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Mobile App Tracking: Practical Guide and Best Tools 2024

PUBLISHED

1 December, 2023

Jonas Kurzweg
Jonas Kurzweg

Growth Lead

mobile app tracking

If you’re reading this, you’re here because you need to get a better understanding of how users interact with your app.

This article will take you through the mobile app tracking process from start to finish, the best practices for mobile application tracking, and the best mobile app tracking tools to do so.

What is Mobile App Tracking?

Mobile app tracking is the process of capturing data points across user activities in a mobile application with the aim to uncover the insight needed to improve the overall user experience.

Mobile user tracking is made possible by using a mobile analytics platform which typically records different types of user data, including but not limited to;

User Information

  • Location

  • Device information (mobile device, operating system)

  • User ID

Session information

  • Session ID

  • Screen views

  • Gestures

  • Session replay

It’s important to note that mobile app tracking is especially useful when it comes to user behavior analysis.

Tip: Solutions such as UXCam automatically capture micro-interaction data sets. This means that every gesture and every action can be easily analyzed.

How does Mobile App Tracking work?

When getting started with mobile user behavior tracking, you need an app analytics solution that serves as a data processor. You have to integrate the SDK (Software Development Kit) of the mobile app analytics solution into your mobile app.

This mobile app tracking SDK collects user interaction data and sends it into your mobile app analytics solution, where it will be processed and converted into insights on a dashboard for your product team.

mobile app tracking process

Mobile app tracking process

It is important to know that your choice of SDK could make or break your mobile app. App performance issues are often directly caused by the SDKs you put in your app.

It’s critical to choose a low-risk and high-performance SDK because it has a direct impact on the end user’s experience of your app. A high-risk, poor-performing SDK can result in:

  • Slowing down your app

  • Bugs on the app

  • More crashes

  • Reduced functionality

This can lead to user churn and poor app reviews. If the SDK you’re using doesn’t follow the app store rules, your app could be removed from the app store.

Ultimately, a low-risk high performance SDK will positively impact your business metrics like user retention, acquisition, and revenue. 

Why is Mobile App Tracking Important?

Mobile app tracking helps you to understand how users behave and interact with different elements in your app.

It helps you make better design decisions with data-driven answers to important questions about what exactly users are doing in your app.

  • Which feature of your app is the most popular?

  • What do users like or dislike?

  • Are there any static elements that appear clickable?

  • Where and why do the users leave your app?

These questions and more are important for the future success of your mobile app.

When a user does something in our mobile app (for example, clicks a button), it is captured and recorded in your mobile analytics tool.

You will be able to see things like the user “clicked the signup button” five days ago and “canceled account” two hours ago. These events, when viewed on a timeline, will show a very clear behavioral pattern that you can analyze to extract valuable insight into the user journey and uncover points of friction experienced by your app users.

Mobile app tracking becomes incredibly valuable because it delivers useful insights to prioritize your product roadmap and proactively ship relevant features that best meet the needs of your users.

How to Track User Activity and Behavior in Mobile Apps

Before you start setting up tracking on your mobile app to gain insights into your user's behavior, you first need to understand what to track, when, and why. It’s easy to conclude that you need to track every little detail, however, that’s not always necessary. 

Tracking is only as good as when the purpose behind it is well-informed. Outlined below are practical steps to set up effective user tracking in your mobile app.

Define your goals and key metrics

Defining SMART goals that you want to achieve for your product will help you identify the key metrics you should track to measure the success of your app.

Having clear goals helps determine what user event or properties you should send to your mobile app analytics tools to gather valuable insights and measure these objectives.

A good starting point is having an honest conversation with your team and yourself to figure out what questions about your users you are seeking data-driven answers for.

For example, let's assume you manage a cinema app; you may wonder how many users bought a ticket to watch a movie and why users aren't adding extras (popcorn or drinks) to their purchase.

Based on these questions, you could define the following goals for your app:

  • Increase customer retention by 30%

  • Discover what the key features are that have a higher impact on retention

  • Understand the difference in the user journey between one-time and returning users

  • Analyze the user experience and uncover friction points and roadblocks in the customer journey to improve your product

Then, these goals would determine why you should be tracking the following key metrics below:

  • Number of Active users (Daily, Weekly, and Monthly)

  • Most commonly used features among returning users

  • Screen exit rates

  • Drop-off percentage for the purchase process

  • Percentage of rage taps

UXCam customizable dashboard

Plan your events and properties

To gain better insights into your users’ interactions with your application, you have to send the right events and properties to your app analytics platform. An event can indicate any interaction that occurs between the user and your application. It can be an action that the user performs (e.g., tapping a button, swiping between screens) or a specific event (e.g., an error message displayed).

