How to Measure & Understand Mobile Analytics

Learn how you can interpret your mobile analytics to better understand the performance of your mobile app and user behavior.

So you've designed and released a great mobile app. But your work isn't over; in fact, it's just beginning. The next step is to measure how well users respond to it and make continuous adjustments based on data for long-term success.

To improve your mobile app and retain more users, you need to be measuring your mobile analytics. These analytics provide insights into how users are engaging with your app and where you have room to improve.

Understanding your mobile analytics all comes down to using the right KPIs for success and leveraging technology to track them.

Top 11 Mobile Analytic Metrics to Monitor

Here are the key metrics to look out for as you measure your app’s mobile engagement.

1. Daily Active Users (DAU)

As the name suggests, Daily Active Users (DAU) refers to the number of users who log into your mobile app each day.

It’s an important metric to measure since it's easy to get excited about download numbers and ignore low engagement. Unfortunately, according to a survey by Statista, users never use 25% of the mobile apps on their phones. Still, even DAU can miss some nuances since it doesn’t differentiate between users who engage with your app once or multiple times per day.

How to Measure It:

Count the number of users who opened your app in one day.

How to Interpret the Result:

Your DAU is a solid indicator of how good your mobile app is at keeping users engaged. Usually, a DAU of 20% is considered good by mobile app industry standards, while 50% is considered excellent. Facebook, for example, has an average DAU of 50%, with 1.9 billion out of its 2.8 billion users active on its platform daily.

2. Monthly Active Users (MAU)

Your Monthly Active Users (MAU) concern the number of active users across a period of 30 days. Along with your DAU, it paints a clearer picture of your app’s engagement and the overall health of your mobile app. It helps prevent you from freaking out over daily engagement fluctuations.

How to Measure It:

Count the number of individuals who used your app in the last 30 days.

How to Interpret the Result:

Your MAU is another good indicator of your mobile app’s “stickiness” with users. Similar to the DAU, an MAU to aim for should be around 20%.

3. Churn Rate

Your churn rate is the number of users who unsubscribe from your app or delete it from their phones. While churn is inevitable for any business, a churn rate that’s too high is a sign that your app isn’t meeting users' expectations.

How to Measure It:

Churn rate = Number of users at the start of the year - Number of users at the end of the year / Number of users at the start of the year

How to Interpret the Result:

It’s easier to retain existing users than acquire new ones, so losing too many users for your mobile app can get quite expensive. A good churn rate to aim for your mobile app is 70% or less.

There are various reasons why your churn rate could be high. It could result from poor onboarding, lack of proper customer support, or not attracting the right users to your mobile app.

4. Push Notification Click-Through Rate (CTR) & Conversion

Push notifications are an excellent way to reach out to mobile app users and boost engagement — when you’re using them correctly. A metric you can use to measure the impact of your push notifications is their click-through rate (CTR), which is the percentage of users who click on the message.

Next is your push notification conversion rate, which is the percentage of users who took a desired action. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a monetary conversion; it could be something as simple as trying out a new feature, watching a video, or reading a message.

How to Measure It:

Push notification click-through rate (CTR) = Total clicks / Total views
Push notification conversion rate = Number of fired events / users who received a push X 100%

How to Interpret the Result:

A low click-through rate is an indicator that you need to make your push notifications more engaging, such as changing the tone, adding emojis, or optimizing your timing.

On the other hand, if you see a high push notification click-through rate but poor conversions, it could be an issue of who you’re targeting. Make sure that all your push notifications are segmented by time zone, so you’re always reaching the right user at the right time.

5. User Retention Rate

Your user retention rate is the percentage of users you’re able to retain with your app. It goes hand in hand with measuring your mobile app’s churn rate. It’s a good metric of how good your mobile app is at getting users to come back frequently.

How to Measure It:

Number of users at the end of the period - Number of users acquired throughout the period / Number of users at the start of the period X 100 = User retention rate %

How to Interpret the Result:

If you’re able to retain at least a third of your mobile app users, then you have a pretty good retention rate. However, this will also depend on the category of your mobile app. If your app focuses on providing users with daily updates (such as a news application), you should aim for a little bit more.

A low retention rate is the symptom of poor product experience. To overcome it, you can enhance the experience of your mobile app by including in-app messaging and personalization and A/B testing different features or app designs to see what works the best with users.

6. Session Length

Your session length is the amount of time a user spends on your app each time they log in. The ideal average session length depends on your mobile app's industry: you have to determine if your mobile app serves your audience best by keeping users in it as long as possible or keeping their sessions short.

How to Measure It:

Divide the sum of individual session lengths by the number of total sessions within a specific time interval.

How to Interpret the Result:

There’s no clear answer to what the ideal session length should be for your mobile app. If your mobile app helps users find a taxi ride quickly, for example, then 10 minutes each day could do. If your mobile app is a streaming platform, however, the ideal session should obviously be longer — around 30 minutes to an hour.

