Magnificent Mobile Website And App Analytics: Reports, Metrics, How-to!

Flow Nothing I can tell you about the importance of having an incredible mobile strategy will surprise you. Mobile devices (phones, tablets, wearables) are transforming how we behave, how we buy, how we consume content, and dare I say how we become happy or we become sad.

You after all have all of the aforementioned devices, and it is likely that at some level you are looking at traffic to your company's digital existence.

Still, let me try to surprise you.

Here's a graph that shows how US adults consume media, it shows time in hours. In blue is how much time we spent in 2010 and in red the time spent in 2014.

mobile content consumption trend 2010 2014

Surely you are not surprised that digital finally beats TV. (Yea!!!) I was not surprised, we could see that coming quite clearly.

What was surprising, even to me (!), was the dramatic shift between 2010 to 2014 to mobile content consumption. The light gray line is desktops plus laptops, the dark gray line is mobile devices.

The only reason good old digital is beating TV is mobile.

Amazing, right? And we see this trend all around the world.

Yet, if you look at the mobile experiences of the Fortune 1000, you will feel sad. If you look at the mobile marketing strategies, you will see they don't reflect this shift to mobile. A majority of YouTube consumption is on mobile, yet if there is an advertising or content strategy inside a company for YouTube it rarely accommodates for this reality.


Many reasons. CEOs still don't get it. CMOs don't grasp the implication of this shift in consumer behavior. Company UX leaders are happy to stink less by taking the sub-optimal path of responsive design, rather than create a mobile-unique experience (your customers tend to do different things on your desktop site than your mobile site!).

But why blame others, in this post let's focus on one important reason whose responsibility can be squarely put on your shoulders and mine: Measurement. Let's get the information we need to get our CEOs, CMOs and CUXOs to unleash a tsunami of creativity and awesomeness when it comes to mobile.

Framing the Opportunity.

There are two types of experiences we need to worry about.

Our mobile websites. Our mobile applications.

They are two completely different beasts.

Consider their purpose. Mobile websites have to do many jobs, because people with many different purposes will come there. You have to solve for all of them. Mobile apps are much more focused (or they stink), and people use them for specific purposes. They use different technologies of course, and different distribution mechanisms.

To use my See-Think-Do-Care framework , mobile websites have to solve for See, Think and Do while mobile apps usually have to solve for Care.

united site app

Create a distinct mobile website and mobile app measurement strategies. They will need two different implementations, it is quite likely that you will end up with two sets of metrics (more people focused for mobile apps, more visit focused for sites).

Remember, when someone says mobile analytics, first ask the clarifying question: Do you mean mobile application or mobile website? Then approach each separately (even though there are tools like Google Analytics that will do both). It will save you hours and hours of time, effort and focus.

In this post we will look mobile sites first, both data collection and analysis, and then mobile applications.

The post is written in these six steps:

Step 1: Tag every shared link with campaign tracking parameters.

Step 2. Tag your mobile website. GTM FTW!

Step 3. Dive into Mobile Reporting and Analysis.

Step 4. Dive into Mobile Reporting and Analysis.

Step 5. Implement Cross-Device Tracking.

Step 32. Media-Mix Modeling/Experimentation.

Taking inspiration from my favorite quote, it's not the ink, it's the think, in each section I'll share the think and then the ink, which includes screenshots and specific guidance on what you should do.


Step 1: Tag every shared link with campaign tracking parameters.

This might seem slightly bizarre, but before you do anything email every person you know in your company, take your agency out for an expensive lunch, massage the right egos in your IT team, do whatever it takes to get every link shared by your company digitally to use campaign tracking parameters.

The reason for my recommendation is that mobile browsers are almost there in terms of their behavior when compared to desktop browsers, but they do sometimes exhibit weirdness when it comes to passing referrers. For mobile apps, there are no referrers (everything's Direct, hurray!). When you tag your email, paid search, display, organic and paid socially shared urls, you are going to ensure that your analytics solution will capture the source accurately (even in all those cases where there is no referrer).

So, be a dear. Always, always, tag every link (owned, earned or paid). It will have a material impact on the quality of your mobile analysis.

campaign tracking google play store

In Google Analytics there are five parameters: Source, Medium, Campaign, Term and Content. You should always use the first three, the last two are bonus. Check with the web analytics tool you use, every single tool allows you to do this, though each has a nuance you have to absorb.

Campaign tracking links have some differences depending on if they are going to your mobile website or your mobile app. Please see the detailed campaign tracking page for more info for websites, Android and iOS. Check out the helpful GA site URL builder and the Google Play URL builder.

When you analyze the data in Google Analytics (or Adobe or WebTrends or Webtrekk), this data will be in your Campaigns folder waiting for you to some pretty magnificent analysis.

Remember. Tag. Everything.

Step 2. Tag your mobile website. GTM FTW!

If anyone tells you that mobile analytics is hard, browsers are terrible, cookies are crumbling, phones use WAP (remember that?) etc., look at that person, give them a hug, then mark them in your book as enemy using red ink.

I kid a little of course. Use blue ink. : )

You can track mobile websites just fine with your standard web analytics tool.

