A Crash Course in the Importance of App Metrics

Tracking your app’s performance including your user’s engagement, satisfaction and acquisition are critical to measuring its success.  Let’s take look at these metrics and how you can make your app’s data work for you.

User Engagement

User Engagement metrics disclose how many users install and use your app including their frequency of use and their likelihood increasing use, decreasing use or abandoning your app altogether. You can use several leading analytics packages to track these metrics such as Google Analytics

App Downloads

The number of times your app has been installed is the first signal of how your app is doing.  Little-to-no downloads indicate issues with your marketing efforts.

Active Users

The active users metric measures how many users are actually using your app rather than simply downloading it.  Most analytics tools revolve around the “session” metric, but vary on how they define it.  Google Analytics counts a session from when the user opens and interacts with the app until 30 minutes of inactivity.

Active users are often broken down by how often they use your app –  i.e. daily active users (DAU) and monthly active users (MAU).  This allows you to track your most important users — i.e. the ones who stick with your app and use it daily.

The Stickiness ratio

You can use your DAU:MAU ratio to determine the stickiness of your app – i.e. your chance of turning a MAU into a DAU.  You can boost stickiness through push notifications or app updates which give users an incentive to return to your app.

Average Visit Time and Screen Views per Visit

Average visit time and screen views per visit give insight into how engaged your active users are with your app.  Consider enhancing UX/UI over just features to boost engagement.  We’ll take a detailed look at app-engagement techniques in another post.

App Session Intervals

The session intervals metric measures how frequently users return to your app – i.e. the time between a user’s sessions.  Improve session intervals by making your app part of your users’ routines – i.e. give them a reason to interact with your app every day.  Beyond relevant push notifications and updates, consider time-limited offers and discounts.

App Retention

Retention measures how many users return after their first visit.  It’s one of the most important metrics.   App retention generally drops dramatically over time.  Diagnose why users aren’t returning to your app by measuring retention rates over a daily, weekly and monthly periods to connect those trends to specific marketing efforts or known issues.

App Churn

App churn measures the percentage of users who stop using your app; an especially important  metric for your most active, top revenue-generating users.

Analyse what is happening when you have a high churn rate – i.e. when large amounts of users are leaving your app.  If many users are leaving right after install, you may have an onboarding issue.  Bugs, crashes, and other performance flaws are another possible culprit.  Maybe your marketing is targeting the wrong users.

If users are dropping off after using your app for some time, your app may lack long-term value. Consider ways to reengage users who show warning signs of leaving before they churn with tools such as personalized messaging or incentive programs.

Event Tracking

Event tracking monitors how users interact with features or workflows.  Here, you’re analyzing the actual actions users are taking with your app such as sharing content or writing a review.  The events you track should relate to your app’s goals such as purchases for an on-demand app.

User Satisfaction

These metrics measure whether your app is meeting user expectations – i.e. which features they prefer, whether they recommend your app to others or interact with your app as you intended.

App Rating

Your app’s rating is the quickest way to see what other users think. Its super important because most users check ratings in choosing whether to download it in the first place.  Be careful to prompt for a rating only after you’ve shown why your app is valuable or your critical improvements have been made. Consider an internal in-app feedback tool, which allows you to encourage the right users to rate your in the app store.

App Store Reviews

App Store or Google Play reviews are feedback left by users, which show up in your app’s app-store listings. Like your app’s rating, these reviews can positively or negatively impact your app-store ranking.  Disappointed users are more likely to leave a review than satisfied ones.  It’s important to keep your reviews positive because most users read at least one review before making a decision to download.

Make leaving reviews as painless as possible.   Consider personalized notification prompts  because prompted users are far more likely to leave a positive review.

Touch Heatmaps and User Recordings

Touch heatmaps track the areas on a screen that users interact with the most while user recordings monitor the actual user as they interact with the app.  Heatmaps are useful for seeing which features are used frequently while recordings show what they actually do in perfect detail.

In-App Feedback

In-app feedback includes surveys, contact forms and shake-to-send feedback prompts. These users are already actively using your app, so their feedback tends to be more valuable. Most importantly, in-app feedback is less taxing on your users doesn’t require them to leave your app.

App Metrics for User Acquisition

These metrics measure how users find your app – i.e.  how prominent your app is in app stores, which marketing channels are working, user-acquisition cost and your revenue per average user. Acquisition guides marketing campaigns and budgets by showing you what a new user is actually worth.

App-Store Ranking

Your app store ranking is how visible your app is in app store search results.  Showing up in app-store search results is a big deal.  App store search algorithms reward apps with high app rankings.  We shall examine app store optimization in another post.

App Attribution

Attribution shows where your users are coming from so you can measure the success of your marketing campaigns. For example, you can set up a link to track a user who saw your advertisement, tapped on your link, installed your app.

App Abandonment

The abandonment metric discloses users who abandon your app before sign up or use and is key in identifying onboarding issues.

Cost per Acquisition

Cost per acquisition measures how much you have to spend to get an active user. Depending on how they are measured acquisition costs can go beyond marketing and an include everything from initial development to hosting to legal help.

Lifetime Value

Lifetime value is how much you make from a user before they churn.  When subtracting lifetime value from acquisition cost you’re on your way to finding out how long you need to retain your users to earn a profit.

Average Revenue per User

Average revenue per user is how much revenue the average user generates.  This is a strong indicator of projected revenue.  Ensure you eliminate outliers to avoid skewing this average, especially if you don’t have many users.

App Performance Metrics

These the metrics measure your app’s speed and stability including crashes, latency, load times, network errors.


Crashes measure how often your app closes abruptly.

App Speed

Speed measures how fast your app loads and runs.  Every user expects it, so treat it as a feature.  Record yourself using the app, seek feedback or invest in performance-monitoring tools.

App Latency

App latency is the time it takes to request and receive a response from an API. This duration needs to be as brief as possible. App latency is often confused for speed.  Like speed, you should treat latency as a feature.

App Load per Period

App load per period measures how your app handles multiple simultaneous transactions.  Make sure you are using a scalable infrastructure and call expensive, time-consuming functions when needed and in the background where possible.

Closing Remarks

Use metrics to look at what you think is going to be important as you evolve your app.  Be sure to work with a developer who understands how to set up your app properly or your data won’t make sense.  Finally, don’t get lost in the morass; focus on the metrics you need to achieve your goals.


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