We’ve recently moved into a golden age of tools, SDKs and third-party software that let app product owners, developers and marketers measure unique and aggregate mobile app user behavior, as well as the impact of mobile networks and even bot-driven ad fraud on the apps themselves.
We’re better than ever at understanding what goes on in our apps – but it’s also pretty easy to figure out that we’re still working out what truly matters in measuring their overall health and profitability.
For the third edition of our “Ask The App Experts” roundtable (the first two can be found here and here), we’ve gathered some experienced pros from across various parts of the mobile app ecosystem to answer one question about analytics and measurement:
What’s one measurement that many app product owners, developers or marketers may not be focusing on – and why is it important?
Here’s what they had to say.
Joyce Solano, VP of Corporate Marketing, Leanplum
Mobile teams should put more emphasis on measuring app abandonment with uninstall tracking. After all, the goal is to keep your users happy and coming back to your app. To start, capture all user lifecycle events and behaviors to take the mystery out of app uninstalls. By analyzing trends, you can understand what to do in the future to retain your users. This may include:
- Fixing bugs that cause crashes
- Improving your app onboarding flow with a tutorial
- Adjusting the timing when ads appear
- Tailoring messages to more relevant audiences
Once you understand the trends that drive users to uninstall, you can take action to retain them. For example, if you noticed that a generic push notification blast led to increased uninstalls, in your next campaign, draw from individual user behaviors, such as last message open, to trigger a personalized email that offers users a special deal if they re-install. By understanding how various features and push campaigns affect uninstalls, you can optimize your app to ensure that you hit your KPIs and increase customer value.
Jeff Kim, CEO, Neumob
We’ve found that there’s a big hunger on the part of mobile app engineers and product managers to understand the error rates within their app, especially how that rate changes from country to country and across network types. These errors are things like app timeouts, missing images, uploads that fail and the like. Amazingly, these average around 3% on 4G/LTE networks, and in markets like the US and the UK, all the way up to 12% on the 3G and even 2G mobile networks that are still driving more than half of the world’s mobile traffic.
We conducted a study at Neumob that found that only 2% of consumers in a mobile shopping app will complete their intended purchase when the product image doesn’t appear, even if an option is to simply refresh the app. This points to a painful gap between brands’ expectations of their app’s performance with regard to errors, and the experience that 3-12% of consumers are actually getting within those apps.
Emily Carrion, Head of Marketing, Apptentive
The Love Ratio. Unique to apps using Apptentive, the Love Ratio is the simplest and most accurate way of measuring your overall customer experience and keeping your finger on the pulse of customer satisfaction. This metric starts with showing your mobile customers a one-question in-app survey (known as the Love Dialog). Customers have three response options: to say “yes,” to say “no,” or to dismiss the prompt. The Love Ratio is the percentage of customers polled who respond “yes” rather than either of the other two options.
By requiring very minimal work from the prompted customer, this prompt sees virtually no opt-out, allowing you to hear from a large sample of your active customers in a short period of time. The Love Ratio is a metric that can be tracked over time and over version history to gauge how incremental updates to the app impact the customer’s experience or used as a segmentation tool to message fans and critics in a different manner.
Todd Grennan, Senior Content Producer, Appboy
Total push notification opens. A lot of companies track their direct opens, which occur when a user taps on a push they’ve received, triggering an app open, to gauge message effectiveness. While that’s an important metric, it’s only part of the story.
Imagine that you’re in the middle of posting on Facebook and you get a push announcing a sale you’re really interested in. You could go find that message later in your notification center, but probably you’ll just go open the app. That action—where someone opens an app in connection with a push notification without ever actually tapping the message—is known as an influenced open. Brands that only track direct opens (instead of total opens, which include both direct and influenced opens) end up making decisions about how to optimize their push strategy based on incomplete information. And the difference between direct and total open rates can be enormous: on iOS, for instance, more push opens are influenced opens than direct opens.
When it comes to push, tracking total opens can be the difference between an effective strategy, and one that’s missing its full potential.