According to Pew, while cell phones are nearly ubiquitous around the world (95% China, 91% Chile, 82% Kenya), penetration of smartphones are still getting there (37% China, 39% Chile, 19% Kenya). In the US, depending on who you ask, smartphones form around 65% of the cell phones.

It is important to realize that almost all monetizable behavior on mobile devices is on smartphones (everywhere in the world). So if with a few minutes of work you can track that, you have captured what's most important to your business. If you are in a feature phone majority market, and that market has most of the monetizable behavior, please invest in unique tracking there. If you are not… KISS.

Let me modify my earlier sentence: You can track smartphone usage of your mobile websites just fine with your standard analytics tool.

If you are starting new, or going to touch the code on your website for any reason, please, in the name of Thor, Superman and Dilbert, use a tag management solution. Enterprise tag management solutions are extremely feature rich now (they can even make you coffee), and hold the incredible promise of just having to touch your mobile site/app once and then being able to add more data capture sexiness remotely via the cloud.

Google Tag Manager is one such solution. It is free. And you don't even have to use Google Analytics to use it. It supports GA of course, along with AdWords, DoubleClick, GDN and many other Google tags. What is cool is that it is also pre-integrated with comScore, Turn, Media6 and other measurement and tracking solutions.

google tag manager

Sign up for your free account, set up a container tag, add that to a global element on your site and as soon as you add your GA Web Property ID, you are in business.

This will just give you the standard tagging. You would get the cool and sexy events, timers, rules and triggers, cross-domain tracking and all that. But for day one, standard will do.

One last request for you. Once you start collecting the data, please take half a day to identify all the micro-outcomes on your mobile website (remember this step for apps too), and ensure you configure them as Goals in your Google Analytics account's admin interface.

Mobile experiences are unique, to understand that one key strategy for us will be understanding the micro-outcomes.

So, use GTM, implement one container tag, turn on the standard GA tag, configure goals in GA admin, you are ready for a lot of mobile data analysis!

Step 3. Dive into Mobile Reporting and Analysis.

Analytics > Mobile > Overview > Devices.

That is all it takes for you to get a real solid feel for mobile's impact on your business. The very first thing you'll see will be the distribution between desktop, mobile (smartphones) and tablets. The team at Google has done a great job of having the end-to-end view there across Acquisition, Behavior and Outcomes.

google analytics mobile traffic

What do you learn from this report? Mobile content consumption, behavior along key metrics (time, bounces etc.) and a sense for how much value you are getting from your mobile traffic. It will likely answer all the top level questions your boss has relating to mobile.

If you have ecommerce you will see key metrics related to money making. Transactions, Revenue and Ecommerce Conversion Rate.

google anatlyics mobile device ecommerce overview

What do you learn from this report? Mobile has much lower conversions and conversion rate than tablets or desktop. It does not matter if you are a B2B or B2C or A2K, you will always see this. This should give you two thoughts to frame to your boss. 1. Don't frame the value of Mobile in context of last-click on-device conversion. 2. Leverage Mobile (smartphone and tablets) to inform, assist and form deepen relationships with your visitors. (Remember my stress earlier on measuring micro-outcomes?)

Now that you have done God's work by making those two points clear, time to dive deeper. After all 50% of the traffic to the above site is on mobile devices, to get 10 times fewer conversions means there is something else of value that can be done.

Your boss will likely ask you which phones and tablets are used to visit your website, or other such value-deficient questions. For the first couple of interactions, give her/him that data. It is easy to find.

google analytics mobile device report

What do you learn from this report? Almost nothing. You will look at it only to please your boss for a couple of days. They will soon see that the values in the dimension (column one) rarely change, they will get bored and move on. Thank your lucky stars and stop reporting this.

(I've cropped off some of the not useful metrics in the standard GA report, at the minimum you see above what I think will be most useful in a not really useful report.)

One of the powerful reason for not using a dedicated mobile website analysis tool is that you can use the full suite of reports and analytical features inside your comprehensive digital analytics tool. You don't need anything special for this.

The best way to take advantage of this opportunity is to leverage the Analytics advanced segmentation feature.

You can choose the built in Mobile and Tablet Traffic segment, and apply it to any standard or custom report you want to analyze inside Google Analytics.

google analytics mobile segment

For example, I've invested an enormous amount of my budget in creating See and Think content, which I've properly tagged using the lovely event tracking feature in Analytics.

Apply the mobile segment to the event tracking report, and boom!

google analytics mobile events experiences

What do you learn from this report? In my case the interactive elements which are useful are clearly displayed above. In your case these might include videos people watch (See), car configurators people use (Think), handy guides they download (Think/Care), social amplification (Do) or follows (Care), and so on and so forth. This report is most useful in understanding if people are interacting with, usually, your most expensive investment in content and delivering some micro-outcomes.

Speaking of micro-outcomes (or micro-conversion if you insist), apply the same segment to your Goals Overview report in Analytics for some truly deep insights that you boss will love you for.

google analytics mobile conversions

What do you learn from this report? How mobile traffic is adding value to your business. You've looked at ecommerce already and noticed some ecommerce is there, but not enough. So what else is going on? The stuff you see above. This report will help you identify where your company should invest in when it comes to mobile content and what kind of people to hire for the mobile awesomization team.

