Creating a Mobile Analytics Event Strategy to Measure User Engagement

04/18/12

At Apsalar, we’re focused on providing the most powerful set of discovery and actionable analytics for mobile app publishers to increase user engagement and revenue.  Our mission is to help our customers improve retention and increase monetization from engaged users.  We’ve launched an educational blog series to help developers understand the various types of analyses available to better measure user behavior and increase user engagement.  Catch up by starting here.

In last week’s post, we showed you how to get started with an analytics solution.  We provided details on integrating an SDK or API and best practices on instrumenting and testing events.  This week the focus is on developing an intelligent events strategy that will answer the question of what events should I track and why?

We see some developers start out by tracking every possible action, perhaps for fear of missing out on something. But this can lead to drowning in the data and may prevent the capture of clear and powerful insights. A better approach is to start out by determining what key user engagement metrics are important to measure and what questions do you need answered to determine not just whether your app is getting bigger (attracting new users) but that it is also getting better (keeping users loyal).

Let’s start with the basics – what is an event?   An event is an action taken by a user in your app.  For example, opening an app, reaching a new level in a game, sharing a score and making an in-app purchase are all events.  Events form the foundation of all the advanced discovery analysis provided by Apsalar.

Let’s take a simple example of completing a game tutorial.  Typically, a game tutorial is a multi step process that developers hope users will complete. To calculate the effectiveness of a tutorial, a game developer will want to understand how users are progressing through the various steps.  To measure those steps, an event will have to be associated with each step, which can then result in a funnel analysis to track the conversion rate of the tutorial.  If the steps are not associated with corresponding events, it will be tough to understand whether users are completing the tutorial or getting stuck on a particular step and so on.

Apsalar has created a simple three-step framework that will help you identify key events in your app.  Ask yourself the following three questions and determine what events you need to track to find your answers:

1. Retention: how long do users continue to use the app and at what frequency?
2. Engagement: are users performing key activities and reaching goals?
3. Monetization: are users spending money in or from the app?

If you’re simply looking for a checklist of events to track, refer to our documentation.

Let’s use a gaming app as an example to follow the framework:

Retention: Is your game sticky?  Do users keep playing day over day?
Event: Open the app
Answer: Track the “Open the app” event over time and use in a cohort analysis to understand what percent of users are retained on a daily basis.  You can also measure your loyalty rate = DAU/MAU. If you are at 20% or above, you are doing extremely well.

Engagement: Are users leveling up in your game?
Event: Level up (+ attribute = level #)
Answer: Track level up events over time and use in a cohort analysis to see what percentage of users are leveling up on a daily basis. Additionally, create a funnel analysis to see what percentage of users reach a specified level in your game.

Engagement: Do users like to share scores with their friends?
Event: Post score to Facebook
Answer: Track the “Post score to Facebook” event over time and use in a cohort analysis to see what percentage of users are sharing on a daily basis.

Monetization: Are users making in app purchases and what percentage of my users actually make them?
Event: In-app purchase (+ attribute SKU # & price)
Answer: Track the “in-app purchase” event over time and use a cohort analysis to see what percentage of users make a purchase and how much revenue, ARPU & ARPPU is generated from that cohort.  You can also see what percentage of users that made a purchase in a given month by dividing the number of unique users that have triggered any in-app purchase (found in the events report) by the number of MAUs (found on the dashboard).  This is a great way to see if you are getting more people to make purchases on a month-to-month basis.

Don’t try to boil the ocean – be strategic and selective about the events you track and use them to get answers to key product and business questions.

If you have any questions about setting up your events, feel free to drop me a line at ted at apsalar dot com.

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