If you want your app to be a success you need to find out as much as you can about your customers as soon as you can. You need to know if your app has usability or performance issues before the customers let you know when they rate your app. Mobile analytics is the solution.
Apple offers a few metrics such as number of downloads from the App store, but to get detailed information you need a third-party service such as Google Analytics or Flurry. Each offers a number of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that together show a fairly complete picture of when, where, and how often your app is used. You will see how much new interest and user loyalty your app has, and where new users are coming from.
The most important KPI is what Google calls "goal conversion" and Flurry and other vendors call "funnel conversion." Goal, or funnel, conversion indicates how often your customers are performing some action, like making an in-app purchase, which benefits your bottom line.
Let's look at two popular mobile analytics vendors, Google Analytics and Flurry. Other third-party vendors are also listed below.
Google Mobile Analytics
Google Analytics is a free service with version 2 (beta) recently released. Two limitations are a maximum of ten million hits processed per month and fifty thousand rows of report data (premium gives you two million rows for unsampled reports at a cost of one hundred fifty thousand dollars per year).Sign in or register to get a Google account. You may also want to read the overview. Follow the instructions to setup a new Analytics app property and profile. Download the iOS SDK and add it to your Xcode project. Get the tracking ID and add that to your app delegate's application didFinishLaunchingWithOptions method. (Figure A)
Now you are ready to track screen views and custom events. Create a goal, or funnel, by adding an event to every step along the path the user will take to achieve some goal, like buying something. You want to track how many users reach the goal versus how many abandon it each step along the way. The conversion rate is how many users click 'buy' versus how many actually buy.Run your app. Google doesn't guarantee you'll see the events in your portal's dashboard for twenty-four hours but I usually see them logged within an hour. If you look at the engagement flow view you'll see how many users reached each step. (Figure B)
The goal view shows the number of completions per day, month, or year and allows you to compare against another metric. (Figure C)
Flurry has been a mobile analytics company for over four years. Like Google it offers a free service but has no data limitations. And like Google it owns the mobile data it processes.After setting up your app in Flurry's portal, download the SDK. Your project API key is included. Add the key to your app delegate's application didFinishLaunchingWithOptions method. (Figure D)
Add the events to your app to log the actions the user takes to achieve your goal. Run the app and wait about twenty-four hours to see the events in the Flurry dashboard. In the left-most column of the dashboard select Events | Funnels to view the conversion rate. (Figure E)
Performance and crash logging
Both Google Analytics and Flurry have APIs for timing interactions and processing steps. Add these calls to your app to expose performance bottlenecks. You can also track both caught and uncaught exceptions. With Google you set a property to track uncaught exceptions. The stack trace of the uncaught exception is put into the description field.
Mobile analytics track how customers use your app so you know how to improve it and get new customers and keep the ones you have.
If you decide to crowd source test your app, you can use a mobile analytics API to monitor your testers. The API can log performance timings and caught and uncaught exceptions. And you can measure the performance impact of the mobile analytics itself, before you release your app to customers.
Gerald McCobb first worked on mobile phone technology in 1998 while at IBM. Since then he has been the IBM representative to the W3 multimodal working group and Technical Director of multimodal technology at Openstream, Inc. He is currently working on developing mobile applications for West Interactive. He holds a masters degree in Computer Science from the University of Miami.