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17 mobile app KPI metrics you should be tracking

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App analytics and mobile KPIs have never been more critical. With “The Great App Explosion” well underway, the competition is fierce.

And it’s even more challenging to tell if you’re making any progress on increasing adoption if you haven’t determined the KPIs by which to measure the progress of your mobile app. 

This reality is exactly what has led to the popularization of mobile KPIs among leaders and decision-makers in the tech space.

Mobile app performance metrics including monthly active users (MAU), average session length, and churn rate are important mobile KPIs to keep an eye on for success. 

So, after a brief refresher on why developing KPIs should be moved to the top of your to-do list pronto, we’ll walk you through 17 mobile app KPIs you need to track on your march toward mobile app adoption and success.

Introduction to KPIs for mobile apps

In today’s business world, mobile apps are essential to growth. According to Buildfire, 21% of Millennials open an app 50+ times per day and 49% of people open an app 11+ times each day.

Mobile apps are an excellent way to connect with customers, increase engagement, and boost revenue. However, having an app is just the beginning. The real challenge is to track the app’s performance and measure its success. This is where Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) come into play.

KPIs are a set of measurable parameters that help businesses track their app’s performance and measure success. By setting and analyzing your KPIs, businesses can identify areas for improvement, optimize performance, and ultimately increase user engagement.

The value in tracking mobile app KPI metrics

Perhaps originating from France’s Tableau de Bord measurement system for process engineers in the mid-20th century, KPIs (that’s “key performance indicators”) are metrics by which critical business goals are measured.

So if your business sets an overarching goal to grow profit in a single year by X%, each leader should set KPIs within their department to move workers toward that goal. In marketing, the KPI is to focus on maybe marketing-qualified leads. In sales, it could be upselling.

KPIs ensure entire teams, large or small, are fully aligned on what’s important. In addition, KPIs can be held up as milestones for teams to strive toward — and quantifiable benchmarks for them to grow beyond each year.

Like any goal, for KPIs to work, they should be agreed upon by all decision-makers, clearly communicated to the entire team, and S.M.A.R.T. (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, timely). Mobile app analytics and metrics are no different.

Critical business goal: Grow profit in 2023 by 10%
Marketing KPI: Marketing-qualified leads (grow by 20%)
Sales KPI: Upsells (grow by 15%)
Customer support KPI: Ticket time (reduce by 17%)

Important KPIs for apps

  • Mobile app net promoter score

  • App downloads

  • Monthly active users (MAU)

  • Daily active users (DAU)

  • Stickiness

  • Daily sessions per daily active user

  • Average session length

  • Average retention rate (ARR)

  • Average churn rate

  • Cost per acquisition (CPA)

  • Customer lifetime value (CLV)

  • Return on investment (ROI)

  • Load speed

  • Session length

  • Time to first purchase

  • Cost per install

  • User satisfaction

17 KPIs for mobile apps to track success

Now, let’s dive into KPI metrics for mobile apps, specifically.

Chances are you’ve had, or been asked, questions like:

  • How is app adoption looking?
  • How is the app paying off since launch?
  • What’s it costing us to grow the app user base?

You can’t answer these questions with guesses.

Track the following KPIs to understand how app adoption and overall performance is going, to identify areas for improvement, and to support your request for app development resources when it comes time to build out new features.

How? Google Analytics is probably the most approachable analytics platform for tracking mobile app performance metrics, but there are plenty of alternatives like Mixpanel, Datadog, FullStory, and beyond.

1. Mobile app net promoter score

Net promoter score (NPS) can be found through a simple survey that asks users to rate how likely they are to recommend your app on a scale from one to ten.

Ratings from nine to ten put users in the promoter category, from seven to eight put users in the passive category, and from six to zero put users in the detractor category. Find your NPS by subtracting your percentage of detractors from promoters.

NPS indicates how much (free!) word-of-mouth marketing your users are willing to do on your behalf. The more they are, the better off you are — because 90% of folks are much more likely to trust a brand that’s been recommended personally.

The higher your net promoter score, the less time and money you should have to spend on marketing tactics. And that will improve various other KPIs — which is why we wanted to kick things off with one of the most important KPIs on this list.

% of promoters – % of detractors = net promoter score

Ready to take your NPS to new heights?

It’s all about upgrading your customer service management strategies to ensure users are finding value and achieving their goals.

Today, providing a share-worthy experience is a multi-channel affair, taking place across:

Lots to manage, right?

