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What is Mobile Analytics? Definition, Tools & Best Practices

PUBLISHED

21 May, 2023

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. 

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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. 

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.

User Journeys

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.

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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