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How App Analytics Platforms Benefit from Best-in-Class Attribution Data

By February 27, 2019 No Comments

App analytics are only as useful as the attribution data that makes them work. The data is the fuel. Today we’ll showcase why leading digital brands are placing a premium on accuracy and how to configure your app analytics to run fully charged.  

It takes an ecosystem

As anyone who has squinted at a recent marketing technology supergraphic will attest, our space can be hard to interpret. It’s as though the acronyms, classifications, and participants are intentionally making business more difficult than it needs to be. This places the burden of research and pressure of choice on buyers. At Branch, one of our big goals is to make this process significantly easier than it is today.

When we advise customers on how to simplify tech stack decisions, it’s with ROI top-of-mind. This starts with clear comprehension of where we excel and where our industry-leading partners can step in and make Branch solutions even more powerful. Analytics is one category.

App marketers and product leaders often rely upon a variety of analytics platforms to test hypotheses, report on performance, and keep their teams moving in unison. This is especially true in large organizations where competing priorities require a common language. For example, many enterprises using Branch also implement an analytics platform to ensure the performance of their app install campaigns correspond with their cross-channel conversion targets and the customer LTV they’re responsible for delivering. Lacking a decision framework and tech expertise, deploying and managing these platforms gets complicated.   

Our approach has been to partner with analytics platforms that help customers fully leverage the valuable data they already receive from Branch – partners such as Amplitude, Mixpanel, and others. Through these partnerships, we’re able to deepen the value of Branch and streamline the path to ROI.

Configuration 101

For Branch customers, data integrations provide an easy way to automatically send Branch data to analytics platforms using pre-formatted webhooks. Each partnership requires its own sequence, though most involve versions of the following steps:

  1. Make sure the Branch mobile SDKs are installed in your app.
  2. You’ll also need the SDKs of your analytics partner installed in your app.
  3. From your analytics partner’s dashboard, you’ll need to obtain a partner API key. This is typically found wherever your partner’s 3rd party integrations are available.
  4. From the Branch dashboard, search for your analytics partner in the Data Integrations section. You can then enable data feeds by entering your partner’s API key.
  5. Based on the needs of specific analytics partners, you might need to add a code snippet to ensure data transfers occur seamlessly. See specific documentation for details.  
  6. Test your integration by opening your app from a Branch link and verifying that your data appears in your analytics partner’s dashboard.
Setting up data integrations on the Branch dashboard.

One of the advantages of Branch integrations is that analytics partners receive data in the exact format they expect. This reduces the risk of errors and helps customers confidently optimize for attributed installs, re-opens, custom events, commerce events, and user actions.

Partner-by-partner and screen-by-screen examples of how to integrate analytics platforms with Branch are available on the Branch docs site.

Data and insights: there’s a difference

Let’s zoom out and spend a few minutes on why attribution and analytics work best when they work together.  

We’re repeatedly asked how brands can motivate users to spend 20x more time in their app than on the mobile web and how they can multiply conversions by 3x (to mention just two benchmarks). Our answer centers on a simple tenet: accuracy wins.

A related fact is that data is abundant and insights are scarce. However, this hasn’t prevented many tech companies from marketing the former as the latter. Don’t fall for it. Work with a solution provider(s) who will help you accurately identify the variables and options with the most leverage. A partner with a track record of delivering insights-based results rather than a commoditized data heap. Partners such as Amplitude and Mixpanel (both mentioned earlier in this post) are a great place to start.   

With the benefit of accurate attribution data and options to combine it with powerful analytics tools, marketers can refine their mobile insights as never before. They can run more targeted Journeys campaigns, test and iterate across platforms, and take a lifecycle view of what is (and isn’t) generating ROI. In short, they can work smarter.   

Think cross-platform 

In the 2018 Mobile Growth Handbook, improving attribution was referenced as a top marketing team priority by over 35% of respondents. This isn’t surprising, as accurate attribution is a gateway to more effective deep linking and app engagement, especially in cross-platform user flows.  

