Learn How People Use Your App – An App Analytics Tools Round-Up

Knowing how many people download your app, how much money you’re making or what users think of your app is important. But it’s definitely not the only thing you should be tracking.

It’s not all about the number of downloads. You also need to learn how, when, where and by what kind of audience your app is used.

Of course you can get a sense of that when you have people trying your app in front of you…But if you really want to know how well your app is doing, you need some more data. And believe it or not, your users are probably not using your app exactly like you think they are.

What to track and why

An interesting post from Dave McLure explains the key metrics startups should use. I tend to believe that a lot of things that are true for startups are true for mobile apps too. For example, I think that app developers should copy more what entrepreneurs do for marketing before their launch. But I digress…Here are the “Pirate” metrics Dave talks about:

Key Startup Metrics to Monitor

You can measure some of the acquisition/revenue metrics using app downloads and revenue tracking tools, but if you use only that you will still be missing some important data.

By monitoring the right things, you’ll be able to learn a lot about your users and improve your app or your game.

A couple of other things before jumping to our thoughts on the different tools:

  • Start monitoring things before you publish your app on the mobiles stores: even if you got only a few beta testers (try having as many as possible!), the data can still be used as an indicator
  • Different tools for different apps: what might be a perfect tool for a kind of app might bring much less value for another
  • Track what makes sense for your app and for your audience: not every app has the same objectives
  • Know where your app is going: do your best to pick a tool that you can still use (or afford) when you get more users, add platforms or countries

In-App Usage Analytics

Luckily, there are several tools for in-app analytics and some are free or have free versions. Some provide other features than in-app usage analytics (cross-promotion, ads etc.). This can be important to make your choice but it’s not the topic of this post so that part is not detailed.

All the solutions mentioned will require you to use an SDK as well as some level of customization.

A couple folks working at these companies have interesting things to say about their products and in-app usage analytics on Quora, you should check it out.

Disclaimer: the views expressed here are only ours, and some of the tools we couldn’t test extensively. We did our best not to make any mistake when talking about these tools, and if by any chance we did please let us know and we’ll happily correct them.

Flurry Analytics

Price: Free
Platforms: iOS, Android, Windows Phone, Blackberry, Java ME

Flurry is a pretty complete tool for your mobile app analytics. For each app, you can either use the “classic” dashboard or create up to 10 custom dashboards. That compensates for the fact that to get some analytics, you sometimes need several clicks which can get frustrating.

Flurry Analytics Dashboard

Here the kind of info you can find or use in the dashboards:

  • Usage: active users, sessions, session lengths, frequency, retention, etc.
  • Audience: interest of users(your other apps + category), personas (type of your users – defined by Flurry), demographic
  • Events: define events, see user paths, create funnels
  • Technical: devices, carriers, firmware versions, errorr
Depending on the data/charts you’re looking at, you can filter via segments (age, first session, usage, country, etc), app versions and dates.
Probably because Flurry offers lots of other services (like ads), this tool is free yet provides a lot of analytics.
If you’re using Flurry, below is a video explaining how to create events and why:


We like:
thorough yet free, multiple dashboards, user paths and funnels
Not so much: lots of click required to get info, errors/crashes hard to identify

Google Mobile App Analytics

Price: Free
Platform: iOS, Android

It might seem suprising, but Google didn’t launch this mobile app analytics tool before the end of June 2012. Mobile is (getting) huge, and I think Google will play a key role in analytics. For many users they already have for web and mobile web analytics, it makes total sense to keep using the same tool they’re used to for in-app usage analytics.

The program is still in beta, and you can apply here.

I couldn’t give it a try, but here is what I got from the Google Analytics Support. Just like you would expect, Google Mobile App Analytics provides metrics to analyze your app performance. Your app overview gives you reports organized in four categories

  • Acquisitions: find out about who are your new users. For Android apps on the Google Play Store, you can also track where your users are coming from and for example know how many sessions they’ve used or in-app revenue they’ve generated.
  • Users: just like for the web, you can know about new vs. returning users, their country/language, the app version, etc.
  • Engagement: you can use event tracking like you do on your website, get reports on speed, crashes and exceptions.
  • Outcomes: you can set up goal, track the conversion of your objectives and see the goal flow (Google’s equivalent to the funnel/user path).
It seems as complete as it can get, but I have no idea how hard it is to get access to the beta.


