After a number of sleepless nights and action-packed days, you’ve finally finished the version 1.0 of your app and uploaded it to the app store of your choice. Is it finally time to relax, while looking at the increasing number of people who have downloaded your masterpiece? Well, not really.
From now on, you not only need to update your app regularly in order to stay relevant, but also spend time tracking all kinds of things about how your app is interacted with by users. Chances are, you have no idea of what’s really going on between the app and the users if you rely on app store comments and bug reports, but don’t use tracking.
When diving into the brave new world of mobile app metrics, it’s important not to miss any aspects of it. Generally, the metrics can be divided into three broad categories, which are able to tell everything you want to know about how your app’s doing out there.
First and foremost, make sure that your users can actually launch your app and use it without waiting for ages after each tap on the screen. There’s plenty of aspects of performance you want to be aware of. Obviously, you need to track crashes: how often they happen, at which operations, and on which devices.
Another important aspect of performance is how fast and responsive your mobile app is. What you need to know is how long it takes for the app to start up, what is the frame rate of its animations, and how quickly it performs the tasks after user’s input.
Additionally, you should be interested in how well the app uses the resources of the device it’s running on, particularly memory and power, i.e. make sure that it won’t suck all the juice from the battery within a couple of hours.
Network performance is another thing that should be tracked if your app has a cloud backend and/or leverages APIs of third-party services and platforms, which most of today’s apps do. The main metrics here are the latency, i.e. how long it takes a request to travel there and back, and connection errors. Keep in mind that after 3-4 seconds of waiting majority of users might abandon your app altogether.
This part of measuring your app’s success is mostly about how good it’s designed and structured. By tracking the way users actually interact with your app, you can get valuable insights into what you can improve in the UI/UX, as well as check your hypotheses about what features of the app are the most/least important for your customers.
An integral part of usage analytics is checking what devices your users have. With some mobile platforms more fragmented than others, having an idea of the capabilities of smartphones or tablets your customers use can show you ways for future optimisation.
The tracking here can be done with special tools that provide heat maps and usage scenarios, as well as by simply looking at how your app is used by people. Expect to learn more on this in our future posts on the topic.
Another broad analytics category has to do with your marketing insights and activities. In addition to knowing how your users interact with the app, it’s quite useful to know who your users are and how many of them your app has.
If you’ve seen Google Analytics or any other similar tool for websites, you probably already know the metrics you’re after. These include the number of active users, new and returning users, retention rate, as well as time spent by users in your app in general and in each of its different views.
For apps that have built-in purchases, you’d also need to know your average rate per user (ARPU) and conversion rates.
In addition to that, in apps that monetise through advertising it makes sense to track how ads are shown to the users, how often they’re clicked upon, and so on.
Things to keep in mind
While tracking is an important part of being in the mobile apps business, users should always come first. The team of the analytics platform Piwik did a good job to sum up what it means on practice:
- For performance reasons, it is very important that you send the Tracking requests only after all the content is loaded in your application. User experience and speed is always more important than usage tracking!
- If you do not provide a setting to disable User Tracking, your app wouldn’t follow industry best practises and might be considered a spyware.
As you can see, there are many things you need to know about your app and its users after it lands in the app store.