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Ready for some ROI? The best tools & services to keep users attached


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No, we are not promoting any of the services mentioned here… we really went through the app marketer research. The ways to craft your engagement goals and plans were already covered in previous trainings. Now it’s time to start executing on them, by choosing the right service-providers to work with. You know, budget, value, ease of use, and more. Let’s have a close look at some of the key players highlighting their offering, pricing etc.  OK, in order to execute meaningful engagement activities we should take care of a few pre-requisites, here’s a reminder (see our hands on engagement training for the full details):

  1. Inbound analytics solution should be fully integrated so you can know what you’re up against in terms of usage, in-app behavior and user segments
  2. Push messaging and in-app messaging capabilities should be fully implemented within the app, so you can communicate with your existing user base – around engagement

The two above should be integrated, meaning the analytics and the messaging mechanisms can feed of each other’s data so you can run specific campaigns to specific segments. In this item we are looking at 3rd party vendors in each of the above mentioned areas (analytics, push and in-app messaging) and examine key parameters such as their offering, pricing, popularity in the market, mobile platforms supported, etc. this should help you understand the differences and decide which one is better for your specific needs. It’s important to understand that the vendors covered here are NOT the only ones in the market. We simply can’t relate to all of them. Also, saying again- we have NO advertising relationship with any of the companies that are mentioned here. We simply believe they might be able to properly support you (and most likely we have seen them in action in one of our projects). Even if you choose to work with someone else entirely, you can still benefit from this training, as it will give you a framework as to how to evaluate 3rd party vendors. Another important note: Companies constantly change their offering. They add and/or remove services, they change their prices, etc. This item is based on the information we found in May 2014. Now, some of you may ask right around this point: “Why do I need 3rd party vendors? I prefer to define very specifically what I need, and develop it myself, whether it’s an analytics solution or messaging mechanisms”. This may sound like a valid argument, but as someone who has been in this situation (working for an app company who has developed some of these things on its own), it is not ideal. Two main reasons why: First, your marketing requirements might not be priority #1 as there are always other development tasks that are perceived as more important. So you keep being pushed back. Second, 3rd party vendors usually have very strong expertise in their respective areas, so you get a relatively good quality solution, that is usually easy to implement (SDK/API implementation plus some testing). You usually also enjoy access to extra features, really useful ones, as a bonus. Therefore I vote for external SDKs to support your engagement activities. By the way, many of the service providers we examined offer mix and match packages (e.g. analytics + in app/push messaging).  This only stresses further our point of how important the connection between analytics and engagement… Click here to view the comparison in a high-level one page table (PDF file).

Company name: Localytics Pricing range: High Services offered:

  • Comprehensive analytics – including segmentation, funnel management, LTV tracking
  • Messaging – in-app and push messaging – personalized (segmented)
  •  A/B testing
  • Acquisition management (outbound media tracking for installs and more)

Analytics is always included, in all packages. You can add more services on top but the offering always includes analytics; that’s the core offering. Mobile platforms supported: iOS and Android are fully supported for both the marketing features and the analytics features. Windows Phone, Windows 8, Blackberry 10, and web apps are only supported with the analytics features. SDK needed: Yes Pricing options: Localytics offers 2 packages: Professional and enterprise packages. The professional package:

Localytics pricing
– MAU = Monthly Active Users

Prices for enterprise accounts (big accounts) are not public and I guess they are tailored by size and needs, anyway we are talking higher prices than the professional package.The marketing add on includes only push messaging and acquisition management, so A/B testing and in-app messaging are probably available to enterprise clients only.Basically, if you are planning to get to 10K MAU pretty quickly (and I sure hope that you are), Localytics can get relatively expensive, relatively quickly. You can get a 30 days free trial though, to help you make a decision. If you are big enough to afford Localytics services, we believe that you will enjoy a great service from this Boston based company with local offices in several locations in the world. Popularity: 5,000 companies; 25,000 apps, 1.5 million devices, 50 billion monthly data points Big +: Closed loop. Here’s a way to quickly: Analyze usage trends, extract a list of sleeping users (or just users with fatigue), send them push messages (+ inapp messages) and measure the impact. Big challenge: Well, the price… Our take: If you have nice-sized marketing budget and you wish to have one reliable and comprehensive solution (one dashboard to analyze acquisition, usage trends and execute engagement activities) with an advanced customer service – you might find that localytics is a great alternative. If you are a small or an indie development company or an “engagement-push” beginner, you might want to consider other, less costly alternative (until you are big enough to be needing extensive support and comprehensive solution that covers a variety of service areas)

Flurry logo

Company name: Flurry Mobile Pricing range: FREE Services offered:

  • Flurry analytics include: Measure behavior, identify user paths, creating conversion funnels, segmentation, benchmarks, demographics estimation, pre-defined personas, user acquisition analytics, cross apps information (from the same developer), crash analytics.
  • Flurry has other solutions around advertising and monetization that are not covered here for the purpose of this item.

