There are 3 types of data that can be collected and analysed by clients about their users:
- Mission critical data (In-app data)
- User experience data (In-app data)
- Third party data (Outside-the-app data)
1. Mission critical data
Mission critical data is exactly what it sounds like: data critical to the mission of your company. We include here all the events that are directly linked to your business goals and KPIs.
Throughout the lifetime of your product, these essential actions will be the same regardless of the updates to your app, precisely because they lie at the heart of your product.
For instance, in the case of MailChimp an example of mission critical data is sending newsletters. However many times MailChimp decides to change its interface, the number of newsletters sent will always be mission critical.
For a thorough analysis of your mission-critical data, you want an accuracy as close to 100% as possible. So you will need the complete history of all the essential actions performed by your users.
Because we are dealing with data critical to your product, it’s paramount to always be the owner of it, and not to depend on a third party. The worst thing that can happen is to lose all your critical data because the analytics company raises its prices and you can’t afford it any longer.
There are 2 methods of collecting data from a user who is using your app:
Client side tracking - which refers to tracking the user’s actions inside the browser. By using this method you are actually tracking what the user does in the browser. Mind you, this is not the most reliable method you can use. For example, if Mailchimp tracked the sending of a newsletter as being the click of the Send Newsletter button, it would interpret it as mission accomplished. Wrong. If an error occurs by any chance, and the newsletter is not actually sent, they won’t be aware of it.
Server side tracking - which refers to tracking the user’s actions on your server. Why? Because by doing so you will be able you to track the accomplished events, and you will know if any errors have occurred. In the case of MailChimp, they will know 100% that the newsletter was sent.
Two conclusions are worth noting:
- When you collect data you have to make sure that the actions actually happened. That’s why, it’s advisable to base your analysis on the data which was collected server side, not client-side.
- Make sure you are the owner of your mission critical data. This way you will have absolute power over it, and be able to decide whom to send it to.
2. User experience data (UX data)
User experience data refers to all the actions performed by users: every little click, every drag & drop or fill-in actions, every scroll they perform in your browser - everything!
Why is it important to track and analyse such huge amounts of data? Because they speak volumes on the user’s experience with your product, as well as because you can draw conclusions as to which action triggers a mission critical action. In fact, the more data you have, the more info you will get on how the interface influences the user to take one decision or another.
This data is normally tracked client side, because users interact with a browser and not with a server. A server doesn’t know when a user scrolls, drags or simply clicks around.
This data has little if any historical value. Simply because, generally speaking, companies constantly update their apps so that they are always on trend and riding the wave, so the user’s behavior will automatically change from one interface to another.
So, remember: it is advisable to track this type of data client side. Because of the huge volume of data and the lack of historical value it’s best to use analytics tools to store this data. The cost to host it internally is most often not justified.
3. Third party data
Clients interact with your business not only inside your app, but also by email, phone, tickets, support platforms, live chat, push notifications, payment gateways etc. so it is mandatory to analyse this data too.
So, third party data refers to the data from all the interactions your customers have with you outside the app.
By linking the third party data to the mission critical data and the user experience data, you can measure its influence on your business goals.
How? Well, imagine that someone uses your app and at some point contacts your support team through the live chat. Now, the question arises: at which steps do most users find it hard to go on without the help of your support team?
If many users stumble at the same step, you have the opportunity to do something about it, to improve your product so that you decrease your live chat efforts, which will lead to lower costs related to your support.
Most often this data resides on third party platforms (such as email platforms, CRMs, email marketing automations, advertising etc.) and can’t be linked to customer outcomes. You can use this data by connecting these services to your analytics tool through APIs.
Basically, only by linking your outside-the-app data to your in-app data can you draw conclusions as to what needs to be done to improve your users’ experience with your product.