Rethinking your mobile tracking strategy: Mobile Spree Berlin 2019

James Haslam

Jun 20, 2019

If you’re not getting your fundamentals right, your app marketing could miss the mark.

At Mobile Spree Berlin, Ekaterina Petrakova, Marketing Lead at Rocket Internet SE, walked the audience through the essentials of a robust tracking concept. This requires app marketers to pick the right sources for different data and set KPIs that move the business forward. The entire session is well worth a listen, and below we have the full video and transcript to fill you in, as well as highlights from Ekaterina’s session.

Back to basics: A tracking concept defines how marketers set up events, and what attributes should be attached with each new event: “You define the name, which should be understandable for everyone. Then you define when it's going to be triggered, when each event is happening.” With solid definitions, marketing is perfected at the data level. As Ekaterina says, “a good tracking concept will enable targeting the right audience and help you optimize on events that actually matter.”

The sources of truth: One data source, Ekaterina says, isn’t enough. But managing data from many places creates its own problems if marketers don’t define what those datapoints mean. As such, marketers have to really think hard, and establish, “where you're getting the data from, where you're getting your KPIs from, as well as installs and revenue data.” So, for instance, a marketer might want to only use Facebook to provide cost data, and Adjust to provide revenue data — without mixing the two sources up.

No marketer is an island: Without narrowing down your KPI set, you’re liable to drown in the amount of data you try to process: “the idea is to put together KPIs from a strategic point of view for your management team, and also provide actionable insights for operations.” To focus, you need to align your own goals with your company’s. This means involving stakeholders across the company. “Talk with your founders, talk with head of departments and different departments. See what kind of questions they have and how you can help them answer those questions; and help them by providing the right data to set the KPIs.”

The full transcript

Hello everyone. Yeah, so it was a very catchy description of my presentation, but we'll see how you will like it. It's a little technical. I just want to see how many of you have ever created a tracking concept or looked at the tracking concept you have for your app? Raise your hands. Okay, cool. How many of you communicate with the people who are launching Facebook campaigns and optimizing them? If you're communicating, that's great. You probably already know everything, but I just want to spread the word because that's what I faced while working at Rocket Internet.

So this is the agenda for my presentation today. If you've never heard of Rocket Internet, it's basically a company based in Berlin. We incubate and invest in internet and technology companies all over the world, but I'm not here for the sales pitch because we’re actually not selling, we are just buying. I have been working there for more than four years. I have had the chance to work with the companies from the very idea when you creating the application, the tracking concept, when you decide what channels you are going for to acquire customers, to the medium size companies that are just about to jump and they just raised a lot of money and they don't know how to spend. Or, how we call like, we also work with so-called unicorns. Something like HelloFresh, Zalando, or ZALORA, and so on.

There are certain things that I notice that always make sense to check. One of those things is actually the tracking concept. So, maybe some of you are already familiar with this, if you've seen my previous presentation. I'm a big fan of the growth stack that was created by Phiture but it's not always easy to work with this. So growth stack contains so many channels, so many different steps, and where to start if you just have your idea of the business, and you're building your first app, and your first tracking concept. So these are those steps that I think is the easy way to go. You first decide what kind of market you have, how you want to distribute the application. Then, you create a tracking concept. Understand, "Okay. If I target customers via Facebook, how are we going to understand how many people come from Facebook? How many people come organically?"

Then, you analyze the data from the customers you have. You improve your product, slowly see what is the conversion funnel, whether the conversion is going smooth, what is your CPA, when actually you start to get money? After that, you start to work on engagement. So, "Okay, this is the right time to implement something like Leanplum or Braze. Look at your customer life cycle, activate lapsed users, and so on. Last but not least, if you have enough money, hopefully, and you actually created revenue, you can improve your product even more; maybe expand in new countries, maybe test a lot, the features, like work on personalization, deep linking, and so on. But, if before you really could see how people come, like from the first step, to the second, the third, and fourth. Nowadays, we know that... Actually, if you want to grow, you have to think about acquisition and retention at the same time.