Mobile platforms supported: iOS, Android, Windows Phone, Windows 8, Blackberry 10, and web apps SDK needed: Yes Pricing options: Flurry’s analytics solution is 100% free no matter the size of you MAU base. Flurry is making their money from their advertising business. Popularity: 150,000 developers, 500,000 apps Big +: Well, it’s free. Totally. Big challenge: We’ve asked flurry’s support how we can use their system to create “push targeted lists” and they answered they can’t extract personal data (like users identification number – e.g., RFID) – in other words, you can use flurry to measure usage trends, before and after engagement campaigns, but there’s no connectivity, nor can you create a list of users to upload to push broadcasting systems… Our take: Since Flurry is a free service and has been implemented by many apps, they can do a lot of statistical analysis for you, even for information you are not tracking, like demographics and personas. Another nice feature is the crash analysis, the cross app information and the benchmarks, where you can see benchmarks for other apps at your category level, simply because they have all this information available. Because they are not offering any engagement tools beyond analytics, consider that using Flurry will not save you from the need to implement another SDK – that will enable you to generate push lists and manage push campaigns.

Company name: Google Analytics Pricing range: FREE Services offered:

  • Analytics – Event Tracking and Flow Visualization, visit frequency, app crashes reports, device information, location of users, traffic sources, LTV analysis and a full Google Play integration to analyze the effectiveness of your presence in the store. The service also includes integration with Google’s ad network Admob, so you can track from acquisition to behavior in case you are working with Admob.

Mobile platforms supported: Android and iOS SDK needed: Yes Pricing options: Google Analytics is 100% free no matter the size of you MAU base. Popularity: No official information out there, but I assume quite a lot of developers are using it, because they know it from the web. Big +: Well, it’s free. Totally. Big challenge: Well, we are talking here about analytics only, meaning more vendors for the additional engagement mechanisms you need (push, in-app messaging, etc.). Our take: The deeper integrations here are into Google assets – Google Play and Admob, which is great if this is your focus and may prove challenging otherwise. Google provides very little official information on the mobile analytics page, so make sure you get all your questions answered to ensure their solution is sufficient for your needs. Rumor has it that getting support from Google can be quite challenging.. so be patient.

Parse logo

Company name: Parse (A Facebook Company) Pricing range: FREE to low Services offered:

  • Parse Analytics – basic growth analytics (trends) and push campaigns statistics (open rate, etc.)
  • Parse Push – Creating, scheduling, and segmenting push notifications
  • Parse Core – backend services for apps (e.g., storage) – not covered here for the purpose of this item

Mobile platforms supported: iOS, Android and Windows phone SDK needed: Yes (there are other options: Web console, REST API) Pricing options: For Parse push you can send unlimited number of push notifications to up to 1,000,000 monthly unique recipients for FREE. Above that, they charge you $0.05 per each additional 1,000 monthly unique recipients. Parse analytics is FREE as it’s basically here just to support the push business. Popularity: No numbers are available on their site, but Parse is known (as mentioned above, it was acquired by Facebook) and pretty big. Big +: Free or close to free option to create push campaigns, including push segmentation and analyzing results. Overall, we saw references on the web where developers and marketers in social groups recommend using parse. Big challenge: Parse might not be sufficient as an analytics solution. It’s good to go with regards to push campaigns, but you will probably still need another tool to manage deep analysis of usage trends within your app. Also, they do not offer in-app messaging mechanism. Our take: We love the fact that with Parse everybody can send push, even with a very low marketing budget. That’s good news to us all. Since Parse is a Facebook company, it’s important to watch and see in which direction they are going to expand their offering. Currently the push and analytics solutions are rather basic and looking at what FB said when acquiring Parse, I have a feeling that FB wants to be more involved in the backend building of the app, meaning the storage, infrastructure, login management, etc. If this is true, the engagement and analytics tools are going to stay rather basic (FB has their own engagement mechanisms – e.g., engagement ads which we covered in our previous engagement training).