And how hard was it to get to the above? Standard GA tag > Goals in admin interface > Advanced segment. That, really, is all it takes.

You can, and likely should, do a lot more analysis of your mobile performance. Rather than having you jump around the many Analytics reports, I've created a destination where you can find pretty much all you need for your mobile report.

Let me walk you through the custom report, and I'll also share a link below to allow you to download the report directly into your GA account so that you can get jiggy with it right away!

The mobile custom report collects three key areas of analysis. Mobile device performance, search performance, and page performance serve as the three tabs on top of the report. In each case I've chosen the best fit metrics for that dimension (Users, Sessions, Bounce Rate, Time and Goal CR for devices) and added a custom set of drilldowns for each tab. This allows you to, for example start exploring performance at an operating system level, drill down to the devices for that operating system and then which landing pages perform best for that mobile device.

custom report mobile device google analytics

Here's the report for operating system. It shows clearly how you should at least be rooting for Windows Phone even as 40 awful pundits declare the platform a failure. For you, it delivers two percentage point higher conversion rate!

custom report mobile device data google analytics

What do you learn from this tab? This is a better view than the standard report, but this tab is mostly for your boss (with mildly interesting data around engagement) and for your IT/Dev team as they decide which platforms to optimize the experience for or prioritize first.

The next tab is more fun/important, the search performance report. The drilldowns are Keyword, Source (engine) and Mobile Device Branding. You could do Source and then Keyword if you want, but I felt in this case the other way works much better. And again, a custom set of metrics.

search mobile custom report

First, a quick techie lesson. You are seeing (not set) above simply to indicate that 84,894 Users did not come via Search. Good contextual bit of data to have. You are seeing (not provided) above because Google, Yahoo! and others do not provide keyword data for users who do secure searches. [For more: Search: Not Provided: What Remains, Keyword Data Options]

What do you learn from this tab? How your search strategy is working for your company and what keywords and search engines you need to focus on in terms of improving your future mobile outcomes.

Finally, our third tab contains deeper insights around content. There are only four key metrics on this tab, and the drilldowns take us from the landing page to which source the traffic came from to aforementioned page and lastly did the type of user (new vs. returning) have an impact on performance.

page performance custom report mobile

What do you learn from this tab? Since mobile sites will have higher than average bounce rate, the landing page view is incredibly helpful in identifying both pages you need to improve (Bounce Rate, Time) and the pages you need to love a lot more (Page Value column). Once you find the most precious (or loser) pages, say #3 above, you can drill down to see which sources are delivering this valuable traffic – and you know what to do then. : )

Three simple tabs, your go to mobile analytics data without having to run around the tool. You can also download this report directly into you GA account: Mobile Performance Analysis Report.

I hope you can see that we don't have to go very far and wide to do very deep analysis of the smartphone and tablet users of our mobile website (or, eeek (!), desktop website on mobile platforms). Grab the report above, or apply the segment highlighted above and you will be more than on your way to creating a more data driven company.

Step 4. Dive into Mobile Reporting and Analysis.

Even if your business is mostly mobile app related and you barely have a five page mobile website, I recommend doing steps one through three first. There is enough complexity and enough simplicity above in implementation, reporting and segmentation that you will be a lot more familiar with what to do when it comes to ensure glorious glory for your mobile app analytics.

The cool part of app analytics with Google Analytics is that the tracking, reporting and analysis were re-thought from the ground up just for a mobile application environment. The downside is that this awesomeness comes at the cost of having to learn new things on top of my recommendation above. You do get really good stuff back, just look at it…

google analytics mobile app reporting

Real-time! OMG! (Remember, right-time is way more important than real-time.) Deep analysis of actual users, their location, their engagement with your app (how many open your app only once and never again, the answer awaits!), of course devices and crash reports, but more fun events and conversions and in-app purchases, and the pièce de résistance what traffic sources and campaigns actually drive people to your app page in the Play store! (Sorry, no iOS. Purely because of iTunes data sharing policies.)

Could you possibly want anything else?

Let's pull this a bit. How do you actually implement Google Analytics mobile app tracking?

Here's the world's greatest Mobile App Implementation Guide. Just follow the instructions. There are helpful links to the Android SDK or the iOS SDK along with the specific getting started guides.

When you are ready to grow beyond the default tracking (do that first!), you can implement event tracking in Android or event tracking iOS. Your next stop along the analytics ladder of awesomeness will be enhanced ecommerce tracking in Android or iOS . There is more. But should be enough to kill with smart insights.

If you have a mobile app, I also highly recommend using the Google Tag Manager because of the additional complexity of having to submit all changes to apps to the various stores, getting them to review and the added lag that comes with that love fest.

Once you leverage GTM… life becomes a little more simpler…

mobile application googlt tag manager benefit

…and you have added flexibility in terms of making changes to measurement possibilities and having them propagate faster and bring your insights faster.

How can you get to this glorious stage?