How many of you noticed, actually, that CPM on Facebook is rising, like growing really, really a lot over the last years? I noticed that because I look at it like for the last four and a half years. It's really expensive to actually pay for the user who probably is gonna install your app, look around, but never actually make a purchase. You cannot afford this anymore, especially smaller companies who don’t have such a huge budget. That's quite a challenge. That means that if you're going to work on your retention right now, it means that you should think about your personalization, already at the step of your tracking concept creation. What type of information might be needed for you in order to, I don't know, send this push notification, like really small that, "Oh. I don't know. Ekaterina, you forgot this in your basket, so do you actually want to continue to purchase?"

As we are now reading about, we are getting so many push notifications and in-app messages. We are bombarded by ads. We expect that apps already know what we want. They know that I browse this particular category, and I'm not interested in something else. If I'm a fan of this football club, I don't want to hear the news, maybe, about something else. I want to follow only this football club. This mean that you have to analyze and think about a lot of data in advance.

Let’s assume that you're already a medium-stage company and you are somewhere in between analysis and engagement. That means that most probably you're never going to be dependent on one channel, in terms of acquisition. Hopefully, you already have the set of channels, a lot of tools; which means that you also have quite substantial budget. Gessica today said that sometimes she was just putting additional zero on the budget. Imagine if you have 14 channels and two people who are responsible for different channels added an additional zero — somebody's going to lose, right? I mean, that's the small decisions, small mistakes that actually can cost you a lot if you're talking about scale and about the volumes that you sometimes can achieve. That's one of the challenges, but the biggest challenge I think, and I face it a lot, is that there are so many stakeholders. You have so many different departments who are working on your acquisition. Like, there are certain teams that work in Facebook, there's certain team working on SEM, there are teams working on Pinterest, and completely different team probably working on creatives. How often do we actually communicate? The bigger the company, the less touch points they have. So, how we deal with this? We actually have to provide with the right KPIs, with the right answers, and support those departments in their decisions.

Let's take a look at, I don't know, small company. The founder, probably, just thinking about the next investment round and he wants to show that, "Okay, our company is growing 20% month over month." Okay, he wants to be on the top of the mountain. Hopefully, the whole company wants to be there. But what does it mean for... I don't know about marketing manager. He got the goal that CPA should be no more than $50. Because if it's above $50, you will never earn something from the customer. So he has to reach this. These are very different goals, but at the same time, the company wants to be on top. There are different ways to get there, and how you can actually do this.

So the idea is to put together KPIs from a strategic point of view and operations. So here we have, for example, some of the channels that you might use; push notifications, in-app messaging, search, social networks, whatever. Also, from a strategic point of view your head of department, head of performance marketing. Yeah. Sending emails about, "Actually we have this kind of sales, this revenue, and we acquired so many customers." When you're actually running the campaign, you're thinking different KPIs and different metrics, such as CTR; what was the bounce rate from the landing pages we just created, and testing what is the CPA, what is the conversion, how many conversions we got? Actually, what is the definition of conversion for your particular campaign right now? Even if we look at just such a simple channel, everybody is probably using it right now, Facebook. There are also so many different things that you can consider when you're actually working hands-on on the campaigns. "What is the territory, the placement, where you can get this data from?"

Okay. You look at the Facebook interface, Are you sure that actually all those customers that Facebook claim, came via Facebook? Maybe you acquired them somewhere else. This is a great chart that I actually copied from Lior who is going to speak today later. He will probably explain how you're going to use it in the right way. But it inspired me a lot, in terms of... There are so many different tools that we are using, such as, I don't know, Facebook, Google, Google Analytics, your MMP. In this case, I will mostly talk about Adjust. You pull this data, put it together, and actually create like a table or performance dashboard regarding your costs, attribution, and so on. And you provide this data to supply the needs of your marketing department, your finance department, and product.

