What is mobile user tracking?

Companies employ mobile user tracking to understand users’ actions within their app. Understanding users helps teams adjust their product, marketing, and support to guide more users to sign up, purchase, and return. It also helps them disrupt behaviors that lead to churn, such as downgrades and deletions. Tracking users is vital to building useful apps.

Employees analyzing customer behavior with customer analytics software.

Why mobile user tracking is vital

Companies that can’t track their mobile users are left flying blind. They can’t detect errors such as forms that never load, can’t tell which features users love and which they hate, and can’t A/B test their product, marketing, or customer support efforts to improve their results. Companies with a mobile user tracking tool, on the other hand, have full visibility into users’ actions and their behavioral data. User behavior data is particularly useful because it can be more accurate and more revealing than other types of data, such as demographics. Whereas a users’ demographics such as their age, gender, or location only suggest that they’re similar to previous buyers, users’ behaviors indicate specific intent—for example, what product they’re interested in, when they plan to purchase, or what genre of movies they like. These are often predictive of buying outcomes. “An Indian student in my class is really interested in Korean horror films,” professor Michael D. Smith of Carnegie Mellon University told The Signal. “You wouldn’t get her niche interests from her age, nationality, or gender—only from the content she views.”

Companies can use mobile user tracking tools to:

Improve their product

Tracking tools can show teams what paths users take through the product, known as user flows. Positive actions, such as time spent, indicate which features or pages users like, whereas negative behaviors such as drop-offs may indicate a problem such as a bug or an unclear call-to-action (CTA) button.

Increase marketing effectiveness

Tracking tools allow marketers to tie their campaigns, such as an email or a discount code, to individual users and their behaviors. This way, they can see which campaigns or channels drove the most profitable users, and adjust. Learn more about mobile user attribution.

Increase customer retention

Tracking tools allow customer support teams to understand what factors lead to retention, and to guide more users through to adoption. For example, if all new users that remained customers after 30 days tended to watch a particular onboarding video, the team can make the video a required step in the new user welcome flow.

Guide the business

Tracking tools can help analytics teams peel back the lid on the product and analyze everything from particular features to how the weather impacts adoption rates.

Automate the customer journey

Tracking tools allow teams to trigger events based on user behaviors. For example, a streaming music app can trigger either in-app or push notifications to guide users who get lost or leave the app.

Examples of mobile user tracking

The insurer Lemonade boosted add-on purchases 50 percent

Mixpanel’s automatic insights helped Lemonade discover that new policyholders who wanted to buy additional insurance couldn’t because of a misunderstanding. “To finalize a policy with Extra Coverage, a user has to submit their policy to review,” says Gil Sadis, Head of Product at Lemonade. “Mixpanel helped us find that most people didn’t submit it for review; they went through the entire flow and then suddenly stopped.” The team analyzed each stage of the purchase user flow and discovered two issues: A browser-based error and a CTA that was unclear. The team fixed the error and rewrote the CTA and increased add-on purchases 50 percent. Read Lemonade’s case study.

E-signature leader DocuSign increases conversions 15 percent

DocuSign used Mixpanel to A/B test different features and flows, and realized that with a few simple changes, they could increase the number of new users who created accounts. After people are invited to sign a DocuSign document, they’re prompted to create their own account. By experimenting with different phrasing and button placements, DocuSign discovered a variant that led 15 percent more users to create accounts, and launched the new variant for their entire user base. Read DocuSign’s case study.

Messaging app Viber boosts usage 15 percent

Viber used Mixpanel to understand how its nearly one billion users communicate, and test ways to help them communicate more. “With Insights, we saw how people were depending on the visible keyboard features and underusing ones that were hidden within the menu,” said Danny Odes, Mobile Product Manager at Viber. “Because Mixpanel allowed us to track, test, and measure how the different feature changes impacted overall usage, we started playing with which features we exposed and which ones we hid in the drop down.” Viber eventually landed on a new keyboard arrangement that allowed users to express themselves more fully. This made the app more fun, and increased usage 15 percent. Read Viber’s case study.

How to set up mobile user tracking

1. Create a tracking plan

Before teams begin tracking mobile user data, they must decide what data they actually want to collect. Not all data is useful, and too much noise, such as activity data, can drown out valuable signals, such as purchase flows. To create a tracking plan, teams first collect requirements from product, marketing, customer service, and analytics teams, including their goals and stories about how they expect to use the analytics. From this, the team can create a spreadsheet that lists every datapoint and creates a syntax for how events are named within the product and within the mobile user tracking tool.

2. Deploy analytics

Once teams have a tracking plan, they can evaluate mobile user tracking tools, each of which have different strengths and weaknesses. A good mobile mobile user tracking analytics tool should:

  • Cover both mobile and desktop apps
  • Support all desired data types and sources
  • Offer a user-friendly interface

3. Test, adjust, improve

Mobile user tracking is a journey, not a destination. Once it’s set up, teams may need to test that their data is firing properly, that the team is trained on the tool, and that all teams are able to use the tool to answer questions on a daily basis. It’s not uncommon for teams to discover data they wish they could track after implementation, and to revise the tracking plan and tool to incorporate it after the fact. Once the data is flowing, teams are able to view their users behaviors in real-time to understand their product like never before. They’re able to tell what features users like, dislike, and are willing to pay for, and can make data-driven decisions that make the product more useful, satisfying, and successful.  

Track your mobile users today. Try Mixpanel for free.

Sign up