Any publisher worth his cyber salt can pump out an app, but relying on a "build it and they will come" mobile mentality, without measuring key metrics and scrutinizing user data during and after the launch, is a significantly flawed strategy. To remain competitive and keep your app audience happy, analytics are the answer, say the experts.
Josh Todd, CMO of Localytics, says it's crucial for digital content providers to invest in optimizing their mobile analytics to garner key insights into who their users are and how they're behaving in your app, which can result in better engagement, retention and conversion. "Using in-depth data, companies can personalize marketing efforts to be more effective for each individual user," says Todd. He notes that proprietary research conducted by Localytics shows 25% of apps are only used one time, with 58% of users churning in the first 30 days of using an app and 75% leaving within the first three months. "This data illustrates the problem that user retention is for apps and highlights the need to leverage mobile analytics to deliver targeted campaigns and personalized content that keeps users coming back."
Lauren Moores, vice president of strategy for Dstillery, says publishing an app without utilizing mobile analytics is similar to throwing up a website without any site tracking. "Without analytics, you cannot optimize the functionality, features and messaging or understand what is or isn't working," she says.
Yet only 43% of digital business professionals employ mobile analytics, and less than one in four developers integrate analytics or crash reporting into deployed applications in order to monitor and fix apps, according to Forrester Research's Q2 2014 Global Mobile Executive Online Survey.
As a real world case study of the effectiveness of analytics, Localytics helped EyeEm target users at risk of leaving its app with personalized re-engagement campaigns. Using historical sessions and user data, Todd's team produced a custom algorithm to predict someone's likelihood of leaving the app and created targeted push message campaigns to reach high- and medium-risk users-resulting in over a 67% lift in the reactivation of high-risk users and keeping nearly 60,000 users engaged with the EyeEm app.
To further underscore the importance of improving an app via analytics, consider key findings of a recent survey by Dynatrace: Three out of four smartphone/tablet users reveal that they would abandon a mobile site/app that's slow, buggy, or prone to crashes and shop elsewhere, with 47% reporting they would do so if the site/app doesn't load within three seconds.
The top reason why content providers/marketers continue to struggle with mobile analytics? "It's the inherent problem of real-time agility in a native mobile app environment," says Karen Wood, product marketing director for Ensighten. "Unlike web environments, which let marketers make tagging and content changes in real time, mobile apps require a far more manual process. For every change, you must work with the developer, make sure that change is rolled into the next update, wait for app store approval, then rely on users to download the app update."
The result is that, instead of leveraging a test-and-learn approach to analytics, "marketers try to pre-plan for every analytics scenario within that first development cycle," Wood says.
To maximize your mobile analytics, follow these tips:
- Measure at the individual user level, "mapping the customer journey to understand the role of the channel and scoring those interactions as they relate to business objectives," says Bryon Morrison, president of nectarOM. When brands are able to recognize individuals in multiple channels and personalize their communications, average order values and loyalty increase 15% and 25%, respectively, he adds.
- Leverage solutions that provide a real-time approach to mobile app marketing "so you can make adjustments and evolve your program with the agility required for digital marketing," says Wood. "Also, leverage simple metrics like lifecycle metrics first before bringing in tools like tag management."
- Consider how you want to define analytics for their app. "Ask questions: Are basic metrics like crash reporting and screen views enough? What information will tell how users are truly engaging with their apps?" says Wood.
- Avoid collecting analytics that don't lead to actionable insights, suggests Ryan Bateman, digital performance evangelist with Dynatrace. "Targeting a dataset and key performance indicators that can be commonly viewed and understood by both the technical and business decision makers is the real difference maker."
- Work with a trusted mobile management platform, "which can provide guidance on integrating your analytics software development kit into an app before release," Moores says.
- Study your data regularly. "Develop trend reports that show data relative to other data over a period of time," recommends Robb Gaynor, chief product officer for Malauzai Software. "And report on your data, get people excited, and find interesting data points to build engagement."
- Implement a strong back-end system to track metrics around acquisition, engagement and outcomes.