App Analytics Stacks & Their Importance

By Nick Epson on December 9, 2021

Helping businesses to understand user behavior is the main purpose of analytics stacks used for all kinds of digital products such as mobile apps – everywhere a user touches their screen and the actions they take are compiled alongside other relevant data to paint a picture of how users engage with a product. Analytics and reporting from these platforms will influence everything from how you react to changes, tackle routine maintenance, scale features, and much more. Ultimately, they help businesses make better decisions to attract, convert, and retain users as well as continually improve the user experience.

After all, collecting data is only half the battle – it’s up to your business to put what’s been learned into action.

Think of how cardiac monitoring tools used by emergency responders and doctors can provide a patient’s vitals but deeper diagnostics like blood work, tissue samples, and so much more are needed to get a comprehensive view of a patient’s health. Some analytics systems function as comprehensive suites that track and analyze a broad spectrum of data while some are more specific, like a cardiac monitor. We’re going to explain what these products do then look at some more specific examples of how certain systems are used.

What is an analytics stack?

An analytics stack refers to a kind of software (or collection of software) that records data from users as they interact with apps. Most often, these solutions include intelligence that can help businesses understand the bigger picture.

Let’s use the Rolling Stone app as an example: if you read our App Rundown from the previous link, we discuss our user journey while navigating through the app and interacting with different features. In the section where we talk about what we’d do differently, we talk about the portion of the app that allows you to view the print magazine.

Somewhere on the backend, there’s an analytics program that watches as each user interacts with the magazine where it counts how long the user spends on a screen as well as when and how the user touches the device. We complained that this feature doesn’t allow you to jump to any given page which means a user who wants to read something on page 72 will have to swipe for a good minute and a half before they land on that page.

Information like this is being logged and should be noticed, but it depends a lot on the system in place. A lot of swipes following a certain action might be picked up and flagged by some AI-driven reporting tool built into the analytics program but not all systems are equipped with (or configured to use) this degree of logic.

Just as finding the right solution is important, the configuration is another important factor that will be on the shoulders of your development team. Virtually every solution on the market will have the capability to track copious amounts of relevant (and irrelevant) user data, so setting it up to get the most out of it just like anything else. This means that it’s important to find a solution early on to make sure data can help guide your decisions well before your product officially hits the market.

App analytics stack use cases featuring Upkept

The Upkept app is a product that we designed and developed for Consumer Reports provides a variety of different functions that help everyday users tackle home maintenance. It can be downloaded for free on iOS and Android, giving users 90 days of full access to some 250+ maintenance routines that can help improve the quality and extend the lives of systems around their homes,

The Upkept app uses a few different products as part of its stack to track and analyze meaningful user behavior. Beyond crucial metrics used for understanding the big picture of app health, there are more specific use cases for app analytics stacks that tie into other endeavors aside from business intelligence like research and development or routine maintenance. Let’s look at how Upkept is fulfilling different analytics needs with a handful of solutions

Data gathering & warehousing

Data needs to be identified and coalesced before it can be analyzed and understood which is a major element in any analytics operation. This process is a lot like a manufacturing operation where items are procured from a variety of vendors and eventually transformed into anything from a box of cereal to an RV. This portion of an analytics stack is where data is arranged from different connected databases and stored in such a way that the data can be processed within the system as well as other tools which we’ll cover shortly.

Two of the top app analytics providers are Amplitude and Segment, the former of which is used by Upkept to aggregate data from a variety of sources such as input data collected from the frontend and connected databases. This system allows Upkept to track the user journey and understand how each element was used (or avoided) by their userbase through customer event processing. Upkept has been using this to identify areas for opportunity by learning how users tend to navigate through the app and interact with different elements.

Segmentation & customer experience

Seeing how a user moves through an app helps businesses gain a general understanding of a user but their behavior in more specific scenarios, such as their actions following an interaction with a push notification, adds significantly more detail to the picture. Good notification systems are often tethered to user data which allows them to send out useful, personalized messages at the right time as well as track and measure the outcomes. They also play a valuable role in helping distinguish characteristics of individual users to properly segment an audience.

The OneSignal and Braze platforms stand out as two of the most popular systems on the market – Upkept uses Braze to reach out to users at the perfect time to help nudge users to progress through their journey and thus, get the most out of the app. The Upkept app takes into account the user’s maintenance plan and will send out timely notifications for certain tasks which are tracked to help determine their effectiveness. Performance metrics here are also absorbed by the data warehousing solution (Amplitude, in this case) where data is stored though it can also be further dissected and examined when necessary.

Advertising & attribution

Almost all marketing systems will include a host of trackers and analytics to help businesses understand the effectiveness (or lack thereof) of various marketing efforts and app events through data. These systems draw most of the power from a connected data warehouse solution which feeds the system the information it needs for the analytics stack to perform at capacity.

There are a ton of solutions on the market from the immensely popular, veteran service provider, App Annie, to others like Sensor Tower, AppsFlyer, and the Kochava platform that’s used by Upkept. These marketing systems connect with internal data warehouses as well as other attribution platforms (when needed) like Facebook, Google, and other ad networks to power marketing efforts through data. 

For example, Kochava provides insights into social media efforts, showing which of their social ads are driving not just downloads, but downloads that result in paid user conversions and long-term retention. Data can also be repositioned to help understand more intricate details, for example, such as specific interests through segmentation analysis, that can be used to do anything from sending out a personalized CTA in a notification through Braze or in other cases, it might simply reveal that a content refresh for one group of ads should lead to more conversion.

Blue Label Labs helps businesses understand their apps

One of the most important services that we provide is strategy, which is made possible by data. We use data from the very beginning and throughout the lifecycle of an app to help make the best possible decisions for a product and its users. Analytics is an immense, complex beast that we tackle with the help of powerful tools and years so businesses can make the most of their data. To learn more or to talk about your app idea, get in touch!