Mobile apps have become our everyday tools, as they let customers benefit from an equal (or higher) functionality compared to using your product on a desktop or browser. That’s reflected in your business: mobile and website activity should work together hand-in-hand.
Yet do you pay equal attention to learn how your users interact with it? Do you know if you’re spending money on the right improvements? And how can you relate a given change with the business result? Tracking customer behavior is a must to make the most of this business area, yet it seems more tricky than analyzing your website.
Take a look at good old Google Analytics. It was created long before smartphones became widespread and accessible. To let you analyze your website and your app in a coherent way, Google had to launch a new product: Google Analytics 4
Nevertheless, there are also dedicated tools, specifically designed to track customer behavior. Let’s explore what they can tell you about your app.
What customer behavior can you track?
The first step to start tracking your customers’ behavior is to understand exactly what you can observe. The actions your customers take are reflected in clicks, taps, scrolls, moves, views, messages appearing, or any other activity of that type. In user behavior language, they’re called events – any interactions between the user and the service.
The analytics tool gathers information about the events: from the pages or views where they happened to the users’ data like location, OS, or browser. They provide you with context that’ll help you understand not only what happened but also, why and how.
How can you observe the behavior in your app? There are several levels of detail you can gather. Let’s start with the most general kind of data. Suppose you’re familiar with Google Analytics or Firebase. In that case, you’ll know the most common analytical dashboard with charts showing you the generic, aggregated information about the most popular devices, localization, operating systems, or app version. You can also check the engagement and conversion level.
When you want to get more in-depth into the data, it’s time to look at events themselves. That’s where modern analytics tools enter the stage. The best ones group the events into categories, like errors, rage clicks, clicks on a given link, or any other type you’d define. You can then break them down by using several pieces of data like event properties or user information, to get further insights into what’s going on.
If you want to understand how one event leads to another, funnels are there to help you. They’ll tell you how many people complete the entire path and where’s the biggest drop-off point. That’s how you can look for common characteristics among the customers who completed the path and those who dropped-off at a particular moment.
The most detailed level is session recordings. Here, you can watch the behavior of a particular customer: an entire session from opening your app to closing it. You’ll see how your customers move around, how the app is displayed on their screens, and what exactly they can see. This information is crucial for developing and optimizing your product.
As we’ve now covered the most important points, let’s jump to how to put this all into practice.
To find out how people navigate through the app, events are there to help. That’s how to check the most basic things in the app design, as well as the crucial ones, for instance: can your customers find everything they need quickly and easily? Or do they struggle? Is your design intuitive enough that your users can complete the most important actions? If the way your app is designed prevents users from using it successfully, one look at their navigation behavior will clearly highlight this problem.
What do customers actually do in your app? Do they use it to the fullest potential, or bypass some of the most interesting features? Learning about the actions that your customers take is one of the most important ways of assessing the value you provide to customers. There’s no mercy for your ideas in the real world: either your customers consider them useful or they skip them entirely.
The good news is that you can tweak the way you present your features and observe what impact it has on your customers’ behavior. Look for action – or lack of it – with the features that deliver the most business value as well as helping you assess any changes that may need to be made.
There are multiple paths your customers can take when interacting with your app. Do you know which one is the most popular – and why? Implementing funnels can answer these types of questions.
Funnels are event sequences that represent processes like purchasing an item, subscribing, converting into a paid user, or other, usually business-related actions. They show where customers drop off, so that you can track down the reason and optimize the conversion rate. By comparing them, you’ll see if your customers choose paths you’ve designed, and if not – you can understand why they don’t and tweak things as necessary.
In-app errors that slipped through the careful eyes of your testers are each developer’s nightmare. When you usually learn about them from customer complaints or storms on social media, it’s high time to change the practice. Implementing a user behavior analytics tool and observing customer behavior helps you find out when something is wrong.
Modern analytics tools may include another interesting feature: event anomalies. When your app experiences an abnormal change, you’ll get a notification. For example, when a recently rolled-out feature doesn’t work on an older app version, you’ll be notified about a growing number of errors in real-time. This will help you react in a timely manner, so that you can prevent a crisis occurring.
What can you learn by tracking your customers’ behavior?
Now that you know what options tracking customer behavior offers, it’s high time the conversation switches to some of the precise answers available. For example it shows who leaves your app after just trying it out and how their behavior differs from those who stay. Also, it can compare how various groups of users benefit from the app and use those insights to upgrade your sales and marketing actions.
Who keeps using your app?
How many customers abandon the app after just trying it out? Or after a few days? This answer lies in the retention metric. Tracking customers’ behavior will help you push it further: see what actually happens before they abandon the app and what those customers have in common.
Of course close attention should also be paid to those customers that keep using your app. Look for patterns and common behaviors. This will help to predict if a new user is likely to leave or stay with the app, as well as enabling you to tweak the experience you provide.
What features do your customers use?
When you ship a new feature, it’s the right time to check your assumptions: how well have you understood your customers’ needs? Will they use the (new) features? User behavior analytics tools quickly give you the answer.
