Using Google Analytics to Improve Mobile App’s Customer Experience and Cut Marketing Costs

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To understand customers you need customer data, but customized analytics can be prohibitively expensive. An AOT team turned to Google Analytics to keep visitors engaged and improve sales numbers.

A mobile sales app has two big challenges: how to keep clients happy and how to keep clients’ customers happy, and to solve both challenges you need data.

But collecting data can be expensive, especially on a startup’s budget. Fortunately, an AOT team proposed and implemented Google Analytics, which is free and offers most of the data the team needed.

Without Google Analytics it was easy enough to determine a few key facts, such as how many orders were placed per business.

But with Google Analytics clients can see what pages attract the most customers, where on the site visitors give up without ordering, the geographical location of visitors, and even something as simple as the total number of visitors per day—not the same as orders per day!

All this information helped improve web design, such as what size of screens the development team should focus on, and how much to make multilingual support a priority (a lot, as it turned out).

In addition, clients can track user trends with more precision, helping to avoid spending too much on ineffective advertising campaigns.

So Google Analytics keeps costs down because it’s free and can make marketing campaigns more efficient, and it boosts revenues by making it easier for visitors to make a purchase.

Here’s the story of how an AOT Team decided upon Google Analytics and how they implemented this solution.

Analyzing the Options

Moduurn Mobility’s online ordering app is targeted to clients such as hotels and restaurants that want to customize and enable online sales to their customers. When AOT Technologies took over the stalled development of the app, our big goal was to get a viable version of the Victoria startup’s product into the market so it could start making money for both Moduurn and its own clients.

The product we developed worked well, but we needed more analytics to make the app work even better and to understand user behaviour more thoroughly. Unfortunately, doing analytics from scratch is a Herculean task that depends on different processes to collect, store, and process raw data, making that option potentially too expensive to install and maintain.

Instead it made sense to look at ready-made solutions that came out well in a cost-benefit analysis. There are many analytics platforms available online, but Google Analytics (GA) is the clear market leader as it can be used with most web and mobile apps for free. Only if the volume of collected data is huge is there a charge associated with it. GA is an easy-to-implement way to collect nearly all the data needed for analytics including:

  • page views
  • events such as logins, checkouts, and payments
  • demographic details
  • geographical source

GA also offers options to add custom events and dimensions (parameters) to cater to specific needs. Built-in dashboards and reports make analyzing large volumes of data very easy to do.

Once the data feed is set up, analysis can be done in different ways:

  • Using the GA online dashboard that is available to authorized users
  • Embedding the GA online dashboard in external websites
  • Integrating Google APIs to collect data and reports

How to Set Up Tracking

To use Google Analytics’ tracking tools, you’ll need a Google Analytics account for a property such as a domain name (like moduurn.com) and users assigned to the account with appropriate permissions.

You’ll also need a Google Developers Console account, which can be activated by:

  • Creating a SERVICE ACCOUNT in the developer console, which provides a dummy account to perform Google authentication on the server side
  • Mapping the service account as a READ-ONLY user in Google Analytics to perform embedded API operations and report read-only APIs
  • Creating another SERVICE ACCOUNT to perform write operations in Google Analytics, such as through the reporting API and management API

Metrics Used in Google Analytics

A metric is a standard of quantitative measurement. Google Analytics can track up to 200 different metrics to measure how a website is performing. While some metrics may be more valuable to certain businesses than others, here are some of the most popular metrics:

  • Users. A user is a unique or new visitor to the website
  • Sessions. The overall time a visitor spends on the website
  • Pages per session. The number of page views for each session
  • Goal completions. The number of times a goal is met
  • Page views. Total number of pages viewed
  • Bounce rate. The percentage of visitors who viewed only a single page, a figure that helps to determine customer drop-off

Google Analytics provides near real-time data on your user base, including their meta data:

 

There are some predefined dimensions provided that get tracked automatically when the tracking code is added in the app we created for Moduurn. Some of them are:

  • Language of customer
  • Browser type
  • Geographical location (city, country)
  • Device model
  • User age group

We can add custom dimensions to track extra details that might help us to understand customer behaviour, which in turn helps the client to provide better customer service.

