Mobile Application Analytics, that is analyzing the data collected by your mobile application, is a rather fresh discipline.
One of the things that surprises me is that it is, often, in a similar state as was Web Analytics when it started to get big at the beginning of the century : not sure what to measure (and how) so let’s track everything and hope to make sense of it later.
There’s no excuses for not doing it the right way. In fact, it’s one of the most valuable type of online analytics that you can perform, and here is why.
Now, if you’re familiar with Web Analytics, you probably know that the concept of a visitor is unreliable. Humans (aka the visitor) may use different computers when coming to your site (one web visitor per computer) and even when on the same computer, he might be using different browsers across time to visit your site. As a result, the concept of visitor with a mobile application is pretty much dead on: the owner of a given telephone.
You may object that the visitor goes to the drain when he replaces his phone – perfectly true - but the phone ownership cycles are long enough that most of your mobile application visitors are matching individual humans.
Similarly, sessions are accurate, providing you did your homework on matching your tracking tool session time out with your application timeout.
This is a huge leap forward in building your business insight from the application usage.
One nice thing with most mobile applications is that they are very business focused. Making and running them tend to be more expensive and complex than websites. As a result, they also tend to be very business outcome focused, generating revenue and/or decreasing expenses.
This means that creating the measurement strategies for the applications is easier than for websites which in turn means that generating insights from the data is easier also. Best Web Analytics practices can be successfully used when creating the measurement strategies.
Google Analytics has a very nice (and free!) Mobile Application Analytics tool. iOS and Android SDKs are neatly designed and documented. Granted, you’ll have to work closely with the application developers to get the relevant data calls but as the tool is free, the money you save compensate the extra work.
Now, all I just listed above is good for the business but let’s talk about the user. Let’s talk about privacy. While you can technically do all I’ve described earlier without the application user knowing about it, it’s not a very good idea. Being transparent is a much better option. Inform the users upfront that you have tracking in place and inform them why: to make it better as my take on this is the following: if you track the use of your Mobile applications and get consent from the users to do so, then you have a duty to use that data to make it better for them as well.
So, all in all, there are only benefits from good Mobile Application Analytics. And if you haven’t started yet, we’ll be happy to help!