That’s why Sendbird enables support teams to manage user experiences across channels in real-time via Sendbird Desk. And, you can even take advantage of chatbots to automate easy tasks and reduce your ticket times even further.

2. App downloads

Number of app downloads doesn’t give you insight into app performance as much as it does into marketing performance.

If your marketing team is doing their job well, you should be seeing downloads once the app is available via the Apple iOS or Android Google Play app stores.

There is no average or “right” number of times when it comes to total app downloads, you just want to see the number going up over time.

If you track downloads especially carefully, you may even be able to tell which marketing campaigns are having the biggest impact — and replicate them to keep your download number growing.

3. Monthly active users

A person is a monthly active user (MAU) if they use your app at least once during a month — or whatever 30(ish)-day period in which you’re measuring. You can measure this KPI based on people simply opening the app, or you can get more specific and count them only when they use a certain feature.

How many monthly active users your app has depends on so many things — app functionality, your marketing efforts at the moment, the type of people in your target market, etc. Instead of comparing your MAU KPI to other apps, it may be more useful to focus on growth and making sure you have the number of users your app needs to support itself and turn a profit.

Similar to app downloads, the monthly active user KPI gives a glimpse into general usage and growth, so you can understand which trends or marketing strategies are resulting in the adoption and keep moving in that direction.

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How does your mobile engagement score stack up?

4. Daily active users

If creating deep, engaged user sessions is a goal for your mobile app, daily active users (DAUs) is a pivotal KPI to measure.

When you have people using your app every single day, you can rest assured knowing you have a product that’s useful and engaging. Similar to MAUs, the best number of DAUs is one your app can sustain and, better yet, increase over time.

Another reason to track this metric is – monthly and daily active users both feed into another critical KPI: stickiness. So let’s cover that one next.

5. Stickiness

“Sticky” apps are ones that just keep users coming back for more, whether it’s because of the value they provide, the time they save, how enjoyable they make a certain experience, and so on.

To figure out how sticky your mobile app is for users, divide your daily active users by monthly active users. This formula shows how effective your app is at converting a casual monthly user to an obsessed daily user. A stickiness of at least 20% is a good number to aim for.

When you’re monitoring the stickiness KPI, you should also spend some time figuring out what it is that keeps users so stuck to your product. Then, do whatever you can to promote and play up that feature to keep users opening and sharing your app.

Looking for more tricks to get even stickier?

Here’s something you probably haven’t tried yet: Add a social component to your app.

After all, products with a social element tend to stand out from competitors better, experience a self-sustaining growth loop, generate quality user engagement and enjoy more stickiness.

To add a social angle to your product, use Sendbird to easily layer chat for online communities into your app and create a sticky, native social experience.

6. Daily sessions per daily active user

Let’s hop back to daily active users for a second.

With the daily active users KPI, you aren’t necessarily measuring how many times a single user is accessing your app throughout the day. So this metric takes it a bit further by digging into how many times daily users engage with your app. If it’s interesting to you, you may also choose to study session intervals or the time between sessions, as well as to understand the cadence at which folks are opening your app.

While it’s awesome to know there’s a group of people opening your app every day, this is where we would recommend looking even closer to see what they’re doing during these sessions. This can provide insight into which of your features are fan favorites — telling you where to spend your focus and budget.

It’s going to vary widely based on your target audience and your app’s functionality, but it may be helpful to note that the average number of sessions per user per day came out to two in 2022.

To calculate average daily sessions by DAUs, divide daily sessions by daily active users.

7. Average session length

The deeper you get into mobile app KPI metrics, the more you realize how many of them are ultimately engagement metrics.

This makes sense, as increased app engagement is often the catalyst behind users staying on your app, sharing your app, moving to a larger payment plan within your app, and many more of the actions that generate profit for your company.

Looking at session length is a quick way to determine what the level of engagement is within your app — and whether or not you can expand on it to increase profit.

If you have the time and your website analytics platform has the capability, you may even want to look at the related “session depth” KPI as well, which will uncover how close users get to key features or conversion points (making a purchase, completing an upgrade, etc.).

Across verticals, the average amount of time spent in-app per day came out to about 19 minutes in 2022.

Determine the average session length by dividing the time of all app sessions by the number of all users.

8. Average retention rate

Retention rate measures how many folks come back to your app after they’ve installed it. You can choose to measure retention over any length of time — weekly, monthly, yearly, etc.