The way customers use the app has a substantial impact on your business. If they skip the most advanced features (or those that bring them real value, in your opinion), they won’t make full use of the possibilities on offer. If they don’t see the value, then they just might not be willing to pay the price.
When you suspect that’s the problem, look for ways to make improvements. Do you need to focus more on education or relevancy? Or maybe reward your users in a more thoughtful way? Also, you can rethink the interactions, like push notifications and in-app messages. User behavior analytics tools will help find that sweet spot.
What do you need to analyze customer behavior in an app?
Jumping straight into the data dashboards won’t deliver too much insight. First, dedicate a moment to prepare yourself – it’ll save a lot of hassle and time in the future.
Plan what you need to know
Approach the analytics as a research project: start by coming up with hypotheses and then look for data that either supports or disproves them. This mindset will help you avoid some possible pitfalls of making sense out of the data you get from your analytics tool.
Think about what you need to learn, and then look for ways to check it out. Will you find the necessary information in your Google Analytics, or do you also need a user behavior analytics tool to get more context? Should you focus on an individual level or look for common paths of interaction across multiple users’ journeys?
Tools are another important aspect of the analytics process. There are plenty of them at your disposal: from good old Google Analytics, through SEO tools that will help understand how people find your business or customer service, to learn what they ask about, to those that show you session recordings, heatmaps, and funnels. Depending on what you need to learn, you’ll use different sets of tools to gather that specific data.
Now, let’s combine all that we’ve learned above and look at three common mobile app analytics scenarios.
Scenario 1: Day-to-day analytics
Having a regular look into the app analytics data will help stay on track. What should you keep your eye on?
Events are all the interactions users have with an app. They show what features are the most popular or where errors occur. When you create event sequences (or, in another word, funnels), you’ll get information about particular paths that users complete.
It’s possible to use events to sort session recordings. When something seems interesting, you can jump into a particular recording and see how it looks like on your users’ screens. You can also sort the events themselves and research specific user groups.
Some of the gems are hidden in different company departments, like customer services. Make sure to check with them from time to time to learn about what customers ask about, what kind of trouble they experience, and how you can tweak your app to minimize those types of situations.
Scenario 2: Launching new features
When you ship new features, it’s an especially intense time – and that’s when you need to fully rely on the data you’ve gathered. Don’t focus only on the numbers but also take a good look at the particular interactions taking place.
Observing the adoption
The behavior analytics tools show how people react to the new features you implement. From clicking on pop-ups or highlighted options to trying out new possibilities, you can uncover who’s the keenest on a given new feature. You can also test the way you announce the launch and learn for the future implementation of any new features.
Developing your features
After some time, enough data is gathered for you to be able to develop new ideas and work further on the features that you think will benefit customers’ experiences. Knowing how customers find them, adopt and use them, lets you adjust the features to your customers’ needs. Sometimes, it’s about changing the copy altogether; sometimes, you’ll need to educate your customers about the benefits that those features will bring them.
Analyzing the retention
This step is the last one. You can see how many users stay with the feature and what percentage leave it. By tracking your customers’ behavior, you can find out more details about specific groups and understand the differences between them.
Scenario 3: When trouble is brewing – analytics for challenging times
Even the best app will have problems and could be on the verge of a crisis from time to time. In these trying moments, accurate real-time data can be your greatest ally. It’ll help you in spotting any problems, their roots, making informed decisions and taking the appropriate action to solve them.
The speed of your reaction is crucial when trouble begins. How fast you learn about anomalies is an important ingredient in this equation, and analytics solutions can help significantly.
Find out faster what’s going wrong without blind-guessing. Whether it’s about trouble in registration or choosing an option in your app, a mobile app analytics solution will point you in the right direction. Some will even send you a notification when they detect an anomaly.
Managers can know right away that something is wrong, and find out what needs to be fixed, in minutes. By acting quickly and armed with the right data, you’ll avoid the brunt of your customers’ frustrations.
Solving users’ problems
Knowing about an error isn’t enough – it will still have to be solved, efficiently. Mobile app analytics are a powerful tool to learn a lot about an error and help avoid another bit of guesswork. When you know exactly what happened, you can limit the scope of possible solutions – and hit the jackpot faster.
Check for common characteristics of customers who face problems. Are they related to their geographic locations? Or maybe to a given device? When you find the correct answer, you’ll be able to plan your actions in a better way and prioritize remedial work more accordingly.
Learning for the future
Finally, when the problem is solved, and customers are happy once again, look back and check what happened, why it happened, and how you and the team can prevent similar trouble from happening in the future.
As a recap
Understanding customers’ behavior will support your everyday work across various situations. From having a regular check of what’s going on in the app to dealing with unexpected problems, it will let you drill down into the details, which will enable you to base decisions on hard data.
Plugging a user behavior analytics tool into your toolbox will bring you a deeper understanding of the data as well as the results you can measure. You’ll be able to connect changes with specific trends you observe and gain insights, without having to involve your customers in the research. In this way, you can save both time and resources and develop your app in a more logical, data-driven way.