Happy birthday: GTM Setup and Workflow: Mobile Apps

google tag manager mobile ios tracking

As with any analytics tool, your data capture journey can be never ending. Remember to stop at various stages (1. default 2. events 3. ecommerce 4. more 5. more more), and shift to data reporting, enjoy the data, realize you don't get what to do, shift to the data analysis phase (advanced segmentation, custom reporting).

Most people get stuck in DC, some make it through to DR, the bests spend time in DA because it is the only effort that yields the answer to: So what should we do?

mobile application reporting

There is a lot you can do (proof: details on all mobile app analytics reports). Here's my cheat sheet for you for initial focus of your mobile app analysis efforts.

1. Understand how many Active Users are interacting with your app. What does the 30-day active number look like?

2. Zero in on how Users discover your app, what sources and campaigns contribute to downloads and installs. Google Play Sources report, Play Referral Flow report.

3. Engagement, or death! Zero into Loyalty and Recency reports. You will see interesting patterns in the Goal Conversion column. Segment these reports as relevant to you.

4. Money, money, money. Dive into the outcomes reports to measure in-app revenue by day or a time period that makes sense. How many people are buying shiny swords and blunt gems?

That should get you going, and keep you with your first six months worth of analysis. Yes, there is a lot more, just scroll up three screenshots. Don't get lost… DC, DR, DA, money, DC, DR, DA, happiness, DC, DR, DA, glory.

If for any reason you don't want to use the custom mobile app analytics feature in Google Analytics, you also have other options.

Upsight (nee Kontagent) provides mobile app analytics, with a pinch of advanced segmentation (including sweet cohort analysis) and big data mining thrown in for good measure.

You can also look into Mobile App Tracking – it has a special emphasis on tracking marketing with a little less on detailed app behavior, segmentation and analysis.

Countly's claim to fame is that it is open source (a free version is available along with paid ones). You can also play with their mobile app tracking and data using their live dashboard/solution set. (Repeat, click on that link to play with actual data!)

countly mobile app analytics

Like other tools such as Analytics, they track events in great detail.

Here's an example of their tracking in-app purchases…

countly mobile app analytics events

Their User Retention report is well worth taking a look at.

There are mobile app analytics solutions that also provide built in A/B testing and/or surveying capabilities and/or push notifications to individual users and/or capturing and analysis of personally identifiable information (PII) etc. Analyze your needs carefully, buy for now and the near future rather than for 2017, lest you spend all the time until 2017 on implementation, customization, reporting and re-implementation.

A new entrant worth checking out is Introspex, my friend Ali Hedayati is the Chairman.


It focuses on complete mobile customer experience management, with elements of the platform supporting developers, marketers and your tech/operations folks. The thing you might like the most is the no code instrumentation.

You have many choices. Free or paid. The one thing you don't have is an excuse to ever release an app into the world without the ability to collect the data you need to understand mobile marketing and consumer behavior.

Bonus: If you fall in the developer category and you would like to learn how to implement Google Analytics in an iOS app, please checkout Scott Sherwood's wonderful tutorial. Not only does he walk you through all the steps in detail, he also provides a clock app that you and download to practice!

Step 5. Implement Cross-Device Tracking.

Close to the holy grail, the ability to track and understand the behavior of the same person across devices, browsers, mobile and desktop applications and sites.

Holy grail is step five because it requires a great deal of thought – business and technology -, it requires business process re-engineering quite often, and time. If you are using Google Analytics, I encourage you to work with one of the Google Analytics Certified Partners who can help you do this quickly and efficiently in exchange for reasonable sums of money. If you are using a different analytics solution (this is where having the same analytics solution across your mobile, desktop, site, app, is incredibly valuable), please seek out their excellent consultants.

The Google Analytics team has made it easier for you to understand multi-device user behavior in a single view. With Universal Analytics, you can use the fantastic User ID feature to assign web behavior and outcomes to a single user across existences. [Since you are an over achiever, you are using Google Tag Manager for all this, Tracking User ID in GTM!]

The benefits of implementing real cross-device tracking is truly immense. I encourage you to use a consultant to help. If you want to go it alone, get a Red Bull and download this handy-dandy 62 slide Cross Devices Optimization presentation.

Step 32. Media-Mix Modeling/Experimentation.

This is going to be a drive-by (with a promise of a more detailed post in the future).

I've covered the value of media-mix modeling (nee. controlled experiments) in the reality check section of my detailed post on multi-channel attribution modeling.

Briefly, we don't quite understand how to allocate our media dollars optimally because often (if you don't do step 5 above), we don't know which people (as in People and not Users) were exposed to which media activity (AdWords, DoubleClick, Email, Facebook, yada, yada, yada). One way to overcome this issue is to use media-mix modeling to run tests and measure incrementality in results and attribute it to the optimal channel.


I love media-mix modeling. For advertisers with huge budgets it absolutely yields incredibly valuable insights.

It also involves insane complexity, huge costs to execute the experiments and a big commitment in time and people. Unless you are a massive site spending massive amounts on marketing and getting massive conversions, is rarely worth the revenue attribution you get.

But it is great for consultants, your internal people, and me.

So. If someone comes to delivering nirvana on the back of media-mix modeling (for mobile only or mobile and desktop and tv), take it with a grain of salt. At the very minimum, check that you have completed steps one through five above. If you have, and you are a big advertiser, embrace the consultant/internal person/me, cut a check and wait for glorious results.

