“How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.”

I like this popular leadership adage because it provides a very visual image. Large and overwhelming tasks (the elephants) are somehow manageable if taken in small “bites.” So, if the thought of implementing mobile analytics feels overwhelming, I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t have to be.

Last week, I began this series on mobile analytics. We talked about how Fantasy Football is impossible to play without analytical tools. In the same way, you cannot be effective in mobile marketing without mobile analytics. Over the past few weeks, I’ve been showing you how to organize for mobile success, make a business case for mobile, and more, but Forrester says that 54 percent of companies surveyed in 2013 still don’t use any mobile analytics.

In response to that fact, today we will focus on getting started with mobile analytics by taking small, bite-sized chunks. We’ll look at your organizational objectives and the metrics that you’ll need to assess movement toward those objectives.

Gain an Edge with Analytics, It’s More Than Reporting

As we begin our journey deeper into mobile analytics, it’s important to point out that mobile analytics and reporting are not the same thing. You may currently generate reports that tell you what happened on your mobile Web or app, but reports don’t tell you what to do. The nuanced difference between analytics and reporting, according to the McKinsey Global Institute (MGI), is that analytics must “persist over time.” Analytics uses data in richer ways, looking at patterns over time, and then unlocks “the understandings of the root causes of a company’s success or failure in serving a customer.”

In “Big Data: What’s Your Plan?” MGI points out,

“The tally of successful case studies continues to build, reinforcing broader research suggesting that when companies inject data and analytics deep into their operations, they can deliver productivity and profit gains that are 5 to 6 percent higher than those of the competition.”

Why does analytics result in greater productivity and profit?

Analytics Keeps You Close to the Customer

In the era of customer-centricity (the customer is the center of marketing) and mobile-centricity (the mobile device is the center of the customer’s universe), it’s important to stay as close to the customer as possible. In “iConsumer: Digital Consumers Altering the Value Chain,” MGI recommends “investing in customer insight” as “customer behavior is rapidly changing, demanding strong market intelligence and customer insight functions.” The report goes on to note, “Segments will get smaller and more precise” as “the need to use data” wisely and creatively will get larger and more urgent. “Leading players will test and measure just about everything – and, ‘big data,’ systems will support and guide them.”

How to Get Started with Mobile Analytics

Step 1 | Link Business Objectives to the Mobile Experience

Forrester Research in “Use Mobile Analytics to Build Mobile Advantage” suggests a simple way to get started: Link your business objectives to the mobile experience. The closer your overall business objectives can align to your activities in mobile, the more focused you will be in carrying out your plans with purpose and intentionality. Forrester suggests thinking through: “What are the business objectives of your mobile experience? Acquire visitors? Conduct ecommerce? Reduce costs?”

For example, Hyatt Hotels and Resorts set out to optimize its online customer experience using integrated analytics to help “identify how customers navigate and interact with Hyatt websites.” Robert Fracassa, corporate manager of digital analytics at Hyatt says, “We use analytics for everything. If we’re going to redesign anything on our sites, we start by looking at our … data to see where people may be encountering problems or dropping off, and how we can improve their experience.”

Hyatt recently extended its content across channels through the creation of best-in-industry mobile apps. App functionality includes features such as “information published to individual hotel websites is published automatically to Hyatt’s iPhone app.” Through mobile analytics, Hyatt also “closely follow(s) trends on social media sites like Facebook to see what … customers there respond to.” Hyatt not only used mobile analytics “to make the case for the iPhone app” to its customers, but as a result, they identified a 400 percent increase in mobile visits in one year.

Step 2 | Define Mobile-Specific KPIs

Next, the “Getting Mobility Right with Mobility POST” report suggests defining mobile-specific key performance indicators (KPIs) that you can align with your business objectives. Once defined, you can use your KPIs to track your progress against your business objectives. Furthermore, you can use KPIs and analytics “to refine your mobile services and make technology decisions,” just as Hyatt Hotels and Resorts has done.  

In an interview with 25 mobile e-business executives “who felt they were positioned for success with mobile,” the following measurement objectives made it to the list of the top five: 1) engagement, 2) task completion, 3) revenue, 4) downloads, and 5) log-ins. Of course, the KPIs for your business may vary from the list stated above.

Engagement + Revenue Go Hand-In-Hand

Engagement is sort of a catch-all category in mobile.

Engagement metrics can include traffic, log-ins, and visits to your mobile website or mobile app. For example, the number of weekly app launches provides a clear-cut, simple-to-track metric. Typically, a frequent app user will correlate with more revenue for the business. Engagement metrics can help you segment users into categories such as “first-time launchers,” “high-value loyalists,” and “one launch and done.” At the minimum, you need to put mobile analytics in place to track engagement.

The revenue metric is one of the easiest KPIs to analyze if your organization has commerce-enabled mobile services. Julie Ask of Forrester explains, “Retailers with more mature mobile strategies tend to pursue tactics (such as loyalty programs) or modeling exercises to track consumers across channels.” According to Ask, leading organizations track the entire purchase funnel, including data such as store location, price comparisons, and shopping cart purchases and removals.

Make a Plan and Keep It Simple

In “Big Data: What’s Your Plan?” the McKinsey Global Institute suggests making a plan and keeping it simple. Ideally, you will plan once a quarter, not once a year. The mobile and digital worlds are shifting rapidly, and your plans need to keep pace.

While eBusiness professionals need a multiyear vision to put initiatives with a long lead time in gear, they must operate in agile teams with development and constantly revisit their near-term priorities.”

Remember that elephants are edible one bite at a time. Start today by gathering your mobile team to define your business objectives and KPIs for mobile. It’s that simple.