Application Performance Monitoring: Why You Need It

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In 2017, there were approximately 5 million apps available across both Apple’s and Android’s app stores. By 2020, it is projected that the Apple App Store, which currently has 2.2 million apps, will add nearly 3 million additional apps to its store.

 

And that’s just the beginning. The numWoman using cellphone at nightber of app downloads jumped from 149 billion in 2016 to nearly 197 billion in 2017, with that number expected to rise to an astounding 352 billion by 2021.

But more apps doesn’t necessarily mean more customers. In fact, most people only use a handful of their favorite apps.

 With competition among apps fiercer than ever, users have become less forgiving of underperforming apps—not only expecting a seamless user experience, but having little patience for mobile application defects.

 

It’s no wonder businesses are paying attention. As a result, mobile application performance monitoring has become a critical component to not only the overall mobile app strategy, but to long-term customer satisfaction.

 

What is application performance monitoring? Mobile app performance monitoring is a methodology of  tracking your application’s performance through the gathering of key metrics to gain insight into your app. It helps you analyze the performance of your mobile application by providing key data and alerting mechanisms so you can quickly address any concerns and protect your company from the ramifications of a poorly performing mobile app.

 

With application performance monitoring, you get to understand the why of changes in performance. Why was there a sudden drop in users? Why did your app fail to convert? Why is your app suddenly slow? More often than not there’s a direct correlation between a sudden drop in user metrics and a performance event. This is why you need app monitoring.

 

Application performance monitoring can be thought of as both a solution to your application’s problems, and as a proactive monitoring mechanism that helps you maintain app performance, increase customer satisfaction, and protect your company’s reputation in a highly competitive marketplace.

 

Performance monitoring and customer satisfaction are intricately interconnected

Users have little patience for poorly performing apps.

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People form opinions on an app quickly; if they don’t like it, they’ll abandon the app and let you—and your prospective customers—know about it.

In fact, close to half of all users will abandon your app if they are unhappy with its performance. And with less than 25% of users engaging with an app more than once, the margin of error is slim. 

 

Think about it: if you were shopping in a physical store, you’d expect to have a pleasant shopping experience; you’d expect customer service to know their products and make you feel appreciated, and expect a hassle-free checkout. The same applies to digital interactions on your mobile application. Except instead of a pleasant offline shopping experience, customers are looking for an intuitive interface and bug free, easy operation—whether they’re on an ecommerce app, an educational app, or a gaming app.

 

In essence, application performance monitoring comes down to making your customers happy. The reason you track this data is to make your application better. The better your application, the easier it can be found, and the more customers it is likely to attract.

Understanding metrics like user path, downloads, load times, geographical data, and more is critical to understanding your mobile app and finding out what works, what doesn’t, where the problem is, and how to fix it—fast.

It is no longer an “if you build it, they will come” economy. Social media has made the consumer voice more powerful, with the majority of users researching an app before ever downloading it. According to Mobile Action, up to 75% of survey readers admit that they are heavily influenced by reviews when deciding whether or not to download an app. 

Bottomline: Put the customer first and the revenue will follow. Application performance monitoring is the most comprehensive methodology available to ensure your users have the experience they deserve, and that your business has the insight it needs to be successful in the app marketplace.

 

Performance monitoring provides essential insight into the state of your app

 With application performance monitoring, you gain insight into your users’ experience, are able to consistently monitor and test your app, and can find and fix bugs before they become a problem.

We’ve already discussed how mobile application performance monitoring plays a critical role in giving your customers the mobile app experience they demand. But how? Let’s take a closer look.

Application monitoring consists of two subsets of monitoring solutions—real user monitoring and synthetic monitoring—that, when working in tandem, offer full insight into your app’s performance.

 

Real user monitoring tracks your mobile app’s performance in the real world

Real user monitoring (RUM), a passive approach to performance monitoring, measures your app’s performance while users are actually using it. It is an effective way to monitor the day-to-day performance of your app, tracking not only performance issues, but how users interact with your site. Should something go wrong with the app, it collects data on the impact to your end-users.

Remember: when we talk about mobile app performance, we’re talking about more than the number of times your app crashes. RUM not only finds mobile performance problems (think: slow load times, poorly written code, lack of availability, battery drainage, etc.), it’s a way of identifying the issue(s) that actually cause the problem.

Let’s suppose your app does crash. A proper analysis of an application crash requires that you break down the crash (its causes and the corresponding results), into several metrics:

 

  • The number of crashes (including as a percentage of use)
  • The number of uninstalls (are they related?)
  • Devices on which the application crashed
  • OS/app version where the crashes most frequently occur
  • The scenarios that led up to the crash. Was there poorly written (or too much) code? Was there insufficient testing? The reasons could be numerous and complicated—and need to be understood.