I'm sorry for being a bit of a downer on something I love. It is important to be real though.

Ok, back to the happy zone.

Mobile devices – smartphones, tablets, wearables – present an amazing opportunity to engage our consumers at more times during the day, in more interesting contexts, and solve not just for a transient connection (BUY NOW!) but also a persistent connection. You can inform, entertain, and provide utility that delivers relevance, joy and delight. Guess what happens when it is time to monetize. You win first.

In this quest mobile data is your bff, and if you follow the five steps above you'll be ready to set your company apart from the wannabes.

I wish you all all the very best!

As always, it is your turn now.

At what step is your company's current mobile analytics effort? Is there one challenge that is most holding your efforts back? Which mobile site analytics tool do you use? How about mobile application analytics tool? Do you have a favorite mobile report – app or site? Have you had success implementing cross-device unique user tracking for your company? Got any tips to share with the rest of us on how we can do it faster?

Please take a moment to share to your delightful comments, insightful suggestions, and valuable examples via the comment form below.

Thank you.

P.S: Two additional posts you might find to be of value:


  1. 1

    Really Nice one, I think it could be helped a lot to me on recent project.

    Also I’m using Google Tag Manager, and this has given me some new ideas! Thank you.

  2. 2

    Thank you very much Avinash for the beautiful explanation and charts.

  3. 3

    Another great post!

    Avinash, you need to correct the sentence here "In blue is how much time we spent in 2010 and in blue the time spent in 2014." to "In blue is how much time we spent in 2010 and in RED the time spent in 2014."

    One request to you, please provide an article for Google tag manager. I am bit confused about it.


  4. 6

    You can write a book in one article , i like this so much.

  5. 8

    Thank you very much for this detailed and helpful guide.

    I have downloaded the custom report!

  6. 9

    Nice work…

    We use a vary array of Analytic platforms, and we can tag just about anything you can think of. The real reason why Mobile Strategies are not seeing the attention they deserve by the Fortune 1000 is the Media agencies that decide on the spend.

    If a media agency has an account worth $10M p/year aimed at a scatter-gun approach on traditional media (TV, OOH, Radio etc), that is hardly measurable why change that? If they were to spend more on Digital especially Mobile which can be extremely measurable, you can bet that that $10M account would reduce the following year as spend can be more targeted.

    Why doesn't anyone see that?

    • 10

      I see what you're saying, and that is a fundamental flaw with agencies.

      They're more focused on keeping their revenue stream rather than actually doing what is best for the client, which would undoubtedly do more for the bottom line in the long run.

    • 11

      Cameron: There is a lot of truth in the reason you've highlighted.

      There is a very different set of standards that are applied to traditional media channels. They have always had less accountability (in part because anything in there is so profoundly difficult to measure). Our curse, digital, is that everything's measurable and so agencies and clients want to measure everything before they make any decent decision (completely forgetting they are being at least a little hypocritical).

      Then there is the whole issue of how agencies are often compensated: Percent of budget type things. Those type of compensation models do nothing to incentivize optimal behavior of driving to the company's bottom-line. And let't not talk about kick-backs and all that stuff. :)


  7. 12

    Hi Avinash,

    An amazing explanation with examples.:) I have one doubt regards to UserId, is there any way to differentiate without logged in unique users using UserID? how these two users (logged in and without logged in users) data gets differentiated as Unique users in GA?

    Appreciate your valuable time for my reply,

    Best Regards

    • 13

      Hareesh: You should be able to segment the two groups. You can also combine the implementation with other advanced features in your analytics tool to do it even better. If you need more help, please work with a GACP:

      Both clusters of users will get a cookie, so you will be able to track unique users as usual. For those that log in, where you assign a user id you can move from Users to People (at least in how you think about it).


  8. 14

    Really awesome post for analytics persons like myself :)

    However Im trying to learn more about Google Tag Manager. I already saw all the information in the official website. But there´s alot of things that I need to do and I´m not finding that information there. Where can I devolope my skills on GTM?

    Thanks in advance!

    Pedro Pereira

  9. 15

    Hi Avinash

    Mobile analytics and cross-device tracking is the big conversation happening right now so this post comes at an opportune time.

    I take your point re responsive design, but unfortunately its the reality of the moment. In such a scenario I wonder if we can still get a fairly accurate mobile device report.


    • 16

      Indu: Responsive design should not affect the report you get out of Google Analytics or Webtrekk. They still measure page views and visits and all that. It will all be accurate.

      The problem is that since you are still primarily serving your desktop website (and desktop purposes and context) to your mobile users, the outcomes to your business will not be spectacular. Surely not for the short term, and I hate to say this, but definitely not for the long-term.

      I absolutely empathize that for any number of reasons sometimes companies just want to stink less rather than actually rock.


  10. 17
    Abinash Mishra says


    Hi I am using both classic google analytics and Universal analytics tracking code for our website. So could you suggest me to replace those codes with GTM code.

    If I'll do this can I get my past details. Also let me know can I do event tracking easily through GTM?

