How to leverage mobile analytics to ensure crash-free, five-star mobile applications

Here's how one Dynatrace customer leveraged mobile analytics to ensure a crash-free, five-star mobile application.

Organizations around the world are increasingly adopting mobile applications. Customers want mobile apps but place a heavy weight on an app’s reviews when installing. Although most organizations invest in innovative mobile app development, not many allocate enough resources toward delivering and measuring the high-quality user experiences customers expect. Mobile analytics can help organizations optimize their mobile application performance, earning customer accolades and increasing revenue in the process.

Here’s why mobile applications represent a valuable business opportunity. Learn how one Dynatrace customer leveraged mobile analytics to ensure a crash-free, five-star mobile application.

The business value of mobile applications

Mobile applications can present big revenue opportunities when executed with customer experience in mind. For example, organizations can use their mobile applications to sell subscriptions for services, promote upsell opportunities toward a focused audience, keep close contact with known target groups, and maintain a direct, always-on channel with their customers.

It pays to invest in mobile applications. But if an organization does not prioritize the customer experience, user trust – and product ratings – will gradually diminish.

How mobile application performance problems hurt user experience

Organizations seeking to optimize user experience often begin by reviewing customer feedback. This feedback helps teams understand how performance issues are affecting their customers and what steps they can take to improve their applications.

After reviewing customer feedback on their flagship mobile app, one Dynatrace customer found that app crashes were the main culprit behind negative reviews. App store reviewers wrote that the app would often close or crash, which they found deeply frustrating.

After investigating, the software engineering team discovered that it wasn’t leveraging application performance monitoring (APM) tooling data to its full potential. So, the team decided to leverage mobile analytics data to deliver a seamless user experience. Here’s the approach they chose.

Five steps to ensure crash-free, five-star mobile applications using mobile analytics

This organization pursued the following five steps to create a better mobile user experience for its customers:

1. Assemble a tiger team

First, the organization assembled a group of motivated SMEs, including members of the product team as well as iOS and Android engineers. To gain a more complete picture of the app’s performance, this group performed a technical deep dive based on analysis data from Dynatrace. The team also identified the steps necessary to address and remediate the application’s performance issues based on a thorough understanding of the user experience and the full customer journey.

Their goal was to understand how many customers encountered app crashes, how often, and how this experience factored into the user journey. Specifically, they wanted to know what user actions triggered the app crashing and what the experience was like after that point.

2. Add instrumentation and validate incoming mobile analytics data

The next step was adding the proper instrumentation and creating mechanisms to validate incoming mobile analytics data.

The group compared the data from Dynatrace with customer feedback submitted to the App Store. This gave them a thorough perspective of all the mobile app crashes.

Although Dynatrace provided much of the data they needed out of the box, the group found it beneficial to configure additional settings. For example, uploading simulation data through the pipeline to automatically replicate iOS crash stack traces helped save time and simplify remediation.

3. Define targets and construct dashboards

Once the team had instrumentation and validation in place, they set performance targets to track their progress toward resolving the performance issues and optimizing the user experience. The team constructed dashboards to monitor their progress toward achieving those key performance indicators (KPIs) over time.

4. Define KPIs for crash-affected user percentage

Recognizing that application crashes were linked with reports of a poor user experience, the team specifically looked at the crash-affected user percentage and defined KPIs for this category. This way, they could monitor their progress toward resolving the most urgent issue from a business perspective.

5. Analyze the data and develop an action plan

While having detailed data is helpful, the team needed to put the data to work. This final step is when the rubber met the road. The group unpacked the data to reduce response time for emerging application performance issues and methodically address any longstanding issues.

Implementing the five steps to improve mobile application performance

With this framework in place, Dynatrace now alerts the team of any sudden spikes in user issues after a new app release. While triaging the issue, the group reviewed the stack trace information and analyzed specific user sessions. This enabled them to understand the customer experience that led to the mobile application crash. Using crash analysis, they were able to replicate the crash and see what the user would experience. This level of visibility into the user experience enabled the organization to not only identify the issue and the fix, but also implement that fix into the next cadence release instead of having to schedule a hotfix.

Achieving key business outcomes with better mobile app performance

Within one year, this Dynatrace customer decreased its crash-affected users by 50%. This organization also decreased the crash count while its mobile app usage increased. During this period, the organization saw a 30% drop in their mobile app’s negative reviews that mentioned crashes in the App Store.

Additionally, the software engineering team was able to continuously improve its KPIs by effectively using data from Dynatrace. The team also improved its issue cycle time. In most cases, the next release can address any mobile app crash that slips through quality assurance into production.

Best practices for improving mobile app performance using mobile analytics

This organization established four best practices for improving mobile app performance:

  1. Review dashboards daily to monitor KPI trends.
  2. Leverage alerting to notify stakeholders of significant changes in KPIs.
  3. Do a weekly deep dive with the engineering team to identify next steps for the most impactful mobile application crashes.
  4. Conduct ad-hoc reviews during app release rollout and quickly respond to any emerging issues.

All these activities enable the organization to make better sense of its mobile application tooling data and continuously improve the user experience.

Ensure friction-free mobile applications

Organizations have already invested considerable resources into creating innovative and compelling mobile apps to engage their customers. However, they may not understand how critically the mobile app experience influences their brand perception.

The best mobile app user experiences focus on speed, availability, consistency, flow, responsiveness, and UI. While many of these issues can start as minor annoyances, they can easily escalate to a full-blown crash. KPIs like crash-free user rate, crash-affected user count, and crashes per session — all available by app version — help organizations fully understand the issues and know when it’s time to act.

With Dynatrace, you can gain automatic detection with AI-enabled auto-baselining and alerts. This is in addition to notifications for baseline deviation out of the box. Advanced crash analysis enables you to focus on the crashes that matter most. You can quickly see how many users are impacted and drill directly into the details. This includes app version, device, OS, and geography.

Session Replay provides a movie-like replay of the last user actions taken before the crash occurred while maintaining full privacy controls. And everything is part of Dynatrace’s AI-powered Software Intelligence Platform. This means you automatically gain full visibility from the mobile interface through the back end. By leveraging Dynatrace’s mobile analytics to ensure crash-free, five-star mobile applications, organizations can win customer loyalty and increase revenue.

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