Basic Mobile Analytics: Are You Leaving Money on the Table?

Releasing an app without knowing how it’s being used deprives you of valuable data. Analytics suites have evolved to the point where you needn’t do much more than include it in your app to gain extremely useful knowledge about how users interact with it. How long are they using the app for? What geographic locations are users coming from? Which devices are the app being used on?

To best illustrate the beauty and benefits of integrating an analytics suite into your app, let’s use Google Analytics as an example. I’m assuming a basic knowledge of the platform — but if you don’t have one, I highly suggest signing up for an account. That way, you can at least familiarize yourself with the options and data available through the suite.

Who are the users?

In Google Analytics, this is called the “Audience” section.

By default, some of this information is displayed on your app’s analytics dashboard when logging in. This data is all about who are your users and what devices they’re using. With the Audience information, you can find out:

  • How many users are active every day?
  • What countries/cities are they coming from?
  • What languages are used on their devices?
  • Which screen sizes/resolutions are they using?

All of this is very useful, it means that you can make informed decisions about:

  • Whether improvements are necessary to increase the amount of people using the app
  • Whether targeted marketing is necessary to reach or grow specific geographic markets
  • Whether users are having trouble using the app in a non-native language
  • Is the app experience optimized for the most commonly used screen sizes?

Where are users coming from?

In Google Analytics, this is called the “Acquisition” section.

Perhaps one of the more valuable aspects of an analytics suite, this section gives information as to where your users are coming from:

  • How many new users do you have each day?
  • On Android, which app store is the user acquired from?
  • If there’s more than one, which version of the app are they using?

With this type of info, you can make decisions about:

  • How successful are marketing efforts working towards new user acquisition? New users should ideally be steady or growing — not declining.
  • Which stores are providing healthy user flows? This is particularly useful if you’re running an app somewhere where Google Play is not the norm.
  • Am I hearing about similar crashes/bug reports from outdated versions of the app? Is there a need to get people to download a new one?

How are users using the app?

Lastly, in Google Analytics, this is called the “Behaviour” section.

So far, we know who the users are and where they are coming from, so it’s time to take a look at how they’re using the app. With Behaviours, we can tell:

  • What screens are users visiting and how long are they using them for?
  • In what order are people accessing the various screens of your app?
  • If you’re setting up custom events — like tapping on a particular button — how often does it happen?

There, you can make decisions about:

  • Which screens/features may require more attention when it comes to future revisions? Which ones could be dropped?
  • What does the typical user flow look like? If it’s not what you expected: how can it be influenced?
  • Did users click on that button? How often? This is great for calls-to-action like Contact Us buttons.

Do analytics really matter?

Simple answer: yes. But a lot of people still overlook it.

Running an app without analytics is a little like driving in the dark. You’ll be able to see a few feet in front of you, but you’ll likely be missing the foresight to see any further ahead. Analytics act like a road map and street lamps: giving you valuable info about who’s ahead, where they’re coming from, and what they’re doing.

If you’re going to drive in the dark, so-to-speak: wouldn’t you prefer to have that kind of info?

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