    • 18

      Abinash: You should only use one type of code on your website, it is best practice (and it avoids your numbers being imprecise, which I suspect is the case right now).

      Universal Analytics and GTM are out of beta (have been out for a while) and do support all advanced features in GA – including event tracking.


  11. 19

    This is a very insightful and valuable article.

    Thank you Avinash for sharing.

    I'll share a post on results coming from this in the future.

  12. 20

    Your "see-think-do-care" looks like a OODA-LOOP

    • 21

      Patxi: Thank you for sharing this loop.

      I have to admit I'd not seen it before, and I'm not sure that the context in which it was developed and applied (military strategy) perhaps makes the OODA loop not a fit for marketing, user experience and measurement.

      The OODA is also self-centric (as it should be) and See-Think-Do-Care is audience centric.

      Though I really like the feedback loops in OODA, perhaps something to think about in context of S-T-D-C. : )


  13. 22

    Thanks for hitting on mobile analytics.

    This is certainly where the bulk of web users are beginning to come from. I will follow these steps to capture analytics for these users.

    Thanks for the level of detail! As usual great lessons learned.

  14. 23

    Been using GTM for 3 months – though steep learning at first – I'm loving how it achieves more consistency.

    Is User ID tracking only practicable – even possible – if people can log into the site?

  15. 25

    Thanks to sharing a great article.

    I am so appreciative for this article. It provides me a comprehensive roadmap for our mobile strategy.

  16. 26

    Very informative, thank you.

    Indeed, the number of mobile devices gets bigger and bigger every day and mobile website and analytics are things that every internet marketer must control on.

  17. 27

    Hi Avinash,

    Great post as always.

    I have one remark/suggestion that may be useful to some readers.

    For many sites, their mobile adapted site, whether automatically customized or uniquely built, is living under a different subdomain than the normal site (i.e. m.domain instead of http://www.domain).

    Still many allow mobile users to choose between the normal experience or the mobile one, often with buttons to switch between the two views. In such case, looking at the device category in analytics is not enough, because mobile users can either visit the site on the mobile view or the desktop view, which, as you mentioned, are two very different experiences.

    To solve this, I prefer looking at the hostname value (under behavior). A good practice is to create an advance segment for the mobile hostname (m), and the desktop one (www). Then, per hostname, looking at the device categories will make much more sense and deliver better insights.

    For example, for a big site that I manage, 60% of traffic is coming from mobile device, but from those, 50% use the desktop view (probably pinching their mobile screen a lot) and the other 50% are viewing the customized mobile view. Not surprisingly these two segments show very different values in analytics.


    • 28

      Michael: Good tip.

      In both scenarios your analytics tool will capture the session as one that happens on a mobile device. But if you allow active switching (most websites don't, or hide it deeply in the footer), then it might be worth checking how many people are switching between your mobile and desktop site when they use mobile devices.

      Thank you,


  18. 29
    Tiaan van Zyl says

    Hi Avinash,

    I love this drive towards mobile usage and the high demand for it. We have in our own data seen a huge uptake in the amount of mobile users and the content they consume. But one thing that is bothering me and so much others is the fact that users aren't spending as much revenue per transaction as they do on the desktops. Thus, if this trend continues, we will see a lot more people browsing content….but where does this leave ecommerce sites that depend on users increasing their basket sizes.

    As you said, users on mobile behave differently than on desktops. I have seen the same trend. But that trend is worrying for ecommerce clients.

    How do you convince a CEO or CMO that they need to invest in mobile if mobile is not bring in the revenue? Revenue in the end is all that matters. They need prove that a mobile site will bring in revenue, but as the stats are showing, that won't happen.

    • 30


      It is important to distinguish between Mobile Payments & Mobile Commerce. Mobile Payments are directly attributed to revenue however Mobile Commerce is a longer duration of actions and observations. There is also a vast difference between Mobile Marketing & Mobile Advertising which most agencies and marketers don't yet understand.

      The path to purchase has an incredible mix of all four above and that is why Mobile is important. Actual eCommerce transactions do take place on the fixed Web however a lot of the actions to get to the decision was made on Mobile and other forms of media, this is why there is a push toward the Omni Channel of marketing.

      Remember there was a time people researched online and purchased in-store as they wouldn't trust eCommerce sites between 1997-2005 era. This still happens and is called "reverse showrooming", mobile also plays that role today.

      • 31
        Tiaan Van Zyl says

        With a big push (naturally moving in that direction actually), we do have to take into consideration that a user interacts with your website differently on a desktop than on a mobile. That is why we need to look at each device category on its own and not collective. We've seen that mobile users have browsed a lot more and before making a purchase, plus users does their research on mobiles and then buy on desktops. So this in the end will then influence the way you design your mobile site.

        I think that we need to stop analysing all data with the same mind-set and start to look at the data from each category on its own merit. How do we do this? By understanding your users and how they behave on the site. Cross-device tracking is very important for this, because it allows us to see one users' behaviour on various platforms.

    • 32

      Tiaan: Our friend Cameron is right. Allow to me clarify a bit, and add to it.

