Most people today will track what users are doing in their apps and will generate mountains of data, but unless you know what you are looking for, and why, the data is meaningless.

Darren Ball, Mobile Strategy Consultant at Mubaloo, shares a framework we use to help clients understand what to look for and why.

Ball believes, “If you don’t ask the right questions first you are going to end up with mountains of data in a shiny dashboard, which offers zero insight and helps you make zero decisions as a result.”

The first question Ball believes you should ask yourself is: why are we measuring anything in the first place?

There is no success without adoption. No matter what your objectives are for your application, if you can’t achieve adoption, you won’t achieve results. Adoption means: awareness, engagement and retention. Understand what is working, or not working, in your app and make educated decisions about your product.

Prototyping and user testing will help to mitigate the risk of developing a product or features that don’t support your value proposition but quantitative, real-time data is invaluable.

Considering that context, what questions should you be answering about your product, and what decisions should those answers support, in order to achieve adoption?

  • How do we get people through the front door?
  • How do we get users to an ‘ah-ha’ moment as quickly as possible?
  • How do we deliver core product value as often as possible?

How do we get people through the front door?
“If no one knows about your app no one is going to download it. What you want to measure, ideally, is the string of actions that led to someone downloading your app. This is called linear attribution, vs last-touch attribution which will tell you only the last step before someone chose to download your app. This will help you to understand the true impact of your marketing and your media spend,” says Ball.

You can’t always achieve this but if you can it will offer useful insight. In general You want data that can support your decision to abandon, concentrate or innovate with specific acquisition approaches, specific creative, specific channels and budget.

How do we get users to an ‘ah-ha’ moment as quickly as possible?
Getting users to an ‘ah-ha’ moment as quickly as possible is imperative. The average app loses 80% of its users within the first 7 days.

The challenge is identifying the specific behaviours that differentiate long-term retained users from users who try an app once and never come back. Ball believes that if you don’t understand this you will find it extremely difficult to overcome the retention challenge.

“What you want to be able to measure is the significance of specific behaviors within your app with respect to long term retention, i.e. behavioural cohorting analysis. You want to know the point where your user begins to perceive the value of your product and decides to continue using it.

For Facebook, the now famous example, the most important milestone was getting a user to 7 friends in 10 days. For Slack it was teams who exchanged 2000 messages. Maybe you already know what it is for your product, maybe you don’t. If you don’t, find out,” says Ball. That insight is going to make a huge difference to your product, and the business behind it.

What can you do with this insight? You can optimise your first time user experience and automated mobile marketing campaigns to drive the right behaviours quickly, especially in the first 7, 10 or 30 days. You can also start to think a lot more critically about your product roadmap and align your business around a single objective.

How do we deliver core product value as often as possible?
Delivering core product value as often as possible should be at the heart of your mobile product strategy. Understanding where users find value in your product is essential so that you can focus on enriching that experience.

Daily Active Users (DAU) and Monthly Active Users (MAU) are often quoted as measures of engagement. This is ultimately misleading because:

  • DAU/MAU will not tell you whether those 40000 users are the same people visiting your app each day. If they aren’t, you have a major retention problem that you’re likely unaware of.
  • DAU/MAU won’t tell you that only 5% of those users are using what you believe to be the core feature in your app. This scenario indicates that the purpose of your app is unclear, and that you might be investing in the wrong things.
  • DAU/MAU won’t tell you which product features are responsible for user retention.

Ball believes, “what you want to track instead is a more meaningful type of DAU/MAU which ensures the engagement you measure is synonymous with the core value proposition you provide, or at least that you believe you provide so that you can validate whether this is true.

What can you do with this insight? You can prioritise your development backlog to focus on enriching the core product experience rather than extraneous features that will not impact retention, i.e. avoid the one more feature syndrome. If you are a making investment decisions about features and releases you need to be confident it’s worth the money. Understand the core value of your app and enrich that.

Remember: Measure – and react. A car doesn’t have one pedal, it has two – and so should the tools you use.”

Thank you to Andrew Chen, Chamath Palihapitiya, Appboy and Amplitude for their thought leadership on products, analytics and mobile marketing automation.

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