We like:
lots of the needed features, easier to learn if you already use GA, integration with Google Play for conversion tracking (and more to come)
Not so much: still in beta, no integration with iTunes for conversion (I don’t see that happening)

Apsalar – ApScience

Price: Free
Platform: iOS, Android

Apsalar seems like a real complete mobile app analytics tool.

The customizable dashboard lets you choose the data you want to see at first glance.

Apsalar Dashboard

You can create:

  • Events
  • Funnels, including across multiple apps.
  • Real-time cohorts, to measure engagement of users across time
Apsalar Funnel
You can also segment your users based on these events, funnels and cohorts.
In addition, Apsalar has a free tool to measure performance and ROI/LTV of acquisition campaigns. Another tool, still in private beta, allows developers to target specific users when advertising.


We like:
 analytics across multiple apps, real-time cohorts
Not so much: they don’t answer our emails

Mixpanel

Price: Freemium (see prices here)
Stores: iOS, Android

Mixpanel is an event-based analytics tools: account creation, sharing, upgrade, purchase, etc. You have to define events and event properties for your app.

You can:

  • Track these events separately or create series of events (funnels).
  • Use cohort analysis to see exactly how often users come back and engage with your application.
  • Build complex queries based on events and demographics
  • Tie mobile to web and vice versa
  • If you have users’ info
    • Tie data to a person
    • “Explore” user segments and engage users via email/SMS/push notifications

Mixpanel-Mobile Analytics

Below is a video made by the MixPanel team to explain the tool:


In the free version, you’re limited to 25,000 data points / month. A data point is counted every time you track an event with Mixpanel. So, for a music app and if you track only songs played, that could be 2,500 users playing 10 songs each.

Mixpanel also recently introduced “Activity Feed”, that let you see a timeline of every action a user (when identified by a profile) takes in your app from day 1.

We like: event-based and easy to create funnels, nice UI and allows in-depth analysis, can tie web to mobile
Not so much: limited in data points in free version

Localytics

Price: Freemium (see prices here)
Platforms: iOS, Android, Windows Phone, BlackBerry, HTML5

On the first screen, once you’ve added your apps, Localytics presents you an overview of each one with the number of sessions or users. In the premium/entreprise versions you can compare your apps with various criterias (new vs. returning, sessions, users, etc.) and also build your own queries to get a .csv file.

In the free version of Localytics, you can get the following analytics info for each app:

  • App usage and reports (by location, device, carrier, app version, unique users)
  • Users and sessions (time periods and new vs. returning)
  • Day-Part Analysis (time of day where your users are most active)
  • Events and attributes
  • Annotations (leaving notes on graphs)
Localytics Dashboard
It’s fairly easy to use and the premium/entreprise versions are full of features, unfortunately in the free version it’s clearly missing the funnel creation, sessions length, filters, etc. But they have to make money somewhere, right? Still, you might want to check out their blog to read some interesting case studies.
Localytics also has a pretty neat tool for premium/entreprise versions that let you send in-app messages using advanced segmentation: you can target only users that do specific actions.

You can try a live demo with all the features here.

We like: help bubbles at the beginning, easy to use, unlimited apps in free version
Not so much: no funnels/sessions length/filters in free version

Countly

Price: Free if self hosted (open source)
Platforms: iOS, Android, Windows Phone, Blackberry

Countly might not be one of the leading analytic tools but it has a unique positioning, a great UI and a stunning design. It is a real-time, open source mobile analytics application that you can host on your own server. The team is also about to launch Countly Cloud, to track and monitor your mobile app analytics in a hosted environment.

The dashboard is really easy to use, with pretty much every info at a glance or at a click: sessions, new users, time spent, events served, etc.

Countly Analytics Dashboard

For each app, you can get info on:

  • Users and Users Loyalty
  • Sessions and Session Frequency
  • Countries
  • Devices and App Versions
  • Carriers and Platforms
You can also track events (and use segmentation) and sets of events (i.e funnels) that you define from the app. If you want to segment (country, app version, platform), that means you have to think about it before hand (in your app code).

