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App analytics – the basic “Must know” facts for marketers – Part 2


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Understand the value of app analytics and how to get started with setting it up correctly
This training comes after part 1 where we have discussed the unique challenges of tracking the performance of mobile-apps and main benefits of analytics. In here we cover the basics of what needs to be measured as well as provide some important advice to use before implementing analytics…

In the mobile apps world, there are several basic measurements that are applicable to almost any app I think of.

High level (30,000 feet…) list of areas to be measured within a mobile app:

  • Organic growth drivers– downloads, installs, uninstalls:
    “Organic users” are users that downloaded your app without you paying for luring them in. The higher organic traffic you enjoy, the less you need to rely on (costly) acquisition campaigns. High Organic growth is the holy grail of every great distribution strategy. Monitoring your organic growth ratio enables you to measure the impact of your marketing activities on this ratio, and optimize it.
  • Acquisition performance – (traffic origin, clicks, downloads, installs or specific paid events):
    Acquisition campaigns bring-in users through paid ads. Some media channels charge per impressions,  many work with CPC (cost per click) or CPI (cost per install) models, and some will even agree to a CPA model (cost per specific event-action. E.g., you pay only for users who downloaded, installed and also took some action in your app). Acquisition analytics will help you identify the channels who bring in the best ROI, so you can shift the focus to those channels and optimize campaign results.
  • Usage / engagement – (user retention, loyal users, usage trends, active users, specific events etc.):
    App developers have learned that number of downloads and installs are not the main success parameters. Most business models are based on usage, which is key for revenue generation. The industry, advertisers included, has turned their focus to user “engagement”. Analyzing your app’s activity (usage) levels is crucial to understanding your performance, comparing your averages to industry (and competitors) standards, and forecasting revenues.
  • App-stores analytics – (Ranking, reviews, competitors’ positioning, key-words performance and more):
    These parameters are crucial to identify the impact of your campaigns, the influence on your store position compared to competition, and to see how changes in ranking drive organic downloads.
  • Monetization analytics – (ads performance – impressions, clicks, monetized events and more, in-app premium purchases and commission based transactions):
    Whether you choose to connect to ad-networks, work with ad-agencies or join forces with any other ads-enabler, you will have to comply with the industry’s reporting standards. These standards usually include real time analytics projecting impressions, clicks and paid events generated by your app. Most of the ad enablers offer comprehensive analytics plug-ins, as part of the integration process. 

In summary, areas to be measured within a mobile app:

  • Positioning – app store monitoring and optimization
  • Distribution – number of downloads or installations (paid or organic)
  • Users – demographics, location, device, and so forth
  • Usage – detailed usage of the app (actions taken), behaviors and trends
  • Monetization – revenues, direct or indirect

Analytics Implementation

The more complex your app is, the higher the chances you would have to develop yourself some auditing capabilities. The more you develop yourself, the higher the chances you will encounter deficiencies, and need to search for complementing external analytic solutions. Hmm, I am getting a feeling of starting a vicious circle.

If your app supports multiple usage events (many buttons, menus, navigations…), you might need to invest in developing some audit capabilities and implement quite a sophisticated BI system (that’s flexible and capable of filtering by multiple parameters).

I used to work for a mobile GPS-navigation-app publisher. We’ve had so many events we wanted to measure, starting from routine usage (logins, user retention, errors etc.), to unique measurements, such as number of in-car routes, address searches, peak hours and days by country, ad conversions and much much more. Our app generated endless data that needed to be tracked, organized, processed, sorted, and filtered. And finally, we needed to be able to make some conclusions and improve base on this data. We had to develop a super advanced analytics system. We couldn’t rely on any external provider. It might be due to the fact that it was a while ago, and the mobile analytics industry was not yet that developed, but honestly, we couldn’t find someone who could answer everything we needed, and I don’t believe that any external solution would have been sufficient in our case even today. If my story reminds you of your app, you must be dealing with a similar challenge. If you have a simpler app, you will be able to enjoy an easier implementation. Good for you!

So first, you should have a general idea of what you are planning to monitor and measure. For example -If you are not planning on integrating ads you can check that off your list. Don’t forget to consider the actions you would like to take based on the conclusions you will draw from the data (e.g., send push notification only to a specific segment).

Start with building a prioritized list of your audit requirements.

Your list should include the specifics of the relevant measurement areas described above, as well as any segmentation that’s relevant for what you are trying to achieve. But don’t over specify. More requirements equal higher effort needed (or higher costs).

Here is an example of an audit requirement:

Audit title Description segment 1 segment 2 segment 3 segment 4 Action
Installs # of Installs OS date device territory Welcome push only for …
Logins # of logins OS Day of the week hour device Special promotion for those who logged in on the weekend


Finalized your list? Perfect. Now it’s time to consult your development or product teams (maybe that’s you as well?), hear their comments and recommendations (development and implementation efforts, limitations and so forth).

If you are tight on resources, but you need to be fast – that’s one reason to use an external tracking solution.

A good mobile app analytics solution is designed with what today’s apps need in mind, as well as what they are expected to need going forward. The optimal solution will constantly collect comprehensive data, and seamlessly interact with the cloud. If a cloud-based application grows exponentially overnight (wishful thinking), the analytics solution has to grow with it in order to stay effective, and this is really only possible using a cloud-based solution.

You can easily find lots of different mobile app analytics providers, here are some names: Google Analytics, Flurry, Apsalar, Mixanel, Localytics, Countly, Askingpoint,, TestFlight Live, Placed, Appsee, yandex-metrica, Distimo, Appfigures, appannie, AdXTracking, Keen io and more). They are providing solutions to a variety of analytics challenges (so you may need to implement more than one solution). When looking into the different options, check their exact area of expertise, limitations, prerequisites for implementation, and last but not least, their pricing.

Wrap up

Whether you already launched your app, or you are now preparing your launch, analytics is a key success factor. It’s the basic to kick ass app marketing. Try>measure>optimize. There are so many measurement methods out there, and smart marketers have turned measurement-based work into an art. For mobile apps, with endless analytics providers, and advanced knowledge, you should be fully covered with understanding and improving on your performance. Just be sure you are familiar with the benefits and the specific metrics that serve your objectives, before deciding on an analytics solution. Don’t forget to prioritize your requests. You will most likely have to make some painful compromises. Good luck!

Elli is one of Co-Founders, a mobile expert and a mentor. Having years of experience in the mobile and marketing industry promoting popular mobile apps and B2B related services. Presenting specific expertise on users' acquisition strategies, PR, social media, product marketing, BizDev integrations and more
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