Don't forget that there are so many differences. It might be that you have completely different billing periods in different tools. It can be that you have different attributions vendors. Maybe your SEM attribution window is completely different compared to the Facebook one, and how to deal with this. It's a lot of data, and you just can be lost. Gessica also mentioned today that it's good if you can solve certain problems, in terms of the data. You can do some analysis yourself. Lately I run quite a few Facebook campaigns, so what kind of data I was using? So, besides the Facebook API you can pull, I don't know what were the cost, right? How many impressions you got, what was the audience targeted? All great. Then, I always look at Google Analytics because I want to know what actually user were doing in your product, in your app, or on your website. Then I look at the Adjust to understand, "Okay. Facebook claims that there is, I don't know, hundreds, thousands of downloads or installs; but actually, we see that there were some other touchpoints in between. And the last click was attributed to, I don't know, Google Ads for example, or Universal Campaigns." And how to make decision out of it.

So remember that KPIs should simplify decisions. Not only you, as the like the person who actually create campaigns and run them, but also at your strategic level. So your founders, your head of departments, and they have completely different KPIs in mind. So what kind of information, what kind of KPIs you can pull from Facebook? In this case, for strategy, it may be cost. For operations, it can be all those audience details. Or what kind of CTAs perform the best? What kind of creative or image work the best? From Adjust, I would probably see how many revenue events it got. What was actually the revenue in a particular period of time? Then, what was the conversion, monthly active users? Google Analytics, I mostly look, as I already said, the behavioral flow and bounce rate.

As you can see, actually if you will just take over the tracking concept from Adjust, you kind of don't really have any data about the revenue so much. If you will only rely on Facebook data, if you will sum up your new customers coming from Facebook and, I don't know, any other channel; you will end up with much more installs than you actually have in iTunes Connect or Google Play Console. So that's why you have to have this tracking concept, and you have to look at it in the right way.

Another powerful tool, that you can enable is actually just target the right audience and optimize on right in-app events, which also can be passed via Adjust. So, once you've created your tracking concept, you define what kind of in-app events you want to have; whether you want to optimize on just sign up or maybe on the first purchase, only because you want to know when the user becomes a customer. Or maybe you want to optimize on revenue.

Beside that, you can also target specific audience. You want to target only people who are living in Kreuzberg, if you only like Berlin service. Or you want to only target people who are interested in a particular category. This is all enabled also, not just by Facebook targeting, but also if you will have the proper tracking concept.

So, just to put it together, once again. A tracking concept, a good one, really will enable targeting the right audience and help you optimize on events that actually matter.

So, when you start to building one, or when you start thinking again, and look together with your other departments; what actually you should take care of? In case of acquisition, think what channels are you using right now? Maybe in the beginning, you started just with Facebook and right now you're, I don't know, also targeting Pinterest. Maybe you're working with ad networks. Maybe you are working with influencers. How to track them? Think about this and where from you're getting the data, where from you're getting your KPIs, installs, your revenue data. The next point is actually involve all stakeholders. Usually tracking concept, it's primary just mobile tech marketings and developers. They are doing something on their own, but people who actually run campaigns, very often, are not involved or they're not aware of what actually going on. Just sit together, talk with your founders, talk with head of departments, different departments and see what kind of questions they have and how you can help them to answer those questions; and help with the right data to provide with the KPIs.

And the last but not least, events should always come with custom parameters for the proper targeting and segmentation. It means that with every event, you can pass so much data and thank God Adjust doesn't have any limitation on that. That's quite powerful, but let's look at the example. So, this is Movinga, which is actually available only in Berlin. I really recommend, if you are going to Ikea and you don't feel like driving yourself or you cannot drive, like me. So I would probably just visit the app and just check how much it will cost. So, okay. What kind of acquisition channels might they use? So try... there is a bit Universal App campaigns. Obviously Facebook, because students move into Berlin, they just have to go to Ikea and buy all the stuff for their new flat. Organic offline website- remarketing channels are pretty limited because how you can actually identify when the user is in need for this, right? I mean, okay, maybe you can target like with the business or a certain location targeting if you are around Ikea or a furniture shop, but that's kind of it and it's quite advanced. But okay, this is the app.

