Here are some of the most important KPIs to pay attention to when assessing the success of your mobile app.
If people are using the app, they are getting value of it, whether it's helping them order food, kill time or find a more efficient route to work.
"Truly successful apps offer a clear solution to a problem their users face, with success affirmed by users visiting the app repeatedly," says DeBow. "The worst thing for an app is to get relegated to the 'app icon graveyard.'"
But beyond pure usage, you need to know who is using the app and how they're using it. What's your demographic? What's notyour demographic? How frequently are users opening your app? Are they opening during the day or at night? Are people using the app on smartphones or tablets? Android or iOS? What's their flow through the app?
Getting a sense of these engagement metrics will provide insights into how the app is used, letting you know where you should double-down and where you have weaknesses. This information can help you allocate resources for strengthening the app to drive greater engagement and, thereafter, revenue. "It is extremely important to do cohort analysis and be able to measure engagement by different cohorts and determine a predictive conversion model — from acquisition to engagement to monetization," says Milind Gadekar, CEO and founder of CloudOn.
2. Lifetime Value
"The tried-and-true metric for a marketing initiative is Lifetime Value (LTV), and it holds true for apps as well," says Grossman. In short, LTV is the value of a mobile user as compared to a non-mobile user — if your mobile user is more loyal, spends more, and/or evangelizes more than your regular consumer, your mobile strategy is working.
How you quantify "value" depends on your vertical — a news app may value ad impressions, a music app may value time spent listening to content, a retail app would value purchases, a game may track in-game currency. The point is that knowing the value of various consumers means you can compare users and identify key segments of successful users as well as cohorts that need improvement, says Cipolla.
3. Retention Rate
It's great if your app is the hottest thing of the moment, but you won't be satisfied when the fleeting obsession ends. Strive for longevity, and pay attention to the app's retention rate, specifically the one-, seven- and 30-day retention rates. "Retention is one of the biggest challenges of mobile apps today, as 65% of people stop using them three months after install," says Cezary Pietrzak, director of marketing at Appboy, adding that an early indication of retention will also help you determine the app's viability in the market.
Plus, app store rankings are becoming more sophisticated and focusing more on retention and engagement, so we'll start seeing fewer flash-in-the-pan apps on the charts. "This is a good thing for consumers since retention and engagement are much better indicators of app quality," says Timothy Sullivan, VP of product at Boxer. But it also means your app has to be really fantastic to rise to the top.
4. Active Users
Anyone can download an app, but it takes a special kind of app to compel people to use it with regularity. Your monthly active users (MAU) or daily active users (DAU) are your key users. They like your app, they use it a lot, and they may even rely on it to get them through the day. You need to learn everything about this cohort and how they're using your app so you can create a more engaging app and convert more users into active users.
5. Session Length
There's a difference between opening an app when you're in line at a store and spending an hour using the app on your commute home. Just like pageviews versus time spent on the web, session length on an app can help mobile strategists "quantify the depth of a person's relationship with an app," says Pietrzak. You want a sticky, compelling app; stickiness lends an app toward longer sessions.
6. Average Revenue Per User
- It's great to have an engaged user base, but you probably created an app to drive revenue in some way. You might eke $100 out of your top 100 users for a cool $10,000, but if you have a user base of 15,000 people, that's not a very impressive sum. You have to look at the whole picture, and the average revenue per user (ARPU) indicates the value of an individual to your app business.
"Revenue" will be based on the app's price and/or in-app purchases and conversions, but when you're determining the ARPU, keep in mind that app users shop across several channels. "To simply look at what they are buying in-app and ignore the increase in overall spend is a mistake," says Andrea Cohen, senior marketing manager at GPShopper. She says her experience working with brands like The North Face and bebe show that app users spend 15% more online and 25% more overall on an annual basis.
7. App Launch / Load Time
Your app takes six seconds to load? As Internet wisdom tells us, "Ain't nobody got time for that." Time is of the essence, and it's your responsibility to make your app loading experience as efficient and frictionless as possible, says Peter Galvin, SVP of marketing at SOASTA. Users should be able to launch the app, load new pages and make purchases seamlessly without thinking, What's taking so long? If they have time to think that, they've probably already jumped to your competitor's app.
8. User Acquisition
One way to acquire new users is to study how existing users found your app, whether through organic search, paid advertisements, in-app referrals or word of mouth. People are drawn to different kinds of apps for different reasons, and it's useful to know the best way to reach your target audience. Aaron Endré of Onavo cites how aggressive paid advertising has helped Candy Crush convert more than 20% of U.S. iPhone owners to active players of the game.
9. User Experience / Happiness
- Are people spending five minutes actually extracting value from your app, or are they trying to find the page they're looking for, tapping through pages in a frustrated state? Just because someone is using the app doesn't mean they're enjoying the app. Of course, you can scope out reviews and ratings on app stores, but you can also use tools like Helpshift and in-app messaging to get feedback about crashes, bugs and UI using that feedback to enhance the user experience.
There you have it — nine important mobile app metrics to know. Before you dive into the analytics of your mobile app, be sure to determine the few KPIs that are most important to your business, and focus on those. "Tracking too much data won't improve your business, but taking action on key insights will make a difference," says Pietrzak.
What did we miss, and what KPI does your company pay most attention to? Tell us in the comments.