The Key Difference Between Mobile and Web Analytics Metrics

mobile and web analytics graphicAs much as marketers wish, want and hope otherwise, mobile and web have some important differences that come into play when you start analyzing user data. The rules for engagement have been thoroughly defined for the web world, but that criteria doesn't directly translate to the mobile world.

Although key metrics like conversions, revenue and user lifetime value are necessary to track across every channel, how users act on these specific channels and the insights gained during those sessions differ greatly. In this post, we'll point out the distinct differences for analysis of a web page versus a mobile app.


Web KPIs

With the advancement of online marketing techniques, marketers have created intricate structures for creating, deploying, and measuring web campaigns. When it comes down to it, all web marketers are held accountable for tracking this process:

  • Visitors > Visits > Pageviews > Events

Despite your best efforts to convince your brand that traffic and pageviews aren't enough to measure true engagement, they still stand as fundamentally important data points you need to report on regularly. In the web world, user authentication is done through cookies and IP addresses, allowing Google Analytics and other marketing platforms to track traffic and identify which pages your visitors are viewing.

But these "visits" will continue as long as a user is viewing a page on your site, distorting metrics and creating inconsistencies in a multi-tab world. Many web users today leave pages up that they aren't actively viewing, or revisit pages to recall information, not to act on events like converting, purchasing, or downloading.

However, having been immersed in the web analytics world for many years, modern marketers know which metrics they favor and which are most indicative of true engagement. We've been able to work past these basics to a place of detailed insights, automation, and in-depth campaigns. But that's with traditional metrics; now, with mobile on the rise, how do you switch to an app metrics mindset?


Mobile KPIs

People use mobile apps in a fundamentally different way; they may spend less time in apps than on the web during a given time, but their app sessions are more concentrated. The key app usage funnel is similar to the web, but critically different:

  • Users > Sessions > Events

The difference? It's here: sessions instead of pageviews. Sessions are tracked more minutely than web visits and pageviews. In the mobile world, users are identified by the device tracking or through social authentication, and a session times out after a user closes the app, or navigates away from the app for more than 15 seconds.

App interactions are tracked down to screen flow, and the right tools measure session length, session interval, and other retention-based metrics that are indicative of engagement behavior. Google Analytics doesn't cover enough to accurately measure your mobile app metrics. At its core, it's a web analytics platform, and doesn't have the capabilities to work as an adequate source of app engagement data.


Getting Going = Finding the Right Tools

It's a whole new ball game with app metrics, and it's essential to use the right analytics tool to improve your user experience. With that in mind, marketers need to be able to shift from web to mobile to ensure success across all channels.

Start by switching from tracking pageviews to tracking sessions, and using session insights to measure engagement and inform A/B testing, marketing campaigns and UX changes; we give you the how-to in our blog post on pageviews vs. sessions. Embracing the details and trusting the measurements to be accurate, you can create a smart and successful app experience. 

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