ASO Reporting Fundamentals
While there are similarities between ASO & SEO, such as keyword optimisation and competitor research, there are different key performance indicators (KPIs) which are being measured and that ultimately affects your app approach. Understanding what measurements are important for you and the business is fundamental for a robust strategy and effectively proving return on investment. This comprehensive guide covers the following:
- Analytics platforms available
- iOS capabilities
- Google Play capabilities
- Organic app store tracking
- Creating a holistic dashboard
Analytics platforms available
iOS apps are built in Xcode and Android apps are built-in Android Studio. The apps are created here before being uploaded and connected to its analytics platform. This is also where firebase indexing, also known as universal links, is implemented.
The basic analytics platform for iOS is Apple’s App Store Connect, while for Google Play it’s Google Play Console. This is where you can submit and manage your apps, update or maintain listings, run A/B tests, review analytics, and more. Each platform has its own capabilities, measurements, and requirements.
One major problem with these analytics platforms provided by Apple & Google is that limited analytics data is supplied. An example is that organic and paid activity is not segmented into its own reports to be reviewed, making it impossible to attribute value of either activity. This is especially an issue if paid activity is running across multiple platforms where KPIs can be inflated as measurements are double-counted.
As a result, app owners are likely to use third-party tools which segment KPIs. Third-party tools are implemented using a software development kit, more commonly referred to by its acronym, SDK. Mobile app developers add this to their app to collect measurement and app install attribution data.
Logging into app analytics, you’re given an overview of how each app is performing across the following measurements: Impressions, Units, Sales, Sessions (Opt-in Only), and Crashes (Opt-in Only).
Apple has more data restrictions than Google. Certain metrics are limited, based on the number of users who are willing to share their behavioural data. When iOS users set up their phone, they would need to have agreed to share their diagnostics and usage information with app developers. These users will only make up a certain percentage of your total app users so you will need to make an estimated total value based on this.
Going into each app, the following metrics are available:
- Impressions, the number of times the app has shown up in the app store. This can be viewed as total impressions, or only unique devices.
- Product Page Views, the number of times your app’s app store page has been viewed on devices with iOS 8 or tvOS 9, or later. This can be viewed as total product page views, or only unique devices.
- App Units, each app purchase on a device with iOS 8 or tvOS 9, or later.
- In-App Purchases, each purchase of an in-app purchase on a device with iOS 8 or tvOS 9, or later.
- Sales, the total amount billed to customers for purchasing apps, bundles, and in-app purchases.
- Paying Users, the number of unique users that paid for the app or in-app purchase.
- Installations (Opt-in only), the total number of times your app has been installed. Includes redownloads or restores on the same or different device, downloads to multiple devices sharing the same Apple ID, and Family Sharing installations.
- Sessions (Opt-in only), the number of times the app has been used for at least two seconds.
- Active Devices, the total number of devices with at least one session during the selected period.
- Active Last 30 Days (Opt-in only), the total number of devices with at least one session within 30 days of the selected day.
- Crashes (Opt-in Only), the total number of crashes. Actual crash reports are available in Xcode.
- Deletions (Opt-in Only), the number of times your app has been deleted on devices running iOS 12.3 or tvOS 13.0 or later.
This information can be further broken down into app version, device (iPhone, iPad, iPod, Apple TV), platform version, region, territory, source type (App Store Search, App Store Browse, Web Referrer, App Referrer), app referrer, web referrer and campaign. There is also more granular information on user retention available, although this information is opt-in only, and is based on app usage.
Google Play capabilities
There is more information available within Google Play Console in comparison to App Store Connect. The overview dashboard that is shown when users first visit also summarises overall KPIs: New users acquired, users lost, average rating, crashes & ANRs (Application Not Responding). Quick reports can show the following metrics, some of which can be broken down into new devices or returning devices:
- Active Users, the number of users who have your app installed on at least one device that was active in the preceding 30 days.
- User Acquisitions, the number of users who installed your app and didn’t have it installed on any of their devices at the time.
- User Loss, the number of users who uninstalled your app from all their devices, including devices inactive for over 30 days.
- Active Devices, the number of devices with the app installed that has been turned on at least once in the previous 30 days.
- Device Acquisition, the number of devices that the users installed your app on.
- Device Loss, the number of devices users uninstalled your app, including devices which become inactive.
- Device Updates, the number of devices that receive an update for your app.
- Device Loss After Update, the number of devices where the app is uninstalled after the app was recently updated.
- Install Events, every time the app is installed, including when the app was previously installed.
- Uninstall Events, every time the app is uninstalled.
Other metrics available include average rating, cumulative average rating, crashes, ANRs, app download size, app size on the device (at install time), conversions, growth rate compared to peers, store listing visitors, first time installed, retention. Like App Store Connect, a large portion of these metrics are relevant to app developers and the product team who would be interested in measuring user experience in relation to a new app release, such as uninstalls or active devices.
Organic app store tracking
Unfortunately, neither app analytics platforms will provide a list of keywords which users search for where the app gains impressions or installs. Keyword tracking needs to be set-up by app marketers using third party tools. There are a number of resources online with varying functionality to suit each marketers needs. Two key types of rankings need to be measured:
- Organic keyword visibility
- Chart visibility
Organic keyword visibility refers to tracking a static set of keywords which has already been identified through ASO activity over time. This core set of keywords can be compartmentalised and categorised, such as branded and non-branded keywords. Additional methods of organic keyword tracking can use online tools, typically paid, which automatically tracks the app’s visibility in the appropriate app store, such as keywords driving installs or that the app is ranking for.
Chart visibility refers to the relevant category that the app has been categorised in, such as news or music, and comparing how it ranks in the charts over time. The app may rank for more than one category. Both types of rankings vary by country, so make sure to consider all relevant territories.
Creating a holistic dashboard
Any good reporting dashboard has a summary section where owners can get an idea of how the app is performing. For most apps, this is likely to include overall rankings, impressions, app store listing visitors, installs and conversions.
If an app has been scaled globally, across a variety of languages or there are different versions of the apps available, there is a chance that these apps are cannibalising each other depending on the set-up. In this case, creating formulas which show the whole view of all the apps is really handy to see how the app is actually doing.
As paid activity can affect organic rankings, it’s ideal to include both organic and total KPIs to show how ASO is performing overall, and if optimisations are needed.
By Harry Clarke - 29/04/2020