Mobile app analytics: The fundamentals

If statistics are to be believed, there will be 6.1 billion smart phone users by 2020. And if you think that figure is mind boggling, then let me tell you that as of June 2015, 100 billion+ mobile apps were downloaded from the Apple App Store. Yeah, that’s right – a billion with a B. The mobile app market is huge and it’s only going to get bigger. And if you already have an app, then how can mobile app analytics be behind?

Mobile app analytics


Let me be very honest here – mobile app analytics  aren’t as difficult as you’re thinking them to be. Let me make it a little simpler for you. When you own an app, you need to know whether or not it’s really working its magic, right? This is where mobile app analytics come in. Of course, there are tons of great Web Analytics tools out there, but for Mobile Apps, using specific tools would be helpful. They tell you how to measure important user interactions of your app (like app downloads, user engagement levels, usage pattern etc), and give you very easy to understand stats and figures that help you assess the worth or success of your app.

Mobile app analytics and Users

See, the thing you need to know is downloading an app is not everything there is to claiming an app to be successful. Today, nearly 22% of apps downloaded are never used more than once, so really, you’ll just be tracking an empty metric. You need to learn how, when, where and by what kind of audience your app is used. This is where user analysis and engagement reports come in. They tell you how who your newest members are, how loyal your users are, how frequently they use the app, and how you can analyze your most valuable segments.

Here are a few more issues and hurdles you’ll have to overcome in order to be truly successful –

  • Customer Retention

You must understand that people aren’t obligated to download or use your app. In fact, chances are that quite a high number of people may have already forgotten about your app after they downloaded it. This is why it’s imperative for you to focus on creating your app from the outset to answer one very important question: Why would people use my app more than, say, 4 times? There are many ways in which you can keep people interested, a few of which can be summarised quite beautifully by the stats below –

  • How do users use your app?

Now you may find it very hard to believe, but in all probability, your users are not using your app exactly like you think they are. Shocker, I know. But, come on! Not everybody’s a smart app developer like you, are they? There are others who struggle simply with using a smart phone, leave alone knowing how to correctly assess the end-use of an app.  Free apps like Amplitude let you understand, among other things, user behavior and user activity.

  • User Conversion

As already explained, downloading your app is not enough. For example, if yours is an e-commerce app, then you need to make sales. If yours is a health app, then you require more active users. But do you know that a study showed that only 30% of Android apps and 25% of iOS users opened the app a day after installing it? Again – user analysis and engagement reports come to your rescue. Know more about The Conversion Rate that Actually Matters in Mobile Apps so that you can get as many conversions as possible! And if you didn’t know it already, you can already track your conversation rate for free, thanks to Google.

  • Technical issues your app may face

No matter how perfect you think your app is, believe me when I say that it is not. And the quicker you fix these problems, the easier it’s gonna be for you and your users. Just go through these Eight security issues to prepare for in mobile app development and then tell me how many mistakes you were guilty of making.

  • Which platform to choose

Now this one’s a lot harder than you think. Why? Because you have so many considerations to keep in mind, including who and where your audience is, piracy concerns and your mobile ROI, among other things. Lucky for you, here’s an excellent article that breaks down these things easily for you when choosing the best platform for your mobile app.

Metrics of mobile app analytics to keep in mind [point #3 Metrics of mobile app analytics / what to watch]


The most important thing about mobile app analytics is not about tracking keys, but tracking the right keys. You need to remember that not every app is the same (as I already explained above regarding an e-com and a health app), so defining the right metrics for your company puts you a step ahead.

Here are some important keys for you to focus on –

  • Acquisition: The channels from which your users arrive to your app
  • Activation: Initial user experience with your app
  • Retention: This is the number of people who kept on opening/using your app time and again
  • Referral: People or places that gave your app good reviews, thus encouraging people to check out your app
  • Revenue: The money that your app makes

Here’s an interesting article on 7 Biggest app trends of 2015 which may prove to be extremely beneficial for you. For those of you not afraid of calculations (joking!) here are 5 Mobile Marketing Metrics That Matter The Most.

A Few Tips for first time mobile app analytics users

I’ll summarize these tips in one line each for you –

  1. Start using mobile app analytics way before your app is in the store (because otherwise you’re already too late)
  2. Different apps have different providers taking care of their needs. Not all apps are created equal, and neither are all analytics platforms. 
  3. Key Performance Indicator (KPIs) come in very handy in such situations. Measure app performance after understanding the end result of your app (for your consumers and yourself) thoroughly.
  4. Learn from the mistakes of your competitors. Make use of free mobile app analytics providers or mobile app analytics tools to stay ahead of the curve.
  5. Don’t stop at mobile app analytics to understand the pros and cons of your app. Social media platforms prove to be extremely beneficial in such situations, as users are always the first to point out if something is wrong with your app.