Embed API

We can see the tracked data in the analytics dashboard, and if we need to show the graphical reports in our own application, Google Analytics provides the Embed API for that purpose. (For more information on setting it up check out this guide from the Google Analytics website.)

We can choose the type of graph we need by specifying the date range as well.

Reporting API

The Google Analytics Reporting API provides programmatic methods to access report data, allowing you to:

  • Get analytics data in JSON format, which can then be processed analytically
  • Build custom dashboards to display Google Analytics data
  • Automate complex reporting tasks to save time
  • Integrate your Google Analytics data with other business applications

Price and Limitations

Google Analytics is free to use. If you need enhanced facilities and advanced tracking, the paid version of GA costs $150,000 a year (as of Dec. 2021).

A development team should keep in mind some constraints of GA before adding it to the solution architecture:

  • A maximum of 100 Analytics accounts per user is available
  • A maximum of 50 properties per account, supporting a maximum 10 million hits per month
  • A maximum 25 views per property is allowed

Google Analytics 4

Although we use the standard version of GA, Universal Analytics, in our Moduurn project, another option is Google Analytics 4 (GA4), a completely new version that uses Firebase Analytics on the backend. GA4 enables marketers to measure users’ interactions within mobile and single-page apps, and it attempts to correct data that has been corrupted or cloaked by cookie restrictions and user-consent choices in a privacy-safe way. Some key advantages of GA4 over its predecessors include:

  • Improved customer-usage tracking
  • Precise user-engagement analysis
  • Streamlined for a better digital marketing experience
  • Easy-to-use ad campaigns.
  • Importance given to user privacy
  • Better goals and events setup
  • Enhanced reporting and analysis

Alternatives to Google Analytics

There are many analytics platforms that compete with Google Analytics. As noted, we decided to use GA as it presented the best balance of cost and features, but here are some other leading players:

  • Facebook Pixel
  • Semrush
  • Amplitude Analytics
  • Adobe Analytics
  • Mixpanel
  • Matomo

How Google Analytics Boosted Moduurn’s Growth

During the initial days of the Moduurn project, each business’s customer base was calculated from the number of orders placed for each application, a figure that could be determined because each business used its own white-labeled (rebranded) application. But the development team couldn’t determine the number of customers who visited the site but didn’t complete an order, as collecting the detailed data to get this figure would have been very expensive. The team spent some time looking into the most cost-effective way to gather this information and decided Google Analytics was the best solution. With minimal coding, the development team, helped by the marketing team, could now share valuable statistics about the app’s users. For instance:

  • TOTAL VISITOR COUNT per day helped the team determine the number of users visiting the website so that we could estimate the infrastructure needed to run the application smoothly
  • SESSIONS BY DEVICES helped the development team clearly focus on improving page design to match the screen sizes used by most customers
  • SESSIONS BY GEOGRAPHICAL REGION helped pinpoint each customer’s location, data that helped the team convince Moduurn’s management to make multilingual support a bigger priority, and to pinpoint where to concentrate marketing efforts
  • The BEHAVIOR FLOW graph helped Moduurn understand the customer drop rate across various pages, and helping them improve page design and navigation
  • Also, user trends on special occasions such as holidays were captured by GA, helping the business team schedule campaigns and online marketing to attract more customers.

Overall, Google Analytics has helped Moduurn to understand what interests its clients’ customers the most and streamline solutions accordingly, helping businesses to devise better strategies by targeting key audiences instead of spending advertising money too broadly. In the end, Google Analytics has improved both business and end-user satisfaction.

About the Author

Arun S is a senior full-stack developer at AOT Technologies specializing in developing highly scalable mobile and web applications. While working on the Moduurn Mobility project for over two years, he is mainly focusing on managing and implementing new workflows as well as creating intuitive designs and mockups. Outside of work Arun enjoys listening to music.