Unleash AppsFlyer’s Full Potential with Google Tag Manager and Firebase

shopboxo banner final app tracking stack

Shopboxo is an e-commerce website builder developed by Appboxo, a Singapore-based tech startup. Appboxo raised a Series A funding of $7 million with the goal of further developing and growing their products, of which Shopboxo is the largest one (you can read more here). The goal of the Shopboxo app is to assist entrepreneurs, brands, and SMEs in quickly creating online stores and selling their goods and services directly to consumers online.

Ground zero: set up tracking and identify tracking needs

As Shopboxo started doing digital marketing from scratch, there was no tracking implemented on their platforms at all. Tracking on a platform from a performance marketing point-of-view means the implementations of events and conversions with the goal of understanding what measurable actions users take, while also passing these events and conversions on to the needed marketing platforms for measurement, optimization and attribution. Meaning: without tracking performance marketing cannot function as this data is at the core of making informed decisions on campaigns.

Given that Shopboxo focuses on app as their main platform, we recommended AppsFlyer as the mobile attribution platform of choice for various reasons, amongst them: 1) the level of support AppsFlyer provides, 2) easiness of integration with other tools (i.e. Google products, Facebook Ads), and 3) granularity of data. As most app developers natively use Google’s Firebase for creating app events, there is also an integration that can be made directly to AppsFlyer by using Google Tag Manager (GTM). There are four simplified steps: (1) getting help from developers to install the Firebase SDK and Google Tag Manager (GTM) containers in the apps (both iOS and Android); (2) creating tags and triggers on GTM to have the data flow from Firebase into Appsflyer; (3) sending events from Appsflyer to advertising platforms and any other desired destinations via Appsflyer integration; (4) using Google Apps Script to call AppsFlyer’s API for data pulling into Google Spreadsheets.

In the below sections we will further detail these steps.

First step: Defining the app tracking stack and listing out the tools

Our recommendation is to take AppsFlyer as the primary ‘source of truth’ in evaluating the performance of Shopboxo’s applications, beginning with the moment users install the app for both Android and iOS, we send event data to the advertising platform for event optimization.

There are several methods for sending data from events, but we find that Google Tag Manager (or GTM) is one of the more straightforward tools for marketers to use during the campaign process. Instead of installing and integrating the Appsflyer SDK into Shopboxo’s apps for both Android and iOS, we asked the developers to install the Firebase SDK and a JSON file of the GTM from the apps, from which we created tags and triggers and sent events to Appsflyer. We could then modify the Firebase events and send whatever data to Appsflyer whenever we want. This makes it easier as we only have to adjust events in Firebase, vs. having to adjust events across several tools.

It is important to define the meaning of the events so that marketers and developers have the same interpretation of the events and we are counting the same thing, as well as to set the naming convention of events so that all involved parties (business, marketing, developers) are on the same track when setting tags on GTM or evaluating event performance.

Third step: Integrating AppsFlyer and implementation of code by developers

After finalizing the events, parameters and definitions, the developers needed to work on their side to implement the tracking and test if the events are working correctly. On our side, we created tags and triggers for sending those events to Appsflyer through GTM according to the tracking plan. 

Another big reason why naming conventions matter: in addition to sending accurate data in parallel, we could set things up on GTM while developers implement the tracking on the iOS and Android apps.

Final step: Checking the data accuracy on AppsFlyer API & our live dashboard

After we completed all of the tracking, we did not begin the process of pulling data from Appsflyer until marketing campaigns had been launched, to ensure live data accuracy.

We have scripts running that pull and store data in our database automatically every hour via AppsFlyer’s API. For advanced marketers, there are some specific limitations to keep in mind when using the Appsflyer API such as (1) you might not be able to pull some dimensions such as adset or ad data unless you are subscribed to Appsflyers’ Premium Features; (2) just like dimensions, some of the metrics are only available through Premium Features such as retention, MAU or DAU; (3) For Installs, you can get 60 days data out of the last 90 days, and for in-app events, you can get 31 days data out of the last 90 days, in a single API request.

Once we had the data ready in our database, we then connected that with Google Data Studio to create our marketing dashboard and visualize the performance in a near-real time view that any user on the Shopboxo team can access at all times.

Full focus on performance!

Now that tracking is set up, and we get all the data points needed to make data-driven decisions on our campaigns, our focus has shifted from tracking to performance marketing efforts. We’re looking forward to continuing to use this data in our day-to-day!

If you’re a Startup, E-Commerce brand, or both, reach out to us and see how we can help at info@marketyze.io, or use below contact form.

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