The world of mobile apps is lucrative, fast-paced, and constantly shifting gears to keep up with the latest technological trends. From a marketer’s perspective, that means analytics tools are more crucial than ever. Judging how apps are used will give you an edge on competitors, not to mention make you better prepared to stay engaged with your user base.
By the same token, it’s useful to watch for signs that something has gone wrong so you can course-correct as soon as possible. Which red flags tell you right away that people are about to abandon your service, or that your UI design is frustrating users? Look out for:
Low app downloads during launch week
In the first quarter of 2018, developers launched 6,140 free Android apps on average every single day. For most studios, the best you can hope for is a near-literal fifteen seconds of fame before your audience moves on to something else. That doesn’t mean your app can’t succeed, but it does mean you need an aggressive marketing campaign and a keen awareness of user acquisition during your first week.
More specifically, you’ll want to make sure download numbers are high enough that it breaks into the charts, where it can enjoy increased visibility. A report from Pocket Gamer determined that US-based apps need a minimum of 11,662 downloads per day to reach in the App Store’s Top 100 rankings. For longer-term success, it’s far safer to be in the Top 20 or even Top 10 – that will require 47,303 or 68,133 downloads respectively. Reaching these charts ensures the vast majority of potential users will see your app, so it’s worth aiming for.
If those numbers seem too daunting, you can focus on downloads by category. This same report also showed that mobile games – the field with the fastest turnover – needed 26,534 daily downloads to reach the Top 10. Other categories such as Entertainment, Lifestyle, or Travel tend to require fewer downloads to rank on their own charts. If your app is geared towards non-US customers, you also may have a different acquisition benchmark. The Top 10 UK charts tend to garner 13,084 downloads, while other European nations are 8000 or less.
Determine which download benchmark is essential for your particular app and organize a marketing campaign that will help you reach it. A well-planned burst campaign of media-buying can be especially useful here, especially if you’re aiming for a Top 10 chart position. If your app hasn’t reached those numbers in its first day or so, it’s likely that your marketing campaign hasn’t reached the users it needs and will need to be recalibrated.
Mobile sessions aren’t long enough to cultivate engagement
User acquisition is a good start, but user engagement is more important. Mobile analytics tools can determine how often customers use your app, for how long, and what particular features they take advantage of. There is a huge range of considerations that will vary depending on your audience – how long they spend in the app, how frequently they open it, and which links they use or ignore.
Overall, if you need a general benchmark to read the room, most mobile app sessions last 2-8 minutes, but always remember that every app is different. Gaming software tends to be on the 7-8 minute end, while technology and retail apps sit at 2-3. Some users will exceed these numbers, while others won’t even bother with one minute. But it generally establishes whether your app meets average engagement – and if it exceeds the average, you might have something truly special.
Users aren’t visiting most pages on your app
Mobile analytics aren’t just about measuring the number of people using your app – they’re also effective at studying how apps are used. Screen Reports and Behavior Flow are important considerations that help determine which pages in your app people are spending time on, and how they get there.
As noted by App Partner, Screen Reports break down the number of unique app sessions, their duration, and where exactly users leave an app. This helps determine which portions of the app are being used (or ignored) and classifying any problem screens. Behavior Flow visualizes this process, tracking the exact steps users take to get to each screen. This helps you determine how users reach each page, and if there’s any point that seems confusing.
This is especially important for apps using in-app purchases. If your app uses a “Checkout” screen, the link needs to be prominently displayed to make sure the purchase can be completed. Either way, however, if your app is monetized, users should be able to access all of its features with little difficulty.
Too many unresponsive touchscreen gestures
One lesser known feature of mobile analytics is touch heatmaps, which measures the physical gestures used when interacting with a smartphone. Whether you tap, swipe, or pinch your fingers across the screen to zoom, heatmaps can measure that and provide statistics to marketers.
Why is this important? Because unresponsive gestures – interactions that don’t trigger an effect – happen with surprising frequency. One report from Appsee determined that 18% of all app login screen gestures were unresponsive. If this is because your app is poorly designed, it can lead to low user retention and negative reviews.
When unresponsive gestures increase over 18%, developers need to consider whether their apps are designed in a way that doesn’t correlate with user expectations, and how that can be improved.
How many unique users abandon the app after a single use?
The biggest success indicator of any mobile app isn’t downloaded numbers, but user retention. For that reason, long-term loyalty is one of the most important statistics you can measure. It doesn’t matter if you’re able to push your way to #1 on App Store charts with paid acquisition if most users use it once, decide it’s not helpful, and delete it.
The nature of free apps ensures some percentage of users will do this – Localytics recently estimated the number is 21%, which is an improvement from two years ago. All the same, the more your app’s one-time use rate rises above that figure, the more likely you are to face a long-term problem.
The good news is there are many options for raising user retention. Mobile app onboarding, push notifications, and renewed marketing campaigns go a long way towards bringing users back. Push notifications alone can boost engagement by 88% and bring back one-time users within 30 days.
It’s rare for mobile apps to have a perfect launch. But if you can avoid these red flags, you’ll be well on your way to managing a successful and engaging mobile service.