The first interactions a user has with an app will determine its overall success ands longevity. If a user likes an app, its long-term potential greatly increases. If not, well, it is destined to the black hole of app oblivion.
That is why the ability to track the first few sessions a user has with an app in real-time is critical. Mobile marketing and analytics startup Apsalar is releasing an update to its platform called Daily Cohorts that allows publishers to track app analytics in real-time the day it is published. Developers can then make determinations on how best to market and monetize the app while it is still fresh in the users' mind.
The ability to retain users after the launch of an app is critical. All the best plans for marketing, engagement and monetization will go for naught if a user has stopped using the app after the first few days.
Apsalar CEO Michael Oiknine describes the scenario of a mobile game from a theoretical mobile gaming company called "Xco." The company set up several cohorts to track the retention of users and finds that after three days the app is not living up to expectations and revenues are falling short. Xco finds that users that completed the app tutorial are more likely to keep using the app while those that do not are letting it slide into app oblivion.
"As Xco takes a closer look at the data they realize that by looking at the segment of users who completed the tutorial, retention and revenue are slightly ahead of their benchmarks and those users are leveling up more frequently than other users," Oiknine said in an email to ReadWriteMobile. "However, only 65% of users are completing the tutorial. Based on this data, Xco goes into action and decides to make the tutorial more prominent in the UX after first launch of the app."
This is a familiar scenario for many mobile games. The ability to track early sessions is extremely important. In this case, a quick tweak to the app to push more people towards the tutorial would benefit its longevity.
The cohort method of analytics differs from just tracking sessions or daily average users. It provides a level of detail that other metrics (what Oiknine calls "vanity metrics") do not.
"With daily cohorts, app developers can make critical changes fast enough so that they don't lose the valuable users they've acquired," Oiknine said.
Apsalar's Daily Cohorts allows publishers to group users together in a single segment by the day they launched the app. For instance, users that downloaded the app the first day it was available can be grouped as "Day 1" users and their history can be tracked as a single segment. Same with Day 2 users, etc.
Apsalar's platform focuses on engagement and monetization. Daily Cohorts is a change for the company, as it used to provide weekly cohort analysis, which means that the information gained from initial users could not be acted upon immediately. A week is a long time for a newly-downloaded app and can cost the publisher thousands of dollars (and a plethora of poor reviews) if the app is subpar or users are not sticking with it.
To a certain extent, Apsalar's Daily Cohorts falls into the realm of "predictive analytics" but with real-time data. The ability to track and group user sessions from the earliest possible moment will give developers a better understanding of how future users will interact with the app. The idea is to get actionable data as soon as possible. Apsalar can then engage the user across apps with its Mobile Engagement Management (MEM) system that segments the user base on a common criteria.
Apsalar puts its Daily Cohorts up against a variety of other services that offer similar functions. Mobile analytics company Flurry, which Apsalar considers its chief competitor, tracks user sessions and has a "Re-Engagement" model to monetize user behavior. PlayHaven has the ability to track user behavior in real-time in mobile games and update an app accordingly.
Developers: What do you think of Apsalar's Daily Cohorts? Is there anything similar on the market that you prefer to use? How important are early-stage analytics to the success of your app? Let us know in the comments.