      If you only focus on ecommerce we have to look at three types of outcomes (rather than just one – single session last clicks based conversions):

      1. Conversions influenced on the same device (phone calls, app downloads etc.)
      2. Conversions influenced across devices (from the phone to tablets, and desktops)
      3. Conversions influenced across existences (mobile to stores etc.)

      That gives you a complete view of the story, it helps you understand why investing mobile is smart even if the single session last click based conversions are low.

      If you are using Google Analytics, and you need more help measuring the above three, please reach out to a GACP. Here's a list:

      At it's root, mobile, at least for the next few years, is going to move of a See and Think opportunity rather than a Do opportunity. From a content and marketing perspective we need to convince our leaders to view it as such and execute it as such. If they don't, that will be a business limiting more, or worse.

      PS: Here's more on the See-Think-Do-Care business framework.

      • 33
        Tiaan van Zyl says

        Hi Avinash,

        I suppose understanding how a single user interacts on various devices and the behaviour on them is what is important if you want to know how to optimise your site. It is very interesting to see that optimisation for a single users difference so much from device to device.

        I also think it is very important to know how what role each device category plays in the road to conversion.

        Thanks for the cool blog posts.


        • 34

          I agree. Until I read this post, I had not paid much attention to the many possible variations of single user behavior from device to device. It was just information to me, but thanks for highlighting the importance Avinash. I have to jump into this.

  19. 35

    I just arrived here following your infographic:

    I see why Matt recommended you :)

  20. 36

    Another awesome post! Love the insights.

    One quick correction – you mention Yahoo and "others" do not provide keyword search data. But alas… they do! Unlike Google Analytics, Bing Webmaster Tools provides thorough keyword data as well as the SERP position your website was in when it got clicked.

  21. 39

    Hi Avinash,

    Thanks for your great post, once again :)

    Please let stop by at a small point, not related with the central topic: the (not set) line in the Search Keywords report.

    You say that is traffic actually not coming from Search. So, why is it included there? You mean, the number of (ie) Users on that line should be substracted from the Search Total Users shown in the report, to get "real" Search figures?

    In one of the websites I´m measuring, they account for almost 90% of Paid search… I´ve found so many different interpretations of this (not set) line spread in the Web, that they could as well be visits from ghosts ;).

    Could you please clarify, what they are, why they happen to be there, and what can be done to solve this issue?

    Thanks a lot!!!

    • 40

      Paula: The not set in the report I've shared is a completely different issue than you normally see. In this case, you see not set purely because of how I've created the report. If the report only focused on search, the way we would create the report would ensure that not set would not show up (because the dimension would be keyword or search engine). In this report I've been trying to get a view of all data AND also dig into search. That causes not set.

      Now in other cases, say you are looking at your Paid Search report. If you see not set there, it is a data problem. In this case possibly your data connection between AdWords and Google Analytics.

      There are other such cases when you see not set. In general, it is almost always true that if you see not set, there is a data collection issue and almost always fixable with some technical digging.


  22. 41
    Don Dresser says

    One minor quibble (or, perhaps, an indication that I missed some irony).

    You state that "For mobile apps, there are no referrers (everything's Direct, hurray!)." I have been seeing more and more apps seemingly put themselves in line for clicks on some sorts of links (so – for example – when I click on a link to a YouTube video on my phone – it comes up not in my mobile browser – but in the YouTube app itself.) That seems to me to imply that there actually should be a notion of a referrer in mobile app tracking.

    I will grant that I don't know the details of all the technology pieces here – so I am not sure if the information about this "referrer" is actually trackable, (and possibly your "hurray" is really an ironic critique of the inadequacy of current mobile app tracking tools). However, it would seem to me that – in an ideal data world – we would in fact want to distinguish the nudges that come from social media postings – email messages – web advertisements – etc. that lead people to use an app from purely "direct" use of the app on its own.

    What kind of tool set would be needed to track that data? Is it something that can be tracked easily in free app tools? Is it only trackable when you pay for a (probably pricey) mobile app tracking service/system? Is it only trackable if you build your own app tracking system from scratch? Is it only trackable if we force customers to follow inconvenient paths to their goal (like running them through a mobile website set up purely to capture the tracking data – and thus requiring an extra click and an extra page load before they reach their destination)?

    Thanks much for your insights.

    • 42

      Don: I'm sorry, I was being ironic. Sadly mobile apps don't pass a referrer and hence the click show up as Direct (more here: ).

      The way your example of click inside the YouTube opening the link in your phone browser is handled at a system level default setting. The referrer is not passed.

      For links that you create that will end up in a mobile app, there is a simple fix: Add campaign tracking parameters to all those links.

      Please see this post for more on that: Excellent Analytics Tip #18: Make Love To Your Direct Traffic


  23. 43

    I opted for responsive web design without realizing the importance of metrics and reports.

    I thought its just about knowing that I have broadened my site's ability to reach out customers, disregarding the idea of understanding how the method really works.

    Thanks for the post. I think I should start utilizing these metrics.

  24. 44

    Hi Avinash,

    I'm reading this (awesome!!) post in the 2nd time, after reading this post by MOZ:

    In the middle of MOZ's post there are some statistics from google, that show that 77% of mobile users are using it from home or work.

