By Matt Hudson and Joey Nelson
Matt Hudson and Joey Nelson are the founders of Trivi.al, a new IOS game launching in late June 2012. Trivi.al is a social trivia game where users build IQ points by competing against their friends and others in asynchronous trivia contests.
As we prepare for the launch of Trivi.al, we’re tweaking data reports to analyze our beta testers. The goal: optimize the app for higher user engagement. When we first started we had no idea what the numbers were going to tell us; we didn’t know what we didn’t know because we’d never done this before. Now, we have 5 months of data that has helped us alter the interface, make improvements in game play and predict revenue. This is the kind of data, of course, that is imperative to running our business.
Most of us have been accustomed to using Google Analytics for dissecting websites, but for mobile apps the tools are different. When we first started this we felt like we were staring over the edge of a giant black analytic abyss. We were asking questions like, “What metrics do we measure?” and, “What metrics are most critical for the success/failure of the app?” and, “Who can help us with these answers?”
These two tools are far superior to anything else we’ve seen on the market within a small development shop’s budget and, fortunately, they’re easy to implement. With Apsalar we’re able to define all the events we want to track in the app, and then use their web dashboard to build all the funnels, cohorts and analysis we need. The staff at Apsalar has been fantastic at helping us understand their platform, which helped us ramp up quickly. Our evangelist, Ted, was great at answering our questions and walking us through the many scenarios and customization requests we had.
At first, terms like DAU, MAU, ARPU, LTV, CTR, CVR and CPI made our heads spin. We read everything we could find to understand the terms and their application in the app. We highly recommend reading “Social Game Design: Monetization Methods & Mechanics,” as this was practically our bible—one of the authors worked on projects like Halo, Call of Duty and SSX.
Once you have a grasp on these terms, it’s easy to use a combination of Apsalar and TestFlight Live to understand things like Life Time Value (LTV) and Average Revenue Per User (ARPU). You can segment these data points over time with cohorts and/or in relation to flows through your funnels. Most of our questions in Apsalar revolved around these metrics, which told us more about out product than the vanity metrics did. Cohorts we’re fantastic as we were able to see defined users over a period of time. We were able to look at users who played the app on day 1 and then what they did on day 7, day 14 and so on. This helped us tweak the app for acquisition and retention.
We want to build a product that keeps users engaged and coming back, so understanding things in the UI or code that causes them to drop off is important. This is where funnels are instrumental: users are far more valuable to the experience and ecosystem if they are playing through multiple rounds. We discovered many things via data about our game that resonated with users. These allowed us to expand upon or integrate features to create an improved gaming experience.
TestFlight has been one of the best apps we’ve used in mobile development. Great job, guys! Many others feel the same way. They’ve built an outstanding app deployment solution. If I had to criticize the app, I’d like to see them reduce the 3-step install process, but aside from that it totally rocks.
If you’re a new developer and you have questions, drop us a line and we’ll gladly share our insights.