How to Measure App Performance to Iterate Effectively

measure app performance

The first version of an app is designed to be tested. You need to know what features resonate with users and what’s lacking. You need to know how easy or difficult they find using the app to be. In order to learn these things, you must have visibility into how users navigate through your app and interact with its features. Analyzing your app to inform iteration means tracking key performance indicators (KPIs) and measuring user actions in your app that tie to those KPIs. This strategy provides insight into your app’s usage and opportunities to increase user value. Here’s how to know what to track and how to measure app performance.

Gain Visibility with App Event Tracking

In order to measure user actions in your app, you need visibility. How do users navigate through your app and interact with the app’s features? To find this information, you need to track events — each interaction with components in your app.

Events include things like pressing a button or opening a particular screen. When a user performs the action, the app sends an event to the analytics system’s servers. You should collect this data with additional user properties like device model, app version, and user ID. You can set up custom properties, such as the number of app launches and the number of days since the user began using the app. Developers and marketers can then study the data collected to answer specific usage questions. In-app event tracking provides a detailed overview of the activities inside your app. It also allows you to improve your campaigns geared to acquisition, retention, and engagement.

Select Events

Start by selecting the core events that happen as a user engages with the app — these should be significant events that determine the success of the product. For example, if your app has in-app purchasing, you will want to track when a user clicks the purchase button. Or, if your app is designed to encourage users to contact your company, you may want to track how many times a user chooses “tap to call” for contact information. 

To find these events, first document the main user flows and scenarios. Then, think about the questions you might want to ask. These questions may include the example above, where you want to see information about the frequency of users performing a specific activity, or your questions may be higher level like:

  • How many people continue using the app after X days?
  • What percentage of users see an in-app purchase offer?
  • At what steps do users churn during onboarding?
  • How effective is the app onboarding flow?
  • What features are most frequently used?
  • Is there variance across platforms, device types, traffic sources, and countries?

Track Events

Now you’ve determined the events to track that will provide answers to the questions you want to ask. It’s time to set up the tracked events with Google Analytics. This powerful tool can provide useful data around things like screen flow a user went through in order to access buttons, what pages the buttons were tapped on, what time of day they are being tapped, and more. By creating tagged events in Google Analytics, you can get valuable reporting about how people use your app to enable you to tweak the user experience or to inform future feature enhancements.

In-app Event Types to Measure App Performance 

There are a number of in-app event types that you may want to track. Some may be very specific to your app and the user flow within your app. Others are common to many apps, such as these: 

  1. Number of opens — Indicates the number of times users open your app after installation. If users download your app and don’t immediately use it, there’s likely an issue. The sooner you engage users, the quicker you can demonstrate value. Number of opens also ties closely to KPIs for retention rate and churn. You need to know the percentage of customers you’re retaining as well as losing to churn. You can also use opens to measure stickiness, or the number of users who come back to your app, and the daily and monthly average users.
  1. Registration — A user that completes the process of creating a profile has demonstrated interest and may become a high-value user. If you find you have a higher number of opens than registrations, you have an issue with the signup process. Improving the registration process may enable you to increase your users and engagement in the app.
  1. Purchases — Measuring purchases tells you valuable information about your users, including how to attract and retain them. Their interest in making a purchase can inform adding other purchase options. This engagement event feeds revenue KPIs like average revenue per user and lifetime value.
  1. Social shares — If your app allows social shares or friend invites, tracking this data can provide insight into how users are finding your app. You can use this information in lifetime value calculations as well as average revenue per user. 

By tracking events and tying them to your KPI measurements, you gain visibility into how users navigate your app and interact with it. And by leveraging the insights gained when you measure app performance, you’ll have the insights you need to build a strong Version 2.

Want to learn more about our SolutionLab workshop, where we help you determine how to build the best first version of your app? Get in touch.

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