 

Real user monitoring makes it possible to know how your app is performing across your key performance benchmarks, and what must be done should it fall short.

 

Synthetic monitoring prevents bugs before they become a problem

It’s no secret that users view bugs and other mobile app glitches as a big headache. And preventing bugs is one of the most surefire ways you can help maintain a positive image of your app (and your company) in the eyes of consumers.

 

Synthetic monitoring is a special type of monitoring that monitors mobile applications by simulating real user interactions across an app. It creates scripts for the critical paths a user may take when interacting with your app, then will run those scripts to mimic real user actions.

You can measure and test key performance indicators across the most important sections of your app, both during QA and while the application is live. These include availability, load times, performance across various devices, and performance across varying geographical regions.

By repeatedly running these scripts (say, every 5 minutes), synthetic monitoring can offer a global, 24/7 monitoring solution that proactively monitors your application’s performance. It can be used internally (within the firewall) or externally (outside the firewall), to provide insight into both system performance and global performance and availability. It’s a strategic tool to help you defend against future problems.

Bottomline:

Together, real user monitoring and synthetic monitoring offer comprehensive insight into the state of your app. By both passively and proactively monitoring your app, they can help you catch bugs and other performance problems before they negatively impact your users, driving increased performance and ultimately, higher user satisfaction.

 

Performance monitoring enables data-driven decisions

Data is powerful. Data is the reason you monitor your app, and data analysis provides you with key actionables that determine your app’s fate.

Application monitoring data not only helps you track its performance across key performance metrics, it helps prevent future development mistakes by showing you specific pain points and opportunities for improvement within your app.

For example, let’s say you discover that you’re losing a significant amount of users during your registration process. You notice that most users are dropping off at your form. Your initial thought may be: “OK, we just need to increase our marketing budget so that more people are aware of our app and feel confident with our brand before filling out the form.” 

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 In reality, the data shows that the reason you’re losing users is because your form is too long and too complex. From this, you could make the educated, data-driven decision to shorten and simplify your registration form.

 

Without mobile monitoring data, you wouldn’t know the real reason users are abandoning your app. But in order to optimize your data-driven decisions, you’ll need to track the right metrics.

 Engagement metrics are often a good place to start. Engagement metrics allow you to track how often (and how much) users are interacting with your app. It allows you to create improved in-app marketing campaigns and to re-engage dropped users.

Below are just a few of the key app engagement metrics that you can track:

 

  • Sessions: times your user has opened your app
  • Session duration: time between app open and close
  • Retention: time between sessions
  • Time in app: the time your user is in your app
  • Screens and screenflow: see how your users navigate your app
  • Push Notification engagement: how often users engage with your push notifications

 

And if you’re needing more technical engagement metrics, you can start by tracking the these:

  • Web requests and transactions: ability to review web requests and transactions to see how requests are performing
  • Code level performance: ability to monitor code and see how long each function is taking
  • Application dependencies: ability to monitor dependencies like databases, caching, message queues, web services, and HTTP APIs
  • Server monitoring: ability to monitor server CPU and memory usage
  • Log data: ability to monitor a centralized logging solution

 

Bottomline:

Mobile apps are complex and getting them to function perfectly is no easy task. But by tracking your data across various key metrics, you can identify areas of concern and solve problems quickly, minimizing the risk of losing users.

 

If all this sounds like doom and gloom, remember that part of mobile monitoring is measuring your success. Don’t forget to celebrate your wins!

 

Today’s business environment demands it

 

Mobile application monitoring is critical to ensure your app stays competitive. We all know the app market is highly saturated. If you fail to develop a marketable product; if you fail to build an audience for your product; and, as we’ve discussed at length, if you fail to ensure your product performs as intended, you risk not only losing users, but will have difficulty finding actual customers.

 

Application performance monitoring helps you deliver a high-performing mobile application. It provides keen insight into how users are experiencing your app, and tells you how well your app is performing against your business objectives. Without it, you are operating in the dark.

 

About SIGOS

SIGOS is a leader in delivering automated, end-to-end mobile application testing and monitoring solutions. Whether you need help monitoring your mobile app or want an all-in-one monitoring tool that proactively measures and tests your app’s performance, our comprehensive platform includes synthetic monitoring, test automation, and real device testing solutions to help you meet your business objectives. 

Start Monitoring today. Get your free Trial with SIGOS.

 

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