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What is Mobile Analytics? Guide, Tools & Best Practices

PUBLISHED

17 June, 2024

Audrey Meissner
Audrey Meissner
what is mobile analytics

The mobile app landscape is saturated and doesn’t show any signs of slowing down. The year 2022 saw 255 billion app downloads – an increase of over 80% from 2016, with mobile apps projected to generate more than $613 billion in revenue by the year 2025. 

Because of this highly competitive ecosystem, you need to know your user to stay ahead of the competition. If you’ve shipped an app out into the real world you’ve probably wondered how on earth your users aren’t getting to their ‘A-ha!’ moments sooner. This can all feel pretty disheartening.  

Releasing and iterating an app without the support of a mobile app analytics platform is a bit like crossing the country by car without a map – it’s certainly possible, but it takes a lot more time and effort. 

In this article, we go through the basics of mobile app analytics. Read on to find out:

  • What mobile app analytics is exactly.

  • Why it’s important for companies to use analytics platforms. 

  • The difference between using a hybrid platform vs a dedicated mobile app platform. 

  • Quantitative and qualitative analytics. 

  • Privacy and mobile app analytics. 

What is mobile app analytics?

In a nutshell, mobile app analytics is a way to gather data from app users to show user behavior and track app performance. If you have questions about your users, you need to dive into analytics. 

Mobile app analytics platforms are tools used to track, observe, and support the evaluation of user behavior and experience. 

Here are some common situations for product managers where mobile app analytics can help uncover solutions: 

  • Which screens are most engaged with and where do users spend most of their time?

  • Are my users flowing through my app as intended, or are there areas of friction?

  • Which screens in my app have the highest crash rate?

  • What are the most common interactions (gestures) across my app?

  • Which features seem confusing to users?

These are just a few examples of the sort of data mobile teams gain access to with mobile app analytics. With this much detail on how users interact with your app, you can consistently improve the user experience and improve retention, engagement, and conversion rates. 

What are the benefits of using mobile app analytics?

This all might sound familiar to you if you have a user researcher on your team. Mobile app analytics platforms are not here to replace your in-depth user interviews or observations, but rather to enhance them. 

All product teams share similar struggles of collecting, prioritizing, and validating product feedback, and doing it all on a budget. User research is time-consuming, expensive, and sometimes untrustworthy. This is because users will often subconsciously change behaviors while being observed, and give unreliable information as they can’t remember exactly the steps they took.

Using tools like session replay eliminates this gap as it offers firsthand user experience data. Using a mobile app analytics platform will scale your user research efforts, not hinder them. 

Blog inline low-effort-high-impact-01

Having as many data points as possible also helps when trying to justify a hypothesis. You will find it much easier to convince a stakeholder that your potential solution to a problem is a bet worth making when you have evidence to back it up. It’s also easier to make changes like design decisions when you can clearly see issues with the app that are driving users away.  

Why is mobile analytics important?

On average, after downloading your app, only 13% of users will continue to engage with your app regularly or at all. Tracking app analytics is critical to figure out how users are interacting with your app, where they’re likely to drop off, and areas that are frustrating or confusing to users to improve your user engagement rates.

Making informed, data-driven decisions will lead you toward a more user-centered approach to product development. Let’s look at an example.

Costa Coffee had a goal of optimizing their app registration process to increase its user base and revenue through the app. Using UXCam, their analytics manager tracked custom events related to the registration metrics, then built a funnel. With this visualization, the team could see the way users were typically moving through the sign-up process. 

This combination of custom events and funnels uncovered their biggest bottleneck: 15% of users dropped off after entering an invalid password. After looking into the specific session recordings for these users and noticing patterns, the team redesigned the sign-up flow, fixing the issue with incorrect password attempts.  

If the mobile team at Costa Coffee didn’t have those granular insights it would have been a lot more time-consuming to figure out the issue and potential solutions than by using quantitative methods. 

Some more advantages of using an app analytics platform: 

  • Gain data-driven insights. Apps with high retention rates usually experience better user engagement, which means more customers and revenue. Using an analytics tool to get this data frees up time for mobile teams to focus on delivering user-focused product updates.

