Why You Need to Fix the Way You Analyze Your App
If you are interested in seeing your app(s) do better this year, you might want to read what we have to say. App analytics – an essential ingredient to every app’s success – has started to make a big shift recently. App pros everywhere are starting to realize that the mobile app analytics tools they use are incomplete. Now, analytics are evolving, offering app pros better and more thorough results on their app’s performance.
In this article, we will discuss the key elements that current app analytics platforms are lacking. We will also see what newer models are bringing to the table and how their features offer more actionable results. Ultimately, we’ll show you how to fix the way you analyze your app, so that your app stands a fighting chance this year and down the line. Let’s dig in.
Current state of mobile app analytics
So far, app pros have used quantitative analytics to track their app’s progress. Whatever they could measure in numbers, they would include in their research. That usually included the number of downloads, the number of installs and uninstalls, the usual length of sessions, or how often people would come back to their app. They would measure which screens within their app was most popular, and which group of people used their app most, among other things.
These figures, these Key Performance Indicators (KPI), are what app pros usually use to determine the relative success of their app. If the download numbers are going up, then that means the app is doing ‘good’. If the percentage of uninstalls, however, is going up, that means the app is in trouble and something needs to change. If, for example, the app crashes more than 1 percent of the time used, that should also signal that the app is in trouble and that something needs to change. At the moment, mobile app analytics are on the right track, but not quite capable of telling the whole story.
What’s wrong with the current state of mobile app analytics?
If you read the paragraph above one more time, you’ll notice that quantitative analytics can be used to spot a problem with a mobile app, but it cannot tell you what the problem actually is. That’s why we said ‘something needs to change’ – quantitative analytics can’t tell us exactly what is going on. In essence, these numbers are a great way to show us where the problem lies, it is now up to us to discover what the problem actually is.
Usually, app pros would try to solve this problem in a couple of different ways. Some would look for solutions among their app’s reviews in the app stores. Others would read reviews by journalists and bloggers. Some would invite their users for in-person interviews and discuss different app elements face to face. Some would simply assume what the problem might be, blindly make a few changes and then hope for the best. Others would go for A/B testing until they found a working solution.
But still, all of these solutions are based mostly on assumptions. Even reading reviews and conducting in-person interviews isn’t always successful, as app pros would get feedback from just a tiny fraction of their actual user base. Also, in-person interviews and A/B testing is oftentimes a time-consuming, expensive undertaking.
Evolution of mobile app analytics
In order to understand not only what people are doing within their apps, but also why, app pros started combining quantitative analytics with a tool that revolves around user experience. We call it qualitative analytics. This tool is faster than reading reviews and conducting in-person interviews, and also brings better results because it can be used on a much larger scale. It can be split into two main features: user session recordings, and touch heatmaps. Let’s take a closer look at each feature.
User session recordings
At the very heart of every qualitative analytics tools are user session recordings. This feature allows app pros to watch precisely how users move through their mobile app. Just as the name suggests, every action is recorded, including taps, double-taps, swipes, pinches, or any other gesture or action.
This allows app pros to obtain a clear understanding of their user’s experience.
With user session recordings, app pros will be able to answer questions asked by quantitative analytics, such as “why do people abandon my app so fast?” or “why are my users not creating an account?”
That is exactly how this tool should be used – in unison with quantitative analytics. That’s why we believe current mobile app analytics tools are not being replaced, but are evolving. By watching sessions of real users moving through the app, pros will be able to spot and understand any problem hiding behind the numbers. A single video can clarify a tiny but frustrating problem the majority of users are faced with.
The tool can also be configured to record specific sessions, for example to record specific crashes or operating systems. The best part is, the tool is very lightweight and won’t leave a strain on the app’s overall performance, as it does its magic in the background.
The second feature we’ll touch on in this article (pun definitely intended) is the aggregated touch heatmaps. This tool will combine all touch gestures made by the app’s users and create a visual touch heatmap.
Gestures such as taps, double-taps, swipes, pinches or any other gesture are tracked for each screen of the app, and then placed on a layer that goes over the app. With red parts representing where users interact with most, and blue parts where they interact the least, app pros can quickly visualize how their app is used by real people.
This tool allows app pros to get a quick and precise understanding on which features are popular, which are being ignored, which don’t work properly and (this is quite important) – which are unresponsive.
Unresponsive gestures, an element that touch heatmaps physically tracks, is what you get when users attempt to interact with an app’s element that they shouldn’t be interacting with. Maybe they see an image in an app and think it’s a button, maybe they swipe when they should tap, or maybe they’re looking in the wrong place for the wrong things. Whatever the reason, unresponsive gestures are a huge cause of app abandonment and should be remedied immediately.
Mobile app analytics are changing. Now, they are allowing app pros everywhere to get a complete, clear picture of their app, how it is being used and how they can optimize it. We were very careful to use words like ‘evolution’ and ‘expanding’ in this article. That is because we don’t think you should replace quantitative analytics, or stop using it because of newer practices.
These two work great together. Quantitative analytics is important for signaling issues within mobile apps, while qualitative helps complete the story on those issues. In pair, the results are amazing.