Mobile-first companies want to balance velocity with performance.

If you don't move fast, your competition will soon outperform you, but how can you maintain app performance while constantly building new features and growing your app?

One way is to adopt a proactive alerting system that notifies the mobile team of issues before users complain.

In this post, we'll discuss why mobile teams frequently fail to benefit from their alerting systems, how Embrace provides best-in-class proactive alerting, and how proactive alerting can increase retention and revenue.

What Does Your Mobile Team Think About Their Current Alerting System?

If you already have an alerting system, yet you still find your team is missing critical alerts, it's probably because the alerts are too noisy. Many tools only allow limited alert configurations for issues (e.g. time window, threshold, alert destination), which means that your mobile team cannot effectively take action.

For example, an alert for a critical issue may not fire if it doesn't have enough volume (e.g. recurring purchase failures that happen consistently but infrequently).  

Another example of how alerts may fail the mobile team's expectations is if they don't report certain issue types (e.g. network calls). When mobile teams rely on backend monitoring for the health of their first-party network calls, they cannot uncover problems that elude backend detection (e.g. connection errors, blocking calls).

Ultimately, these gaps in alerting may cause your mobile team to underutilize or completely ignore alerts.

How Embrace Is Built to Power Better Alerting

Embrace is fundamentally different from traditional mobile monitoring solutions because we collect 100% of the data from 100% of user sessions and process it in real-time. That allows teams much greater flexibility in configuring alerts that are tailored specifically for their needs.

Real-Time Data

Embrace captures every session and sends the data in real-time to your dashboard. With real-time data, we can reduce the time window between when an issue arises and when your mobile team receives an alert about it so that errors are resolved faster.

For example, mobile teams can choose to be alerted of an error within 30 minutes, 20 minutes, or all the way down to 5 minutes of when an issue occurs.

Set Your Own Threshold Percentages and Minimum Counts

All errors are not created equal. Mobile teams can configure when an alert should fire based on each issue’s importance to the business. That way, they don’t waste time searching for critical alerts from a pile of noisy ones.

For example, if you sell a high ticket e-commerce item, the mobile team needs to be notified of every purchase failure. However, an error log that does not negatively affect the user experience is much less of a priority.  

Mobile teams can also set an alert based on the percentage of users affected. For example, if only a few users are experiencing numerous issues with your app, it might not be critical to the company’s bottom line to fix that particular problem. Therefore, you can set a minimum threshold percentage to ensure that enough people are affected by the issue before investing resources to fix it.

That's why Embrace allows you to set detailed alerts, including:

  • Type: The type of error (e.g. crash, log, network call)
  • Threshold: Count or user percentage (with a corresponding minimum count)
  • Time window: How frequently a monitor calculates whether an alert should fire. Embrace can track windows ranging everywhere from 5 minutes to 1 day.

Here are some examples of alerts you can set:

  • Within a 1 hour window, a crash affects 0.5% of users with a minimum count of 100 users.
  • Within a 12 hour window, a failing network call affects at least 1% of users with a minimum count of 50 users.
  • Within a 5 minute window, an error log fires 200 times.

Full Coverage with Targeted and Proactive Alerts

Teams need to know about both broad outages and specific issue failure rates, so their monitoring solution needs a combination of targeted and proactive alerts. With Embrace, mobile teams frequently start with broad alerts and then tailor their alerting to match their priorities.

For example, different feature teams can configure alerts based on their specific KPIs. New features and revenue-centric ones can have much lower thresholds than features with less overall business impact (e.g. older features with lower usage). Every business is different, and the important thing is that teams can decide the level of notifications that work for their use cases.

How Proactive Alerts Can Help Your Business

Here are a few practical alerts that mobile teams can set to quickly address retention- and revenue-impacting issues.

Fix Failing Transactions

If your customers are making transactions in your app, you can alert on failures throughout the entire process. Here are a few examples where you can set alerts for various stages in the transaction process for different industries:

E-commerce

  • Add to cart
  • Checkout
  • Purchase

Fintech

  • Transfer requests fail
  • Transfers fail to/from specific platforms

You can be alerted to server outages when processing payments, or errors stemming from invalid cart states (e.g. adding a quantity of 0 in carts).

You can also be alerted on failures with specific payment providers such as Apple Pay or PayPal.

Reduce Churn and Returns

If your product comes with a mobile application, users frequently return smart devices if they experience difficulties during the mobile setup. Here are just a few examples:

  • A smart toothbrush that cannot connect to the mobile app
  • A smart lightbulb that cannot connect to the WiFi properly
  • A smart doorbell that won't notify the owner when someone's at the door

An easy way to prevent churn/returns is to set up logging that reveals exactly where users are struggling when onboarding.

