Mobile commerce is on a tear. To cite just one study from the many out there — PayPal's research covering 22 countries found that m-commerce is growing at three times the rate of e-commerce.

Usage of shopping apps has been identified as the fastest-growing app category, with sessions on shopping apps on iOS and Android devices increasing by 174 percent year-over-year, including 220 percent on Android alone. That’s up from 77 percent last year as more and more retailers are building apps on top of their mobile-optimized sites.

With such numbers, retailers should be thinking mobile first. And when creating a mobile e-commerce strategy, data and measurement play a key role. However, a recent eMarketer report found 50 percent of surveyed marketers don’t measure mobile user engagement or ROI. 

By using combination of identification methods (ID matching via Apple’s IDFA, Google Advertising ID, Google Play Referrer and fingerprinting) retailers can measure what their prospects and existing consumers are doing in their app and how they interact with different marketing channels (on the mobile web, the cookie lives on, so no real challenge there).

Let’s explore how this is done.

1. Data Is Your Best Friend: From Acquisition to Smart Acquisition

An ad network may deliver tons of new installs to an app, but a closer look might reveal that some are low quality. The marketer’s user base may have grown, but many of these users may not have had any active app sessions nor completed any in-app actions. In an environment where most apps are free and therefore rely on in-app purchases, that’s a big problem.

Marketers need to know not only which ad network drove an install, but also more importantly — which drove the best install ("best" could be revenue or engagement-related, depending on goals). Analytics firms can continue to follow the user’s post-install activity by tracking his in-app events, and then tying these events back to the acquiring network. When aggregated, a path can be drawn to the value each network is generating.

A retail app is one of the most complex apps to develop. Consumers have a wide range of in-app actions they can take. The ability to track this behavior on a granular level and then view aggregated analytics can inform smart marketing and advertising decisions across all acquisition and engagement channels. Clearly define your goals and pinpoint the in-app events that are directly related to these goals.

2. Data Is Your Best Friend: Personalize Communication with Existing Consumers

Whether in paid or owned mobile channels, knowing who your consumer makes all the difference.

1. Paid

Engaging your existing consumers with personalized mobile retargeting. A must-have element in retargeting campaigns on mobile is deeplinking. Simply put, deep links are the mobile equivalent of the web’s URL. They serve as the connectors of the mobile ecosystem (mobile web-to-app, app-to-app) and enable opening of specific app screens.

Without deep links in place, personalized retargeting or even segmented retargeting would be a waste of your budget. How so? Because the user experience would be broken. Imagine if a user has the app installed, but when he clicks on a retargeting ad he finds himself in the app store, or the mobile web ... Or if he clicks on a specific offer or product he gets sent to the app’s opening screen instead of a specific landing page.

But when the user actually sees what he expects to see, the chances of conversion and a happy consumer shoot way up.

landing page

When it comes to measuring the success of a retargeting campaign, the mechanism is no different than an install. It simply means an advertiser defines a desired in-app event (e.g. app open for a dormant user, in-app purchase for an existing user) — for which the attribution provider would credit a media source that delivered the last click that led to the desired action.

Once tracked, aggregated data of all users will help you pinpoint the best performing retargeting networks, campaigns and creatives in the same way that was illustrated in the acquisition campaigns above.

2. Owned

In order to measure your direct marketing campaigns you have to set up a properly tagged tracking link and then compare your different channels.

  • Email: According to research by Forrester, 42 percent of retailers' email messages were opened by consumers on their smartphones and 17 percent were opened on tablets. So measure email engagement and, more importantly, what follows. With proper deeplinking in place, you can direct users to specific app screens from the mobile web or email app
  • Push Notifications: Push has gone mainstream. That’s the key takeaway from a study by Urban Airship which found that retailers sent 34 percent more push notifications in 2014 compared to 2013 after more than one-third of all retail app opens were the result of a push message
  • Coupons: The number of adults who redeem coupons via a mobile device is expected to jump from 78.7 million to 104.1 million between 2014 and 2016, according to eMarketer. With such volume, retailers must offer the best overall experience to optimize usage

3. Data Is Your Best Friend: Connect the Dots

The proliferation of mobile devices, on top of web and brick and mortar touchpoints, has created amazing opportunities for omnichannel retailers. However, it has also generated the challenge of connecting the dots to provide a seamless and consistent user experience. However, connecting at least some of the dots — if not all — is possible.

A reliable identifier like an email or loyalty card number, and a server-to-server integration with an analytics provider, can measure the actions acquired app users take across touchpoints. This does require the person to be logged in to enable matching via their consumer ID. 

connecting data dots

When it comes to connecting the physical world to the virtual one, mobile devices are the glue. For example, measuring a beacon-driven campaign — whether using Apple’s iBeacon or Google’s brand new platform-agnostic Eddystone platform and recording events in your server — involves defining in-app events and reporting them to your analytics provider.

Another method involves tracking location by using the latitude/longitude parameter. You can add these parameters to each in-app event which can be sent to the networks that support rich in-app events. You’ll then be able to understand where consumers take specific types of actions.

In a mobile-first world, not measuring or partially measuring is not an option. Mobile data measurement is coming of age and should become a key ingredient in any retailer’s mobile commerce strategy.

Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License Title image by  nestor.ferraro