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Using Apps To Gather Customer Data

Updated on October 28, 2016

Thinking of developing a useful app to offer to your customers and collect data on their patterns? You couldn’t have picked a better time to get started, according to App Annie the mobile app industry is expected to double in size to $101 Billion by the year 2020.


Getting started in the app data mining business can be tricky, that’s why we created this list of steps you can use to take action:

1. First, decide on what KPIs you want to monitor

Data is a powerful tool when leveraged properly, make sure you and your team are laser focused on the metrics that support the accomplishment of your organization’s goals. In case you missed the point above do this FIRST before launching your app to save time and avoid missed opportunities. However, if you have already launched your app; redesigning it or launching a new app is well worth the investment (didn’t you see the chart above?!). If you are feeling a little under staffed, now might be the time to speak with your recruitment team about hiring on a data scientist.

A couple basic KPI suggestions to get you started include:

  • In-app purchases

This one is the most obvious KPI if your users are purchasing an upsold product or service from the free app you offered. Not sure what to sell? Offer a premium version of your service, this tactic is similar to Pandora’s freemium model.

  • Pages Visited

So they downloaded your app, yay! But are they navigating through the app and exploring all the pages and /or features? Just like splurging at the grocery store users tend to download interesting apps, hardly use them and eventually uninstall them when space gets taken up. I’ve personally been guilty of this myself. I downloaded several business apps and never took the time to really explore them. If users aren’t exploring your app then a few tweaks may be in order, keep close tabs on this data.

  • Time spent in the app

Time spent using your app means more data is being collected and that they find it useful which is a very good thing for your organization. However, If they aren’t using it regularly that doesn’t necessarily mean it isn’t very useful but it’s something to monitor. For example, I use my LinkedIn App once or twice a week to keep tabs on colleagues and occasionally read about my industry. Usually what gets me to reopen their app is push notifications, I'll dive further into that topic below.

2. Leverage Push Notifications

So what are push notifications?

“Push notification, also called server push notification, is the delivery of information from a software application to a computing device without a specific request from the client.”

— Search Mobile Computing

Whenever you download a new app one of the configurations asked of you as the user is allowing push notification messages from that app to be delivered to your phone (without request). This is a great opportunity for marketers to leverage their organization’s app and gain more user traction. LinkedIn invites me to come back to their app by sending me push notifications I am interested in, such as colleagues of mine reaching out to connect with me. When I see a message like that it’s very tempting to reopen the app and learn more. Leverage this tactic by offering interesting bit sized messages to your users that will entice them to reopen the app just like LinkedIn. Again, remember that more users engaging with your app and being conditioned to use it on a regular basis are never a bad thing.

3. World Class UX

Don’t skimp on your UX design, you will not get quality data if your customers hate the navigation of your app and don’t find it useful. Sometimes you have to walk before your run, this is one of those times. Before you get too caught up in all the app user data you want to collect remember that real humans will be using your app.


Does Your Company Have a Poll?

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Put yourself in their shoes, what is the benefit for them to use your app? A great example of this is TapYellow’s app, they are leveraging the power of the online yellow pages and putting it in their user’s pockets. You can search for local restaurants, business services, etc. with very accurate results. This offers great utility to their users, just think, the more downloads the more data and the more useful the app the more useful the data!

If you are struggling for UX inspiration steal from the very best in the industry. Tech giants like Apple and Google know how to create clean and simple designs, but more importantly, they know how to convert visitors into lifelong customers and advocates.

Once you have an app, make sure you know how to effectively collect data from it, and know how to interpret it.


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