Walled Gardens

Posted in News and Politics, Tech & Startups | Tagged , ,

Yesterday I put up a new post  on how to optimize your mobile app’s URI scheme.  The post is mostly technical but touches on a few important points – notably the fact that the mobile app ecosystem is a fragmented series of walled gardens.  This is in sharp contrast to the free and open web where anyone can add content and anyone can access it.

If you feel the way I do about free speech, feel free to insert your own rant here about the privatization of the (virtual) commons.  This is the digital equivalent of town squares where free speech was legally protected being replaced by malls where a rent a cop will firmly escort you off the premises if you try to do any sort of outreach. Continue reading

The State of Electric Motorcycles

Posted in Tech & Startups | Tagged , ,

The last of my 4-part series on the state of the Electric Motorcycle industry is now live!  This was a really interesting project because I got to dig deep with representatives from some very cool companies including Harley Davidson, Zero Motorcycles, and Mission Motorcycles.

I chose those three because Mission is an early-stage startup that’s just starting to monetize and sell technology but hasn’t delivered their bikes to consumers yet, Zero is a late-stage startup that has already carved out a space and brand recognition for themselves, and of course Harley Davidson is the first of the big global manufacturers to move into the space in a serious way.  I also sent an interview request to Brammo, but they did not respond in time.  I hope I’ll be able to talk to them next time.

The contrasts and similarities in positioning and organizational culture and the way those differing cultures influenced the bikes each company has introduced was absolutely fascinating.

1) The State of the Electric Motorcycle

2) Zero Motorcycles company profile: Standing at Ground Zero

3) Mission Motorcycles: More than a bike, it’s a Mission

4) Harley Davidson Project Livewire profile: The electric motorcycle with name recognition

This is an industry that is changing very fast and shows a lot of promise.  And as someone who works in the mobile technology space the incorporation of mobile tech into these bikes is particularly interesting.   I had a lot of fun doing the research and writing and hope you enjoy the articles.

Multi-Touch Attribution in MobileAppTracking

Posted in Tech & Startups | Tagged , ,

I’ve written a new technical blog post for the MobileAppTracking Website on how MAT (my day job) handles multi-touch attribution.  It’s a cool feature that adds a lot of value for our clients but there has been some confusion about how it works so I wanted to explain it for our clients.

Check it out: http://www.tune.com/blog/understanding-multi-touch-attribution-in-mat/

What to track in your Mobile App?

Posted in Tech & Startups | Tagged ,

Brand new blog post up on the HasOffers corporate blog!

Acquiring users costs money and keeping them is hard. Every app has some amount of churn but how much and under what circumstances depend entirely on you and the experience you’ve created. Since it’s impossible to measure uninstalls – on all three mobile platforms uninstalls happen at the OS level outside the app and are thus invisible to the app developer and to SDK-based measurement – the next best thing is to capture key engagement points and measure dropoff based on the number of users who hit each of these. Measuring Data

Since the functionality and flow of mobile apps vary so radically, it’s impossible to identify specific events that everyone should track. So instead I’m going to go through a few common types of events that I see our clients measure and the value propositions behind each.

1. Registration and user info acquisition

Whether you’re a game developer, an mCommerce merchant, a bank, or a lifestyle brand, the moment at which your customer decides they trust you enough to give you their personal information is a key turning point in the user relationship.

Analyzing the engagement rate here can provide critical insight into that relationship. If you’re demanding the info up front and see a large dropoff from Install to Registration you might want to consider allowing an anonymous mode. Conversely, if you see a high engagement rate it means you’re effectively building trust and your users are likely to stick around.

For most apps this is the first major obstacle in the way of monetization and your best opportunity to get an idea of who that end user is so you can customize the user experience and target more effectively. Ask for too much info and you risk alienating people, ask for less and you may pay an opportunity cost by failing to deliver that customization. Fitness, dating, banking, and other apps that have an obvious reason for requiring registration will typically have an easier time getting this info, as will established retail brands, but I can’t think of a single vertical where getting the end user to register (and measuring how many users from each of your acquisition sources complete this step) wouldn’t be beneficial.

2. Tutorial completion or skip

Depending on your app flow this step may happen before or after registration and may be either highly involved or very simple, but there are very few apps that won’t benefit from having at least a minimal “this is where everything is” experience. Measuring whether people complete this step or skip it tells you a lot about how engaging and useful that first interaction with your customers really is. Further, measuring the downstream dropoff rates of your various acquisition sources and comparing that to the tutorial completion or skip rates tells you a lot about the relevance of your app to the demographics being acquired by those sources.

3. First engagement with core value proposition

How you define your core value proposition depends entirely on your app. But every app I’ve seen succeed in the 2 years I’ve spent selling and implementing analytics solutions to mobile developers has offered a tangible value prop, usually something that can be easily summarized in a sentence by anyone familiar with the app.

Let me give a few examples:

For a music service it’s the ability to access a massive library of music on demand without having to buy individual songs first, so ideal metrics are the first time a user plays a song, favorites it, or adds it to a playlist.

For a ridesharing app the core value is the ability to get a ride easily and safely so an ideal measure point is the first time the user searches for a ride.

For a gaming company it’s the fun people have playing their games so level completions are an ideal metric.

For a dating site the goal is a human connection with another user so measuring the first message sent to another user is critical.

For mobile retailers it’s the ability to shop easily from anywhere so favoriting an item or adding it to the cart for the first time is a key milestone.

For a fitness app the core value prop is the ability to track exercise, diet, or similar personal data points so capturing the first time the user goes for a run, calculates their calories, or otherwise uses the tools makes sense.

None of these data points is directly related to monetization (more on that in a moment) but all of them directly reflect on whether this is a user who’s going to stick around or not.

4. Monetization

Of course every developer is ultimately in it to make money, so measuring when and how your users are giving you money is critical. Whether that’s a monthly subscription event that you send to us server side, an in-app purchase, or even buying the app outright in the app store, these are the actions that fill your bank account and keep you in business. Capturing these events in a solution like MAT allows you to compare revenue to the cost of acquisition and calculate ROI across campaigns, acquisition channels, creatives, keywords, or whatever other metrics you’ve decided to measure (look for a future article on how to get the most out of our segmentation tools).

It’s worth pointing out that, unlike some other events which you probably only want to measure the first time, monetization should be captured for every occurrence. I’ve seen plenty of cases where one campaign brought in more initial big purchases but the users dropped off, while a different campaign brought in users who spent less up front but stayed engaged and spent more in the long term – leading to a higher cumulative ROI. The ability to capture end user data for the lifetime of their engagement with your app and trace all of that back to their acquisition point is critical, so make sure you’re using a solution that looks at lifetime value and not just the first few months.

5. What makes your app unique?

There are almost 275,000 games on the Apple store and over 165,000+ on Google Play – that’s a lot of competition! Meanwhile, every retailer, dating site, social media service, etc. who wants to stay in business has either launched, is in the process of launching, or will launch their own app at some point. So what makes your app unique?

This is different from #3 because there I was talking about the core functionality of your vertical which you probably share with all your competitors. Here I’m asking what makes your offering unique and why should people use it instead of one of your competitors?

Obviously I can’t tell you what this killer feature is – it will be different for every app. But if you don’t know what it is for your app or if your users aren’t taking advantage of it, it’s a good sign you need to put some work into your product development.

These are just a few ideas to get you started, depending on your vertical there may be additional events that you should be measuring. What would you add to the list?