    Your hypothesis that "…customers tend to do different things on your desktop site than your mobile site" sounds very reasonable, but if you look at the 77% that use mobile from home – I don't know if the habits are really different (After all – they are not on the way. They prefer the smartphone just because its more comfortable than sitting behind the desk).

    What do you think?

    • 45

      Shuki: We might be contrasting apples and watermelons a bit here.

      The number from Google is simply where people use the phone. It does not say anything about what people are actually doing on the phone.

      In fact, it is pretty interesting to see if people are using them at homes, while they are watching TV, talking to their wife, :), it is unlikely they are focused on Do stuff, it is a lot more likely it is See and Think.

      Macro view… please consider these numbers and advice as broad guidance on how you should think about the opportunity. Then, focus on understanding your customers specifically using your own data and research efforts. Build on that.



      • 46

        Hmm I think you are right.
        Most of these people use their smartphone while talking to their wife ;) hahaha.

        Seriously – At first I thought that smartphones is simply more comfortable when you sit on the couch and do not have the power to go to the table, but when I think about it again – you're right. Even when using at homes – smartphones are usually for See / Think and not Do.

        Thanks for this insight!

  25. 47
    Pablo B. Abbate says

    Hi Avinash,

    What a great post! Do you believe south american users will follow this same behaviour?


    • 48

      Pablo: There is little doubt that the world is going mobile – you can look at any trend (mobile usage, tablet usage, proliferation of mobile devices, new networks coming online and on and on and on).

      The pace of change is something that might vary. For example, fully featured phones might take a little longer to get to for a majority of the population. Companies like Google are trying to accelerate that with introduction of Android One. Facebook has various initiatives in Africa.

      So. Mobile is the present and the future. The time to have a robust mobile strategy in place in pretty much every country around the world, is now. :)


  26. 49

    Hi – I work in mobile and predominantly with Google Analytics. When it comes to apps, we build them 50|50 Native and Mobile web. Though the ability to use one property ID in both sections is great, it does not allow us to see behavior flow from native elements to mobile web pages and vice versa.

    I wish Google would provide an option for both Web and App when setting up a new property. This way we could see screens & pages in the same view. Do you know of another solution or if a possible change is on the horizon?

    • 50

      Arron: I asked a dear friend who is an expert for advice for you. Here's his guidance…

      Send the hits to the same property as App hits and then they can view all their data uniformly in a single App view.

      There is a way to send data from analytics.js in a way that all hits coming in will be sent as App hits (so there will be no pages – only screens).

      We're hoping that they can model their interactions using Screens and Events such that the page/screen distinction does not matter.

      I hope this helps.


  27. 51
    An Undergrad's Guide to Digital Marketing says

    Thank you so much for this detailed content.

    It's given me some great ideas for using future mobile strategies.

  28. 52

    Thank you very much Avinash as usual an amazing post!

    I would like to add another fact: Mobile strategy changed dramatically in the last year, mobile app attribution became crucial in order to maximize advertising campaign returns.

    If anybody is interested, i read related a article a few days ago:

  29. 53

    Thank you Avinash for the great post.

    I'm using your Custom Report and it is a great tool to have a clear and easy understanding of the mobile traffic.

    Probably in the last weeks GA has changed something regarding filters and a yellow flag now is shown next to the filter setting of the Mobile Performance Analysis custom reports.

    The question is: can we continue to use that kind of filter or some change should be made in order to make the segment working in the future?

    Thank you

  30. 56
    Mamta Bhadu says

    To see Analytics data in your own account. If you own an Analytics account that collects data for your website, simply switch to your Google (e.g. Gmail) account on the app to see your data. Click the menu icon ( ) at the top left of your screen. (Or, in some versions of the app, click SWITCH USER.)


  1. […]
    Google Analytics guru Avinash Kaushik makes a compelling case for better mobile site analytics (and throws in some fighting words about responsive web design for good measure). If you are working with Google Analytics to measure mobile, his comprehensive post provides useful examples from implementing Google Tag Manager to advanced Cross-Device Tracking.

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    If you aren’t knowledgeable on which metrics to track or how to report mobile metrics at all, you’ve come to the right post. Avinash Kaushik writes a highly valuable guide on how to find the right metrics to make note of, as well as how to create reports for them.

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    Occam’s Razor by Avinash Kaushik. Avinash is the leading authority on analytics and great fun to read. Also, Digital Marketing Evangelist for Google and best-selling author. Must-reads: Magnificent Mobile Website And App Analytics: Reports, Metrics, How-to!

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    Useful information: Mobile Website and App Analytics, by Avinash Kaushik.

  14. […]
    In the cell phone terminal section, you can even change your mobile handset and your preferred browser. Next, you should dig into your Google Analytics reports to find the most prevalent devices your customers are using.

  15. […]
    Avinash Kaushik wrote an article called Magnificient Mobile Website and App Analytics: Reports, Metrics, How-to, where he breaks down the importance of having a great mobile strategy. He goes on to share the following, “Mobile devices (phones, tablets, wearables) are transforming how we behave, how we buy, how we consume content, and dare I say how we become happy or we become sad.” He created the below graphic that shows just how adults in the US change how they consume media.

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