3 Useful Analytics Hacks for Mobile Product Managers

Lesley Wasserman

Lesley Wasserman
Inbound Marketing Manager at Appsee

Product managers are also problem managers. Crashes after a new version launch? It happens. Users dropping off after initial download? That happens too. Rather than waiting for problems to arise in aggregate and then fixing them, you can take a proactive approach. This means tracking usability, UX, and performance issues as they happen to individual users.

With the proper strategies and analytics tools, you can quickly track and fix issues while they’re still small. Today’s article will arm you with analytics hacks for product managers to solve key issues in your application early on.

1. Use session recordings to correct crashed sessions

It’s a fact of life app-making: Crashes happen. When they do, your users will always be affected to a certain degree. Whether a crash affects just a handful of users or many is ultimately up to you and your team. One way to keep this in check is by monitoring and fixing crashes in real time, before they turn into high churn rates and negative reviews.

Maybe the crashed sessions have only happened a few times on a specific screen, but these “few times” can quickly turn into “many times.” And these “many times” on one specific screen just might begin to affect other screens, too. What happens once or twice may start happening more frequently to more users. This could spell disaster, especially if you’ve just released a new version. Furthermore, when and why are these crashes occurring, and what is the effect of these crashes on user satisfaction? If you’ve noticed a sudden (but small) spike in crashed sessions, it may be time to take action.

How to use analytics to monitor application crashes

Most mobile product teams have crash logs and general crash rates but no visuals delving into the reasons for the crashes. If they want to see the crash for themselves, they have to recreate it. If mobile apps teams could simply view crashes as their users do, instead of having to recreate them, they can reduce both dev/QA hours and the risk of unhappy users.

So how can you effectively do this in practice? Some mobile app analytics tools support things like user session recordings and allow you to replay real sessions. Tools like this can help product teams deal with crashes effectively and immediately. By watching session recordings of crashed sessions, teams can see exactly at what point the app crashed and what user interactions led up to the crash. Maybe the payment screen crashed just after visiting the cart, or perhaps the payment screen crashed after a different series of events.

 

2. Improve retention rates with action cohorts

Retention, retention, retention is the prized pig we all want to win. For product managers of mobile apps, retention KPIs, such as time between sessions or percentage of returning users per timeframe, are some of the most important metrics to mind. One of the best ways to understand where, when, and why drop-offs are happening is action cohort analysis.

Action cohorts analyze groups of users who performed a common action (or series of actions) during a specific timeframe. By performing an action cohort analysis, you can identify patterns in your users’ behavior, pinpoint improvements that will have the most dramatic effect, and gain valuable information about how one action relates to another action.

Action cohort analysis in action

Perhaps you want to assess your users in terms of follow through. You can use a cohort analysis to identify users who do not continue to a second session (perhaps within a given week or month), or to track whether or not users return for a second session to sign-up or login. This not only says something about users’ intent, it also gives insight into your app’s stickiness, and last but not least, allows you to be proactive in understanding your users’ behavior.

Product manager analytic hack: action cohorts

3. Upgrade user engagement with touch heatmaps

Engagement metrics can come in many shapes and sizes, depending on the app category/type of app you manage. You may track user engagement metrics like DAU (daily active users), daily app launches, and churn rate. But these metrics, only take you to a certain point in analyzing users in your app. Why is it important to go beyond these metrics? At the end of the day, your users are human, and their behavior and interactions with your app can’t be explained by numbers alone.

One way you can get deeper insight into the humans using your product is right at your fingertips, or rather, your users’ fingertips: their gestures. Each tap, swipe, and pinch your users make give you precise insight into user preferences and tendencies throughout their journey. To mine your users’ gestures for actionable data, you can look for an analytics tool that supports touch heatmaps.

Touch heatmaps provide you with a full picture of all your users’ gestures, by coloring the areas of each screen according to the level of interaction they receive. You’ll see what features are the most popular, what elements grab users’ eyes, where they encounter frustration, and how they navigate their way through your app.

Why is this important? As previously stated, engagement is quite nuanced, and there is good engagement as well as bad engagement. Sometimes users will engage in a way that is not preferred, for example with a part of the screen that does not aid a user journey. There is also good engagement, which means that your UI is appealing and satisfying to your users.

Touch heatmaps will also show if users are engaging in places that are not “engage-able” like tapping on an image that looks like a tappable button, which could demonstrate that there is a flaw in the UI.

Conclusion

If you’re sitting idly by, waiting for user feedback or for a major UX issue to appear… don’t! Be proactive, and take charge of your app and your users. Start using the above metrics and tools to better monitor your product and easily iron out any usability and performance issues.

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