Apple App Analytics Beta and a new, very valuable metric

I was fortunate enough to receive an email from Apple this morning telling me the beta of their App Analytics program was now available for my testing. This is a free program – all I did was to say I was interested in participating in the beta after I received an email a few days ago from them announcing it.

I’m not going to do an detailed report of this new service here, but I will say there is several new metrics available and everything is displayed very differently compared to their normal Sales and Trends page on iTunes Connect.

One of the new data points which immediately caught my eye is “App Store Views”, and I’d like to spend the rest of this post discussing it.

If I understand correctly, this metric represents anytime someone on an app store manages to stumble upon your app and clicks on the icon, showing the detailed page with App description, screenshots, and optional app preview video. I’m not sure if this includes looking at the page from a web browser, or only within the app store itself.

I think some who see these numbers may very happy at first, especially if you are an experienced blogger. They’ll think “Wow, I got this many hits!”, but it’s a bad idea to compare this to blog hits since, unlike for a blog, the page is only a middle step through the process you are trying to accomplish. I recommend you subtract the number of actual downloads from the number of App store views, like this:

  • (App Store Views) – (Actual Downloads)

If you do this for a specific day’s figures (or a longer period of time), you’ll now have a very valuable metric, those who were not impressed enough by your application’s app store page to actually try it out. Here is another figure you can easily calculate:

  • Percentage of downloaders = (Actual Downloads) / (App Store Views)

For one of my apps, this number is about 13.5 %. I haven’t compared this to anyone else’s number yet, but it seems quite low.

So what to do with these metrics? It turns out this is very important information to help you market and advertise your game.

If you parallel mobile app downloading to the fast food industry – first you have to get them in the door, inside the restaurant so they can see the menu. Next, they have to like the prices, pictures, and description of one or more items on the menu enough to buy it, or take it if it happens to be free.

If you have a very low percentage of downloaders, ironically it doesn’t necessarily mean your game is bad, or uninteresting. All it means is that the screenshots, app preview, description, and price are not enticing enough to tempt the user to try it out. If you think your game is really great (and you’ve showed it to some people and they agree), then it’s probably worth spending more time making a superb app preview and set of screenshots. I feel the description is much less important, since the preview and screenshots should be strong enough to tell a story on their own (possibly using some descriptive text overlays). I’m not going to go into the process of creating these now, maybe another time. To be honest I am still learning about this stuff myself.

If you have a fairly high percentage of downloaders (say 80% of greater), then you know your app store assets are top quality and you’re convincing almost everyone who sees them to try your app. In order to try and further increase your downloads, your next step should be investing in some good advertising. For cases like this I’d say to seriously consider paying a company to advertise your game, assuming that you have some revenue generation method such as a non-zero price, in app purchases, or adds.

If you have a free mobile game with in app purchases, download count is no longer your final goal, and you have to now analyze the ratio of in app purchases vs. downloads. Even if you can drive thousands to get your app, if this ratio is low you are unlikely to succeed making much money. This figure is the hardest to increase because it’s hard to fake it – hiring someone to make a professional app preview just won’t cut it anymore. The user has to really appreciate your game’s visuals and gameplay enough to want to take it to the next stage, and that means you really have to polish these things.

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