Mobile App Monitoring, Analytics, and Continuous Improvement
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You’ve finally released your app, people from all over the world are downloading it, and now it’s time to sit back, relax, and watch your success unfold.
Or maybe not.
When an app is released, that’s only one chapter of the story. A popular, user-friendly, innovative app means having a mobile app strategy that extends far beyond that first release.
You want to create an app that succeeds beyond the initial launch. To do that, you need to understand how app monitoring fits into the lifecycle of the development.
In this post, we’ll explain what mobile app monitoring means to you as a business owner, what analytics you need in place, and how to make continuous improvement central to your business model.
Mobile App Monitoring – an Introduction
Ongoing monitoring is critical to the success of any mobile app. There is high competition in almost all mobile app niches and few barriers to stop users from switching to alternative apps.
If your users don’t engage with your app, then you are at risk of losing them. By putting sophisticated monitoring processes in place, you can ensure your app performance is excellent, and improve your user retention rates.
What You Need to Monitor
Monitoring an app is more than raw metrics on how many downloads you have achieved. Here is a breakdown of some of the most vital metrics you need to measure:
When you launch an app, download metrics will be one of the first pieces of data you examine. As you grow, the number of new downloads you get per day, week, and month will be something you will need to continue to monitor.
You need to understand how well your app is doing at holding on to users who downloaded your app.
One common way of measuring this is to find the percentage of users who returned to your app at least once within the first three months of downloading the app.
App stickiness is about how good an app is at getting its users to stick with it. Users of a sticky app become connected with the app, enjoy using it, and don’t welcome the idea of switching to an alternative app.
The standard way of calculating app stickiness is to take the number of daily active users and divide this by the number of monthly active users. That will give you a metric you can use to look at changes in stickiness over time for your app.
User interaction is slightly different from stickiness. Whereas stickiness measures the frequency of visits, user interaction looks at what activities a user is doing when they are on the app.
There are many tools and methods for measuring interaction and engagement, something that we will discuss in the second part of this article when we talk in more depth about analytics.
App stores have established user ratings as a straightforward way for people to rate an app and provide feedback. Ratings are an easy metric to monitor. However, make sure you read the comments for feedback just as much as the raw scores.
In today’s digital world, fast is good. If you want your app to succeed, it has to perform well on any supported device, which means you need to monitor how fast the app performs under any circumstances.
Cost Per Acquisition
Cost Per Acquisition (CPA) is the total cost to your business of signing up a new user. Often this will be via advertising, but sometimes you’ll need to include other numbers in this figure such as PR, affiliate commissions or product sponsorship deals.
As your app matures and you start making money, you should calculate the average revenue for each new user, known as the Lifetime Value (LV).
Use this figure together with the CPA. That will provide a clear picture of what your ROI (Return on Investment) is.
Together, app monitoring encompasses many different metrics, and gives you a broad picture of your app in terms of business success, from how much your customers love your app to what sort of money you will make from it.
However, this is only half the picture. To monitor your app effectively, you have to know the specific analytics data and analytics tools you need.
Analytics and Data
We can break mobile app analytics into two things: data and tools. First, we’ll explore analytics data.
There are millions of data points in any mobile app, so before setting up monitoring and choosing analytics tools to track your app’s performance, you need to decide what data you want to measure and why.
To understand what analytics data you need, you must first understand the journey (or, in many cases, journeys) a user takes within your app.
For example, a social media app will need clear metrics on the number of connections a user adds within a certain period since they joined the app. Conversely, for an eCommerce app, your primary focus will be the purchase path.
Define User Goals
User goals vary widely across apps and different industries. Before any monitoring happens, your first step is to set out your users’ goals.
This exercise should take you back to the design stage of your mobile app development, where you will have spent time profiling a typical user or customer for your new app.
This customer profile is your starting point for your user goals. What is your customer trying to achieve? What is the purpose of your app, and how does it fit with those goals?
Here are some prompts to help answer these questions:
- What is the primary purpose of your app? Is it used to discover, inform, support, entertain, buy, socialize?
- What are some of your customers’ core values? Do they value convenience, speed, innovation, simplicity, information?
