App Analytics in Focus

Essential Performance Metrics & Popular Developer Tools to Use

While most enterprises will opt for a mobile Web presence, there is no question that native applications play an important role in the digital ecosystem.

In order to ensure enterprises are maximizing the value of these assets, it is essential to measure consumers' use of apps, their experience, and their performance.

What should today's brands who have invested in the development and promotion of mobile application measure? What metrics should they monitor to ensure users are not only satisfied but contributing to the revenue goals of the enterprise? In this month's Insights on Analytics, readers will find a high-level overview of some of the key indicators of overall mobile application success.

Some Mobile Caveats
There should be no question that measuring this aspect of the digital experience is important, but if you're going to make the most of the information and insights contained in these metrics, ensure that the ability to measure (and manage) is available before the application is developed. Also keep in mind that over-analysis is a very real possibility, so focus only on those that really matter (either to the businesses bottom line or the quality of the user experience), less you spend more time analyzing and less time on what matters.

Start with Performance
Building a mobile application is complicated and challenging - and not every single one is going to be built to the highest of standards; for this reason it is imperative to measure an application's performance. When addressing 'performance' in the context of mobile apps, what we are essentially talking about is its speed and stability. That means monitoring metrics like crashes, latency, load times, and network errors to name but a few. Let's take a closer look.

Crashes: When an app closes abruptly while uses are interacting, it has crashed. While testing pre-launch and continually testing new builds is simply best practice, crashes are going to happen. Set a threshold that prioritizes the most common and damaging using systems like Crashlytics, Instabug and HockeyApp (the app stores also provide diagnostics of this nature) so the most critical issues can be addressed first.

Speed: Publishing and distributing a slow mobile app is a quick way to ruin users' experience and waste promotional dollars. For this reason, measuring how fast apps load and run is imperative. While it should go without saying that developers should first spend the required time optimizing, refactoring and improving their speed across various operating systems (and versions), solutions such as New Relic APM and Rollbar offer an opportunity to get an exact measurement on how long it takes to load views in an app and pinpoint the root cause of poor speed metrics.

Latency: Frequently confused with speed (which really addresses app load and transition time), app latency refers to how long it takes for an app to request and receive a response from an API. Latency affects how long it takes to press a button, make a call to the serve, parse the info, and finally display the data. There are many moving pieces to the latency puzzle, of course, but fortunately there are some excellent tools including Burp Suite and mitmproxy which can help developers understand the impact take steps to optimize the user experience.

Acquisition & Experience Metrics in Focus

For the most part, measuring user engagement, customer satisfaction, acquisition and experience for a mobile application is not unlike measuring the same for a website. You want to have an understanding of how many users have download the app, how many active users (daily and monthly), the average visit time, screen views per visit, app session intervals, retention, churn, event tracking and more. Mobile app experiences are by their very nature different from Web metrics, of course, so taking advantage of solutions to keep track of this performance related data is vital if the aim is to continue improving an app for users and building an offering that contributes in a positive way to the bottom line of the business.

There's obviously a lot that goes into measuring the performance (on both the technical and marketing sides) so Website Magazine has assembled a more comprehensive guide that addresses the metrics that matter most to the success of today's app-focused digital enterprises.