Company name: Swrve Pricing range: High Services offered:

  • Personalized in-app messaging
  • Push messaging
  • Responsive UX
  • A/B testing
  • Analytics – including Segmentation capabilities

Mobile platforms supported: No information on their website but I assume at least iOS and Android are supported SDK needed: Yes Pricing options: They have a free option but it is only serving up to a 100 MAU, it’s really just a trial version and nothing more. After that it gets quite expensive quite quickly. Take a look:

Swrve pricing

Most of their services are included in all editions. Popularity: Handling over 5 billion events a day Big +: Same as localytics, one solution for analytics and engagement campaigns. Closed loop system. Also, on the web, people say they are rather good, and provide great support. Big challenge: Here again, price can become an issue rather quickly, especially when you grow beyond 50K MAUs. Our take: Putting pricing aside, the Swrve offering is a really comprehensive one, and you can get everything in one place. A/B testing and responsive and personalized UX are two areas which we didn’t touch upon yet, they go beyond our scope here. But I will say that they are both key tools/techniques for increasing user engagement with your app. We will discuss them in future trainings. So Swrve may be a really good option for you to get everything around engagement from one expert. There is less need of additional integrations as they provide everything from analytics, to segmentation to the actual implementation tools (messaging, etc.), but I would ask them if and how they can handle integration to user acquisition analytics, so you can track users from campaigns to behaviors to engagement, like you can do with other solutions that we covered above.

Appiterate logo

Company name: Appiterate Pricing range: Low to medium Services offered:

  • In-app marketing – including both in-app and push messaging
  • Basic capabilities around Analytics – including segmentation, building funnels and tracking users to their acquisition source (not clear which campaign analytics/ad networks they are working with)
  • A/B testing and an app CMS/Editor

Mobile platforms supported: iOS5 and Android 2.1 and up SDK needed: Yes Pricing options: It’s important to understand that Appiterate is about A/B testing. That’s their real expertise and that’s their core offering. That’s why their pricing options are around the number of tests you want to run on your app, and there is no mention of the other tools/offering.

Appiterate pricing3

Popularity: No information on their website, but since they raised seed just on April 2014, I have to assume here that they are rather new and are still building their customer base. Big +: They offer a relatively wide variety of option for a relatively low price: analytics, marketing and AB testing. If you don’t go wild on the A/B testing, you can go quite far with the free option, since it’s not limited by size of traffic. Big challenge: Well, they are very fresh in the market which could be an advantage, but still raises a concern as to how experienced they are. Also, their focus on AB testing raises another concern regarding their advanced support in push and in-app messaging (segmentation, ease of use, rich features, etc.) Our take: While much more affordable, there seem to be a specific focus on A/B testing. I would ask to see demos of the other services, as I fear they might not be “cooked” enough. If you are happy with the demo and their features are sufficient to your needs, and if my assumption is correct and you can get the rest of the features for free when you purchase one of the packages above, than this can be a very nice alternative!

Company name: Artisan Mobile Pricing range: High Services offered:

  • Inbound analytics including funnels and segmentation with an option to use an API to integrate other analytics solutions into their system
  • A/B testing with instant publishing mechanism
  • Engagement tools  – including both in-app (with a variety of formats such as screen takeover, popups, slide-in messages and more) and push messaging

Mobile platforms supported: iOS5 and Android 2.3 and up SDK needed: Yes Pricing options: 

Artisan pricing

It seems like all services are included in all packages. Popularity: No information on their website Big +: They are a real playground for engagement tools… everything you want, they have it… we, at appgo2market have received a phone demo a few months ago, and were quite impressed by the offering. Big challenge: Pricing… I’d assume most of you would get rather fast to the “standard” category, and $2500 is quite a price tag. Our take: Here too, things can get quite expensive quite quickly. But they do have some rich formats for their messaging, and if you are planning on getting involved with A/B testing, the instant publishing mechanism, which lets you make changes and test them without resubmitting your app, is quite a cool feature.

Company name: Urban Airship Pricing range: High Services offered:

  • Strong expertise in push messaging – including support for rich media formats (harder to find in push) and an option to add a message center to your app to centralize all offers
  • Analytics – mainly to support the push capabilities, including segmentation, targeting and an option to set triggers (all for the push)
  • Digital wallet – less relevant to our discussion here

Mobile platforms supported: iOS, Android, Windows and Blackberry SDK needed: Mostly API integrations Pricing options: No pricing information on their website. Hmmm… looked a little online and the chatter says that these guys are on the expensive side. Popularity: No information on their website, but they have been around for a while and are quite big. Big +: Push in rich format that looks different is a BIG advantage. Check out this push I had received while was visiting Berlin lately, this looks awesome and you just can’t ignore it…

rich Push example

Big challenge: Did we ever talk of high pricing? And also, push is just one tool, there are others, and using urban airship means you are covered only with the push and still need to invest in additional mechanisms… Chatter on the web left me with the impressions that Urban Airship are known to be focusing on the big and the rich. Successful apps, big brands… Our take: Urban Airship has a strong expertise in push messaging and quite a broad offering around push. They are quite an established player in our young market, hence the relatively high end prices. If sophisticated push is important for your engagement strategy, they may be right for you. If basic push is enough, there are other solutions out there that may be more appropriate.