For example, when a user activates a smart toothbrush, the process might include scanning the barcode, turning on Bluetooth, creating an account, and connecting the toothbrush.

With logs and alerting around each step of the onboarding process, mobile teams can immediately take action when a spike in failures happens. With Embrace, mobile teams can address 100% of user complaints because we provide complete session details for every user experience.

When a user reaches out for support, the mobile team can jump straight to the technical details to understand what went wrong and how to fix it.

Improve Ad Performance

Companies need to know when their ads aren't loading properly so they can prevent revenue loss. Bad ad vendors can also slow down startup, lead to freezes and ANRs, and even result in crashes. These issues frustrate users, causing increased app abandonment and negative reviews that hurt app store ranking and discoverability.  

With Embrace, mobile teams can set alerts for specific ad endpoints to track failures. They can track which calls are resulting in 4xx, 5xx, or connection errors. This level of device-side visibility is key to understanding which ad vendors are hurting the business.

Teams can also get alerts for outages that prevent users from getting into the app (e.g. Facebook). By setting up proactive alerts, teams can quickly respond by remotely disabling problematic SDKs. That way, teams aren’t reliant on a swift response from the bad actor vendor in order to restore service within the app.

For ad issues that stem from a failed webview, Embrace also offers robust webview thread monitoring, whereby teams can automatically repair broken webviews.

Monitor Key User Actions

Many companies have built mobile apps to complement their existing product or service and deliver a seamless digital experience. However, if customers encounter friction – like the hotel room failing to unlock during keyless entry – that's a significant cause of brand erosion.

Your mobile team needs to be alerted to these issues as soon as they happen so they can diagnose and fix the problem before it gets out of hand.

Ask your mobile team how quickly they discover issues in key areas of the app and how often they first hear about issues from user complaints instead of their monitoring systems.  

Alerting, above all else, is a mechanism to mitigate the impact of failures. If your team is frequently not the first to know about problems, then they should look into a solution that is built for their needs.

With Embrace, your team can monitor key user actions for failures and poor performance. Since slowness is a frequent cause of app abandons, your team wants to know how long users are waiting for actions to complete (e.g. uploading a photo, adding to cart, sending a message) and when they give up and force quit your app. Proactively surfacing user reactions to technical shortcomings is crucial for preventing churn.

Improve Startup Time

If your startup time is lengthy (more than two seconds), users will not hesitate to switch to a competitor’s app.  

This is particularly true for apps that offer similar products or services in highly competitive spaces, such as food delivery, rideshare, and mobile games.

Therefore, it is essential to set alerts that will uncover failing elements that bloat startup time and cause users to abandon the app. For example, your mobile team could set alerts for failing SDKs that block the UI and slow or failing network calls that lead to freezes, ANRs, and crashes. By tracking errors and network calls in startup, your mobile team can uncover previously unknown optimization opportunities.

The best mobile teams set up alerts for key elements in their startup as well as track the startup time metric. That way, whether the root cause is known (e.g. failing network call) or unknown (e.g. startup time increases), they can dive into the individual session details and know what went wrong.

Proactively Address Outages

Whether there is a problem in your backend (e.g. server outage) or someone else's (e.g. Facebook), your team wants to be the first to know.

They want to have alert coverage for problems they could not have anticipated, especially if the issue has a large impact on revenue or churn. Here are a few examples:

Live Events With POS Systems

If there is a problem completing purchases, your team does not have the luxury of waiting until tomorrow to fix it.

Failing SDKs

If there is an outage in someone else's backend, your team wants to know immediately so they can remotely disable it.

Failing Vendors

If there is an issue with a third-party service (e.g. streaming video), the faster your team knows about it, the faster they can work with the other party to resolve it.

With Embrace's proactive alerting, mobile teams not only know about outages, but also get the actionable information they need to solve them.

Proactive Alerting Is Essential to Mobile Success

Succeeding in mobile is difficult as there are many variables, including:

  • Frequent release cycles
  • Innumerable device, OS, and version combinations
  • Varying network connectivities

While mobile teams can exhaustively test new releases in QA, they cannot predict every issue that may occur once the app hits production. They need a proactive alerting system that enables them to fix issues before users complain about them.  

Ask your team how they are notified of failures in production. If they are dependent on a backend monitoring solution, they will lack coverage of device-side issues that lead to churn and lost revenue. Determine how your team would uncover and prioritize issues if users suddenly stopped reporting them. Creating a truly predictable workflow comes down to having tooling and processes that remove the guesswork.

Request a demo today if you'd like to see how Embrace can help your team proactively address issues!