App User Lifecycle

The 7 key mobile app metrics you should track

The massive adoption of mobile apps not withstanding, almost every app owner I meet starts the conversation with the question, “What are the key mobile app tracking metrics that I must follow?” While the answer can vary by domain, below is a list of 7 app metrics that every mobile app must track in order to build a solid understanding of app adoption and to track growth.

1. Acquisition

  • Number of downloads:

Ideally track a daily trend of downloads, weekly in the least

  • Download Attribution:

Where are these downloads coming from? This becomes critically important if you are running ads or spending money to get downloads.

2. Activations

  • Percentage of downloads that launched the app:

Are your users launching the app after install? It is quite surprising how far away from 100% this number is in reality. There are many factors that influence decline, but this is the first point of drop-off that you should understand and dig into.

Metric Range: If your Activation rate is 85% or above you are doing well. Anything lower calls for a deeper analysis to understand and fix this issue.

Metric Range: For most growing mobile apps, the ratio of first time App Launches to Total App Launches over a rolling 30-day period is between 5% and 15%.

3. Retention

The primary question to answer is whether users are coming back to your app.

  • Day 3 and Day 7 retention after first app launch

Metric Range: Multiple statistics say that 3 out of 4 apps are uninstalled (or not used again) after the first time.

  • Weekly (and monthly) retention cohorts

Use first time app launch as the proxy for cohort acquisition and use subsequent app launches in the cohort for longer term tracking of user retention.

4. Engagement

You want to understand if your users are performing key activities within your app and how frequently. Taking an e-commerce app as an example, the following could be 2 user-engagement paths you track.

  • App Launched ⇒ View Product ⇒ Exit
  • App Launched ⇒ Search ⇒ View Product (5x) ⇒ Purchase

Ideally you want to identify 1 to 3 key flows within your mobile app that you want your users to take and use simple funnels to track those flows over time.

5. Uninstalls

  • Number of uninstalls:

Ideally track a daily trend of uninstalls, weekly in the least.

It helps to compare daily uninstalls with number of daily downloads and daily activations to get a net result of your mobile app growth.

6. Drop Offs

This is related to Engagement above, but you want to understand if users are completing key activities within your app. Retention cohorts are the simplest way to measure this over time.

7. Reachability

Your ability to connect with your users, via different channels is an important mobile app metric to track over time. Are your users opting out of push notifications? How many of your mobile app users do you have email addresses?

Tracking reachability per channel over time, and comparing those trends to your daily app installs and activations is critical to be able to engage with them in the future and create sticky experiences.

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