App Engagement Metrics: 3 Lessons Every Mobile Marketer Must Learn / Marketing Solutions / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

Here are three lessons every mobile marketer must learn before investing time in measuring the less important metrics.

There’s no doubt in my mind that you know the importance of app engagement.

After all, successful user engagement translates into returning users and more conversions. You probably also have a plan in place for how to measure, analyze, and optimize your app engagement. Right? Or maybe you think you do.

Just like with other marketing channels, many mobile marketers tend to measure vanity metrics that have minimal effect on their business. So, how can you avoid doing that?

Here are three lessons every mobile marketer must learn before investing time in measuring the less important metrics.

Related Article:Mobile App Marketing: How Apps Contribute to the Consumer Journey

Lesson 1: What Is Your Actual Goal?

Before taking any action, you must determine what your goal is. Consider the following scenario:

You put a video tutorial in your app to explain the functionality of a new feature you would like to promote to a segmented group of users. What you want to see is how much the number of people using the feature grows. The other aspect you would like to measure is how many people started using the feature soon after watching the video, which means that you can attribute the feature’s newly gained success to the video. So, your goal should be an X percent increase in the feature’s usage, and this goal should be set in advance, before launching the video tutorial.

Obviously, it’s important to check that people didn’t stop watching your video immediately after they started playing it, because if they do, that means there’s an issue with the content, but not necessarily with the medium.

Assuming they did watch more than just the beginning, then it doesn’t really matter how long they watched it. Your main focus should be if it helped people move on to the next stage. The video is simply one of your tools to drive people into action.

Lesson 2: Be Careful With Qualitative Measurements

“Everybody else is doing it” is an all time kid’s favorite answer when asked why they are doing something that they shouldn’t be doing. I definitely used it more than I would like to admit. As a digital marketer, though, I try to be more careful and differentiate between metrics that are 100 percent quantitative and those that combine quantity and quality, which should be measured with more care.

Related Article:Marketing to the Mobile Man and the Mobile Woman

A classic example is the "time in app" metric. Of course, I love seeing people spending time in my app. But the question here is, are they having a good time in my app? Are they spending more time in the app because they enjoy the experience? Because they are planning future purchases? Because they’re entertained by my content?

It’s possible. But what if it’s the opposite? What if they are frustrated because they can’t find what they’re looking for? Or what if they’re not sure how to use a feature that they would like to try?

Let’s use the video tutorial example, from above: if people who watched the video spent more time in my app, but this extended time is exactly the time they spent watching the video, then this metric isn’t really telling me anything apart from that people watched the video.

We don’t always have the ability to connect all the dots, but we certainly have to put closed-loop metrics in place to check the relationship between quality and quantity.  In this scenario, it means measuring the relation between time on app and activity completion.

Lesson 3: So What Should I Measure?

When it comes to user engagement features, there are 2 levels of metrics that should be measured:

1. The short-term, immediate response to the engagement experience.  

For example, how many people filled out your survey, or how many people clicked a deeplink on the push notification message you sent. These are important metrics to tell you in the short-term if your actions (a.k.a. campaigns) were successful. Typically, these metrics should be discussed at length between the marketing and product teams in order to analyze the reason for the immediate success (or failure) and ways to optimize it.

2. The long-term results of your activities.

For example, do you have more app shares, higher app ratings, more granted permissions, more completed purchases, etc. Again, if you have a proper analytics plan in place, you will be able to attribute your engagement features’ impact to these closed-looped metrics. This level has the metrics that you should share with the sales team and management, as they care mostly about the bottom line.

Related Article: Mobile Ready: 4 Things to Ask Yourself Before Mobile Strategy Planning

While metrics are an important key for marketing success, tracking and analyzing your KPIs is a time-consuming process. As a digital marketer, you’re relying on mobile analytics systems, plus various marketing automation and CRM tools, to make sense of it all and to help you decide on your next steps.

That’s why you can’t afford to spend time measuring vanity metrics that don’t really impact your business.  In other words, getting insights, making decisions and implementing future steps based on the ‘soft’ metrics can, at times, do more harm than good.

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