Organizations have come to rely on analytics to describe, predict and improve business performance. But marketing has, in many ways, lagged behind in its use of analytics to drive performance.
Measuring the effectiveness of digital marketing is a significant challenge facing organizations. While Google Analytics helped marketers understand web behavior, that is only a part of the puzzle. Understanding mobile behavior was a missing piece, so proving the value of a mobile app proved particularly challenging.
Now, more savvy marketers and business insights teams are tapping into mobile analytics to better understand consumer behavior on their mobile phones. Unfortunately, the introduction of mobile app analytics came along with an explosion of the broader marketing technology market. In just the last few years, the market for marketing technology has grown so rapidly that it has created significant confusion among potential buyers.
Of the 4,000 companies that make up the marketing technology landscape in 2016, 541 are in the category of “data,” 64 of which provide mobile and web software. Among that 64 to 541 vendors are all kinds of point solutions claiming to provide analytics or marketing intelligence on various aspects of mobile. You can see where this can get a little complicated.
Mobile app analytics vendors haven’t made things easy, either, thanks to vaguely positioned products and claims that can’t always deliver, prompting technology research firm Forrester to issue a research report just to help us lowly marketers ferret out the details.
In a nutshell, there are seven kinds of mobile analytics spanning the vendor landscape. Understanding the different types of mobile app analytics and matching it to your business needs and objectives will help you select the right tool.
Forrester has provided some common attributes of software solutions that make up each category. So let’s review the basics of each.
7 kinds of mobile app analytics
- App monetization analytics: help you better understand and optimize audiences, and marketing and advertising performance, including fine-tuning in-app messaging, advertising efforts and pricing models.
- App store analytics: help you monitor and analyze your key performance indicators, as well as that of competitors (app installs, revenue and rankings) within the various app stores. These tools analyze how these app store performance indicators are relatively influenced by factors such as keywords, descriptions, marketing campaigns and changes to app assets. (I like to consider this the app equivalent to Google Analytics.)
- In-app engagement analytics: offer insights into app usage from downloads, frequency of use, and length of sessions to actions within the apps, such as events or progress through conversion funnels. Helps you understand how well the app is performing and gathers intelligence to automate in-app engagement through push notifications, personalized content and in-app messaging. Also helps identify opportunities to improve the app experience.
- Mobile app performance management: helps you measure, analyze, and send alerts about the performance of the technology stacks that support the delivery of customer mobile interactions (primarily within browsers and apps). Allows you to measure a variety of performance-impacting metrics, such as crashes and other malfunctions and availability of related services across networks, devices, operating systems and user locations. You can also monitor adherence to service-level agreements and reduce the impact of negative performance.
- Mobile advertising analytics: helps you analyze and attribute digital marketing campaigns to impressions, ad clicks, app installs, in-app behaviors, and in-store or offline sales lift, among other metrics to measure return on advertising spend and effectiveness of ad impressions.
- Mobile browser analytics tools: instrument, measure and analyze user browser behavior at an aggregated level. Uses for these tools include the discovery and definition of customer mobile behavioral segments, tracking and reporting on conversions and other engagement key performance indicators, and analyzing the path of customers within and across browsers and app sessions. You can use these tools to glean behavioral and contextual customer insights that inform improvements to mobile applications, optimize mobile marketing campaigns and boost customer experiences within mobile browsers.
- Mobile interaction analytics tools: record what individual mobile customer users are doing within mobile web browsers and mobile apps for video-like playback of individual user sessions. These tools help mobile developers understand what makes some users abandon sessions, in the process identifying performance and design improvement opportunities and situations.
3 layers of the complete stack
In addition to establishing the seven kinds of analytics, Forrester said in its report that feature sets can be classified within three core layers: data management, analytics, and engagement optimization layers, and that these core functions need to work together for a complete mobile analytics solution, or what is often called “the complete stack.”
“Any digital intelligence technology road map must be guided by a three-tiered architecture of data, analytics, and optimization,” Forrester reports. “Technologies that use data and analytics to drive optimized mobile interactions are no different. To build analytics capabilities that inform intelligent and optimized mobile interaction with customers, you need a range of technical capabilities categorized into three layers.”
Do your homework when evaluating mobile app analytics vendors
It’s worth noting that the Forrester report, while it provides information on what vendors provide which types of mobile app analytics, is not intended to compare or evaluate vendor capabilities. It merely mentions examples of vendor within each category.
It is ultimately up to you to do your homework by visiting the websites of relevant vendors, engaging their representatives, requesting product demonstrations and trials, and asking the right questions to determine the right solutions for your business needs.
Becky is the Senior Content Marketing Manager at TUNE. Before TUNE, she led a variety of marketing and communications projects at San Francisco startups. Becky received her bachelor's degree in English from Wake Forest University. After living nearly a decade in San Francisco and Seattle, she has returned to her home of Charleston, SC, where you can find her enjoying the sun and salt water with her family.