As a Digital Marketer, I am used to analyzing website traffic with GA Universal Analytics. Metrics like sessions, users, page views, and conversions were my day-to-day allies. Recently I joined icapps, both as a digital marketer and as a data analyst. So, at the moment I am deep-diving into the world of app or product analytics.

In this blog post, I will give you a glance at my first impression of app analytics, the differences between app and website analytics, and some tips about which KPIs to focus on.

The difference between web and app analytics

When you first start out with analytics for apps, don’t expect that you can take the exact same approach as for website analytics. For instance, things like app use, the number of users that viewed a certain screen, or the drop-off rate, are not as straightforward to analyze for applications as for websites.

A simple explanation; apps are built up out of different components, these components can be used multiple times within an app. So when development doesn't implement specific screen names etc within the app, you won’t be able to interpret your data correctly. The same goes for page titles etc. With the arrival of Google Analytics 4 Properties (GA4) App and website analytics are already more in sync. If you have Universal Analytics running on your website, I do recommend trying out the new version, next to the UA version, to get more accustomed to GA4.

Another big difference
between app analytics and website analytics is how to measure your data points. For websites, it is easy to see where your traffic is coming from, you can find this data in Google analytics. For apps, this is not as straightforward to measure. You probably want to measure how people found your app, but as you know there are two main ways for people to install it; the Apple App Store and the Android Play store. So in order to compare them, we need to make sure we are measuring the same and correct thing. Sadly Google and Apple don’t necessarily use the same names nor the same metrics. For example; Apple uses the name “App Units” in order to look at the people that downloaded the app for the very first time, whilst Google calls this metric “New users” Luckily there are some great tools that can help out with how your app is performing in the stores, like AppTweak. Although, some metrics still need to be tracked directly from the stores. Personally, I like to get my store ranking data from AppTweak, whilst data on installs are easier to get directly from the stores.

Once you collected all the data, you still need to combine the different data points. To do this, it might be useful to transfer your app data into a data visualization tool. Unlike website data, where data is easily visible in Google Analytics, app data can be hard to compare because it’s coming from different sources. For example, if you want to measure store rankings on both Android and iOS, you’ll want to see them together, in order to see if the performance differs between stores.

Analytics app


Decide on your north star metric

Determine the key aspects you want to measure to see if your app is truly successful. In other words, find your north star metric.

This north star metric can be different according to your business needs. For example, if you are building a platform for the entertainment industry, you might want to focus on user engagement. You can measure things like; how much of your content is consumed on your platform? Afterward, you can use this knowledge to further optimize and grow in the chosen direction.

Another example; if your business is a retail company. Then increasing revenue and optimizing purchases might be what you’re aiming for, and therefore what you’ll want to measure. Of course, you might still want to measure user engagement within an app that focuses more on revenue, but this will be more of a micro-conversion. Whilst when in-app purchases are your focus, this is a macro-conversion.

The North Star Metric and Framework go a lot further than this, but going into detail is not today’s focus.

The basics to get started with app analytics

A very important thing to do before you start with any sort of analytics; think about what it is you’ll want to measure. For example, if you want to analyze user behavior, you’ll need to implement analytics events within the app itself. Think of events like notifications, sign up, sign in, sharing, …

There are some metrics that I recommend measuring with any mobile app.
As a basis, start by measuring:

  • Store ranking & impressions

  • Growth rate

  • Engagement and user stickiness

  • App stability

  • Ratings

As you can see, there are different strategies possible. These strategies are the basis to differentiate which things to track within your app/product. They will influence the events you want to measure and which events you will track as a conversion.

I hope this provides marketers with a first insight into how analytics between websites and apps differ. Stay tuned and sign up for our newsletter for more analytics blogs in the near future.