Again the focal point returns to accuracy. As pointed out in a recent post by Alex Austin, Time Matters for Cross-Platform Attribution: A Peek Into Branch Product Strategy, legacy approaches and lean data sets are a recipe for inaccurate attribution and, by extension, diminish the value of analytics platforms. For example, where IP addresses are referenced in an attempt to match users, attribution reliability is often in the 40% range and seldom higher than 60%. Alternatively, where Branch’s People-Based Attribution and data graphs are available, reliability increases to well above 90%. For competitive brands, this is a make-or-break difference.

Considering that analytics platforms are frequently long-term investments, the upside of accurate attribution data compounds over time. This concept is illustrated below. Key takeaway: Data value is a function of data accuracy. In addition, when an attribution partner is selected, forward-looking brands are investing in more than what their attribution data can help them accomplish today. They’re equally focused on how this same partner can magnify the impact of their data in an increasingly cross-platform world. It’s why partnerships matter, especially in analytics and as markets evolve.   

Make inefficiencies your friend

As marketers and product leaders, we chase efficiencies with zeal. When they work, voila! – the world is ours. Accurate attribution informs seamless deep linking which generates customer engagement, all of which are captured in actionable reporting that feeds the analytics that keep your marketing engine running at top speed. (Whew – that’s a lot.)   

A primary benefit of all these mechanics is the ability to identify inefficiencies.  These are places where competitors are either unaware of opportunities or have misjudged the opportunities they’re pursuing (often by overpaying). Meaning the more efficient your tech stack, the greater the chance you’ll be able to capitalize on inefficiencies – in other words, unique opportunities – in your market.

We see this play out in how marketers allocate paid and organic advertising. Lacking visibility into where audiences are engaging and a seamless way to link them from web to app, marketers overvalue some channels (often paid) and undervalue others (often organic). They invest in crowded, expensive categories then wonder why they’re not meeting their goals.

Here’s an example: As of 2018, the average cost to acquire a new app user was $4.08, and the average cost to acquire a user who completes an in-app purchase was $74.93.  As you’ll notice in The Branch Industry Report, there’s a fair degree of variability in these numbers from industry to industry.  However, across the board, these costs are going nowhere but up. Commingle acquisition data with research indicating that after 28 days just 7.41% of new users acquired via paid ads stick around and it’s clear that many brands are targeting the wrong audiences and not deploying their resources effectively. This isn’t for lack of effort; it’s because of a shortage of accurate insights.

Compare paid results with organic and the benefits of identifying inefficiencies are clear. Continuing the example above, users referred by a friend are 2.5x more likely to remain engaged with an app than those acquired via paid ads. Also consider that organic channels are 4.4x more effective than paid at driving purchases.

Of course, all those organic activities (starting with email, search, social, referrals, and smart banners) won’t run themselves. But they will go a long way to helping marketers accomplish more with less.       

Net: If you’re going to invest in analytics (and you should), then insights like these should be your north star.

Moving forward: Preparation is everything

Three suggestions before closing:

  1. Know what you’re paying for. If it’s data, make certain it’s reliable; if it’s analytics, be sure they plug into your data; if it’s insights, own the outcomes. Those who struggle with attribution tend to lose sight of the fact that 1+1 should equal 3. To increase your odds of generating non-linear returns, double-check every connection point. The cost of switching attribution providers pales in comparison to managing a tech stack in which the whole is less than (or even equal to) the sum of the parts.
  2. Revisit how you’ve configured your in-app analytics. If you don’t, there’s a non-zero chance you’re leaving at least a portion of your upside to fate and inertia. Neither is recommended.  
  3. Be comfortable with ambiguity (but don’t settle for it). We harbor no illusions of a world filled with perfectly vertical, fully harmonious tech stacks. We do, however, want you to feel confident that simple solutions are available. And that actively managing top-ranked analytics and attribution solutions will move you miles ahead of the competition.      

To learn more about how Branch helps leading digital brands make smart decisions and separate from the herd, contact our sales team today. They’ll be happy to elaborate on the role best-in-class attribution can play in moving your business forward fast.

Branch is a mobile linking platform providing unified mobile experiences and measurement for more than 50,000 mobile apps, including Airbnb, Ticketmaster, Reddit, Tinder and Amazon. Branch’s linking platform can help you grow your mobile app through features like deep linking, sharing, referrals, mobile banners and interstitials, custom app onboarding, and unified attribution across platforms and channels. Learn more about Branch or contact sales today.
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