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Mobile marketing and the metrics that matter

9th Sep 2013
Managing editor
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“Like with any marketing campaign you launch, the only way to tell if your mobile marketing campaign is working is to consistently measure and analyse the key areas of the campaign,” says James Marscheider, head of marketing at Oxygen8. “In order to do this effectively, identifying the key metrics is the best method to learn which activities are having the most impact, and from this is becomes easier to improve future campaigns.”

So what are the most important metrics you should be measuring?

As mobile platforms have matured, a variety of tools have been developed to measure mobile-specific metrics, including Google Analytics, Flurry, Apsalar and Mixpanel. But analytics tools could leave you drowning in data, struggling to decipher what’s relevant, unless you know what you’re looking for. Grant Kemp, omnichannel manager at Inviqa, recommends you focus your efforts on actionable data and customer insight, addressed in the following metrics:

User acquisition

  • Building a mobile app or site is a competitive, expensive, and complicated business and it’s vital to know if you’re attracting users. A high street retailer deems the success of their sale based on footfall and you need to do the same with your online visitors.
  • Consider how your users found you, whether it was via your paid acquisition channel or organically. Because mobile searches are local, and usually result in faster conversion, you need to know whether the keywords you’re optimising for are actually driving traffic to your site.
  • Analyse your unique page views and find out which platforms and devices are sending the majority of traffic - you can then prioritise these when making upgrades to your site and during testing. You can then also work out the average screen size of your user, which can be used to support design strategy.


Once you’ve acquired prospects and users, it’s important to find out more about their engagement levels and use these specific metrics to your advantage. This can offer explicit insight into your user demographic and who’s making purchases from you.

These metrics can be gathered from:

  • App activation rate. This is when a customer actually starts using your product. Frequently, users sign up for the app, but then have no further engagement with you. Look at the users who stay active for a week or month, examine repeat visits and usage time. These are the ones you need to nurture. If your app activation stats are low: are your confirmation emails necessary? Allowing the user to log in without having to verify their email speeds up the process; user abandonment can be triggered by the smallest annoyances. This could just be minor changes like rearranging the user interface to make the first feature more prominent.
  • Time on site and time spent per screen / bounce rate. These metrics measure the interest levels of users. Are they dwelling on your key pages, the ones that convert to sales?
  • Email response. Calculate the amount of users signing up to newsletters, then check open rates, link clicks and replies, to decipher how well your email campaigns are working across all platforms. Analyse what devices your communications are being read on, to see if any enhancements can be made for specific models. Sending newsletters and emails that are responsive, so they adapt to the device they’re opened on, will increase how interactive customers are.
  • Advocacy. Depending on the type of mobile website, you can measure engagement with the number of customer reviews and comments posted. Analyse your social media interaction, but don’t just count “likes”. More competent data can be gathered from brand advocacy - are your customers sharing information about your company, do they engage with the polls, pictures and updates you post?
  • Unsubscribe rates. Metrics that measure the SMS and app notification opt outs, app uninstall and email unsubscribe rates tell you if your users are getting disenchanted.


Conversion metrics demonstrate how successful your mobile marketing strategy is:

  • Coupon redemption stats. Discounts and offers impact the bottom line. You need to know just how many people have redeemed their coupons.
  • Average revenue per user. Not necessarily applicable across the board, but more useful in the case of targeted campaigns, this stat tells you how much your average mobile user is spending, and if it’s higher than the user acquisition cost.

Mobile platforms

When it comes to platform-specific metrics, Marscheider has the following advice:

SMS marketing metrics

Of all mobile marketing campaigns, SMS has proved to be one of the most invaluable tools to marketers. Read and engagement rates are higher than email and, since it has at low price associated with it, SMS provides marketers with a cost-effective solution. However, how do you get the most out of SMS Marketing, and what metrics do you need to analyse to get the biggest bang for your buck? The five metrics below should answer these questions, and help you on your way to marketing success.

  • Delivery rate: The delivery rate tells you the percentage of messages successfully delivered, out of the total subscribers to whom the SMS is sent. Delivery rates vary widely based on a variety of factors (list size, message frequency and pre-paid phone composition). A low delivery rate may mean your list needs to be cleansed. You can use number lookup (sometimes known as HLR Lookup) software to help cleanse your list, preventing your sending messages to invalid numbers.
  • Open rate: Open rate is a measure of how many subscribers on an SMS list open a particular SMS campaign after receiving it, normally expressed as a percentage. It has been found that text message open rates exceed 98% compared to 22% of emails, 29% of tweets and 12% of Facebook posts.
  • Opt-out rate: The opt-out rate tells us the percentage of recipients who opt out after receiving an SMS campaign. A high opt-out rate for an SMS campaign can signal that the incorrect audience has been targeted, or the content within the SMS didn’t provide value to your audience. Better targeting, and split testing your SMS campaigns can help decrease opt-out rates. The average SMS campaign is opted out less than 5% of the time.
  • Clickthrough rate: The clickthrough rate measures the proportion of subscribers who initiated action with respect to an advertisement that redirected them to another page where they might purchase an item or learn more about a product or service. The average click through rate (CTR) of URLs included in SMS messages is 19%, compared to just 4.2% CTR for emails.
  • Conversion rate: The conversion rate is the proportion of visitors who take a valuable action. This can be a purchase, signup, phone call or simply a page view. Linking your SMS campaigns to valuable conversions can provide you with an insight into your ROI from the SMS campaign, and help you improve future campaigns.

Mobile advertising metrics

Mobile banner advertising has become increasingly popular with the rise of smartphones. Mobile device screens are now big enough to accommodate a reasonably sized banner, presenting a great opportunity for marketers to increase sales and brand awareness. The click-through rate of banners can help provide an insight into how well an ad entices a user to click through. If click-through-rates are low, your ad may be irrelevant or the design may not be right. Even more important are conversion rates and these will differ depending on whether your goal is an app download, signup or phone call.

QR/response codes metrics

QR codes have done well to blur the lines of traditional print and digital advertising. A simple scan of a QR code can open a website, make a call, download an app or send an SMS. The key metric to asses is the scan rate of your code. This will give you an insight into what marketing campaign users are engaging with. Once the user has scanned the code, directing them to an actionable goal, which you can track as a conversion, helps to provide an ROI on your QR codes. 

Mobile apps

Mobile app downloads are set to reach 70 billion in 2013, so a presence in one of the app stores could help take your marketing to the next level. In order to assess the effectiveness of mobile apps, you need to track and measure a variety of key metrics. The amount of downloads is obviously crucial to analysing the reach of your app, but usage and engagement apps can give you a better idea of who is using your app and how they are engaging with it. Analyse what devices your users have, where they are using it, what time of day they are using it, how many times they use the app and how long they use it. Measuring these metrics can help your understand your user, and improve your app to reach your business goals.

Demonstrating value

Hopefully these tips will provide you with the perfect foundation to tell if your mobile marketing campaign is working, and demonstrate how it is generating ROI.

“Striving to implement your mobile strategy will eventually prompt your business stakeholders to demand a return on investment,” reminds Kemp. “As marketers, we always need to be able to demonstrate that our efforts are reaping success. Whether you’ve built a mobile app or mobile website, ensure you’re on target by agreeing on relevant metrics and using appropriate tools to measure them.”

He concludes: “The key thing about metrics is that you aren’t looking at your users as numbers.  You need to remember that these are real people interacting with your site or app. By understanding the valuable insights that these numbers can give, will help you to help your customers and visitors to enjoy using your digital content and come back for more.”  

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