7. App Load Time

Your app load time is how long your mobile app takes to initialize before it’s accessible to the user. The longer it takes your mobile app to load, the more frustrated the user can get: 70% of users are willing to ditch an app if it’s taking too much time to load.

How to Measure It:

Use a tool such as Firebase Performance to gain insights on your mobile app load time.

How to Interpret the Result:

How fast your app takes to initialize has a significant influence on the user experience. We recommend that you keep your app load speed at less than three seconds. An app load time that’s too long is a sign that something is wrong within your system or code.

8. Crashed Sessions

Crashed sessions help you understand the technical difficulties within your app that are harming the user experience.

If your app is crashing too much, then it’s almost certain that you’ll be losing users, since they won’t be able to get the most out of your platform.

How to Measure It:

Count the number of app launches in a period divided by the number of crashes across the same period.

How to Interpret the Result:

You should aim for a crash session rate that’s below 2% for your mobile app. If your mobile app frequently experiences crashes, sit down with your developers and try to understand why.

9. Cost Per Acquisition (CPA)

To get a clear sense of your ROI, you must accurately measure how much you’re spending to acquire new users. Cost per acquisition (CPA) takes into account all the marketing, sales, and development costs that it took to build your current user base.

How to Measure It:

Costs / Number of acquisitions or conversions = CPA

How to Interpret the Result:

Your CPA is a clear measure of your marketing success. You should be using your CPA to identify which channel works best for you when it comes to acquiring new users based on their ROI.

10. Average Revenue per User (ARPU)

As the name suggests, this metric allows you to track how much money each user is bringing to the table for your mobile app. On top of helping you better understand customer lifetime value, this metric allows you to evaluate the effectiveness of your pricing strategy.

How to Measure It:

Total revenue generated during a specific timeframe (week, month, or quarter) / Total number of active users during that time

How to Interpret the Result:

There are various ways that you can use your ARPU to measure mobile app performance. You can use it to see how you compare against competitors, identify which type of user is bringing you the most money, and forecast your future revenue.

11. App Star Rating

No metric makes your user satisfaction clearer than your app star rating, which ranges from 0 - 5. On top of proving the quality of your app, these ratings also help you rank higher on search results.

How to Measure It:

Monitor your app star ratings on Google Play or the App Store.

How to Interpret the Result:

The ideal app star rating is at least four stars. If your app star rating is lower than four, then something is wrong with your mobile app experience. Consider leveraging the negative feedback from users to make updates and enhance your app’s features.

The Best Mobile Analytics Tools You Can Use to Measure App Engagement

There is an array of purpose-built tools for measuring mobile analytics. But choosing the right one depends on your budget and which metrics are most important for your company.

1. Mixpanel

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Mixpanel is an analytics platform that helps product managers paint a complete picture of their mobile app engagement. The platform provides you with data on which features are most popular with users, when they churn, and which type of user is your ideal customer.

One unique feature is setting up alerts via SMS, email, or push notifications that notify you when metrics change. This saves you from having to frequently hop on the platform dashboard to keep track of your mobile app performance.

Another bonus of Mixpanel is its marketing automation suite that functions as a CRM. Based on the data of your mobile users, you can personalize your messaging and run optimization tests.

2. Amplitude

Amplitude’s goal is to help mobile app teams make better, data-driven decisions to improve their product. Through a unified dashboard, you can get an idea of each step of the user journey and your audience's behavior.

The platform comes with features that offer a complete view of your mobile engagement. These include revenue tracking, number of uninstalls, funnel/cohort analysis, and in-app events tracking.

The biggest disadvantage of using Amplitude is that there is a large gap between the free and paid plan. Once you hit the limit of the free plan (10 million actions per month), their growth plan can start at $995, depending on your needs.

3. AppDynamics

AppDynamics monitors your app engagement across any device, browser, or third-party service. It allows you to follow each step of the app journey and identify opportunities to optimize user engagement. However, compared to other solutions here, its capabilities are limited: it doesn’t come with A/B testing, cohort analysis, or channel attribution.

4. UXCam

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With session and event replays via UXCam’s unique video recording feature, you can better understand user behavior and identify specific patterns in your app experience. It’s a helpful functionality that allows you to understand the reason behind your users’ behavior without getting lost in all the numbers.

UXCam also helps you quickly identify any crashes or bugs ruining the user experience that you can then communicate to your team before they lead to churn. You get contextual analytics that showcases the effects of technical issues on user engagement.

Improve Your Product with Data-Driven Decisions

Make sure to look at your mobile analytics at least once every quarter to see how your app is doing and if your efforts are leading to improvements in performance. That way, you can identify what’s working and what’s not and continue testing to create the optimum mobile app experience.