Measure Your Mobile Apps User Engagement with these 14 KPIs

Instead of usual inbound marketing content which I write here, I thought to take a break and decided to cover mobile analytics and app user engagement. If you want to share some more KPIs and how they can help understanding your mobile users or want to put names of mobile app tools, post them in comments.

Publishing apps and looking to leverage on mobile platform to get more users for your business is fine but you also want to make sure you measure the user activity and user engagement of your app as this is what determines the success of app publishing campaign.

There are 2 Million apps published on iTunes and Google play and with dozen tools on the web which allows you to create simple mobile apps in matter of minutes, this number will keep on going up. The problem is, most of the people after publishing app either never look at its performance or doesn’t know how to measure the ROI and KPIs of the app. Not measuring the performance of the app is like building a ship and making it sail in the water without ever seeing where it is heading. So in this article I will be talking about how you can measure user engagement of your apps with following 10 parameters as well as I am giving you some actionable data and insight and list of tools to help you.

1. Number of downloads (and upgrades) – This has to be the #1 metrics to measure your users app engagement. Though only a one time activity, it tells you the popularity of your app. Similarly, how many people have upgraded to the latest version tells you how much the current users like the app.

Here are 5 metrics which you want to measure

1. Total number of installs through lifetime of the app – You can find this through app store download stats.
2. Number of uninstalls through lifetime of app
3. Total number of installs through lifetime of the app over a time period, say a month
4. Number of uninstalls through lifetime of app over a time period, say a month
5. How many people have upgraded to latest version as compared to people who are still using old version

2. Number of times Sessions opened in a week/month/quarter/etc (activity) – Since 1/3rd of the apps after installation are never used, you do want to know how many active users your app has which are using it on daily/weekly and monthly basis. The more the usage, the higher the stickiness of the app is.

What Metrics to Measure –

1. How many new unique sessions (similar to unique visitors for a website)
2. How many total sessions are opened by all users (similar to total page views of a website)
3. Time spent per session – This is the most important parameter to measure user engagement of your app (something like bounce rate) as it determines the stickiness and usability of your app.

How to measure it ?
You can use Google Analytics or flurry (though it is little complicated to integrate it with the app as it needs to be compiled at build time) to see how number of unique sessions, total sessions and time per sessions spent by the app user.

4. Number of app user reviews – Apple store and Google play have customer review features which is useful to see the positive response for the app as well as what the users really think about your app.

5. Avg. customer rating – Like reviews, you can use average customer rating of the app to see the stickiness of the app. It is also speculated that app store rankings do take ratings and user engagement into consideration for the apps.

6. New user vs. old user (acquisition) – How many new users you are acquiring will determine your app’s growth rate and popularity. You can simply calculate it with this (make sure the time period is one month or some thing standard)

Growth Rate = (New Customer – Old Customers)/Old Customers * 100

7. User retention and Churn rate – There will be people who are going to uninstall your app (called churn rate) and you want to know how many are doing it and why. If you are adding x% new users every months and losing same x%, you are really not growing.

As per Flurry data, iOS and Android apps retain 4% of their users at the end of first year (so they loses 96% users in first year itself) so the industry standard is 8% monthly churn rate (you obviously want to target much better than this).

8. Average Time between opening of 2 sessions (Recency) – This is another metrics using which you can know how much active the user is. Is he using the app daily or only few times a month. Here is a typical screenshot from Google Analtyics

9. Conversion (if the app allows transactions as well) – If your app has certain actionable features like filling a form, signing up, giving a review, making a transaction etc you do want to measure how many users are getting converted to goal target. You can use tools like AppsFlyer and Apsalar for in app conversion and tracking.

Apsalar has excellent article on how to do funneling of data and measure conversion rate here.

10.Application loading time – How much time the application takes to load is direct related to user using or closing the app. You can compare this with website loading speed, if it takes too much time, the user will close the window.

11. Behavior flow – You can measure the path and actions users are taking which can be an excellent way to understand the control flow and the action flow of the app. You can learn more about behavior flow from this and this article (both are Google analytics specific)

12. Crashes and Exceptions – Every now and then your app will crash so you can track such errors and exceptions to measure the stability of the app. This is an important metric as unstable apps often get bad reviews and rating which will eventually lead to the failure of the app. You can use Google analytics to find and catch crashes and exceptions.

13. Global distribution of the app – You do want to the demography of the app users to understand the global distribution of it. This metrics data is shown in all app stores admin dashboard. For more advanced segmentation and data, you can use Google analytics and similar analytics software.

14. Event Tracking – Just like behavior flow, you can also track events and triggers. For example, I had talked about conversion and transaction tracking at #9. Similarly you can track many such events and set conversion goals for them.

You can look at this page of Google analytics which shows app loading time as well as many other metrics mentioned above.

Actionable Insights, Tips and List of Tools which you can use

1. How to Increase number of Downloads of your app ? 

You most likely want to do App Store Optimization so your app ranks higher for your major keywords, here is a nice post on ASO at KISSMetrics. The other two major factors are – total number of downloads and higher ratings so it will certainly help you if you can get the ball rolling.

2. How to Increase number of reviews of your app at Google Play and iTunes store ?

Since how many reviews you have plays a big part in your app store ranking, here are few ways to get more reviews.

1. You can send push reminder after one week or after app upgrade asking the user to review the app.
2. You can have certain premium features locked and give them for free if the user reviews and rate your app (it is slippery slope though so use it carefully)

3. How to measure conversions and transactions happening within your app ?

If you are looking to measure conversions and transactions happening through the app you can analytics products like Apsalar, Google Analytics, Localytics and Distimo (there are few more options). Distilled also has a good tutorial on tracking mobile visitors analytics.

4. How to reduce app loading time ?

How to reduce app loading is a separate topic in itself as you need in depth knowledge about app development and platforms for which the app is built for. But still here are some ways you can reduce your app loading time.

1. Bytecode caching
2. Avoid loading external content like images, js and css libraries. If possible put them as part of the app in minimized format.
3. Using Profiling with Traceview and dmtracedump for android to debug the apps.

Here is an excellent article on reducing app loading time for windows mobile platform. iOS and android.

List of Major App Analytics Tools for Measuring User Engagement

Here is a list of major mobile app analytics tools which I have mentioned above for your convenience

1. Google Analytics for Mobiles
2. Apsalar
3. Flurry
4. Localytics
5. Distimo
6. AppsFlyer