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Metrics give apps a leg-up over mobile Web

Apple App Store

Apple App Store boasts more than 50 billion app downloads

As marketers continue to gauge the success of their mobile applications, being able to pinpoint specific metrics that are working and not working will fuel continued investment in the medium.

In-app metrics give marketers a close-up view of how the medium influences every part of a researching or shopping experience. However, marketers that are not diving into their app’s analytics are likely missing out on a big opportunity to understand their users.

“Most marketers are simply collecting vanity metrics like number of app downloads – this, however, is not a true indicator of how their apps are doing,” said Bob Moul, CEO of Artisan, Philadelphia.

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“Marketers need to focus on metrics that measure how many consumers are using the app in the way that they want them to,” he said.

“Across all industries, brands should look at the number of repeat users as well as number of customers that continue to update the app.”

Google Play

Google Play

Keeping a strong footprint
Technologies such as HTML5 are gaining popularity among marketers as a way to develop rich, engaging content without having to develop for a specific operating system which could pull marketers to focus on mobile Web more than apps if they do not know what is and what is not working.

Therefore, measuring what works and what does not work with an app is key to marketers.

In fact, a recent report from Artisan found that 56 percent of retail executives plan to pour more resources into mobile this year (see story).

However, solely looking at the number of app downloads is not a measure of success, and brands should be looking at numbers that are specific to their industry and the app’s goals.

For example, retailers should be looking at the number of bar code scans, conversions and items added to a shopping cart, per Mr. Moul.

For an entertainment app, key metrics include hours of content viewed while page views are shared articles are important for news apps.

Marketers are also increasingly viewing mobile apps as a part of the overall researching and shopping experience. Instead of triggering a direct sale, mobile apps might play a stronger role in influencing an in-store sale, for example.

“Mobile apps are only going to become more influential as a means for engaging customers and driving brand loyalty,” Mr. Moul said.

“As a unique channel, apps offer increased utility that mobile websites cannot provide, such as the ability to deposit checks, manage shopping lists, or watch sporting events on the go,” he said.

“As apps continue to evolve, detailed metrics that enable marketers to better evaluate their investment will be even more critical.”

Going back to the basics

According to Alan Knitowski, CEO of Phunware, Austin, there is a set of metrics that apply to all marketers across all verticals.

These include number of active users, time spent in an app and frequency of visitors.

For example, one of Phunware’s clients – Caruso Affiliated-owned Los Angeles shopping center The Grove – uses a mobile app to primarily enhance customer service.

The company looks at metrics around which services and functions in the app are most used to make staffing decisions. Consumers can request valet and bell cart requests via the app, which gives the company an understanding on how the app is used specifically on the shopping center’s premises.

“The in-app metrics most important to us, other than downloads, are session and page views,” said Galit Shokrian, senior vice president of marketing and communications of Caruso Affiliated, Los Angeles.

“Sessions help us determine how many times our guests are opening our app and really using it,” she said. “Page views are important because they let us know how many pages a guest is viewing on the app.”
Additionally, effective cost per mille should be looked at in apps that rely on advertising, sponsorship or in-app purchases for monetization, according to Phunware's Mr. Knitowski.

The point here is for marketers to use mobile-unique analytics and data to gleam real-time insight into how a brand’s consumers use apps.

The difference with mobile metrics is that they are not based on algorithms, estimations or panels like television and the Internet are.

“Unlike television metrics or Internet metrics governed by the likes of Nielsen, comScore and Omniture, mobile metrics are raw, real-time and un-estimated,” Mr. Knitowski said.

“Rather, mobile metrics are based on what we do, whenever we do it, wherever we are, in real-time, right now,” he said.

“Those marketers that embrace, understand and mine this data will have a strong competitive advantage over those that do not, and the key to garnering the best mobile metrics will be to have the most advanced and engaging of mobile applications.”

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is associate reporter on Mobile Marketer, New York

Lauren Johnson is associate reporter on Mobile Marketer. Reach her at lauren@mobilemarketer.com.

Related content: Content, Bob Moul, Artisan, mobile, mobile marketing, The Grove, Phunware, Alan Knitowski, Caruso Affiliated, Galit Shokrian

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