Mobile apps are fascinating. Imagine, a small team (or even a single indie developer) can build an app, instantly distribute it globally through the App Stores, and reach billions of users across the world.
Founders of successful apps build fortunes. For example, there were only 6 developers at Instagram when it was acquired by Facebook for $1B. And there were just 32 engineers at WhatsApp when it was acquired by Facebook for $19B… Consumers spent $120B in mobile apps in 2019 per App Annie report. That’s a huge market that keeps on growing and a huge opportunity for you!
It might be hard to break through the noise of the thousands of apps competing in the App Stores but it’s still possible, especially using the right tools. If you set these tools up correctly when launching, you will save time, money and learn significantly faster.
For this article, we zoomed in with Artem Kubatkin who is the head of growth at Enki – an award-winning learn-to-code platform from Los Angeles featured globally in both Apple and Google app stores. Together we prepared eight tips to help you set up mobile analytics for your app and power it’s growth.
8 tips on how to set up your mobile analytics
1. Start with product analytics.
The gold standards for mobile product analytics are Amplitude, Mixpanel, and Google’s Firebase. Firebase is virtually free, it integrates with Google Ads and can be used for push notifications (we’ll get into that a bit later). It’s one of the most popular SDKs globally, so it’s a great start for installing right away.
We also recommend installing either Amplitude or Mixpanel for deeper product analytics as both have good free plans to start with. Notably, however, if your app becomes somewhat successful you will then likely hit the limit on their free plans (million events per month in Amplitude or 1000 tracked users in Mixpanel). Hint: you can apply for the Amplitude’s or Mixpanel’s startup program, which will likely grant you a free 1-year account with a much higher data limit. Both platforms will require you to implement the SDK.
Here is the chart we found regarding product analytics popularity based on Segment’s data (Segment is another data platform worth checking out. The data on the chart represents platforms that are not solely for mobile analytic platforms. You can find the full report here)
2. Install Advertising SDKs
The three top-performing user acquisition channels for non-gaming mobile apps are Google, Facebook, and Apple Search Ads according to AppsFlyer’s Index based on the second half of 2019 data.
Unless you believe your app will go viral and let’s be honest, that’s a naive assumption these days, you do want to try at least these three platforms to acquire users.
As such, you’ll have to integrate Facebook SDK and Firebase SDK for Google. Facebook will automatically provide you with Facebook Analytics that can be used for both your product and marketing goals. It’s free and quite convenient as well.
Apple Search Ads is available for any iOS app by default. You might also try user acquisition sources like Snapchat, TikTok, Twitter, or other platforms depending on your app’s target audience.
3. Set Up Attribution platforms
You need to match your user revenue and the cost of acquiring them to an advertising campaign level in order to understand your marketing performance. If you are starting with just one acquisition channel like Facebook Ads, you can use the data provided within. However, as soon as you start acquiring customers from several channels, you will need an attribution platform.
There are three leaders in attribution: AppsFlyer, Adjust, and Branch. AppsFlyer is the most popular one, but it could be quite expensive with price per install at 5-6 cents. Alternative options include Kochava, Singular or Tenjin.
You’ll have to install SDK for the attribution platform as well. Here is the data on attribution SDK popularity from AppFigures, including other players for you to consider:
4. Don’t forget about communication and retention SDKs
You need to be able to communicate with your users, engage them, and retain them while they are not using the app. The standard ways to do so are push notifications and emails. Instead of wasting your time programming this communication infrastructure yourself, you can use well-established and very inexpensive tools.
“The solutions we like the most are OneSignal or Google’s Firebase for push notifications, and Sendgrid or MailChimp for emails” – says Artem from Enki. And yes, you do need to integrate the SDKs to make them work, but it’s much faster to do so than trying to reinvent the wheel with your own push notifications and email backend.
5. Track and measure your subscriptions
If you are using in-app subscriptions for monetization as most non-gaming apps do now, you’ll also have to handle server-side receipt validation as well as gathering accurate subscription data like trial-to-paid-subscriber conversion, trial cancellation, subscription cancellation, subscription renewal and more. The trick is to send this data to all of the platforms mentioned above in order to obtain accurate data for product and marketing decisions.
“We use Qonversion to get better insights into the subscriptions data for our Enki app. Saves time.” says Artem.
Qonversion allows users to integrate subscriptions easily and process all subscription-related data. No need to struggle with Apple’s StoreKit. Qonversion also provides subscription analytics and monitoring tools, plus you get out-of-the-box integrations with all of the above-mentioned platforms. That’s what makes it an essential SDK to add.
6. Manage your user profiles
So far the SDK count is at least 7:
– 1 product analytics
– 2 marketing platforms
– 1 attribution platform
– 2 communication platforms
– 1 subscription analytics
Each of the platforms used will have its own user ID. Plus you will need to set up your own user ID in your database. It’s a good idea to create a user profile, including user id and user email whenever possible. They will come in handy for identifying and managing cross-platform user access. You’ll also be able to use email for promotional offers and re-engaging your churned customers.
7. Document your analytics events
You should create documentation for your analytics while adding all these tools. It will help you to set up everything correctly, to debug potential issues, and to share the setup with your team. Choose whatever system you like for this, even google docs would work to start with.
Each app screen and each button should trigger an event with a unique name, so you can quickly check how users navigate in your app, build funnels, and detect user behavior patterns. Write the event names in your internal documentation.
Most apps use some degree of onboarding to provide a personalized user experience. Say you run some fitness app – you want to know your user age, gender, weight, fitness level, training preferences, and so on. Make sure to create an event in analytics for each step of your onboarding process to be able to understand better who your users are and what they prefer. If you are offering a trial or subscription during the onboarding, make sure to collect all the data related to it.
8. Run a marketing test and look for discrepancies
Before spending any significant amount on marketing, you need to run small tests and acquire a few users from Facebook, Google, Search Ads. You then need to check that the number of free trials and subscriptions, for example, the match between Facebook Analytics, App Store analytics, AppsFlyer, and your product analytics.
Remember, it’s important to keep in check the data consistency across all platforms. If there is a significant discrepancy, you need to find the reasons and fix them when possible.
Some common data discrepancies we’ve seen in practice are:
1) events triggered twice or more in any of the platforms due to incorrect SDK setup
2) user ids setup is incorrect or inconsistent
3) test events mixed with production events
4) event properties like event value supported in one system, but not in the other
Each platform can have it’s own data issues. For example, here you can check the reasons behind AppsFlyer data inconsistencies. Chances are you won’t be able to have the exact match across all platforms, but in general, you want to see the difference of not more than several percent.
Using the right tools will maximize your chance of breaking through the noise of thousands of apps in the App Stores. Setting everything up will take time but trust us, it’s well worth it.
Good luck with your mobile app, and a salute to your future growth!
Qonversion provides full in-app purchases infrastructure, so you do not need to build your own server for receipt validation. Use Qonversion to implement in-app subscriptions, validate user receipts, check subscription status, and provide access to your app features and content using our StoreKit and Google Play Billing wrapper. Sign up now to get started.
By combining remote experts with efficient software, Enki can empower any non-technical employee or team with mastery in data skills – in 4 weeks and no time out of work. Check them out here.