A mobile app can be a lot of things to a lot of enterprises: a source of revenue, a communication tool, a way to raise brand awareness or a way to connect with customers amongst many others. However, many business leaders fail to recognize that a mobile app is not a “set it and forget” type business venture, and as a result, many enterprises have apps on the market that fail to meet current expectations and needs of users. In turn, these apps fail to meet intended business outcomes (i.e. increased revenue). Ultimately, this can be attributed to a lack of monitoring and analyzing the right metrics and analytics needed for an enterprise to effectively evolve their app. An app that worked three years ago may no longer be what users are looking for or need.
Mobile app development is an iterative process that requires an app to continuously evolve to find continued success. At Clearbridge Mobile we offer a wide range of services that are geared towards assisting enterprises in assessing the current health of their application and working together to determine how we can evolve an app from its current state to work better for users based on some key metrics.
This article will break down the 12 mobile app metrics every business should be monitoring to ensure the health of their app. These metrics will allow product teams to better understand users, improve app health and increase retention through the various stages of an app’s lifecycle. The metrics listed below will be broken down into four categories based on performance, users, engagement, and business.
Performance-based metrics simply focus on how an app operates. These metrics provide insight into major issues related to how an app performs and operates, for example, if an app crashes every time it’s opened on an iPhone. These metrics are the foundation for optimizing an app because, at the end of the day, performance issues such as long loading periods and constant app crashes make it extremely difficult to retain users.
An API (application program interface) is a technical development environment that grants access to a third party app or platform. A prime example of this is Facebook’s API that allows Facebook users to sign-up for an app like Spotify by using their Facebook account credentials. It also allows users to share content with their Facebook news feed from another app. Latency refers to the total time it takes for this action to occur. Having this functionality has become standard, and expected by users. The longer it takes for a product to communicate with another, the greater the possibility of users abandoning an app. Knowing your API latency time will allow you to optimize this function of your app.
The crash rate is fairly self-explanatory. This metric will break down the number of times an app crashes making it easier to pinpoint the issue within the app. Product teams must be diligent in monitoring this type of technical failure to avoid disrupting the user experience or causing data loss. In some cases, this metric can be broken down even further to include deeper insights, like how much a crash costs, if they happen with app updates, etc.
This metric is concerned with how long different features of an app takes to load. For example, how long it takes for search results to appear, or how long it takes for the next level of a game to load. This metric is key for highly engaged users because slow loading speeds are a leading cause of user frustration, which can lead to abandonment.
User-centric metrics offer insight into a product’s user base; how large it is, where they came from, and how often they use the product. This insight sheds light on user behavior which for product teams, is invaluable information as it helps to generate ideas on how to create a more personalized user experience. A more personalized user experience generally leads to higher engagement and retention rates.
Acquisition refers to the number of users who download and install an app from a certain location and found the app either through organic search, word-of-mouth, or paid campaigns. This metric is important to track because it provides insight into what marketing efforts are bringing in the highest number of new users, and can provide direction as to where a marketing team should focus their future efforts.
Studies show that roughly 79 percent of users abandon a product after day one, and after three months that number can plummet to nearly 98 percent. This is what is known as app churn. Churn rate simply refers to the percentage of users who stop using an app within a particular period. Identifying and understanding app churn is essential to developing an app growth strategy as the number of new users must outweigh the users who leave. Understanding the churn rate will allow businesses to identify if they are having issues with retaining users, and help vendors pin-point why this might be, and ultimately provide the opportunity to suggest and enact retention strategies to fix the issue.
DAU is an acronym for Daily Active Users. This metric reflects the number of users who actively engage with an app daily. This metric provides insight into what percentage of a user base uses the app and gives further detail into how engaged those users are. This can give businesses an idea of what features users like and identify areas of improvement. Furthermore, for many, this can also be a way to measure app success.
Engagement metrics take a deeper look into how users are interacting with an app, in particular, their usage patterns and in-app behavior. These valuable insights provide a much-needed understanding of users that is essential to improving the functionality of an app, retaining a loyal user base, and optimizing a monetization strategy.
Session length refers to how much time a user spends in an app during an individual session. Session length is marked from when an app is launched to when it is closed or times-out. Tracking this metric is critical to discovering potential streams of revenue through app flows or other in-app scenarios. For example, if users make purchases on your app, you may find out that the average session length is five minutes, but the average checkout takes six. Knowing this, the next version of your product can utilize methods that either encourage users to stay in the app longer or shorten the checkout process.
Session interval refers to the time that lapses between each time an individual uses an app. Ultimately, this metric shows how frequently users interact with a product. Once this metric is understood, it is easier for businesses to optimize the user experience and encourage more frequent opens. For example, if this metric shows that tablet users have longer session intervals than smartphone users, this is an indication that the screen flow or design of the tablet app needs to be improved to provoke more frequent use. This can also be an opportunity to add in-app or push notifications to your retention strategy to encourage more immersive interaction.
Time in-app tracks how long a user is in an app over some time. It’s another way to track how engaged users are. This metric is used to determine usage trends for example, if a certain segment of users is consistently opening your app for long periods. Knowing this, teams can break this data down further to determine if they are all following a similar screen flow, making more purchases, or doing research? Knowing this information is instrumental in learning what users do with a product so that developers can tailor the next versions of a product to these particular desires, adding extra value to the experience.
Retention rate is the percentage of users who return to an app based on the date of their first visit. Tracking this metric identifies the most engaged users, creating better targeting capabilities. Splitting out retention rate based on important dimensions like purchase frequency, location, or device, allows businesses to experiment with personalization to improve an app.
Ultimately app success is greatly dependent on its ability to generate revenue or at least visible ROI. Where the metrics listed above focus on how the app is being used, business metrics focus on the monetization of an app, helping businesses make informed decisions as well as predict any financial issues that may arise.
Lifetime value (LTV) is the primary metric for tracking revenue. This represents the financial value of an app and how much each app user is worth in his or her lifetime. LTV can show growth over time for different segments (i.e. by acquisition channel) and signals how much more can you spend toward acquisition to gain more of these users and still turn a profit.
While getting downloads and seeing your app gain traction amongst users can be exciting, It is important to track how much user acquisition is costing. Acquisition reports track how much money is being spent to acquire new users, and what they’re doing when they get into your app. You can analyze the ongoing value of acquired users against organic users, or discover which users from certain campaigns have a higher LTV.
Proactive monitoring of the metrics mentioned above will serve enterprises as a regular check up on the health of their application. Businesses can use the insights from these metrics to pinpoint problem areas and areas for improvement that can drive redesigns, UX changes, and messaging campaigns for the next version of a product. Furthermore, businesses need to remember that no matter the business model, a successful app that brings value and drives revenue is dependent on creating continued engaging and personalized experiences. Having the data necessary to drive the next evolution of an app will be integral to an enterprise’s ability to continue to build stronger funnels that will boost ROI and make an app stand out in a saturated market.