“It’s critical to think about analytics as you build the product. You can’t just add it at the end in an integrated way. Analytics let you understand the ways people think and interact with your mobile product and you’ll be consistently surprised.”
– Mina Radhakrishnan, Uber’s Head of Product
After you’ve created your app, there are a slew of problems that could arise. Users may not understand navigation, they may be confused about functionalities or they may not even use the app the same way you do. In order to determine problems and solutions – and to ensure the success of your app – you must implement analytics.
Analytics identify areas of improvement so developers understand user behavior. It obtains a clear picture of your audience, usage and performance to help optimize app value, user experience and monetization opportunities.
When focusing on analytics, remember that while data is important, you need to make sure you’re obtaining the right data. Otherwise, you’ll spend time and energy looking at metrics that won’t help your bottom line. Start by figuring out not which tool to use, but which questions you want answered.
1. Use metrics that answer the right questions
What’s the purpose of your app? What do you want the user to do in your app? What’s at the top of your to-do list? If your #1 priority is to create a technically sound and glitch-free app, you’ll want to delve into crash or stack trace reports for debugging. If you’re a mobile business that cares about transactions, you might want to concentrate on crash, conversion and funnel reports. Or if your conversions seem low, take a peek into the app audience to check if you’re reaching your target audience.
Data can quickly become your best friend if you’re looking at the right reports.
2. Understand the difference between web and mobile analytics
While the two seem to be directly related on paper, web analytics are actually very different from mobile analytics. Users spend more time surfing the web on a desktop and may have various windows and/or tabs open with multiple websites. On mobile, this flexibility is lost with the limited screen real estate. Mobile users can only use one app at a time, so they are more concentrated and immersed.
While metrics such as page views, total traffic and visitors hold value in web analytics, these are not helpful in mobile analytics. On the flip side, metrics such as session length, retention, device and operating system carry more weight in mobile analytics than in web analytics.
3. Start using app analytics early
With the wealth of free analytic tools available, there’s no reason (or excuse) to hold off on analytics until after your app has launched. It’s beneficial to start using app analytics early in development. This way, you can devise an actionable data-driven to-do list, and resolve technical or UX problems before they grow too large. For the purpose of this post, we’ll look at the two biggest analytics tools you should consider using, Flurry and Mixpanel.
“Don’t wait until it’s too late, when analytics could have saved you users and money.”
Flurry is one of the most popular app analytic tools for Android and iOS developers, used by notable developers such as Zynga, Snapchat and Skype. Flurry is a free service with extensive features – funnels, custom events, usage metrics, audience and crash reports – and is the tool of choice for many developers on Kiip’s network. For reference, here’s an overview of all the features that Flurry offers.
On the online business community TrustRadius, users who reviewed Flurry all noted its easy integration into their apps. Kiran Naiga, Product Manager at EMC, praised Flurry’s “multi-platform support” and how “SDK integration is super easy for iOS and Android.” In an another review, developer Stephen Jaynes stressed how incorporating Flurry Analytics in an app is a simple and straightforward task, and will take the average app developer less than 15 minutes to understand and apply.”
However, there were mixed reviews on Flurry’s analytics tracking. Most users agreed that Flurry’s metrics and reporting could be improved. Kiran noted that despite Flurry’s easy integration and helpfulness with user acquisition tracking, he didn’t agree with how it defined the New Session/Session Timeout metrics. A marketing analyst who worked at a large app publisher highlighted Flurry’s inflexibility in only having individual app reports and that it wasn’t able to “look at multiple app metrics simultaneously.” Another user echoed a similar sentiment, saying that certain metrics were “inaccurate” and “difficult to turn [them] into anything actionable.”
However, despite these cons, all users agreed that accessibility and cost still made Flurry a worthwhile venture for developers who could not afford higher-end analytic tools. Every user highlighted how Flurry aided them in engagement, conversions, UX, user retention or identifying monetization opportunities.
Since its inception in 2009, Mixpanel has established itself as one of the leaders in web and mobile analytics with noteworthy clients such as Intuit, WordPress and Cut the Rope. Mixpanel’s in-depth analytics on funnels, segmentation, retention, user behavior and monetization are second to none. However, Mixpanel does come at a price, and its costs can be difficult to justify when there is a surplus of free alternative analytic tools available, Flurry included.
Mixpanel’s pricing is based on data point plans. The more events you set Mixpanel to track, the more data points you’ll need. Mixpanel itself is separated into the Engagement Plan and People Plan. If you’re looking to understand user behavior and analyze specific individuals, you’ll want to purchase both the Engagement Plan and the People Plan. If you’re just looking to give Mixpanel a test run, they offer free versions of both plans with capped data points. You can see a full rundown of Mixpanel’s pricing here.
On TrustRadius, users who reviewed the service all spoke highly of Mixpanel’s analytics and customer service. Marshall Gaddis, Business Analyst at Stray Boots, used Mixpanel to “measure engagement and … guide product development of iOS and Android apps.” Mixpanel helped Marshall’s company “decrease product development time” for their apps, “increase conversions” and “decrease cost of developer time.” A gaming app developer noted how Mixpanel enabled his company to “look at different users and see how they responded to our game.” The same developer praised Mixpanel’s ability to optimize UX and the player’s “first-time experience.” He used Mixpanel’s “tutorial funnels [to] help … identify problem areas of [the] tutorial and … onboard more users.” Colm Shavley, a product manager, raved how he made many of the company’s “product and design decisions based purely off of Mixpanel data.”
Despite all these positives, most users did agree that cost, integration process, pricing structures and metric viewpoints were areas where Mixpanel could improve. The gaming app developer was “not convinced it provides enough value over a free analytics provider to justify the monthly cost” and noted that integration was “somewhat difficult without training.” Another product manager agreed, writing that “ease of integration could be improved.” A marketing manager admitted that “cost is a huge deterrent,” despite her five-star review. Some reviewers felt they had to skimp certain important metrics in order to fit under a more affordable pricing plan, and that the data point pricing was actually not as helpful as the flat fee that other analytic tools charge. Additionally, there were many who were unhappy with viewing funnels in a limited timeframe and that Mixpanel wasn’t as retroactive as they liked.
No matter which tool you choose, it’s vital to implement analytics into your mobile app early in the process. Don’t wait until it’s too late, when analytics could have saved you users and money.
This is part of Kiip’s ongoing Developer Success Guide.
Kiip is a leader in the field of app monetization. We enable developers to reward their users with advertising they enjoy. We want all developers to be successful in their ventures, so we’ve compiled a comprehensive guide with industry observations, best practices and expert advice.