks will not paint the full performance picture.

Similarly, comparing proceeds per paying user worldwide may not be a reliable indicator of how your app is performing in a specific territory. Some countries generally make more purchases than others and these trends can change based on extraneous factors in a given territory. A December 2022 rollout of pricing allows developers to further fine-tune their pricing structures across different territories but for now, peer performance can only be viewed worldwide.

Understand & Use App Store Peer Group Benchmarks

Apple’s new Peer Group Benchmarks now provide a much-needed native comparison tool where developers can get a better idea of how their app performs without needing to leave their App Analytics or lean on third-party tools. Like Google Play Conversion Benchmarks it intends to give you a more detailed (albeit limited) look where you can make adjustments or run tests to improve your ASO strategy.

Combine this new tool with ASO best practices and comprehensive App Store Optimization technology to pinpoint exactly what you should be focusing on, and you’re on the right track for succeeding in the App Store.

Ready for an in-depth look into your ASO? Get in touch with Gummicube today and see how we can help!

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