How is Mobile app analytics different from web app analytics?

Basically? Web app analytics has a tracking process of – Visitors > Visits > Pageviews > Events
While mobile app analytics process is more like Users > Sessions > Events

Confused? Here, let me explain.

For desktop websites, you need IP addresses and cookies for user authentication, which in turn lets Google Analytics (and other mobile app analytics tools) understand which web pages users are viewing, as well as the traffic the website receives.

But when you need to measure app performance in the mobile world, you have lesser options (no IPs addresses or cookies, for instance). However, that works to your advantage because these options tend to be a lot more accurate.  In the world of mobiles, emphasis is given to sessions (similar to pageviews, and you can read about the difference between session and pageviews), session intervals, screen flow, social authentications and device tracking. Take for example, sessions. As compared to websites, mobile app sessions tend to be more concentrated and you can measure app performance more minutely.

The best mobile app analytic tools (that are free!)

If you’re like me (and I know that you are) you’d rather try out a free version than pay for the real thing. Amirite? So here are the best 3 free mobile app analytics tools for you –

  • Google Analytics: Now Google Analytics is good for covering basic mobile app analytics, but let’s be honest here – it’s basically a web analytics platform that lacks the necessary infrastructure to provide adequate mobile app analytics BUT – if you’re new to analytics, then I’d say there’s no better tool for you. Use it, become comfortable, and then move on to better options!
  • Apsalar: This one’s a winner. It gives you cross-app analytics from a single dashboard, conversion funnels on in-app goals and real time reporting for user behavior. It also tells you which your most profitable users are when it comes to interest, intent and demographics. Its main focus is your target audience, which makes it indispensable for retargeting and user acquisition
  • Flurry: I’m talking about their basic-free version here. You get to create your own conversion funnel for your mobile app and its user interface is slick and simple to use. It focuses heavily on data like demographics, active users, retention, frequency of use and number of sessions. Its paid version is used by bigwigs like Google and Facebook to measure app performance of their own apps.

Did you like what you read? Then head on over here to a detailed list of free mobile app analytics tools and softwares that exist to cater to your custom needs!

The best mobile app analytic tools (that aren’t free)
Now if yours is the type of organization (or even start-up) that can afford to shell money on how to measure app performance, then here are 3 tools I’ll tell you about (along with a longer list of all possible tools that you can use) that’ll help you keep track of the right metrics

  • ly: Its wide range of features includes customer retention, session frequency, and loyalty, along with real-time updates. UX is intuitive that has an easy-to-read display of complex information. An easily implemented solution, whether you’re aiming to integrate it into a website or a mobile app. Prices start from $69 per month
  • Mixpanel: It gives you Web and mobile app analytics. How cool is that? In fact, you can easily compare the traffic between your Android/iOS app and your website right here! It also allows you to keep track and measure every interaction that your app users may have spanning across different periods of time. The first 25k data points are offered free of cost to you. After that, every 500k data points cost you $150. This one’s best left to bigger companies, in my opinion.
  • Localytics: This one too works across mobile and web apps. Its custom dashboard is efficient and time saving, cohort analysis, and segmenting options are robust, and it gives you user segmentation, engagement analysis, real-time analytics, and lifetime value tracking. If you’re a stickler for security, then this one’s for you because it’s Harbor Certified. You pay $200 per month only after you’ve exhausted your quota of 10k month active users.
  • Appsee: It has user recordings. Can you beat that? It also gives you the maximum number of features when compared with a lot of other mobile app analytics You have a free trial, sure. But its cost? I wouldn’t know – you need to contact them because they haven’t made their price public.

Of course, these are my picks and it’s not necessary that you like what I like. So, here’s a detailed list of 65 Web and Mobile App Analytics Tools that will prove to be extremely beneficial to use. The list includes both paid and free tools, so invest in ones which fit your needs (and your budget) the best.


About: farooqsl

Mohammad Farooq works as a Social Media Analyst. When not doing anything related to Social media or Analytics, he goes backpacking around India. He regularly blogs about Travel, Movies, Political Issues and a lot of other things on his blog ReveringThoughts.

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