Appoxee logo

Company name: Appoxee Pricing range: low to medium Services offered:

  • Here too there is a strong emphasis on push messaging
  • In-app messaging is offered as well, including some in-app plugins such as offer walls, message inbox and a feedback form
  • Analytics – mainly to support the push capabilities, so you can analyze the success of your push campaigns – this includes some segmentation and targeting options for the push

Mobile platforms supported: iOS and Android SDK needed: Yes, some APIs are available as well Pricing options: 

Appoxee pricing

Here as you can see there is no free option. There is though, a big difference between packages in terms of included services, so make sure you are not missing anything that’s important for you specifically, when considering the basic offering. Push and in-app messaging are included in all packages though, and once you are a paying customer, they are unlimited. Popularity: No specific information on their website, but they do claim that they are able to push 100,000 messages per second Big +: Affordable option to enable both push, in-app messaging, supportive analytics and more. Big challenge: These guys are relatively new so we are missing some case studies… also, note that A/B testing option doesn’t seem to be part of the deal (in case you were planning on it…) Our take: Although there is no free option here (which means, make sure you ask MANY questions to be sure this is the right solution for you), I like the fact that the push is unlimited. Again, if push is a key component of your strategy, these guys present an appealing offering.

upsight logo

Company name: Upsight

Pricing range: medium to high

Services offered:

  • Analytics around acquisition campaigns, as well as in app behavior including some funnel and cohort analysis as well as some predictive lifetime value tools. They even go the extra mile and provide some big data analysis capabilities for even deeper insights empowered by data mining
  • Another nice advantage is the ability to get combined insights from both your web and mobile app activity – which may be relevant to those of us who operate on both fronts
  • Their suite of marketing services includes both in-app and out-of-app tools to optimize user acquisition, engagement, retention and monetization. While in-app and push messaging are available, their recent addition of geo-triggered campaigns is quite interesting, if geo-targeting is of interest
  • They are also fully integrated with Playhaven ad network (as Upsight is a result of a merger between Playhaven and Kontagent) – very strong focus on games though

Mobile platforms supported: no information on their website so I assume at least Android and iOS, as well as all the popular web platforms are supported

SDK needed: Yes

Pricing options: 

Upsight pricing

You can see that they do have a free option but it’s rather limited and if you want to enjoy the full capabilities of their offering, you better start at the Pro level, or at least the core, that can keep you going until you hit the 100 MAU point.

Popularity: 25,000 active apps, 700 million MAUs, 500 billion monthly events tracked, 1.2 billion mobile devices

Big +: If big data capabilities speak to you, as well as getting insights from both your web activity as well as your mobile app activity, all in one place, Upsight may be the solution for you.

Big challenge: This solution may prove quite narrow for those of us with tight budget, and we definitely covered here better options when getting the best bang for your buck is concerned.

Our take: The merger between Kontagent and Playhaven (the new entity rebranded as Upsight) is a way to try and offer a one stop shop for add developers looking for actionable insight, both from web and mobile. In my humble opinion, their packages are too narrow in terms of what they offer for quite an expensive price point, so unless they have a specific appeal for your need, there are probably better options for you out there.

To summarize, here are our conclusions:

  1. As in many other walks of life, the more you pay the more you get
  2. Still, even if you have no to very low budget, you still have some interesting options!
  3. New, upcoming startups are constantly challenging the whole industry and present affordable options, so stay tuned to appgo2market!

To deeply analyze usage trends and advanced user behaviors (whether you are going for engagement campaigns or not), you might need a dedicated analytics solution. Flurry or Google analytics can be good options to start with (and free as well). As mentioned at the beginning of this item, there are additional options in the market as well. Parse offers basic push support for close to free, so you can start with very little cost. Still, if you do have some budget, and you are interested in a bigger variety of options (push, messaging etc.) you might want to check out one of the newer startups mentioned above. This will allow more freedom and flexibility for the campaigns you run, but will still keep things on the affordable side. If you are lucky enough to enjoy a significant engagement budget, or planning to target a huge bulk of monthly active users, you may need a more established solution with strong, proven expertise and an advanced customer service. In that case, using a company like Localytics or Swrve might serve you best. For added convenience, I have prepared a one pager with all the key information in it, for a high level view. You can find it here. Again, even if you choose to work with someone not covered in this item, make sure you ask the right questions, see a clear demo and understand all the technicalities and limitations before making a decision. Good luck! P.S. if your company provides a relevant service, please drop us a note and we will be glad to evaluate your solution. You can reach us at

Tsipi Joseph
Tsipi is one of Co-Founders, a mobile expert and a mentor. Over 10 years of experience in the mobile and marketing industry: Director of Marketing at Telmap, Comverse and marketing professional development director at the American Association of National Advertisers.
Tsipi Joseph
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