Define Business Goals
Business goals are just as vital to measure as user goals. You could create the most popular app in the world, but if it doesn’t hit your business or financial goals, it is not the success you set out to achieve.
Think about your planned investment in your app, and when you expect to make a return on that investment.
If you know what you will spend on acquiring new customers, what is your expectation for making a positive ROI from each new sign up?
Map The Journey
Once you have clearly defined both the user goals and business goals, your next step is to map out the user journey your customer will take.
That mapping will help you extract the specific data and metrics you need at each point in the journey as part of your monitoring.
For example, if your user journey is to search for a discounted home gadget, you might want to monitor the number of successful transactions from that initial search to confirmed purchase.
Define The Data Points
Once you have identified the user and business goals you are measuring and decided on the points in the user journey you need to focus on, you should have a set of measurable data points.
These data points are the foundation for your analytics. Now is the time when you need to look for the right analytics tools to capture that data.
The beauty of understanding your data needs first is that it will become much easier to find the best analytics tools to support your monitoring goals.
Here is what to look for when picking the right analytics tool for your mobile app monitoring.
Breadth of Data
Look for a tool that covers are a large number of events that you want to track. For sales funnels, for example, you want to look at conversion rates and abandoned checkouts.
Most analytics tools will advertise the custom events they track as part of their application.
Heatmaps are an excellent way to track user behaviour on a mobile app. The screen will show colour-coded heat spots where a user is clicking, and it’s a great way to discover if your app is easy to use or if users are running into problems.
Ease of Use
Ease of use is essential. Complicated analytics features tend to get avoided by users, which means you aren’t making the most of the platform you bought.
Ease of Installation
If you are a small business or lack an in-house support team, look for an analytics platform that is easy to set up. Some will have more straightforward installations than others.
Check that the analytics tool works across all relevant platforms for your mobile app: iOS, Android, and Windows Phone.
Getting real-time data on user behaviour becomes necessary as you grow and enrol more users in your app. It will allow you to have a unique snapshot at any point in time into whether your app is serving your users as expected.
If you know what you want to monitor and what data you want to measure, an analytics app must provide you with the reporting for this data at a click of the button.
As you work on analysing your app, the last thing you want to be doing is number crunching over in Excel.
Finally, take time to look at some of the useful competitor analysis features these analytics tools have. For example, tracking the keywords that your competitors use can help you rank better in searches and reduce your user acquisition costs.
Analytics data is all about using the intelligence that’s now available 24/7 to businesses.
If done right, and with a solid strategy, it can give you a competitive advantage. However, gaining that advantage means employing analytics data to drive app improvements.
Focusing on Continuous Improvement
Ongoing monitoring will provide a clear picture of the experience users have when trying your app. That will give you a starting strategy for making improvements.
When it comes to continuous improvement, here are a few things you want to consider.
A/B split testing is an essential part of monitoring and will also be a key driver in improving your app.
When you start looking at ways to improve your user journey, split testing will fast-track your optimisation goal of an enhanced user experience.
As your user base grows, so will your business goals and even some of your users’ goals.
Monitoring will help you establish a continuous improvement model that will allow you to be proactive with this growth rather than reactive, ensuring that your app is always an enjoyable experience for people, even as their needs change and mature.
Collect feedback from your customers continuously. This will be a big catalyst for product improvements. Your customers will have the best experience of using your app in the real world and discovering where there are gaps.
You can use soft feedback such as reviews and interviews, or look at customer behaviour data from continued A/B testing.
Innovation and New Features
Finally, don’t forget that at the heart of all these analytics and continuous improvement is the need for innovation.
There is a limit to what data can do, and there are times when it will require your brightest technical minds to step forward and ask whether there are better and smarter ways of doing things.
If you can create an app that is always ahead of the competition and continue introducing new innovative ideas, you will set yourself on the path to success.
How You Can Outsmart the Competition
Mobile app monitoring is one of the most significant advantages you have as a business owner if you do it right.
Few companies take advantage of the breadth and depth of data available to their business. If you can learn how to use data intelligently and strategically, it will give you insights that will turn your app into an unbeatable leader in its field.
Book a call now and let’s see how we can best support you with your mobile app project.