The Value Of Google Analytics For Mobile

In the marketing game, numbers are crucial. I’m not telling you anything you don’t know. There’s a reason why MarketingLand has a whole area designated for analytics. If you’re a website owner or marketer, chances are you spend a lot of time looking at Google Analytics for your website. Do you give your mobile site and app the same kind of attention?

Why Use Analytics For Mobile?

The main reasons to use analytics for mobile are the same as the reasons for using analytics on any website. Analytics answer a number of important questions:

  1. Where is traffic coming from (for mobile web)?
  2. Where is traffic going within the site or app?
  3. What features in the site or app are getting the most use?
  4. Are people getting stuck trying to perform some function?
  5. Are people meeting (sales) goals when using the site or app?

How do I use Google Analytics for mobile?

For a regular mobile website, when you make a new account, go to the “Advanced” tab, choose “A site built for a mobile phone”. You’ll need to select the site’s server-side language from the list, and then you’ll get the right code to put into your mobile website. Tests have determined that regular Google Analytics do not always work correctly. In fact, one test showed that as many as 88% of mobile pageviews did not show up using regular Google Analytics.

Code for mobile app analytics

For an iPhone or Android app, though, you’ll need to use the iOS or Android SDK.

Four Things to Look For In App Analytics

There are a lot of things that you can learn by adding analytics into an app. Here are some that can make a big difference in your business:

• What features are users using? This is probably the most important thing to find out. There are two reasons that certain features get used more than others.

The first is that those are the most important features. The second is that the other features are difficult to access or use. If the features that are being used are those that meet your company’s goals best, then the app is on target.

Imagine an airline app, for example, that has a number of features. One goal might be to tell people about flight delays and restrictions to prevent trouble at the gate. Another goal might be to help people book seats for the same reason. A third goal, however, might be to allow customers to purchase tickets.

It’s important to define the goals you have for an app, and to measure whether people are accessing them. If people aren’t accessing them, it might be a sign that the app design doesn’t encourage using that feature.

• Where are users getting stuck? Let’s go back to the airline example. It’s important to see whether people trying to purchase tickets are abandoning their carts. It’s equally important to see whether people trying to save their seats succeed.

If people often abandon their carts, there may be some difficulty in booking tickets this way. There might be a good way to solve it, or it might be useful to put in a phone number link to help people with complicated processes.

• Are users returning? Which actions do users come back for? For an app, usage numbers are almost as important as installation numbers. While some company goals might be met with a single use (for example, purchasing tickets for an airline), most apps can only be judged to be effective if users come back regularly.

• Is there a problem with use on certain devices? This can catch simple mistakes like Flash-based functions which won’t work on iOS or on many Android phones, but can also catch errors that are deeper in the app use, particularly on Android where there are so many different devices.

If a certain Android build can’t access an important feature, it could cost the company hundreds, or even thousands, of sales. This is why analytics segmentation is critical.

Obviously there are many other uses for analytics on a mobile site or app, but they differ for different types of apps. Leave a comment on what information you’re looking for in mobile analytics.

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land.

Related Topics: Analytics | Channel: Analytics | Google: Analytics | Mobile Marketing | Mobile Marketing Column


About The Author: works at Hunter & Bard, where she is the Content & Community Manager for She has been working in SEO, content, and social media since 2004.

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  • Caleb Whitmore


    You raise some good points, however I feel the need to call out caution around using the GA-supplied “mobile” tag. 

    That tag will produce much higher traffic counts because it will report *all user agents*.  In testing I’ve done we saw about 3x the traffic in terms of visits and 2x the volume of pageviews with the “mobile” tag vs. the standard JavaScript tag.  That’s because the mobile tag uses a completely different means of visitor and session tracking as well as being server-side and thus vulnerable to data from bots.  

    I’d be curious to see data for the tests you reference and it would be illuminating to your readers to know more about that, because I fear many will rush off an implement the mobile tag on their mobile sites when in fact it should only be implemented on sites that are purely dedicated to WAP devices that are unable to execute JavaScript.

    Readers *should* be worried about accuracy, but those issues can be largely resolved by using the latest version of the GA JavaScript tag and placing the async code in the of the page.  Placement of the JS code, non-async especially, lower in the page can produce 10% to 30% data loss easily, and more for mobile due to latency issues on mobile networks.




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