We like:
awesome UI/design, open source (cloud version coming),
Not so much: segment from within the app (but that’s also for performance reasons)

AskingPoint

Price: Free
Platform: iOS, Android

AskingPoint is a less complete tool, but is worth mentionning because of its unique concept: it provides both mobile app analytics and a review/polls system.

The Analytics part gives you data on usage, devices, versions and demographic. You can also create custom events to get basic info on how people user your app.

This post is not about improving your ratings. That said, what’s great about AskingPoint is that it allows you to ask specific segments of users (based on various criterias like how they use your app, version, country) to rate your app or to send them a survey/poll.

As shown above, you can then compare what kind of response you get depending on the version you use.

We like: ask your best users for review
Not so much: basic analytics, no funnel

Other tools

Heatma.ps (iOS)

It’s like Crazy Egg for iOS apps, and it looks pretty cool: you can know which buttons users press, what is the first thing they touch,  see what kind of gestures they use, if they are using your app in landscape or portrait mode and even do some A/B testing.

Check out their video below to learn more:

HeatData (Mobile Websites)

Mobile is not all about native apps. If you have a mobile website, HeatData is the perfect tool to get Heatmaps for mobile gestures. In addition to the heatmaps, you can track up to 10 Events for free.

TestFlight Live (iOS)
By leaving the SDK you use to have people test your app over-the-air, you can get free access to 90 days of real-time analytics of revenue, audience and engagement.

Placed
This tool is quite different, as it is for Location Analytics. Placed is made to “measure, aggregate, and analyze the paths and places people visit in the physical world”.

So here are most of your options in order to know how, when, where and by what kind of audience your app is used. Based on the data you’ll get and the tracking of your downloads and revenues, you can adjust your app marketing and improve your app/game.

Did we forget any major free or affordable tools for mobile app analytics? Have you tried any of these and would like to share your experience? What do you track? Let us know in the comments!

Learn How People Use Your App – An App Analytics Tools Round-Up was last modified: November 23rd, 2013 by Sylvain Gauchet

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About The Author

Sylvain

Hi there, I'm Sylvain and I've been working for several years on marketing mobile apps. With Apptamin we believe that we can help developers better promote their apps by creating cool app videos and sharing what we've learned...While learning some more !
I'm French and English is not my primary language, so you're welcome to correct me if I make a mistake.

8 comments
Alfina
Alfina

Thank you for the nice and in-depth review, Sylvain. It will be awesome if you are able to include Telerik Analytics (http://www.telerik.com/analytics) in your next comparison. The service supports all mobile, web and desktop development platforms, including iOS, Android, Windows Phone, WinRT, mobile websites, .NET and more. It also goes an extra mile to make the developer's life easier by capturing run-time exceptions. Please, let me know if you have questions/feedback.


Disclaimer: I work for Telerik.

Durbinware
Durbinware

Hi Sylvain, thanks for the article.  It's a nice survey of the various mobile app analytics services that are available and does a good job delving into the strategy and importance of using them.  We use Flurry Analytics (the first service described in your article) in our iOS apps and have been pleased with the results. To make the most of this service we even developed an iOS app called Flutter that allows users to keep track of their Flurry Analytics data on the go.  Hope this is a good resource for your readers:

http://durbinware.com/products/flutter

Alexis 1992
Alexis 1992

Hi Sylvain,

In your list, you haven't mentionned AdXTracking. What do you think about this software? 

Thank you!

Sylvain Gauchet
Sylvain Gauchet

From HackerNews: http://keen.io/ (build analytics features directly into your apps) is another analytics service not mentioned on this list.

Sylvain Gauchet
Sylvain Gauchet

One of our followers on twitter also mentioned piwik.org, which is Real-time and Open Source.

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  1. [...] Learn How People Use Your App – An App Analytics Tools Round-Up From http://www.apptamin.com – Today, 1:31 AM Knowing how many people download your app, how much money you're making or what users think of your app is important. But it's definitely not the only thing you should be tracking. It's not all about the number of downloads. [...]

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