  • Collect accurate data. Without performing or checking user feedback or interviews, app analytics platforms uncover the why behind user behavior and experience with detailed, reliable data.

  • Helps customize apps. Having this data means being able to easier identify issues more through features like session replay and heatmaps to fix obstacles in the user journey. This way product managers have the ability to customize the app and become closer to the goal of providing a seamless experience to end-users.

  • Aligns cross-functional teams. Being able to share session recordings, customizable dashboards, and crash reports means separate teams can quickly gain clarity on issues. For example, with UXCam customer support teams can speak to a customer about an issue, review their session and then share that session with the PM or engineering team to solve.

  • Measure and track KPIs. Dashboards make it possible to digest insights and confidently act on them while keeping track of overall app performance. A mobile app KPI dashboard is a convenient way to get an overview of key mobile analytics at a glance. For specific examples of buildable dashboards to track for product managers, engineers, and designers read our in-depth KPI article. 

What is the difference between web and mobile analytics?

There are many different ways to track product analytics and it can be overwhelming to decide which approach would best suit your product and your team. 

  • Web analytics is used to focus on metrics like page views, behavior-related metrics, patterns generated by user cohorts, interaction frequency, and user interactions with ads. 

  • Mobile app analytics generate a higher amount of data and supports product teams to understand user behavior. UXCam auto-captures user data, device data, and behavioral data, as well as issue and performance data.

  • Hybrid analytics allows product teams to, in theory, track data for both web products and mobile applications. The downside to this is that the data coming from hybrid platforms is not as granular as using a dedicated mobile app analytics platform. 

It’s especially important to track as much data as possible for mobile apps as they’re a little more complex than web pages. Mobile apps have multiple versions live across different devices for different app versions, whereas websites have one version. Because of this, PMs are often left with having to understand users across multiple platforms, versions, and device types. This means that specific, in-depth tooling solutions are required. 

The question is: how do you quantify and understand user engagement? The days of simple demographic segmentation are over. Users in completely different age groups can have very similar behavior when it comes to mobile apps. For this, you’ll need to invest in mobile app analytics that dives into the KPIs and metrics that matter most for your business. 

Key mobile analytics metrics to track

To succeed in mobile analytics, you need to focus on several essential metrics. Some top mobile analytics KPIs to track are;

  • Downloads & Installs: Track how many users download and install your app. This gives you an idea of your app's initial appeal.

  • Daily Active Users (DAU): Monitor how many users engage with your app daily to gauge its regular usage.

  • Monthly Active Users (MAU): Measure the number of users active within a month to understand your app's broader user base.

  • Session Length: Look at how long users spend in your app per session to assess engagement levels.

  • Retention Rate: Calculate the percentage of users who return to your app over time to determine its stickiness.

  • Conversion Rate: Analyze how effectively your app converts users into paying customers or achieves other key actions.

  • Customer Lifetime Value (CLV): Estimate the total revenue you can expect from a user throughout their relationship with your app.

  • Average Revenue Per User (ARPU): Track the average revenue generated per user to understand the financial performance of your app.

Dive deeper into 50+ top mobile analytics kpis and metrics to track and measure

Top Mobile Analytics Tools

Choosing the right mobile app analytics tools is crucial for gaining valuable insights and optimizing your app’s performance. Here are some of the top tools you should consider:

UXCam Dashboard New UI
  • Features: Focuses on user experience with features like session recordings, heatmaps, retention analytics, user journey analysis and more. Helps you see exactly how users interact with your app.

  • Why Use It: UXCam provides deep insights into user behavior, helping you identify usability issues and optimize the user experience.

Google Analytics for Firebase

  • Features: Offers comprehensive app tracking, including user engagement, retention, and in-app purchases. It integrates seamlessly with other Google services.

  • Why Use It: You get real-time data and powerful reporting tools to help you understand user behavior and app performance.

Adjust

  • Features: Focuses on attribution and analytics, helping you understand where your users come from and how they interact with your app. Offers fraud prevention and audience building.

  • Why Use It: Adjust’s attribution capabilities are essential for optimizing your marketing campaigns and ensuring accurate data tracking.

