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Mobile App Tracking: Here’s What You Should You Track

By John Koetsier December 5, 2015

Most of us understand intuitively that getting customer event data from our mobile apps is important and can help drive improved marketing effectiveness. But what specifically should we measure? How do we turn the good idea of measuring marketing activity into something that is both clear, focused and actionable?

For some, this post may feel a little “in the weeds.” But I am a big believer in helping marketers create a solid data foundation for everything that they do. Without mobile phone app attribution, many marketers have told us that they felt like they were flying blind. Once people see the value of app attribution, it’s critical to unlock its full power with an event measurement strategy that is robust, comprehensive, and clear.

I hope that by laying out a lot of specifics here with regard to the data to collect for iPhone and Android app tracking, that marketers who are considering app attribution solutions will be able to more fully grasp the importance of this unique set of data and ensure that they take full advantage of the data collection power of their attribution toolset.

Recommendations Based on Hundreds of Implementations

As a big player in marketing attribution across the cell phone app ecosystem,, Singular has worked with many companies to set up their marketing attribution instances. Singular’s very low account churn rate attests to our success at helping clients create measurement plans that meet real business needs and drive significant improvement in ROI.

Getting started defining what you will measure with your Android and iPhone app tracking can feel like the hardest part of implementing an attribution solution like Singular’s. But trust me, that “difficulty” is more psychological than real. My goal with this post is to get rid of some of that discomfiture, so you can get up and running with your iOS and Android app tracking  much faster.

Actions and Events

When you are just getting started with a measurement and attribution offering like that which is part of the Singular unified platform, the most important things you need to decide are which consumer actions you want to track. In the iPhone and Android device app  industry, we call consumer actions “events”. By tracking events, we gather the data necessary to:

  • Understand the effectiveness of your marketing programs
  • Gain a genuine view into what consumers are doing in your apps

That’s mission-critical knowledge!

Different platforms allow their customers to track different numbers of events. Some allow only a handful of trackable event types, while others allow dozens – or more.  Singular allows advertisers to track up to 400 unique events per app version – an extremely large number for the category and one that makes us the choice of many of the most sophisticated mcommerce companies globally. These are businesses that understand the importance of complete and granular data.

It’s actually pretty simple to identify the kinds of events you need to track for mobile app tracking and analytics. At Singular, we advocate for tracking as many germane events as possible in order to facilitate richer understanding of your business and its key drivers. In fact, we actually created a pricing model that encourages this — by not charging marketers based upon the number of events that they track. That is an important difference for a mcommerce brand because it ensures that you don’t have to jack up your attribution fees for more granular data.

Types of Events That You Should Track

The first step in choosing the in-app actions to track is to identify the different types of events that every marketer should be tracking. Singular categorizes important marketing events into four categories.

Authentication Events– Events that help identify the user (anonymously, of course) so we can attribute an install to a device ID after your app has been installed in an app store.

Engagement Events– Actions that consumer takes that indicate involvement in the app and presage long-term usage over time.

Intent Events– Actions that indicate that the user is considering and preparing for a purchase. In other words, that making a purchase is on a metaphorical to-do list.

Purchase Events– Actions and information that are communicated after a purchase takes place. These conversion tracking metrics include characteristics of what was purchased. These help us get a richer and more comprehensive understanding of each individual anonymized customer.

Let’s dig into each of these event types:

Authentication Events

Authentication events allow the iOS or Android phone app marketer to gather user-level information that can be used for a variety of actions. Your primary goal with authentication events is to better understand the characteristics of the people that are using those specific instances of your app on their devices. These data points also help us – and other third party solutions providers – connect the actions that the customer takes in a mobile phone app with actions that they perform in other digital environments.

These cross-device connections build a more complete view of the customer and enable us to understand the interplay between different consumer touchpoints.

Some examples here include:

  • DEVICE ADVERTISING ID
  • CUSTOM ADVERTISER ID
  • AGE AND GENDER
  • LATITUDE AND LONGITUDE (IF RELEVANT)

Engagement Events

Engagement events provide the business owner insight into the extent to which the user has availed themselves of the app.These provide initial signals that a person is actively using the app. These events are helpful in identifying the quality users, both before and after a conversion takes place.

That matters even more than you might think when it comes to a mobile tracker. In certain mobile phone app verticals, a purchase might not happen for six to eight weeks after an install. In this case, tracking a user’s engagement within your app on their mobile device lets the marketer accurately optimize a network’s performance within days instead of waiting weeks. You simply optimize to engagement events rather than conversion events.

Engagement events vary by the category in which you compete. Here are a few examples:

  • TUTORIAL VIEWED?
  • FILLED OUT SHOPPING PROFILE?
  • PRODUCT SEARCHES
  • WISH LISTING
  • WATCHED A PRODUCT VIDEO?
  • RATING SOMETHING IN THE APP
  • REVIEWING SOMETHING IN THE APP
  • RATING THE APP
  • SEND CONTENT TO A FRIEND/RECOMMEND APP
  • APP UPDATE INSTALLS

Intent Events

Intent events are useful in identifying users who are planning on making purchases (or taking other end actions) in the application. Like engagement events, the intent events can be used to identify quality users before a KPI occurs.

Perhaps more importantly, intent events can be used to remarket to users who have performed intent events but have yet to complete a purchase event. Including these events in your measurement plan will greatly increase the effectiveness of using remarketing ad network specialist Services. .

Singular’s ability to send data to both re-marketing networks (via postbacks) and marketing automation tools through our Audiences offering gives the marketer complete discretion on how to use the data for re-marketing.

Here are a couple of examples of intent events:

  • ADD VIRTUAL GOOD TO CART
  • BEGIN CHECKOUT
  • INPUT CREDIT CARD INFO?

Purchase Events

Purchase or conversion events are obvious events to track, but capturing key attributes of the purchase events is also critical. In other words, you don’t simply want to know that someone bought but rather what they bought, how much they spent, and what contributed to the transaction. Tracking revenue at a user level allows the marketer to determine key metrics like Average Revenue Per User, Average Revenue Per Paying User (ARPPU) or Return on Ad Spend (ROAS) for a specific marketing campaign.

Some examples:

  • TOTAL REVENUE
  • CATEGORY(S) OF ITEMS
  • QUANTITY OF ITEMS
  • NAME OF ITEMS
  • QUANTITY OF EACH ITEM
  • SKU OR OTHER ITEM NUMBERS
  • PRICE PAID PER ITEM
  • TAXES LEVIED
  • COLOR/SIZE OF ITEM
  • BOUGHT ON DISCOUNT?
  • SIZE OF DISCOUNT
  • GIFT?
  • LONGITUDE/LATITUDE

Conclusions

As I mentioned at the outset of this document, the key to taking those important first steps in mobile app measurement and attribution is to use a methodical and strategic approach to identifying the types of data that will help drive better decision-making. As you have seen, identifying events for tracking isn’t so difficult when you begin with a construct like:

  • Authentication Events
  • Engagement Events
  • Intent Events
  • Purchase or Conversion Events

With that in place, identifying the right events for your mobile attribution should be far easier. Naturally, every business is unique, and there is no substitute for expert advice. Singular clients can get additional assistance on defining the right set of events to track from their implementation and account management teams. Our people are product experts who can help speed the implementation process and ensure that you gather the right data – right from the beginning.

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