Free Your Mind: Mobile App Analytics

Remember in the movie Men In Black when Will Smith uses the neuralizer to erase people’s memories after they had come in contact with an alien?  We could really use one of those for people looking to track the usage of mobile apps by their customer base.  

For years, we have been hooked on one thing:  page views.  The vendors largely forced us to think this way initially as pricing models revolved around it.  Granted, this is what primitive web analytics was based on, but that has largely gone by the wayside over the last several years.  Flash, Flex, and Ajax started making people think about actions.  However, mobile apps have challenged our prior way of thinking to the utmost degree.

Whether your app is native or hybrid, and regardless of the device or OS, you need to fundamentally change the way you think about the collection and analysis of your data.  It’s a bit like the Matrix (movie reference #2) in that you think you see page views, but they aren’t really there. Going down the path of attempting to implement your app tracking just like you’ve implemented your websites will create a tangled mess and ultimately take forever to get fully in place while working with your IT team.

So, what are you supposed to do?  Stop thinking about page views, paths, and time on site (please!) and start thinking about the actions that are most important for you to track.  Furthermore, start asking yourself “what do I want people to do on this app?” and “how often do I want them to do these things?”  Here are some points to make note of (not comprehensive):

- It’s not about the “path,” but rather where the person performed the action. You may have the ability for a user to perform an action in 3 places within the app, as an example. You don’t need a path for that, you just need separate identifiers for each action to tell that story.

- It’s not about “entry page” but rather App opens, which is an action

- It’s not about how long the person spends in the app, but rather how many times a person interacts with your app, how frequently, and how many “active users” you have within your total number of downloads

- You have a person’s unique identification on his/her device as they interact with your app.  Use that to integrate with other channel data to tell the complete story

- The "complete story" is to understand the channel preference for your visitors for specific activities that can be completed in multiple channels. This will allow you to better message your customers and optimize their journeys.

When you simplify this process and get down to the real questions you need to answer, your implementation cycle becomes much shorter and your insights become more focused. At a high level, there should be two things you are attempting to do while tracking your mobile apps:

- Create the common identifier for cross-channel analysis

- Track the important actions and details in order to optimize the experience as you develop future releases in addition to real-time, in-app optimization and offers

The latter point is becoming really exciting in our space. Vendors such as Localytics are offering you the capability to prompt your users with options based on things they have or haven’t done.  Innovations like this will continue to focus business groups on the whole point of collecting data in the first place:  action.

So, before you create a solution design for your mobile app that will ultimately take months to complete, take a step back. What do you want people to do within the app? How often do you want them to do it?  If they don’t do that, what do you want to prompt them with to help them along in the process?  Free your mind: the page view is dead.  Long live action.



By Bill Bruno
About the Author:

Bill Bruno is the CEO - North America, Ebiquity.

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