So, what I'm actually mean by tracking concept? I mean that there is certain event that you define. You define the name, which will be understandable for everyone, hopefully. Then you defined when it's actually going to be triggered, when it's happening. It's good to create a description because then everybody understand and everybody is on the same page.

This incredible thing as attributes is exactly the data layer that pass the data with every event. If you are talking about app launch, you can already pass what was the device and you can already get this information. Again, so many people, like iOS users, open the phone, open the application on the phone; what was the phone, what was the location? But, if you are talking about signup information, you already have the name of the person. It means that, even if they will just sign up and never ever do the purchase, maybe you can target them with the name and say like, "Hey, Ekaterina, we see that you just sign up. Maybe you want to try our new feature or... and it will make an order." You can actually enable this. At the end, you will have something like this. This kind of table with events.

Be careful about event names and triggers. Don't try to track everything. Think about what your product is about. So if you, in this case for example, try to book a car in a day in the future and then suddenly you see churn. So the user wanted to make an order but dropped out, what can happen? Maybe he just found something cheaper. But actually, it can be that there was no data available, no time slot. And it's important to track this time slot, ‘not available’, because that will give you an understanding that maybe campaign is performing great, but it's just your service itself is not ready yet for this volumes. If you will not have this event, you will just lose the data and you will just think, "Okay, let's switch off this campaign. It's never going to perform." That's not true.

At the end, it's very simplified version with a dummy data, but you will have something like this in the Adjust dashboard. More beautiful, but still. So you have for each particular tracker that you have, each particular channel, depending how you track it. You will have all the events, and you really can compare. Yes, it's last click attribution, but at least it's something you can compare and it's already really powerful. When you compare, you can actually see, "Oh, there is retargeting opportunities event. I see that there are people who canceled the order. Maybe I want to target all of them, especially people in Kreuzberg. Yeah. Let's do it. Let's target them, and give them a promo code." So, what should I have? I should have a screening app, and I should have an event that triggered when the user click on "cancel the order."

How this event will look like? This is kind of the code that you give to a developer to implement in your application. There are certain callback parameters, which store all the data about the order: what was the date, what was the zip code, what was the drop-off address, all this information. If you want to use this information in your tool, where you target for example, I assume that I want to target those customers via Facebook. I just have to copy them in the partner parameters. That mean that Facebook will have this data as well, and you can target with this data. So, in the Facebook interface, simply you're choosing your application, choosing, "Okay." If, for example, cancel order was within seven days and the date was in the future, you want everyone who was in Kreuzberg- put all the zip codes that you know are in Kreuzberg with the parameter pick_a_postcode and that's it. You are setting up your order complete as the final goal and the optimization event, and you just track your results. It's easy, simple.

But the thing is, if you didn't take a look at your tracking concept before, maybe you don't even know that it's possible. Maybe there is a tiny little piece of information that is missing, but it would make it completely different whole experience for your customer.

So, just sum it up, one more time. So think that, yeah, everybody is familiar with Adjust dashboard here. There are certain KPIs that already tracked and it's good, it's great you can give it to any other channel or any other team in your company. But don't forget about custom events, always come with attributes, you just will elevate your targets and segmentation to completely different level.

At the end, think about channel requirements. That's why you have to involve all stakeholders. For example, if you know that certain channels, like out-of-home campaigns- they always use vouchers and you want to track this. Just simply add in a trucking concept that voucher when it's actually added, you will pass the voucher, so you can actually see how many people will be attributed to this out-of-home campaign. Because the saw you, they clicked on Facebook, but they posted the voucher from the out-of-home campaign. Probably, it's worth it, actually, to have this poster somewhere. I didn't know, in Kottbusser Tor.

That's basically it. I hope that it's a little bit inspired you to talk one more time about your tracking concept. Refresh it. Think how you can actually improve it and hopefully it will help you to grow. Thank you very much.

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