Mixpanel

  • Features:

    Provides advanced analytics capabilities such as event tracking, funnel analysis, and user segmentation. Offers A/B testing and user retention analysis.

  • Why Use It:

    Mixpanel’s detailed analytics help you identify trends and make data-driven decisions to enhance user engagement and retention.

App Annie

  • Features: Combines app store analytics with user insights, market data, and competitor analysis. Tracks downloads, revenue, rankings, and reviews.

  • Why Use It: App Annie is perfect for understanding your app’s market position and making strategic decisions based on competitive insights.

Check out our detailed review of the top 19 mobile app analytics tools

Mobile app analytics techniques

Mobile app analytics, or experience analytics, goes beyond the traditional analytics techniques combining both quantitative and qualitative data methods to provide a holistic picture of user behavior. 

While both of those techniques provide powerful insights on their own, they’re best utilized in combination with each other. 

Qualitative methods

Qualitative analysis focuses on subjective information like user behavior, emotions, and experiences. It focuses on the ‘why’ behind user behavior.

Usability testing and user feedback are some of the better-known qualitative analysis methods. While these techniques can be helpful, they don’t tell the whole story of what users do on an app — but rather what they think they do. 

Opinions are powerful and this feedback is invaluable, but observing how real users truly behave is a different story. When paired with data visualization, qualitative analysis techniques can be easily interpreted.

These are the main methods used in qualitative analysis:

  • Gesture-based heatmaps. Heatmaps visualize how users engage with your app. Tracking gestures (like double taps, long presses, and frustration signals like rage taps, etc.) is invaluable to understanding customer needs and avoiding churn. 

Download this complete guide for understanding mobile app heatmaps.

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  • Session recordings. Also known as session replay, this method allows you to view the user's experience and journey from the moment they open the app to when they send it into the background or close it. 

Flutter performance monitoring app logs
  • Behavioral screen flow. Screen flows validate funnels, prove your hypotheses, or show what unexpected paths users take in your app.

Screen Flow New UI

Quantitative methods

Quantitative analysis describes objective information that can be expressed with numbers, graphs, charts, etc. It focuses on the ‘what’. 

There are three main quantitative analytics methods:

  • User analytics. This combines lots of technical information like user device data with demographic data (like age or gender).

  • Funnel analysis. Funnels break up user journeys into key milestones. Most funnels will only work in tandem with custom event analytics. UXCam allows users to view sessions based on the steps in the funnel. 

  • Session exploration. This technique combines many quantitative data points to gain a complete picture of the sessions taking place on your mobile application. By analyzing these metrics over time, you can see trends and draw conclusions about specific user sets. 

Technical analysis

Technical analytics comprise crash analytics, exceptions, and UI freeze analytics. Here’s a short overview:

  • Crash analytics. This method helps you stay on top of technical problems that can damage the customer experience. It can also help decipher drops in a defined funnel. With UXCam engineers can see crash rates, number of users affected, reasons the crash occured, and comparisons across different versions, devices, and platforms. 

  • UI freeze analytics. Also known as issue analytics, digs into the issues that cause the crashes in the first place. With UXCam, UI freeze analytics measures the same things that crash analytics does, plus screens the freeze happened on, and how long it lasted. 

Privacy and mobile app analytics

For many product and mobile teams it’s valuable and insightful to gain all of this data about user behavior and app performance. But, is it safe? 

Many apps need to collect personal information about their users to allow them access to the app. Think about financial apps that need users to go through a KYC process and enter data points like date of birth, addresses, and copies of passports or ID cards. When looking into how your user behaves on your app you’ll need to take a look into session recordings, even for the screens collecting the most sensitive information. 

When sending sessions to a mobile app analytics platform, companies need to know that their users' data is safe. With UXCam you’ll be able to mask texts, elements or screens from being recorded, as well as being able to hide all text fields to block out the input, and occlude specific screens. 

If you’re using customizable dashboards, you can choose to blur all screens from a specific set straight from your dashboard. You can also set rules for which screens you’d like blurred or occluded, blur only specific elements of a screen, or blur entire screens. 

