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Mobile App Analytics: Ultimate Guide to What, Why and How to Measure Thrice

June 26, 2015 Written by Maria Shestakova, Digital Marketer
In the mobile-driven reality of today, where nearly 22% of downloaded apps are never opened twice, one cannot underestimate the role of mobile application analytics. 90% of developers implement some mobile analytics tool into their app. Yet, mere 5% of them know how to make use of the information they track. Read on to be among them.

Keeping balance: 3 main don'ts

In the ultimate quest for success, some developers tend to fall into one of the several traps of mobile app tracking:
  • Over-analyzing: collecting and analyzing every bit of data possible, regardless of its relevancy and potential impact on app’s well-being, which evokes unnecessary costs and distracts from what really matters;
  • Following the crowd: collecting data for data’s sake or in an attempt to follow trends, without meditating on how it can be of use to a specific business in question;
  • Cherry-picking: posing questions to match the answers revealed by analytics, or reinforcing one’s own assumptions, consciously or subconsciously manipulating collected data in decision-making.
Irrelevant or misinterpreted data is not going to improve your app’s performance at best, or lead you along the wrong path further away from success while making a hole in your budget at worst. That’s why it’s key to set up guidelines before you dive into mobile analytics realm.

Defining your goals first: 4W approach

Applications are different, so choosing the right metrics will put you a step ahead of competition. First, define the purpose of your app via 4W approach – ask yourself 4 questions:
  • What is your primary goal?
  • What user behavior do you expect?
  • What paths would you like users to take?
  • What is your conversion goal?
There is a set of metrics critical to measuring app’s overall performance. What valuable insights you get from them depend largely on the goals of your brand.

Measuring What Matters

By and large, there are 3 processes that should matter to you:
  • Acquisition - how you get users;
  • engagement/behavior – users’ in-app behavior;
  • outcome (ROI-driven metrics) – what results of users activity are and how they comply with the ultimate goals of the app.
Regardless of the domain you operate within, there are some fundamental analytics for mobile apps necessary to track within each of the 3 processes.

Acquisition

  • Downloads
This metrics define your position in app store rankings. The more downloads occur within a certain time frame (an hour or 72 hours), the more chances for your app to hit top charts. To understand app’s reach, track demography of downloads: time and place, download channel (organic, through paid channels). This data will enrich you with valuable insights on how well your marketing strategy works.
  • Users
Understanding who uses your app is of vital importance. You must have clearly defined your target users before mobile application development stage. Now is high time to check if real audience overlaps with your targeted one. When you know precisely who your users are, you can gain new ones easier. It will also allow you to polish to perfection your skills of keeping existing users satisfied and loyal. Focus on geographical location, language of usage, as well as gender and age stats.
  • Session Interval
This means time lapse between the first time a person opened an app and their next session. Once you are aware of typical time gaps for different user segments, you can then make improvements to encourage regular visits, in other words, to boost engagement.

Engagement

  • DAU/MAU - Daily and Monthly Active Users
Number of daily and monthly active users helps measure how many people reuse the app within a defined time frame after downloading, which relates directly to retention and loyalty. If people find your content engaging enough, they will keep coming back for more. The more value you provide users with, the higher your DAU/MAU will be.
  • User Segments
Segments are groups of users who engage in certain events or miss out. This metrics identifies specific relationships between usage of different app parts.
  • Screenflow/ Time on Screen
User gestures can give you a plentiful of helpful tips: what screen people tend to first scroll to, which of the screens holds their attention longest, what buttons are clicked more often, what specific points on the screen are interacted with more. These data is essential for better ad-placement. In addition, these areas are valuable to pinpoint any bugs, as when the time spent to get to the next screen is unusually long, for example. For e-Commerce, it helps understand where time for sessions can be reduced.
  • Session Length
A period between app open and close is regarded as session length. It shows how much time a person spends in your application per a single session. Note, however, that different app analytics tools define sessions differently. A session in Flurry, by default, counts as terminated if a user is inactive for longer than 10 sec. To compare, Google Analytics mark a session complete after 30 sec of user inactivity. The trick here is to learn how your app session is defined and customize it according to the specifics of your app. Similarly, your domain of operation will define what collected data means for your business. For eCommerce, short sessions might indicate smooth and intuitive checkout flow, which is a definite plus, while for a game app same would mean lack of user engagement.

Outcome (ROI-driven metrics)

  • Events
Actions taken by users within your app are called events. Your goals should define what events to incorporate: an article read or a share via social networks. Associated with events are attributes, added details that describe event action, and help you get detailed insights about actions taken.
  • Funnel drop-off rate
A number of events that lead to a desirable in-app action is a funnel. Make sure to analyze drop-offs and conversion rate at every stage.
  • Cohorts
These are segments of users grouped according to the day of their first visit. You can organize people into cohorts based on when they downloaded your app and how they behaved later on. This metrics sheds light on who your most valuable users are in the long run. You can organize cohorts by device, campaign, segment, or choose other dimensions relevant to your needs.
  • LTV - Lifetime Value
Lifetime Value is considered one of most essential mobile app revenue tracking metric. It indicates the amount of revenue a certain user can bring to your app within a total time span of using it. This metrics depends primarily on how user value is defined by the publisher, and thus, has to be measured manually. You should decide what average lifetime of your users is and how to determine individual value of each. Now that you know what metrics to measure, all you need to do is opt for one of numerous free or paid mobile analytics platforms that would do the job for you. There is no right or wrong choice when it comes to choosing a metrics tool. The key is to use a platform tailored for mobile and covering the relevant metrics extensively. After the development stage of your mobile application is complete, continuous monitoring and management are essential to succeed in a highly competitive world of mobile apps.

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