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What You Should Know About Measuring Your Mobile App

  |  October 1, 2012   |  Comments

What exactly should you be measuring to understand the success of your application and improve results and how can you align your app measurement to business goals?


With an explosion in mobile application marketplaces (more than 600,000 apps on Google Play at the time of writing) and a shift in focus to mobile (more than 80 percent of marketers are planning to increase emphasis in mobile initiatives in 2013, according to recent research Google conducted with ClickZ), measuring mobile is more important now than ever.

What exactly should you be measuring to understand the success of your application and improve results? How can you align your app measurement to business goals? We'll answer those questions in today's post.

Apps are a different world than web, and thus require a different methodology and set of metrics. Regardless of the platform(s) your app lives on or the tools you use to measure it, it's critical to measure three key areas: acquisition, engagement, and outcomes. Next, we'll outline some sample metrics in each area to help you understand them better and become more effective at measuring your app today.


Acquisition Metrics: Where Do Users Come From?

Acquisition metrics show you how people are finding your app and whether they're continuing to use it. Similar to top-of-funnel web metrics, your marketing team should be analyzing acquisition metrics consistently to ensure a healthy trend up. Some of the key acquisition metrics to measure include:

  • New and active users. Measure the number of new and active users who launch your app everyday. This will help you understand if your application and marketing are successful at a high level.
  • App store traffic sources. Understand which traffic sources account for most new users and in-app conversions. This data will help you refine your marketing activities to focus on the traffic sources that provide your highest quality users.
  • App versions. Keep track of the distribution of active users over the older and newer versions of your app. Knowing which versions are being used will help you understand which versions of your app need continued support and which are safe to deprecate.
  • Device overview. Analyze the top mobile devices and OS versions that your app runs on, and optimize the experience for each device.

Engagement Metrics: Is Your App Sticky?

You've acquired a massive user base - now what? Engagement metrics help you understand how users are interacting with your app so you can add more of what they like and remove what they don't. You can also identify potential reasons for attrition before they occur, such as excessive crashing or slow load speeds. Key engagement metrics you should keep an eye on include:

  • Screens. Determine how users move throughout your application by measuring how they move from screen to screen. This will help show how users actually engage with your application and if they're successfully getting to the screens you desire.
  • User behavior. Assess how loyal your users are, how frequently they use the app, and the engagement level of each loyalty group. Understanding this information is critical so you can see which users your application resonates with.
  • App crashes. Troubleshoot problems on devices and operating systems by seeing trends in crashes and exceptions. Developers need to keep close tabs on app crash metrics in order to understand and fix problem areas.

Outcomes: How Does My App Impact the Bottom Line?

Most importantly, identify the metrics that show the business value your app has created, and amplify the areas that are showing the most value. Has it helped increase sales? Brought in more high-quality leads? This is shown through outcome metrics tracked by your app analytics, and may include such metrics as:

  • Goal conversions. Set up conversion events in your app (for example, time spent in app, or an in-app purchase, ad click, etc.) to gauge success. Conversion events are whatever you define as success and should be customized based on your business: whether that's making an e-commerce purchase or completing a lead generation form.
  • In-app purchases. If selling virtual or tangible goods purchases inside your app, track the number of purchases and revenue generated from them. With the explosion in mobile purchases (ABI Research projects total mobile app revenue, which includes in-app purchases, to soar to 46 billion by 2016), this is a critical one to watch.

Wrapping Up

As mobile continues to grow in importance, apps will be the new staple in the marketer's toolbox; like social and web are today. With that, adding app measurement to your team's marketing processes is critical to getting the most out of your mobile marketing.


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Adam Singer

Adam Singer is Analytics Advocate at Google, a marketing, media and PR industry speaker, startup adviser and blogger. He previously was digital director for a 300+ person global consulting team and over the course of his career has provided online marketing strategy for B2B & B2C brands in a variety of industries including marketing technology, healthcare, manufacturing, advertising/subscription-based web startups, and much in between. Singer and his campaigns have been cited by top media outlets such as TechCrunch, AdWeek, NY Times and more for creative use of digital marketing and PR. Singer blogs at The Future Buzz - an award-winning blog with more than 25K subscribers and frequently-referenced source of what's new in digital marketing.

Connect with Adam on Google+ or Twitter.


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