Measuring and tracking mobile app analytics is valuable for many different teams. Having all your key app metrics in one place will make it easier to check the health of your app and business.

Best practices for implementing mobile analytics

To ensure successful implementation of mobile analytics, follow these best practices:

1. Set clear goals

  • Define objectives: Clearly outline what you want to achieve with mobile analytics. Whether it's improving user engagement, increasing retention rates, or boosting revenue, having specific goals will guide your analytics strategy.

  • Prioritize metrics: Identify the key performance indicators (KPIs) that align with your objectives. Focus on metrics that provide actionable insights and help you measure progress towards your goals.

2. Select the right tools

  • Research options: Evaluate different mobile analytics tools to find the one that best fits your needs. Consider factors like ease of use, features, integration capabilities, and cost.

  • Choose comprehensive solutions: Opt for tools that offer a wide range of analytics capabilities, including user behavior tracking, performance monitoring, and session recordings.

  • Test and compare: Trial multiple tools to see which one provides the most accurate and relevant data for your app. Compare their performance and usability before making a final decision.

3. Ensure data privacy and security

  • Implement privacy policies: Develop and enforce clear privacy policies that outline how you collect, store, and use user data. Make sure users are informed and give consent.

  • Comply with regulations: Stay up to date with data privacy regulations like GDPR, CCPA, HIPAA and others that apply to your users. Ensure your analytics practices comply with these laws.

  • Secure data storage: Use encryption and other security measures to protect user data. Regularly review and update your security protocols to safeguard against breaches.

4. Integrate analytics with your app

  • Add SDKs: Incorporate the analytics software development kits (SDKs) into your app’s code base. Follow the provider’s instructions to ensure proper setup.

  • Enable key features: Activate important features like event tracking, session recordings, and crash reporting to get comprehensive data on user interactions and app performance.

  • Regularly update SDKs: Keep your analytics tools up to date by regularly updating the SDKs. This ensures you have access to the latest features and security enhancements.

5. Analyze and act on data

  • Monitor metrics: Regularly check your dashboards and reports to monitor the key metrics. Look for patterns, trends, and anomalies that can inform your decisions.

  • Generate insights: Use the collected data to gain insights into user behavior and app performance. Identify areas for improvement and potential opportunities for growth.

  • Implement changes: Based on your analysis, make data-driven changes to your app. Test new features, redesign user flows, and fix bugs to enhance the user experience.

6. Foster a data-driven culture

  • Educate your team: Ensure everyone on your team understands the importance of mobile analytics. Provide training on how to use the tools and interpret the data.

  • Share insights: Regularly share analytics findings with your team. Use this data to inform product development, marketing strategies, and user support efforts.

  • Encourage experimentation:

    Promote a culture of experimentation where data is used to test hypotheses and validate decisions. Use A/B testing and other methods to continuously improve your app.

Common challenges in mobile analytics and solutions

Implementing mobile analytics can present several challenges. Here’s how you can address them effectively:

1. Data fragmentation

  • Challenge: Data from different sources can be fragmented, making it hard to get a comprehensive view.

  • Solution: Use a unified analytics platform that integrates data from various sources, such as user behavior, performance metrics, and demographic information. This will provide you with a holistic view of your app’s performance and user interactions.

2. User privacy concerns

  • Challenge: Users are increasingly concerned about how their data is collected and used.

  • Solution: Implement robust privacy policies and ensure transparency with your users. Inform them about what data you collect, why you collect it, and how it will be used. Obtain explicit consent from users and provide options to opt out of data collection.

3. Technical integration challenges

  • Challenge: Integrating analytics tools with your app can be technically complex.

  • Solution: Choose analytics tools with well-documented SDKs and integration guides. Work closely with your development team to ensure seamless integration. Regularly update your analytics tools to keep up with new features and improvements.

4. Data accuracy and reliability

  • Challenge: Inaccurate or unreliable data can lead to poor decision-making.

  • Solution: Regularly audit your data collection processes to ensure accuracy. Validate your data by cross-referencing it with other data sources. Use analytics tools that offer error detection and correction features.

5. Analyzing and interpreting data

  • Challenge: Making sense of large volumes of data can be overwhelming.