Ronnie Sternberg, Co-Founder and VP Business, SafeDK
We have been supporting Tier 1 app publishers with their retention and monetization challenges for a while now, offering them a real-time SDK management solution. Our solution allows product, marketers and revenue managers to track the behavior and performance of the SDK implemented in their apps, including the ad networks. We feel that many app professionals do not fully track and measure the performance of the ads that appear in their apps, starting from the creatives (that sometimes can feature competitor apps, can present inappropriate content and alike), and continuing with errors and performance issues that result in revenue losses.
Tracking, measuring and monitoring ads is critical to enforcing your ad policy, keeping your retention and boosting your ad revenues.
Ran Milo, VP Marketing, Bidalgo
App marketers are used to measuring specific KPIs such as Cost Per Install, Cost Per Action, Return On Ad Spend, and so on. That’s in an effort to understand the total return that is driven by their marketing investment. But sometimes marketers neglect calculating the time and effort and how many resources have gone into managing user acquisition campaigns.
If you have a dozen people working on your media buying, analytics and creative, that’s a significant cost that has to be factored into your investment. When we present app professionals with the quantitative impact that AI automation technology has on scaling and optimizing install campaigns, they gain a clearer picture on what helps them grow their business.
I’ve been working with many global app publishers, running their app marketing activities, including mobile app UA, ASO, global PR and more. I believe that app marketers and product managers should focus more on tracking deep events that represent user loyalty. The industry has fortunately become used to tracking engagement and retention, but many times the attention isn’t allocated to the relevant events, and the focus is on events that may not really represent user loyalty (for instance, a simple app login event doesn’t necessarily reflect “real” engagement).
I always recommend app pros to measure very few key events that are most relevant to users’ engagement and loyalty, such as a login that occurred after a few days from install, or default setting changes done by the user. Eventually, app marketers are looking to increase their loyal user base, not their install base. Scalability occurs only when the loyal user base grows.
Alexandra Palacci, CEO, Hubscale.io
I’ve been a partner in Adxperience, a mobile ad-tech company, for a long time. Hubscale.io, our performance marketing software, is the outcome of the field experience that we gained over the years managing mobile campaigns on behalf of top app developers. Although everybody in the industry knows that measurement is the most critical part in performance, some key metrics are many times overlooked.
In particular, marketers aren’t measuring enough the impact of mobile ad fraud on their campaigns. In fact, while mobile ad fraud has captured a lot of attention in the past few months due to its large scale, most advertisers still lack the tools to properly identify suspicious patterns and block fraudsters in real-time. App developers or ad agencies buying from multiple networks are particularly exposed to this plague and the result is a total misevaluation of performance and spends across channels, which can literally ruin their business. Marketers who learn to identify fraud patterns and use technologies that can help them not only track performance but also block fraud in real-time, can easily double performance and boost ROI.
Balint Szeplaki, Head of Product, Poq
At Poq, we work with transactional apps. Therefore transactions, revenue, conversion rate and average order value are all success metrics that we’re able to track. However, the app store installation imposes an entry barrier for one-off or casual users until marketing tools like universal linking, search indexing, and instant apps become widely adopted.
For this reason native apps typically attract frequent shoppers and brand enthusiasts who are clearly the most important subset of the entire customer base. Hence we believe the top priority needs to be the development of the existing, loyal, already committed user-base. I believe this is best measured by the lifetime value of a user to help demonstrate the true value of the app.
Varun Kishore, Strategy and Enterprise, Apptimize
Retention is the King of Growth. A lot of product owners/ growth marketers who are trying to expand footprint focus on new user acquisition. But new user acquisition is completely wasted if you can’t retain them. A big part of your job as a product owner or growth marketer should be ensuring the users continue to stay engaged on a consistent basis. The only way to make it actually happen is to constantly iterate/ change elements of the in-app experience, measure and then target the right experiences to the right segments. This is the secret sauce that companies like Netflix, Airbnb and Facebook have cracked.
Mada Seghete, Co-Founder, Branch
One mistake that we see many app product owners make is looking at their app numbers in a silo. When looking at how your users interact with your brand, you need to have a comprehensive and connected measurement strategy that works across web, app and other channels like Facebook, email etc. and look at the whole user journey. For example, a user might find your mobile website through Google Search, browse for a while then click on a banner to download your app – the web browser history should be connected to the app download and any down-funnel usage, they are part of one holistic user journey.