The App Store has come a long way.
After a nearly 10 year history, what started as mostly a novelty act has evolved into a global, multi-billion dollar industry, with industry revenue at a staggering $52 billion in 2016 and more than 2.2 million apps on Apple’s App Store alone. All that growth is a good thing for developers and the industry as a whole – but it’s also a double-edged sword.
Growth also means more competition, and the mobile app industry is getting more competitive by the second. More than 99% of apps fail to achieve long-term economic viability, and as more players enter the space, achieving long-term profitability will only get more difficult.
With all that in mind, strategy is more important than ever for mobile app development companies. But strategy can’t just play a role in the inception of an app – development shops need to focus on strategy long after the launch of an app. And, as with most areas of modern business, data-informed decision making is vital to success.
But what data do you focus on? Here are the 17 mobile app metrics that really matter in 2017.
Daily Active Users
Perhaps the most important metric for the success of an app is daily active users. This is the number of people opening and using the app every day, which gives an important measure of the popularity and adoption of the app.
Monthly Active Users
The corollary to daily active users, monthly active users is the number of people using the app at least once a month. For many apps, monthly active users is actually a more important number because people wouldn’t use it every day – it just depends on the business model.
Sometimes, the important metrics don’t lie in the app itself. Social media content engagement can be a hugely important factor because it’s such a critical acquisition channel. Apps that can create high-engagement content on social media are much more likely to be able to attract and retain users in the app itself.
Retention is often one of the biggest challenges that mobile apps face – it’s easy to secure downloads, but getting users to stick around is a different task entirely. Long-term users are what drive revenue, and retention is a critical metric because of that.
This is similar to retention, but more a measure of engagement potential than long-term usership. Stickiness is found by dividing Daily Active Users (DAU) by Monthly Active Users (MAU) – it shows how likely a monthly active user is to convert to using the app daily.
This metric measures the total number of actions a given user will perform in your app. Instead of length of time this is about volume of actions, providing another insight into how users interact with your app.
App Store Rating
This is another metric that doesn’t happen inside the app itself, but is critical for user acquisition. The App Store has gotten so competitive that a high rating is basically mandatory for appearing in organic search results, and app developers need to be militant in managing their ratings and reviews.
Another metric that impacts user acquisition, the viral coefficient is a matter of how many other new users a given new user will generate. Note that this is different from the concept of “virality” – a high viral coefficient means users are likely to refer your app to others, and it’s a huge driver of growth over time.
Cost Per User Acquisition
This measures how much money it costs you – across social ads, PPC, or any other medium – to bring in a new user. The lower this is, the better.
This measures how much money users spend while they’re using the app. It won’t be relevant for advertising or paid download-based business models, but it can be a critical indicator of the financial viability of your app.
The lifetime value (LTV) of a user is the total amount of revenue that the average user will generate over the entire time they interact with your company, incorporating both revenue generated and things like the cost of acquisition. Understanding and maximizing this is crucial to your long-term profitability.
From the technical side, it’s critically important to keep track of your app’s crash statistics. Frequent crashes will hurt retention, user growth, and many other crucial success measures, so tracking crashes is crucial.
While not a metric, strictly speaking, screenflow is an important thing to track. It measures the path that users take through the different screens of your app, and it can help you pinpoint weaknesses where users get stuck or leave the app.
This measures the average amount of time someone uses your app each time they open it. While this is universally important, the sweet spot will change for different apps – some business models will rely on short term interactions, while others will depend on long use sessions.
Time in App
In addition to session length, it’s important to measure the total amount of time someone spends in your app on average over the course of a day, week, or month. After all, 10 minutes in 30 second increments may be better than one 6 minute long session.
This measures how many users close out of your app and never use it again before ever registering or interacting with it. Usually, it’s a sign of a flaw in the onboarding screenflow, so it’s an important thing to keep track of.
Uninstalls are worse than abandonments, because the user has to actually perform the action of uninstalling the app. High uninstall rates are critical to keep track of and work to fix.
Different Metrics for Every App
In 2017’s mobile app industry, each of these metrics is vital to track and manage – but there’s no one size fits all approach. Every mobile app is different, and different apps with different business models will need to track different key metrics. What matters is finding the most important metrics for your own app – then tracking & optimizing for them religiously. That’s the best way to maximize your chances of success and put your app on the road to long-term growth and sustainability.