App analytics are a mobile team's best friend. They help you understand how your users behave and discover how your app can be optimized to reach your business goals. Without mobile app analytics, you would be flying blind and randomly trying things without any data to back up your experiments.
That's why it's extremely important for mobile teams to understand their mobile app analytics to be able to track their progress while working towards achieving their goals.
Why mobile app analytics?
Mobile app analytics are essential to your development process for many reasons. They give you insights into how users are using your app, which parts of the app they interact with, and what actions they take within the app. You can then leverage these insights to come up with an action plan to further improve your product, like adding new features that the users seem to need, or streamlining existing ones to make the users' lives easier, or removing features that the users don't seem to use.
You'll also gain insights into whether your mobile app is achieving your business goals, whether it's revenue, awareness, or other KPIs, and then take the data you have to prioritize and adjust your strategy and optimize your app to further reach your goals.
What are my mobile app goals?
In order to know how to use your mobile app analytics to reach your goal, you first need to define your goal. There is no right answer; different apps have different goals and targets depending on various variables.
For example, mobile games tend to focus on maximizing revenue so their aim would be to grow their active user base as well as push for in-app purchases, depending on their monetization strategy. Meanwhile, a retail app's goal might be to increase store traffic and strengthen brand awareness, and others like video and music streaming apps might focus on getting users to subscribe to monthly or annual plans. So it all really depends on what you want to get out of your mobile app and why you really built it in the first place.
How to track mobile app analytics?
There are many tools out there that you can use to track your mobile app analytics. Here's a quick list of some of the key players:
- iOS App Analytics
- Flurry Analytics
Mobile app analytics tools give you a lot of information about your app and its usage. Below is a quick look at some of the features that are common across most of them, and here's a case study of a real-life mobile game and the mobile app analytics that they measure.
The first thing you can do is to filter the data based on what you want to see by:
- Platform: Your iOS or Android app version.
- Date: Viewing the data from today, yesterday, this week, last 7 days, last 30 days, or even choosing a custom date range.
- Audience Name: Defined audiences that share similar traits. (e.g. new users, purchasers, etc.)
- User Property: Filtering users based on age range, app version, device model, gender, ads frequency, etc.
In most cases, most mobile app analytics tools allow you to download a CSV version of your filtered data for further analysis.
View daily, weekly, and monthly active users plotted over time, including real-time data of the number of users who have been active within the last 30 minutes, as well as the top conversion events during that period, like a user opening the app for the first time, completing a tutorial, etc.
Unless you're fully reliant on display ads, your most important events will be conversions. You can view data about your top conversion events plotted over time.
Engagement is a measure of how much your users interact with your app on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. User engagement is visualized as a graph over time to highlight trends for the period selected.
Shows the total revenue consisting of the combined value of all revenue sources. It also shows you the revenue sources as well as the average revenue per user (ARPU) and average revenue per paid user (ARPPU) for any specific time period selected.
Adoption and acquisition
You can view your app version adoption graphs, which show the percentage of active users for each app version and for acquisition, you can view your top acquisition channels, the number of times the app was opened for the first time from each specific channel, and the lifetime value (LTV) of the users who opened it.
Retention and audience
Retention cohorts represent a set of users who started using your app at the same time (such as on the same day or during the same week). You can also check out more information regarding your audience, which gives you a quick idea about your users characteristics in terms of:
- Location: Percentage of sessions from each of your top countries.
- Devices: Percentage of users on each of the top device models, as well as the percentage of users on the OS versions.
- Demographics: Percentage of male and female users by age group.
Events and user properties
Once a mobile app analytics tool is integrated into your app, it usually automatically captures some events and user properties for you.
- An event is an important occurrence in your app that you want to measure.
- Parameters supply information that contextualize events.
- A UserProperty is an attribute that describes the app user. By supplying UserProperties, you can later analyze different behaviors of various segments of your user base.
Events are essential to help you gain usage information regarding your mobile app.
Automatically collected events
Automatically collected events are triggered by basic interactions with your app. As long as you use a mobile app analytics tool, you don't need to write any additional code to collect these events. Check out your mobile app analytics tool's documentation for more information about which events are automatically collected by the SDK.
There are many predefined events available to you that are generic and commonly used by most apps out there. These events are usually split into categories including:
- Automatically collected events: When a user opens an app for the first time, views or clicks an ad, makes an in-app purchase, etc.
- All apps: When a user signs up, logs in, performs a search, etc.
- Retail/E-commerce: When a user adds billing information, adds an item to cart, performs a checkout, etc.
- Jobs, Education, Local Deals, Real Estate: When a user sees a specific item, a list of items, issues a refund, etc.
- Travel (Hotel/Air): Same as e-commerce, but parameters include flight number, number of room, nights, passengers, etc.
The predefined events that mobile app analytics tools provide you with can only get you so far, however, you always have the ability to define your own custom events. This allows you to measure the things that are unique to your mobile app and that uniquely matter to you.
Custom events also adhere to some naming rules, so make sure to check the mobile app analytics tool's documentation for more information.
Custom event Parameters
The same goes for custom event parameters, which are also governed by some naming rules as well.
Now that you can track events, you might want to group your users into different segments based on shared criteria. User properties allow you to collect data about the app's users as opposed to the app itself. This allows you to target a specific group of users, which can help you achieve a certain goal in mind.
Mobile app analytics tools already provide some automatically collected user properties that you don't need to define, including the user's age, gender, country, language, OS version, app version, etc. However, you might want to go beyond those and define your own user properties as well, like defining your active users based on their number of sessions.
