How to Set Up and Install Tracking for Mobile Apps

Author Bio: Danielle Canstello is party of the content marketing team at Pyramid Analytics. They provide enterprise level analytics and bi office. In her spare time, she writes around the web to spread her knowledge of the marketing, business intelligence and analytics industries.


Every business needs to know how and why customers choose their product, with the goal being to convert more potential customers into paying customers.

Using information like customer behavior allows any marketer to develop a plan and ultimately improve their marketing efforts.

What steps a customer took to achieve the goal you desire is known as conversion tracking. That’s whether your goal is to have customers sign up for emails or purchase your product. Using information such as conversion tracking, you can allocate resources to increase profit.

This is true for mobile app developers, just as with any business. Tracking mobile app conversions and other key user actions will help marketers take steps to improve their apps and ultimately make more money.

Let’s look at how to set up and install tracking for mobile apps.

Mobile App Conversion Data

Mobile app tracking is when a developer or marketer that has an app tracks the actions of users, such as the number of users who downloaded or installed their app. Conversion data means they have been able to attribute those downloads to the source that the customer used, such as an advertisement.

Here are some examples of the various user data that can be tracked:

  • What channel led to the download of the app. This could be via a search engine, social media platform or advertisement, for instance.
  • What channels assisted with a conversion. For example, did the customer read a blog post about the app and then search for it.
  • What action while using the app led to an in-app purchase. Maybe there is a specific step in the app that leads to more purchases.
  • Any other factors that led to the purchase. Perhaps a specific color of an in-app offer is clicked on for purchase more often than another color.

By understanding the different channels and actions that lead to the desired customer action, whether that’s a download or a sale, you’ll be able to analyze the information. After all, gathering the data is only useful once you analyze it. This allows you to make decisions about resource allocation.

If you understand what’s driving buyers away, you might decide to allocate resources to improving low performance actions. Or you could dedicate more resources to high-performing actions.

Digging Deeper into Tracking

Information such as the number of installations needs to be considered along with other metrics. For example, just because a user installs an app doesn’t make the app successful. If the user looks at the app once and never uses it, there won’t be an opportunity for in-app purchases or revenue from in-app advertising.

In fact, if you paid advertising dollars to get the download, you could even be losing money.

Therefore, tracking needs to go deeper to look at data such as retention and average daily active users (ADAU).

As well, app performance such as crashes also needs to be monitored.

That isn’t to say tracking this information is easy. App stores don’t always share data. To track installs, most companies need a tracking partner.

Tracking Tools

There are a variety of tools you can use to set up and install tracking. One of the most popular is Firebase, Google’s mobile app developer platform, which also gives you access to easy tools for tracking your mobile apps.

Applicable for iOS and Android, Firebase will provide free and unlimited event reporting for up to 500 distinct event types, as well as cross-network attribution and access to data in real-time.

With Firebase, you can look at everything from user engagement to app crashes, and it’s integrated with Google Ads.

Set up Firebase SDK to start; to connect to Firebase, make yourself an owner of the project.

Then follow these steps:

  1. Sign in to your account in Google Analytics and go to Admin.
  2. Select Create Account in the Account column.
  3. Choose Mobile App.
  4. Select Setting Up Your Account.
  5. Accept the default choice that adds the account to your current organization. This means you need to clear the check box that asks you to create an account outside your organization.
  6. Enter the name of your App under Setting up your property. Make sure the name is descriptive and, if applicable, include the version number. This will be important if you plan to track more than one account, now or in the future.
  7. Choose your Industry Category.
  8. Choose your Reporting Time Zone.

Note: This only sets a boundary for the reports you will generate. It doesn’t have to do with the data collection.

  1. Select whatever data you want to collect under Data Sharing Settings.
  2. Download the Firebase SDKs by clicking Get Tracking ID.

If you have an existing reporting account, follow these steps to establish a new, mobile app property:

  1. Sign in to your account in Google Analytics and go to Admin.
  2. Choose + Create Property in the Property column.
  3. Choose Mobile app.
  4. Connect to Firebase by choosing the Firebase project.

With your account connected to Firebase, you’ll be able to track the following events:

  • When a user joins a group
  • When a user signs up, including how they sign up (via email, Google account, etc.)
  • When a user logs in
  • When a user is presented with an offer
  • When a user does a search in the app, selects content or shares content
  • When a user begins and ends a tutorial
  • When a user spends virtual currency, such as tokens, in the app

There are also events specific to retail or e-commerce apps:

  • When a user adds an item to a wish list or a cart
  • When a user begins the checkout process, and when a user completes the purchase
  • When a user adds billing information
  • When a lead is generated, such as submitting a form
  • When a refund is issued

Firebase also has events specific to travel apps and games.

There are other tools available to you.

If your app is specific to the App Store, Apple Analytics will offer insight into your users. That includes how they discovered your app, how they searched the App Store, as well as impressions, user engagement, and segmentation of users. There’s even the ability to figure out which apps or in-app subscriptions are the most popular.

If you specialize in developing games, GameAnalytics is a free tool that’s specific to improving your Key Performance Indicators across your app portfolio. This tool will help you analyze, understand, and monetize the players in your apps.

For many developers, these free tracking methods that work specific to your app would be sufficient.

However, if you manage multiple apps, have teams that work together and all need access to the data, or you want a solution that integrates app data with enterprise data, you may need a more robust analytics platform.

A Business Intelligence platform like Pyramid Analytics is an investment into understanding apps as part of your entire business.  Robust user analytics platforms will give your team the tools to gather data from multiple app stores as well as other sources like advertising platforms. Reports will be accessible and understandable by your entire team, or clients.

Final Thoughts

Mobile app developers and those who market them need access to data that informs decisions about the app, such as further development, enhancements and advertising.

After all, understanding the behavior of the users of your app, as well as how your app is performing, is crucial for its success.

The various free mobile app analytics tools that we’ve outlined, including step-by-step instructions for the most popular tool, will provide you with insight into your app and its users. There are also options for more robust tools that will give you even deeper insight.

Understanding what you need from your data will help determine which platform will be best. Then be sure you go beyond just gathering data and get into analysis of those insights to ensure your apps are successful.

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