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So now that you’ve taken some very smart advice to properly pre-plan your mobile app (brushing off shoulders), I’ve got some news for you: without pre-launch analytics configuration, that app probably isn’t going anywhere.

The good news? Set yourself up to track the eight metrics below, and you’ll be well ahead of the curve. While much of the mobile community is bent on figuring out a better way to implement complex media attribution (and you absolutely should be doing this; here’s a good primer), in-app user analytics have been largely undervalued. And have no fear, we will discuss media tracking best practices in our next installment!

Tracking in-app user analytics will give you a layer of intelligence into how your users are interacting with your app — and this behavior should absolutely direct your UX optimization. So what are the app metrics to track? Here we go, with a big nod to this great whitepaper from Localytics (download it!):

Users

This is possibly the most important base metric you can establish. How many base users do you have? How many current users? How many dormant users? Once you have these baseline metrics, you can track your progress in engagement, conversions. and retention across your entire multi-channel funnel.

Session Length

This refers to the period of time between app open and close, or when the app times out after 15 seconds. How much time are your users spending in your app per session? (Obviously, the higher the better.)

Session Interval

This is the time between the user’s first session and her subsequent sessions. (The lower the better.)

Time in App

This refers to how long a user was in your app over a certain period of time. How often is your app being used, and for what duration? This is a very important metric to gauge how valuable your app and by extension, you, are to your users.

Acquisition

Acquisition is the number of users who download and install your app through: organic search, word of mouth, paid campaigns, or in-app referrals. How much money are you spending to acquire users? How many users are you acquiring organically from all channels? What are your best sources, and where should you allocate your budget/optimization efforts?

Screen Flow

This incorporates the flow between screens, total occurrences of visits to screens, and visualization of the typical visitor interactions in your app. By tracking screen flow, you get a clear sense of how users navigate your app. This helps in discovering problem areas, roadblocks, and conversion points.

Retention

This is the percentage of users who return to your app based on their first visit (these are often referred to as “cohorts”). Retention analysis gives you visibility into who your most engaged, profitable, valuable users are. It also allows you to track in-app purchases, commerce conversions, and event/KPI completion. This leads to a host of downstream personalization opportunities that can provide your users a customized, individual experience.

Lifetime Value

LTV is your fundamental metric for revenue. It represents the financial value of your app and how much each app user is worth in her lifetime. You decide the period of time you wish to track – it can be week, a month, or a few months. This allows you to average out the value of a user and her cohort. You can also track directly as revenue per user, but that works best for transactional apps like freemium, commerce, and gaming.

These are the most common metrics that you should prepare to track within your app. While it may seem overwhelming at first, relate your app project to what you know about desktop and web metrics  – not surprisingly, they don’t change that much! And don’t be afraid to ask for help from your mobile tracking partner, your agency, or your convenient mobile media expert friends!

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Craig Weinberg
Craig Weinberg joined 3Q after serving as Mobile Practice Lead at Mindshare, where he led mobile marketing across Mindshare's North American client portfolio. With a strong background in mobile marketing, media, content, strategy and business development, Craig provided the overall mobile marketing, media planning and buying for clients such as American Express, ampm, Land Rover, and CVS. Prior to Mindshare, Craig was the Mobile Strategy Manager at MediaVest, where he oversaw the mobile communications strategy within Proctor and Gamble's lead communications team/agency. He also spent four years at Sony Music Entertainment, where he was responsible for mobile sales, distribution and marketing of Sony's Music's mobile content catalog. Craig owns a strategic mobile consultancy, Savoy Mobile Inc., for which he advises mobile and ad-tech startups in areas like product, growth, branding and partnership strategies. He is a frequent speaker on mobile topics at industry events. He lives on the Upper West Side with his wife, Ilana, and his baby girl, Mara. And he happens to be an unapologetic lifelong Philadelphia sports fan.