You did your research on what your audience wants, you squashed the bugs and at last, your mobile app is ready. Congratulations…but it’s not time to relax.
Going live is just one piece of successful app development. The reality is that the average mobile app loses 89 percent of its users in the first week, according to retention data from an Appboy analysis.
To make sure your app isn’t quickly forgotten, you need to understand who is using it and how they are using it. Without hard data, you are relying on educated guesses about user engagement and retention, and that’s why mobile app analytics are important.
Analytics are critical for app builders, even non-professional developers, creators of non-monetized apps or those used solely within an organization and of course even more so for monetized apps. According to an August 2016 Forrester Research survey, 63 percent of digital business and marketing professionals use analytics to understand the performance of their apps and only 45 percent use analytics to improve products.
“All app developers should be interested in whether or not the apps they're creating work properly and engage users,” said Daniel Harris, a Market Research Associate at Software Advice (a Gartner company). “Mobile app analytics provide crucial information about performance issues, bugs and design flaws that can potentially lead users to uninstall the app for good. Additionally, mobile app analytics help to analyze how users behave in the app, which is crucial information in improving the app over time. The only app developers who can afford to ignore mobile app analytics are those developers who are ultimately uninterested in user preferences or app performance.”
John Kroetser, a mobile economist at marketing firm Tune, said that app builders need a high-level solution, which he likened to seeing the forest. (These would include Google Analytics for Mobile Apps, Flurry from Yahoo or Facebook Analytics for Apps, which are free. There are also many highly rated paid analytics solutions.) To see the trees, he recommends adding in-app tools and a crash or error-monitoring solution.
“You need to know what’s happening in your app so that you can serve your users or customers well,” said. “At a high level: Do people care about this functionality? That screen? This option? That will guide future product development by providing feedback on the value — or lack thereof — of various features.”
When you begin with analytics, you want to address some basic questions such as:
Once you get past the basics, Josh Twist, product manager for Facebook Analytics for Apps, advises app builders to unlock deeper insights such as demographic data on job title or education and segmentation information such as who shares your content the most or who buys the most.
At a recent conference, he said that people are prone to switching among platforms and devices, which can make user counts inaccurate without cross-platform analytics that provide a unified view. Other valuable intelligence includes drilling down into behavioral cohorts.
“Acquisition is only part of growth,” he said. “With this information, you can create more relevant content... It’s about retention, engagement and conversion.”
Mobile economist Benjamin Bewick suggests a starter dashboard of mobile app key indicators include such things as: monthly active users (MAUs), daily active users (DAUs), percentage of spending (or other conversion) by install channel, monthly in-app purchases (IAP), monthly ad revenue, effective cost per thousand impressions (eCPM) and retention by install channel.
Forrester analysts James McCormick and Julie Ask said in a report that there are three layers in the mobile analytics stack: data management, mobile analytics and engagement optimization. Within that, they cited seven categories of app analytics: app monetization, app store, in-app engagement, app performance management, advertising, browser and interaction.
Harris of Software Advice says analytics need to be considered during the development process. “Your overall app development strategy (for instance, using a mobile app development platform like Appsheet) is the primary factor determining how you'll implement analytics, so make sure to research offerings that are specifically tied to your development strategy,” he explained.