Per Think with Google research, in the past year alone, websites in the United States saw a 20% increase in mobile’s share of online sessions and mobile conversion rates shot up by 29%. This growth is consistent across all major industries. However, the instant satisfaction on mobile device does some time lead to instant frustration, when the app or the website doesn’t let the consumer do what they wish to in desired time.
Only 9% of users will stay on a mobile site or app if it doesn’t satisfy their needs. Irrespective of the industry, type of the mobile experience, type of the device, location or internet service provider, mobile users expect a fast and consistent user experience. 66% of consumers will take actions that have some negative impact on the brand and 29% users will immediately go to another companies mobile site or app for what they need (Source: Consumers in the Micro-Moment, Google/Ipsos, U.S., March 2015, n=5,398, based on internet users on Google). Mobile faces the most severe retention issues of all the channels — Appboy found that only 25% of new app users return the day after their first app usage.
To ensure world-class user experience, availability and performance across various use cases, it is important to recreate what users do and measure all the responses from each part of each step in the process. This is where mobile asset providers need to start thinking about mobile testing and monitoring. But mobile monitoring is not just one thing, it’s a multi-faced concept which needs to be understood before investing in a mobile monitoring tool.
What is mobile?
Let’s take a step back and ask ourselves what is mobile? What does it mean to us, or our customers? ‘Mobile-first; strategy could mean different things for different people and different organization. For some organizations, it could be as simple as providing their goods and services for people on the go. For some organizations it could be an extension of their business, another revenue stream or inbound traffic channel. For others, it could be the main revenue driver, business model — their bread and butter. On the other hand, for some organizations, mobile could mean a mobile-enabled website, for other it could be an app – hybrid or native.
This great article discussing advantages and disadvantages of mobile website vs app can help you project what is better suited for your organization. Depending on your industry, your customers and what you want to achieve out of the mobile first strategy, you can decide the next steps. Having considered these differences, you can easily see how mobile testing or monitoring strategy and plan could differ for different companies.
Pyramid of mobile marketing
Mobile monitoring comprises of monitoring different variables in your mobile story – the mobile web, browsers, geographies, devices, wireless networks, APIs that support the backend, 3rd party content, and finally the actual mobile users. Let’s see these types of monitoring one by one.
Monitoring mobile enabled web
Mobile enabled web — often referred to as mobile responsive or mobile optimized —is a site that is designed to recognize the device its being accessed from and adjust to the smaller or varied screen sizes of the mobile device — smartphone or tablet. Mobile web or mobile app is the great dilemma of mobile-first world. But today, more organizations are inclined towards mobile web as the first step of going mobile for multiple reasons:
- Cost: Mobile web costs less compared to native app and is less expensive/time consuming to develop. Hence faster time to value.
- No platform dependency: With mobile sites you don’t have to worry about which operating system (i.e. Android or iOS), or device manufacturer (i.e. Apple, Google, Samsung) is being used, making it more universal than a mobile app.
- More control: With mobile web, you have control over updates and upgrades. You don’t have to wait for the user to take any action when you want to update your offering.
- Discoverability: Mobile sites are searchable, just like normal website and can be search engine optimized. This is a win-win for both providers and consumers.
Due to the nature on mobile enabled web, it’s absolutely essential that you monitor the user experience on devices of various sizes by either testing them on actual devices or emulated form factors.
Monitoring across mobile/wireless networks
The other key variable in monitoring and measuring your mobile offering is the wireless network. Wireless network is a function of location, but slow response time can also negatively impact how users view your applications. A few years ago, consumers were okay accepting that data speeds lag or that finding a decent network in remote places would be difficult. However, over the years consumers have started expecting high performing network at all times across all locations — remote or urban.
Per this study by Root Metrics, mobile carrier plays a big role in the quality of your interaction with online world via your mobile device. To emulate actual user experience, it is important to measure the performance over various wireless networks.
Now let’s look at the next level of mobile offering – mobile apps. Mobile web is great, however in some cases, the mobile app makes more sense than mobile enabled web.
This could include:
- When the application is highly interactive, such as games or social networks. Native applications offer better user interface than mobile web.
- When the interactions are hybrid — part offline and part online. For example, banking or ticketing apps, where you do basic activities on the app and are redirected to web interface for admin or dynamic interactions.
- When the action needs to use specific hardware component of your mobile device, such as camera, microphone etc.
- When users want to customize dashboards or personalize their mobile experience.
Monitoring backend APIs
Mobile apps rely on backend APIs to transfer data and requests. On average, a typical mobile app is powered by at least five different APIs. When it comes to APIs, performance is measured in milliseconds. Irrespective of whether it’s your internal API or 3rd party partner API, a slower or nonfunctional API can break your app and spoil the overall user experience. The other key thing to keep in mind about the APIs is the correctness of the payload. It’s all about asking the right questions.
Ensuring the availability, performance, and functional correctness of these APIs is very important to make sure that your API backend is helping you provide a high quality mobile experience.
Monitoring real devices that drive mobile web and apps
The next level of measuring and monitoring mobile offering is to monitor it from real devices. Why is it important? Because they come in all shapes and sizes. Many times the quality of user experience with your mobile offering depends about the quality of the device itself - the software running on it and the hardware. However any interruption in the transaction on a mobile device automatically results in drop in conversion, cart abandonment, and lost revenue. On mobile, there is a very thin line between instant satisfaction and instant frustration. No wonder mobile conversion rates are 25% of the web conversion rates (Source: Smart Insights Research). It is critical to check your application’s performance on real devices, running on real networks, and located on real geographical locations to go as close to the real user experience as possible.
We are at the tip of our mobile monitoring pyramid - mobile real user monitoring. It is similar to Web RUM. Also known as real-user measurement, real-user metrics, or end-user experience monitoring (EUM), RUM is a form of passive monitoring, relying on monitoring services that continuously observe your system in action, tracking availability, functionality, and responsiveness. While some “bottom-up” forms of RUM rely on capturing server-side information in order to reconstruct end-user experience, “top-down” client-side RUM can see, directly, how real human beings interact with your application and what the experience is like for them. This means tracking the actual user sessions in real time and understanding their journey to optimize the end to end mobile experience. Mobile RUM with app instrumentation will get you deep code level visibility to help you find and fix crashes and errors. You can read our dedicated article on real user monitoring to learn more about advantages and disadvantages of RUM.
Your business may or may not need to implement all the stages of mobile monitoring pyramid, but it is certain that you cannot ignore it if you want to stay relevant and competitive in your respective industry. Start with the base of the pyramid, accomplish each stage, improve your mobile offering and go to the next stage. There is no one right way of doing mobile monitoring, just like there is one right answer to ‘what is mobile’. Its highly subjective to your role, your business and your industry.
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