This can be extremely useful in reaching your goals as you can deliver certain messages or actions customized for different groups of people. For example, trying to upsell a product to users who have already performed an in-app purchase, sending a notification to users who haven't used the app in a while, or providing help to users who failed a certain game level multiple times.
A user session is when a user uses your app for a duration of time. This is a great way to gain insight into the amount of time users spend on your app. It's also extremely important for all of the other mobile app analytics to analyze how time factors into other analytics (e.g. On average, how long users spend time on your app on a daily basis, how long it takes users to finish a game level, or how many sessions it takes before making an in-app purchase, etc.)
By default, mobile app analytics tools usually wait for a minimum set period of time (usually around 10 seconds) before starting to record a session to eliminate the users who might have opened the app by mistake and closed it immediately, and also wait for a maximum set period of time (usually around 30 minutes) after a user has stopped using the app before recording the end of the session. However, you can always change those session durations as needed.
Analytics and goals
Again, mobile app goals differ from one app to another. The one thing that's common is the fact that you need to set goals for your app. Whether it's revenue, awareness, downloads, or a mix of multiple goals, you will need to decide on what you want to get out of this experience. Once you do, then you will know what to look for, what mobile app analytics are the most crucial to track, and what your conversion points and events are.
Now that you have all of that established, you can dive into the data and get even more specific with your goals (e.g. 15% increase in 30-day active users by the end of the quarter), that way you can actually track your progress towards your end goal. You can then utilize the data and mobile app analytics even further to get insights into your app usage and use that to set new strategies to optimize your funnel for conversion.
By using a mobile app analytics tool, you'll be able to see statistics about the automatically collected events as well as the custom ones for your app, including the number of times that event has been taken and by how many users. You can also set or unset events as conversion events, which we'll discuss in the next point. This allows you to record useful and actionable data that can help reach the goals you have set for your app.
You can check out each event separately with a lot more information, details and broken-down statistics for that specific event, including event location (percentage of events triggered from each of your top countries), event demographics (percentage of events triggered from each age group and gender), and so much more.
Conversion events are the most critical events that you want to track. They are the ones that identify your most valuable users, which is why it is crucial for you to study those events, users, and their flow, like the acquisition channels they came from, so that you can focus your efforts on those channels, replicating their successes and bringing you one step closer to your goals.
Let's say your main goal of your mobile app is revenue and you're running multiple marketing campaigns to reach that goal. Your conversion event here will be when a user sees or clicks on an ad or makes an in-app purchase, for example. So it doesn't matter if a campaign gets you the most app installs but no conversion events because that's not your target and that would deem that campaign unsuccessful. The most successful campaign would be the one that gets you the most conversions at the lowest cost.
Automatic conversion events
There are three main conversion events that most mobile app analytics tools automatically record by default, including:
- App Launch: The first time a user launches an app after installing or re-installing it.
- In-App Purchases: When a user completes an in-app purchase that is processed by the App Store on iTunes or by Google Play. The product ID, product name, currency, and quantity are passed as parameters.
- E-commerce Purchases: When a user completes a purchase. Coupon, currency, value, tax, shipping, and transaction id are passed as parameters in the case of retail, e-commerce, jobs, education, local deals, and real estate. Quantity, coupon, currency, value, location, start date, end date, number of nights, number of rooms, number of passengers, origin, destination, transaction id, and travel class are passed as parameters in case of travel (hotel/air).
Custom conversion events
The definition of your "valuable users" differs from one app to another and it's hard to restrict them to the preset default conversion events. This is why mobile app analytics tools allow you to set your own conversion events based on an event or a set of events.
For example, you may set your conversion event to when your user reaches a certain level in your mobile game or when they perform a specific event a certain number of times.
Conversion events tracking
You can track your conversion events to dive more into the details of those conversion events that you have set for your app as well as the ad networks that you have integrated.
You can then go into specific conversion events and the mobile app analytics tools will show you a timeline of the event count as well as the top channels including sources, mediums, and campaigns that have been attributed in the completion for that event. This will help you understand where your most valuable users come from.
Audiences are sets of users who share the same events, user properties, or a mix of both. You can use it to see the behavior of different segments of your users. Some predefined audiences that are usually provided by mobile app analytics include: "All Users," which is everyone who has used your app, and "Purchasers," which are users who have made a purchase in your app. Of course, you always have the option to create new audiences with your desired definitions.
After defining your audiences, you can then view more information about that group of users, including the number of users, their activity, the ARPU, the app versions they use, their age, gender, country/region, and even their interests.
Since conversion events allow you to track your most valuable users, it is recommended that you always create an audience of the users that have performed your conversion events. This helps you analyze this audience and gain knowledge about those users. Furthermore, combining your top channels with your top demographics gives you the best target segment for future marketing campaigns.
A cohort is a group of users that started using your app around the same time (same day or week). This allows you to view your retention rate by seeing how many users end up coming back to your app and how successful you are in retaining users over time over different time periods.
When tracking a conversion event, users usually don't just go from point A to point B to complete the event, and there are different paths that users can and do take. Funnels help you visualize the steps that users went through to reach a certain event, for example, tracking users from the moment they install your app until they complete the first game level or until they make an in-app purchase.
This helps you figure out the different conversion rates between events or the percentage of people who went through a certain set of events, allowing you to determine any bottlenecks in your app where users drop off. You can then further filter the data by audiences or user properties to see how different segments of your users go through the funnel in different patterns and at different rates, helping you make better decisions to improve your app.
Mobile app analytics are a means to an end. They are extremely helpful in telling you everything about your mobile app —how it's used, what works, what doesn't, what needs to be optimized, etc. If utilized properly, mobile app analytics can help you achieve your business goals and elevate your app to new heights.
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