Revulytics Blog

Why measuring download statistics is useless!

January 17, 2013


Buried deep inside your head is the concept that the game is all about conversions. Sure, it's a proven strategy and the math is simple: the more visitors you get to your landing page, the greater the probability they will download your software and of course the greater the chance of you concluding a sale. But are you using the correct conversion metrics? or do you tend to get over-excited building fancy call-to-action buttons just to increase the number of downloads?

The only answer you get by measuring downloads is whether people are clicking on your download link, period. This MAY be totally unrelated to whether they like your product/offer. For example if you build a software product that tracks your goldfish position in a pond, and you go ahead and market this as a "Sushi-Locator", you will probably get a bunch of downloads (dare call these website conversions?), but you can bet your big-fat-sushi that you won't make any sales!

Did I hear sushi?

If you have experimented with adwords or similar CPC marketing campaigns, you would have noticed that a number of users impulse click on your banners only to bounce off your site within just a few seconds when they realize it's not what they wanted. Similarly when a user clicks on your product download link, it does not necessarily mean they really like your product or want to use it. It could be they impulsively hit your overly attractive "Download FREE Sushi Locator" button without even reading through the list of product features or screenshots. It could very well be that they never even install it. But do you actually know that, or are you simply assuming that 1000 downloads = 1000 installations and if you got 50 sales then 950 users simply did not like your product?

Don't stop there - keep measuring!

If you've done a good job at web analytics you will get pretty accurate statistics related to visitor engagement and trial downloads. But that's just the top of the funnel. Unless you go a step further and measure what happens after download, you will be missing out on a goldmine of information which can open your eyes as to how you can boost your conversion rates (those related to sales of course).

For example if you knew that out of 950 users who did not buy a license, 500 of them got stuck at configuration stage, then you know you need to fix your configuration wizard! If on the other hand you knew that these people installed your application but only found out 1 out of 3 killer features in your product, then you know that you need to play around with UX to better expose those features and show-off your added value.

If you choose the wrong conversion metrics or measure your marketing success simply by the number of downloads, you can easily get trapped into instinctively injecting more money into a campaign that is generating downloads, before realizing that you are smoking up your marketing budget on attracting the wrong audience.

Choosing the correct metrics

Without overloading yourself with too much data, here are 5 actionable metrics you can use for every step of the conversion funnel:

  1. Metric 1 - Downloads: This essentially measures user curiosity and effectiveness of your website landing page and call to action.
  2. Metric 2 - Installation counts: From this metric you will know how much of your downloaders actually go through with installation and thus you can cut off from the funnel those users who simply download but never install.
  3. Metric 3 - Runtime session count and Evaluation duration: From this you can tell how much time new users need to discover your product and when would be the right time to follow up with them, giving them enough breathing space but not leaving it too late.
  4. Metric 4 - Feature usage and User Engagement: What are the core things that users are trying to do with your product? Do these complement how you are marketing your product? Are they discovering and using what you believe to be your killer features?
  5. Metric 5 - Purchases vs Dropoffs/Uninstalls: Do they drop off after your trial expires or after just 1 day of evaluation? Are drop offs higher in a particular region or for a specific version or edition? Is it price sensitivity which you can fix through a promotion? Do you have a way to collect feedback from these lost leads?

From numbers to insight

Once you have identified the metrics you want to collect, you should find/build a solution that allows you to NOT ONLY collect the data, but to present it in an efficient way by which you can use it to take actionable decisions. This usually means that the reporting framework you choose must be flexible enough to allow filtering and data segmentation so you can extract the right answers.

Instant real-time data analysis should not be your top priority, since in reality, the decisions you will be taking through this Business Intelligence will not be split second decisions anyway, but rather implementation changes done over time. Of course it would be nice to be able to generate and drill down into a report in a matter of seconds rather than have to wait hours for the data to be collected and analyzed.

Choosing a tracking solution

Big Data Analysis does not come without its hassles since your infrastructure and solution design methods must remain scalable as your needs change. For this reason it usually makes sense to rely on high quality analytics solutions - such as Google Analytics for your website and Revulytics Usage Intelligence for your software application. These solutions have been professionally designed to handle large volumes of data whilst most importantly you can just plug them into your application and start tracking in a few minutes. This will give your developers more time to focus on the actual product rather than building and maintaining custom measurement tools.


There is no arguing on the value that the right analytics can bring to your organization. Just be careful not to get into a mess of information overload by tracking a bunch of vanity metrics. Instead, focus on identifying those core actionable metrics that can really make a difference.

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Keith Fenech

Post written by Keith Fenech

Keith is Revulytics’ VP, Software Analytics and was the co-founder and CEO of Trackerbird Software Analytics before the company was acquired by Revulytics in 2016. Following the acquisition, Keith joined the Revulytics team and is now responsible for the strategic direction and growth of the Usage Analytics business within the company. Prior to founding Trackerbird, Keith held senior product roles at GFI Software where he was responsible for the product roadmap and revenue growth for various security products in the company's portfolio. Keith also brings with him 10 years of IT consultancy experience in the SMB space. Keith has a Masters in Computer Science from the University of Malta, specializing in high performance computing.