While a property is an attachment to an event that provides additional context and allows you to dig deeper into the interaction.

Using the example of the cinema app, you may have the event "add to cart". This event can have the properties: movie name, movie category, movie time, selected theater, ticket price, and the number of tickets.

Planning your mobile app event tracking and aligning them with your goals and metrics will help identify the most important events with properties to send to your analytics tool.

Your choice of mobile app tracking tool could help speed up and organize the process. For example, a mobile app analytics solution like UXCam automatically detects;

  • Screens visited

  • Gestures of the user (taps, double taps, swipes, etc)

  • Rage taps: to show user frustration

  • UI Freezes: when the screen freezes

Map your user's journey with screen flow and screen burst

With the proper tracking setup and user behavior data flowing to your analytics tool, screen flow and screen burst map your user's journey and help you visualize at a glance the most common paths your users take when using your app. You can use this functionality to:

  • Identify differences in the navigation behavior between user segments

  • Discover alternative paths that users follow to achieve a certain goal in your app

  • Analyze sessions from users navigating through a sequence of screens

See how users behave with session recordings and replay

Mobile app session recording and replay give direct insights into your users’ behavior. This includes every interaction with the app, user input, and screen output.

It allows you to combine qualitative insights from session replays with quantitative insights from the events and properties you are tracking to understand the entire context behind every user interaction.

Session recording helps you see how your users interact with your app in a real-life scenario and visualize how your app looks on different devices, making it easy to know whether or not your app displays and functions correctly. You can use session replays to;

  • Identify bugs and user frustration patterns and reproduce them

  • Analyze your users’ journey and how they navigate through your app to improve user onboarding

  • Focus on what matters by filtering your sessions based on length, triggered events, rage taps, crashes, UI freezes, and other properties

mobile app session replay recording feature

Track where users click and scroll with touch heatmaps

The easiest way to track and visualize where users click, tap, and scroll on different screens in your mobile app is to use touch heatmaps — a visual overlay in an array of colors to represent user interactions.

Touch heatmaps allow you to see what your users are doing and how they interact with each screen in your mobile app. You can use mobile heatmap analytics to;

  • Find the most visited screens or those with greater user interaction or engagement

  • Discover the screens with the highest percentage of UI freezes and crashes

  • Spot the screens with the highest quit rate, and watch the session replays to understand the reasons behind those metrics

  • Easily identify screens that cause users the most frustration by sorting them by rage taps count or unresponsive gestures. Then, visualize those frustrations with the screen recordings

what are mobile app heatmaps

How to track mobile app analytics

There are many tools that you can use to track your mobile app analytics. These mobile app analytics tools can be broadly into two categories;

  1. Using built-in analytics tools: Mobile app development platforms, such as Apple's iOS and Google's Android, have built-in analytics tools that can be used to track basic usage data.

  2. Using third-party analytics tools: Many third-party mobile analytics tools can be integrated into your app to track detailed app usage data using a software development kit.

Next, we'll review the top three recommended mobile app tracking tools.

Best mobile app tracking tools

We searched for the best app tracking tools, and this is our selection of the best 3 solutions.

UXCam

UXCam app analytics usability testing tool

UXCam is the leading in-app analytics solution that combines both quantitative and qualitative analytics. It gives you a deep understanding of user behavior and helps to improve your app’s KPIs.

While serving 21,000 apps, including Nissan, NBC and Vodafone is a big feat, the true power of UXCam is the ability to give you the complete context of your app and your users.

Essentially, by giving you a 360-degree view of your app, UXCam gives you access to data-informed decision-making. UXCam enables you to easily understand the complete user journey, uncover user struggles automatically, and find opportunities on each screen.

You can use Heatmaps and Screen Flow to find hidden bottlenecks and understand where users drop off to increase conversions.

Customers of UXCam say that "UXCam is the core tool to build their product".

UXCam mobile analytics review

Flurry

flurry analytics

Flurry Analytics grants app tracking and analytics for companies to observe user interactions over multiple mobile apps.

You can see data from each one of your apps to get a holistic picture of users’ actions with any app and quickly match behavior trends across your iOS and Android apps.

CleverTap

Clevertap app tracking mobile

CleverTap is a user engagement tool for mobile apps that offers extensive user insights, robust segmentation, and personalized outreach.

With CleverTap, you can retain users with personalized push notifications and better understand their decisions. You can also trace user uninstalls.

Conclusion

Mobile app tracking is one of the most important parts of managing a mobile app. It can make the difference between shifting your app in the wrong or right direction.

Reach out for a free demo to learn more about how you can use UXCam for your mobile app tracking.

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AUTHOR

Jonas Kurzweg
Jonas Kurzweg

Growth Lead

UX, marketing & product nerd. Coffee enthusiast. Working at UXCam.

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