Mobile analytics can help drive conversions but brands must be contextual and not too pushy
Analysing app performance is mandatory but it doesn’t stop there; travel companies must also understand usage behaviour and conversion. In addition, the varied and intricate requirements for different platforms demand specific attention. Android and iOS apps vastly differ in their performance and even different versions within each app can pose unique challenges.
Mobile analytics plays a crucial role in all this and here EyeforTravel’s Ritesh Gupta talks to Seshadri Krishnan, co-founder, Trip38, a location aware mobile app, about the role this plays in an emerging, yet critical, business area.
EFT: What do you think is going to make mobile analytics more robust and consistent in 2014?
SK: As in any other emerging eco-system play where the front-end - in this case mobile apps - play a more visible and dominating role, the backend aspects would take some time to gain traction and scale. With the few acquisitions done by the likes of Facebook, Twitter etc, 2014 would be the year where more major technology players would start offering this as part of their overall analytics value proposition.
EFT: Would you say there is any manner in which mobile analytics lags behind traditional web approaches?
SK: Some of the areas which are work-in-progress and hence currently not on par with the more sophisticated web analytic tools are:
· Conversion (whatever the metrics be CPI, CPA, CPD etc) is still lower than the web conversion models.
· Tracking mechanisms are still rudimentary given the limitations on the app footprint and limited fallback options unlike in web where cookies and other behaviour targeting aspects have been perfected over the years
· Bigger players focused on mobile analytics is set to emerge as leader in this space
EFT: Can you explain how Google Analytics can help to understand user behaviour and usage patterns within an app?
SK: On Trip38, we are able to get significant insight into our user’s behaviour primarily through Google Analytics since it practically provides all the elements we look for – app usage time, time spent per session, time spent on various pages, user activity etc. Of course, we are able to get these analytics since we have our tracking code into the app to have greater insight into the user behaviour.
EFT: The geo-location dimension is one area that travel apps can do more. What do you make of this challenge?
SK: The challenge is significant due to few reasons – app footprint issues, user privacy challenges, Internet connectivity and so on.
One way to address this challenge is to identify critical parts of the app and have a mechanism to get the geo-location info for analytics.
The other solution is to get some anchoring (like a public lat-long info if possible) and reverse-geo code the user location. Of course, all these have to be done primarily to understand the user behaviour without undermining user privacy aspects.
EFT: Where would you like to see changing happening in the mobile analytics arena?
SK: Granted this market has come a long way in the past few years. However, aspects like a single dashboard across devices (especially for consumer Internet/e-commerce players), enterprise wide access for analytics for corporates, lightweight in-built mobile analytics and so on are innovations one would like to see in this field going forward.
EFT: How do you analyse how your mobile users interact with your app? What are their major considerations as they visit your app?
SK: The key criteria for Trip38 is user engagement in terms of the time they spend on the app, features they use such as reviews, ratings, or social likes that they do using the platform. The social and search aspects of our app is critical for us to create a network effect to get more users to come and use the app and this becomes a truly a viral effect.
EFT: How do you go about ensuring conversions once a visitor gets close to making a decision and how do you follow-up once they have left?
SK: This is a tricky area and it has to be more implicit given the way users would react if there were too many follow-ups from the app provider side. It can at best be a suggestion or a reminder to the user to nudge them to complete the purchase.
For travel apps like ours, we aim to engage with users - of course with opt-in privacy controls - with very nice innovative digital campaigns like email marketing, some wacky ‘did you know’ alerts and friends’ suggestions and so on. And we do this along with key product features like pre-travel alerts etc.
The key point is how to make it contextual and relevant for the user so that he or she uses the app even when they don’t travel.
EFT: How do you assess customer experience issues? Do you conduct real-time analysis to assess behaviour?
SK: As of now, we do not have a real-time customer alert mechanism. However, we do have a report error and other exception management in our backend to check and rectify any customer issues. This is apart from a few A/B testing aspects we have to identify the real features they users are looking for.
EFT: When it comes to addressing issues through analytics, direct feedback and bug reporting what is the most mature?
SK: While direct feedback and bug reporting may have an immediate effect where the issues get highlighted to the technology team, this does not provide clarity on how the users have navigated the site, the things they liked and issues they have faced. On any day, web analytics coupled with a strong A/B testing approach would help the app developer to get the right product feature to their targeted users.