As the digital world changes channels, mobile analytics integration should not be an afterthought. The world is inundated with smartphones and tablets that are faster than my computer and they continue to reshape the digital landscape more and more every day. You must be prepared to record these mobile users.
Generally, mobile web analytics can be confusing to traditional site-side analysts whose knowledge does not translate into understanding the nuances of the mobile user's experience. Above that, the collective headache of dealing with Objective-C, Java for Android, Backbone.js and other mobile frameworks has led many organizations to abandon the mobile analytics pipe dream completely.
Don't be discouraged! Here's a tip that will help your company measure mobile effectively and is the core idea of this blog: stop tracking page view metrics designed for measuring web pages. Why? Because they don’t exist in mobile, as Stratigent CEO, Bill Bruno, outlines in greater detail in his post here
Shift gears down the eventful path
Most apps out today don't change pages in the way the traditional pageview metric was intended for PC’s, so don't pay for that server call because it will add up. Instead, shift your focus to mobile metrics that will inform your business: events, conversions and the eventful path to conversion rate optimization. In the Pandora example below you’ll see that I have the ability to do many things within one screen: display volume controls, view previous songs, review lyrics, thumbs up a song, thumbs down a song, etc.
Pageview vs. Subview vs. Superview
The first iOS app I built and implemented Google Analytics within was a "Single-View application." The term "single-view" means that there is one base interface or “superview,” often composed of various presentations of the same page (or “subviews”). Thus, the user experience path is driven by user interaction with app components, not separate pages.
While complex apps often contain more than one view, or multiple superviews, it turns out, the single view (or single page recycled to display many different content groups) is the most popular design for mobile web and the native mobile app, even if the app is not a "Single-View Application" in the Xcode sense of the phrase. Therefore, a pageview-centric approach to mobile analytics easily misses a lot of key interactions that could happen all on the same “page.”
Mobile Event tracking is essential not optional
Volume of events aside, the science of capturing a mobile event can get tricky. For example, suppose Stratigent is tracking article shares as a conversion. A client on their mobile phone receives an email and visits the Stratigent blog to read this article. They are already authenticated as User 314159 (event!). As User 314159 is reading carefully and intently, their scrolls should be tracked at certain intervals as events, much like a percent viewed of a video. Then, as User 314159 reaches the share button to distribute the article via email, LinkedIn and Twitter, the analytics code will then count each instance for a total of three shares (tied to the unique user in the cases of native apps or authenticated mobile web). In other words, it is important to track every user interaction that is a conversion or could lead to conversion.
Here is the iOS example of what event tracking looks like for Google Analytics as a point of reference:
[tracker send:; // Event value
The Art of Capturing Mobile Conversions
Where capturing a mobile event is a science, capturing a mobile conversion is an art. Conversions in mobile analytics are best designed to provide insight into the actions being taken by the user. In the case already outlined in the previous section, Stratigent might want to know how many seconds a user spent on reading the recommended content before sharing that content. It could uncover that users need far less convincing to share an article recommended to them because they tend to share recommended articles in half the reading time and twice the frequency.
This begs the practical question: how do we track conversions in this way? I have had some good experiences with SiteCatalyst Java SDK 3x. The updated 4x was recently released and I love the adjustments made for timing conversions. The following three methods give businesses the granular information needed to comprehensively understand a mobile conversion:
Eventful Path to Conversion Rate Optimization
Rather than relying on paths based on page views that don't exist, leverage paths full of events that lead to conversions. Let’s go back to the case of the blog share, we would first consider the referral event that hasn't been mentioned yet: User 314159 came to the mobile website via a Stratigent email. That's the first event in the eventful path!
What if the blog required authentication? That's the second event! Then 50% and 100% read comprise the third and fourth events. Next, we arrive at the events that lead to the initial conversion destination. With this approach, the page view doesn't tell analysts anything they don't already know. So if an implementation relied on page views and conversions alone, the business would not see the extremely valuable opportunity for Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) using the eventful path.
To review, the three keys to successful mobile integration are Mobile Events, Mobile Conversions and the Eventful Path to Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO). For those that want to delve deeper, the coup de grâce of mobile analytics integration is cross-channel identification, currently limited to authenticated users of web apps and users of native apps. We need to steer our clients in a future proof direction for our own success.
Since mobile analytics vendor selection depends on the application and individual business requirements, there can never be a silver bullet solution. Because of this, it is impossible to provide a ranked list so here are my top five solutions in no specific order:
GA – Amazingly detailed look at the Google Play Store and an out-of-the-box streaming insert into BigQuery that enables organizations in a way that is unparalleled by other available solutions.
SiteCatalyst – The newest SDK integrates with Adobe Target for mobile optimization capabilities; couple that with the vendor’s reputation and Mobile SiteCatalyst, now that is exciting.
Localytics – With or without an advanced data scientist at your disposal, cohort analyses built from Localytics data will provide invaluable insights that offer the most granular look at app users.
Mixpanel – An industry leader in the mobile space with a customizable solution built entirely in-house from the ground up, their adage - “stop counting pageviews” - fits perfectly with mobile integration.
Tealeaf Mobile – It doesn’t really belong in this list but there are so many exciting things about this application. Every organization serious about understanding its mobile users should add Tealeaf mobile on to the stack of their analytics solutions.
[Honorable Mention] Tag Management Solutions – A few select TMS vendors offer a mobile SDK for deployment which allows you to avoid having to re-submit the application every time you make code changes.
There are so many great solutions out there and at Stratigent we have done our best to stay abreast of them all. I can help with information on implementing Tealeaf Mobile or any other questions about mobile integration. Email us anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org
or comment here to keep the discussion alive.