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5 Tips for Marking Up Custom Events in a Mobile App

In mobile analytics, user events are essentially indicators that allow you to track how users interact with your app.

Standard user events, such as sign-up, login or purchase, are used to calculate key metrics (retention, conversion, and LTV) and are generally well understood by app owners.

At the same time, each app can have a variety of custom events; e.g., "level completion" (in a game), "new friend" (on a social network), "viewing a certain product category" (in e-commerce), etc.

These events are essentially beacons placed throughout the user journey, helping you to effectively locate bottlenecks and growth drivers of your product, as well as to see how your audience responds to changes.

In this article, we’ll give you 5 useful tips for configuring custom events to collect the most detailed and relevant data on app interactions.

1. Ask concrete questions.

Remember, even tracking should be viewed as a tool that helps you achieve your goals. When marking up events, always consider how they will help answer relevant questions.

For example, these questions can be about behavioral patterns:

Or about product updates:

After making a list of questions, you will be able to select relevant user events to answer each of them. For example, to find out the least popular app sections, you will need to configure a couple of custom “X section visit” events.

2. Align your goals to the app’s logic.

When gathering data on user interactions, subsequent analytics goals are not the only thing you need to consider – the app’s logic also needs to be factored in. To mark up events, you absolutely need to have a foundation laid during the development stage.

Imagine you want to track the correlation between the number of purchases and in-game progress. To do this, your app has to provide at least for:

Having all of this enables you to configure the markup and attempt to find a certain pattern. If the above doesn’t work, you can ask developers to configure necessary events within the app to get the bigger picture.

3. Don’t over track.

Avoid tracking every bit of detail. An overload of information isn’t always good for analytics, as managing large quantities of data can simply be inconvenient.

To not get lost in a myriad of events, we recommend formulating questions before you actually move on with the process. This should help you focus on data conducive to meeting your immediate goals.

In-app events have already been created by developers. Your task is to align each of the target questions with these events to decide what data will be sent to the analytics system through SDK.

4. Work out event parameters.

It’s not always enough to know that a certain event has happened. Very often, it is the surrounding circumstances that are important. You can add parameters to any event – these will work as special variables and enable transfer of relevant data.

For example, an event of “level completion” can have an “earned score” parameter, and an event of “order cancellation at checkout” can also report a “delivery fee”.

Moreover, some events simply become irrelevant without parameters. For instance, “viewing a product category” can hardly be useful for analytics if we don’t know what the category is.

In addition, parameters help reduce the number of necessary events – “earned score”, for example, eliminates the need to set up separate events for completing a level with 0, 1, etc. points.

5. Recognize the specifics of your analytics system.

Each analytics system has its strengths and weaknesses, pros and cons, and simply features that you should keep in mind when marking up events.

When selecting a system, make sure you know answers to the following questions:

It’s always better to get a detailed look at the tool and its capabilities beforehand than to waste time fixing errors once you’ve started.

Use one language and terminology

It’s equally important that the platform is operated by people who speak the same language as you do.

Oftentimes, terms used by app owners have different meanings in the analytics system. If we take an “install” event as an example, some experts may perceive it as only an installation of the app, while others will also include the first app launch in the definition.

Most analytics systems provide the necessary documentation and technical support to help you understand the terminology and metrics and make sure everyone is on the same page.

Use the exact same name for the event on different platforms

Some analytics systems enable cross-platform event tracking: for example, if a user's actions trigger the same event on different platforms (iOS, Android, Web).

If you picked a multiplatform analytics solution, make sure to use the exact same name for the event on different platforms when you mark up events in the system: this is essential for the product funnel analysis.

For example, if passing level 5 of a game is marked as "Passing Level 5" for the iOS platform and as "Level 5 completion” for Android, then you will have to select two different events when building your automated funnel.

More information about building a product funnel can be found here.

In-app event markup: a step-by-step walkthough

Let’s say we have an app and want to track its user journey and identify any usability issues.

In our example, this will be a game that has sign-up and login functions, levels with different mechanics, and a couple of options for in-app transactions.

Now, let’s follow the 5 steps we’ve just covered.

Step 1: Formulating questions

To start off, we need to formulate concrete questions we need answers for.

  1. How many users installed the app?
  2. How many people signed up and how many logged in?
  3. Do users make in-app purchases? What exactly do they buy?
  4. How many people get to a certain level? Are they able to handle changes in game mechanics as they progress?

Step 2: Aligning with the app’s logic

Re-examine the questions that you’ve got and make sure that the app’s logic allows you to answer them.

Install, sign-up and login events have most likely already been provided for by the developers. At the same time, technical capabilities for tracking purchases and level completion should be revisited and, if necessary, fine-tuned.

Step 3: Determining the number of events to be tracked

We should only track events that will provide answers to the questions posed and consequently improve user experience.

To make sure that nothing is overlooked, let’s match each question with relevant events:

Step 4: Configuring event parameters

Event parameters will definitely be necessary in at least two cases:

Step 5: Choosing an analytics platform

Before proceeding with the markup, we need to select the right analytics system that will be conducive to meeting our goals.

The main requirement here is that the platform must support event tracking; everything else depends on product specifics. In our example, we need a large toolkit for managing parameters (the ability to transfer parameters, maximum number of parameters, supported parameter formats), but other apps may easily do without it.

Then we should take a closer look at the documentation of the selected analytics system to find out how relevant events are named and implemented.

For example, instead of an “in-app purchase”, the platform may use the terms “payment” or “transaction”. Or maybe such an event is not even prebuilt into the engine. To fix this issue, we can create a custom event and name it as we please.

Summing up

User event tracking is an integral technology for mobile analytics that is featured in the majority of engines.

To make the most out of the data that you collect, take one step at a time and remember:

how to mark up events in mobile apps

Looking for an anlytics system to track user events? 

With MyTracker, you get unlimited custom events. Map and monitor each step, from registering and viewing a specific screen to adding to cart and checkout. There is no cap on the number of parameters for each event.

    Tags: product analytics marketing analytics