  • Solution: Focus on key metrics that align with your business goals. Use data visualization tools to make complex data easier to understand. Provide training for your team on how to analyze and interpret data effectively.

6. Balancing quantitative and qualitative Data

  • Challenge: Relying solely on numbers can miss the nuances of user behavior.

  • Solution: Combine quantitative data with qualitative insights. Use methods like session recordings, user surveys, feedback, and usability testing to complement your analytics data. This balanced approach will give you a deeper understanding of user behavior and preferences.

7. Keeping up with rapid changes

  • Challenge: The mobile app market is constantly evolving, making it hard to stay current.

  • Solution: Stay informed about the latest trends and updates in mobile analytics. Regularly review and adjust your analytics strategies to keep pace with changes. Invest in continuous learning and development for your team.

Future trends in mobile analytics

Staying ahead in mobile analytics means keeping up with emerging trends. Here’s what you need to focus on:

1. AI-powered analytics

  • Embrace machine learning:

    Leverage AI and machine learning to gain deeper insights. These technologies can identify patterns and predict user behavior more accurately than traditional methods.

  • Automate insights:

    Use AI to automate data analysis and generate actionable insights. This saves time and allows you to focus on implementing improvements.

2. Real-time data processing

  • Monitor in real-time: Implement real-time analytics to track user behavior as it happens. This enables you to respond quickly to issues and opportunities.

  • Enhance user experience: Use real-time data to personalize the user experience dynamically. Adjust content, recommendations, and features based on current user interactions.

3. Privacy-first analytics

  • Prioritize user privacy: Adopt privacy-first approaches to build trust with your users. Implement features like data anonymization and user consent management.

  • Comply with regulations: Stay compliant with data privacy regulations such as GDPR and CCPA. Regularly review your privacy policies and update them as needed.

4. Enhanced data visualization

  • Utilize advanced dashboards: Choose an analytics solution like UXCam that provides that provide intuitive dashboards for data visualization. These make it easier to interpret complex data.

  • Share insights easily: Use visualizations to communicate insights across your team effectively. This promotes data-driven decision-making throughout your organization.

5. Increased focus on user journey analytics

  • Map detailed journeys: Track detailed user journeys to understand how users navigate through your app. This helps your identify pain points and opportunities for improvement.

  • Improve conversion funnels: Analyze user flows to optimize conversion funnels and reduce drop-offs at critical stages.

Next steps for your mobile analytics strategy

  • Stay updated: Regularly review industry news, research reports, and case studies to keep up with trends.

  • Invest in training: Ensure your team is well-versed in the latest tools and techniques in mobile analytics.

  • Experiment and innovate: Continuously test new approaches and features to stay competitive.

  • Prioritize user feedback: Use both quantitative and qualitative data to understand user needs and preferences.

  • Review and adjust: Regularly assess your analytics strategy and make adjustments based on data insights and market changes.

FAQ

How can I start with mobile app analytics?

Go to the UXCam website and sign up for an account. Once you're logged in, you can add a new app to your UXCam account. You will need to add the UXCam SDK to your app's code base.

What's the best mobile app analytics tool?

UXCam is renowned for its deep analysis of the user journey. It provides high-fidelity insights, empowering mobile teams with fast, contextual data. By recording user sessions and creating heatmaps, UXCam enables you to see how users navigate through your app and identify the most and least used elements. Its key features include User Analytics, Heatmap and Screen Analytics, Funnel and Event Analytics, Issue Analytics, and 3rd Party Integrations​1​.

Why do companies use mobile app analytics?

Companies use mobile app analytics for several reasons, all of which are aimed at improving the performance and profitability of their mobile applications. Here are some key reasons:

  1. Understand User Behavior
  2. Improve User Experience
  3. Increase User Retention
  4. Monitor App Performance

Related articles

Most important Mobile App Analytics Metrics to measure

Essential Mobile App Metrics to track in your job role

Mobile App KPI Dashboard Examples and How to Use Them

AUTHOR

Audrey Meissner
Audrey Meissner

Audrey is a content marketing manager and copywriter with eight years of experience conceptualizing and creating strategic editorial content for direct marketing and social media channels.

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