Guest Post: The In-App Events that Matter for Marketers

By Jessa Moon
Monday, November 4, 2013 / 5 min read

This piece was written by Peter Hamilton, partner and CEO at HasOffers.

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As a mobile app marketer, you’re familiar with CPI oriented campaigns to drive your acquisition efforts. The CPI – or Cost Per Install – is definitely an important first step in measuring the cost of acquiring users, but there is so much more to measuring your success. A holistic acquisition strategy should ideally measure at least 5-10 key events beyond the install like purchase and registrations that directly correlate to user value. This is what allows you to actually measure the return on your advertising efforts over time and ultimately optimize for the best campaigns with the best ad partners.

Of course, not every mobile app marketer will want to measure the same type of events; the key in-app events to track for a gaming app will vary drastically from a retail or hospitality app. That said, we’ve created a broad overview of in-app events that every marketer – if they’re smart – should be keeping tabs on.  So why should you even care about events other than the initial install of an app? Keep reading as you’re going to find out just how important these events and their related metrics are to not only bolstering your user acquisition strategy, but also ensuring that users’ eyeballs (and pockets) stay right where you want them.

Registrations

After people install your app, what happens next? If your app requires a sign up to use it, you likely have a registration screen – and if you do, you should be tracking this process. By tracking registrations, you can identify people who have started the sign-up process (but not completed or confirmed) as well as discover inactive users (i.e.; someone who downloaded but has not registered for your app.) As the average mobile user has over 50 apps installed, it’s common for users to download an app, perhaps even open it, but never get past the sign-up process.

Tracking this behavior process is important to not only see how many people are actually becoming “users”, but also to see how many are getting stuck at the registration page. If your app is highly downloaded with a good open rate, yet has a low registration rate (and you are tracking this event,) you may be able to change the user experience of the registration process to drive more sign-ups and thereby more users. On the other hand, if you aren’t tracking this event and your app has low engagement, you may never know why despite the fact that your app has so many downloads.

Purchases

After users successfully sign-up for your app, the next step in the process might be to purchase something. If you’re marketing a gaming app, don’t think about skipping this event! Even though hospitality and entertainment apps such as HotelTonight and Spotify are centered around purchases, many gaming apps make a good chunk of their revenue through in-app purchases. Regardless of how you position a purchase to consumers, tracking purchases can be a very meaningful metric to marketers as it provides insight into both when and how the purchase was made.

Tracking the number of purchases can also help you identify the quality of your users. For example, if your app is a game and you offer users the opportunity to purchase either 10, 20 or 50 coins, you will want to track the number of coins each user purchases. Obviously, the users who purchase more coins will be more valuable. The same can be said for apps that offer users the option to purchase the opportunity to go to the next level, buy better tools, purchase songs, upgrade to a luxury stay at a hotel on a whim, etc.  Tracking this event can also be a valuable tool to further engage your users, as you can leverage this data to draw users back to specific points within your app. For example, if a user just built a barn with the coins they purchased, but needs more cows to get to the next level, you may want to offer the opportunity to purchase these cows to get to the next level and stay engaged with your app. Tracking purchases can also help gauge the quality of the ad networks you have partnered with by comparing how many and what type of purchases are being sent from each ad network.

Tutorial/Level Complete

As I mentioned earlier, not every in-app event will be relevant to every app marketer. While registrations and purchases can be found in almost every type of app, the inclusion of tutorial and levels in apps is unique to the gaming vertical. For those marketing a gaming app, you’ll want to be sure you’re tracking these events – such as the cow example above – as they can help identify how engaged a user is with your app. By tracking how “deep” a user gets within your app you can ultimately determine the LTV of your users as this data can tell you at what point users become valuable. As a marketer you can then leverage this data to create cohorts, which can help you better target these valuable users. Additionally, research has found that users who take the time to understand apps, complete more levels and take the time to really engage with the app are not only likely to keep using it more and for a longer period of time, but they are also likely to be evangelists for the app and tell their friends about the app.

Share with email/Facebook

On that note, those users who are deeply in your app and want to tell their friends about it will likely do so via social media. Not only should your app have the ability to share activity via email and Facebook, but you should definitely be tracking this activity as well. This will give you a good idea of not only which in-app features engage your users the most, but what type of users are your biggest evangelists and providing your most LTV. Of course, tracking this event is also a good way to measure how much traction your app is getting, and should not be overlooked as a way to both drive and monitor engagement.

Number of Opens

After people have installed your app, the next thing they need to do is open it – and hopefully over and over again. There are several aspects of the open rate of your app you may want to analyze; e.g. the length of time from app install to first app open, the rate of app opens before another in-app event occurrence (such as a registration), and the rate of app opens before app deletion. We also recommend that marketers try to determine a number of opens that is meaningful to them as a KPI.

You should always measure information about your app’s initial install to track user acquisition, however, these other in-app events provide metrics that are also valuable and should be considered an integral part of your strategy. Keep in mind, though, that without the initial app install information, all other in-app event metrics might as well be useless. There are also hundreds of other events you can track, and doing so is simply a line of code away. What events you track are dependent solely upon what you find valuable and how you gauge the value your mobile app attribution partners.

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About the Author

Peter Hamilton

Peter Hamilton, Partner and CEO of HasOffers, joined before the company launched their first product in 2009. With more than six years of experience in online marketing, Peter has a skilled knowledge of SEO, Display Advertising, PPC, CRO, Retargeting, Social Ads, Social Marketing, PR, Email Marketing, and Usability. Follow @peterhamilton.