Retention is an oft-used KPI in the app space because it sheds light on what level of value and usability your app provides users. If you make a change and your retention rate rises or falls, you’ll know you’ve impacted value and usability in some way. Measuring retention is a wise first step before you conduct user testing to pinpoint what your target audience prefers.

If you want to measure average retention on a monthly basis, divide your monthly active users by monthly app installs.

App retention benchmarks vary widely by industry, but the average retention rate 30 days after a user installs your app hovers between 6% and 7%. If you see your own retention rate slipping below that, there are a few strategies you can try to get users re-engaged:

  • Develop a mobile push notification plan to inform users of interesting new offers and keep your app top of mind
  • Integrate in-app messaging (it doesn’t have to be hard with a pre-build solution) to allow users to ask questions, request features, or voice concerns instead of just ghosting for good
  • Conduct onboarding user journey optimization to show new users value quickly, create a great first impression, and make sure their expectations are set realistically

9. Average churn rate

Churn is what happens in the absence of retention.

With churn rate, you’re measuring how many users abandon or uninstall your app after a certain period of time. We recommend measuring churn over the same amount of time as retention, so if you measure retention in months, you should measure churn in months as well.

Churn happens for various reasons:

  • After installing and logging in, the user decides it doesn’t have the expected value
  • The app is hard for a new user to navigate, so they abandon it for a simpler solution
  • New content isn’t added, so the user loses interest

Three months after install, the average churn rate of app users is 68%, so don’t get too freaked out when you see that number rising. However, just like with retention, if you observe really large swings in churn rate right after a change to your app — dig into that and see if you can suss out what’s causing the fallout.

Find the churn rate by taking 1 minus your average retention rate.

10. Cost per acquisition

You have to spend money to make money, right?

That’s what the cost per acquisition (CPA) KPI makes sure we consider when measuring the success of our apps.

CPA is a mobile app marketing KPI that takes into account all the costs associated with converting a lead into a new customer — aka, acquiring them. It’s very similar to customer acquisition cost (CAC), which measures the cost of acquiring a paying customer specifically. If this is a distinction that’s important to make within your app, you can measure both KPIs.

On average, the cost per install of an app is $1.75 USD, but getting a user to make their first purchase in-app can run you $87 USD.

Once you understand what it takes to acquire an app user, you’ll be able to hone in on the specific segments and campaigns that create the most profit in comparison to spend.

What costs go into CPA? It’ll depend on what you want to include, but some elements to consider are:

  • Marketing salaries
  • Marketing tool subscriptions
  • Any third-party agency fees
  • Ad spend, if any

To find cost per user acquisition, divide the costs associated with a specific campaign by the number of acquisitions that specific campaign generated.

11. Customer lifetime value

Customer lifetime value (LTV) looks ahead to determine how much value a new app user will create for your app during the course of time when they’re using it. This value can come from ad impressions, subscriptions, in-app purchases, shares, etc.

Understanding the LTV KPI is important for both showing the profit-generation potential of your app as well as reining in your marketing budget. When you know the total LTV of a user, you know where to stop when it comes to CPA spending.

Your particular lifetime value is going to depend wholly on your acquisition costs and opportunities for generating profit within your app. However, we can tell you the ideal LTV:CPA ratio is 3:1 or higher. If your LTV for a new user far exceeds the cost of acquiring them, congrats — you’re crushing it!

To figure out customer LTV, multiply ARPU (average revenue per user — ad revenue, purchases, etc.) times (1/avg. churn rate).

12. Return on investment

Return on investment (ROI) measures the amount of money generated by an investment over the amount of money spent on that investment. In your case, the investment we’re talking about is in mobile app development, upkeep, and marketing.

Find ROI by subtracting the cost of the investment from the profit generated by the investment, then dividing that number by the cost again. If your return is less than your spend, you’ll get a negative number. Of course, you want your ROI to be positive because that indicates your app investments are profitable.

Monitoring ROI on a regular basis is a crucial aspect of your app’s success, as it’s one of the most visible ways to indicate that it’s growing in profitability over time — which is important for planning as well as proving your progress to stakeholders.

13. Load speed

The load speed refers to the time it takes for your mobile app to load after a user launches it. In today’s fast-paced and ever-changing world, users demand quick and seamless app experiences. Slow load times can frustrate users and drive them away from your app, resulting in lost revenue and poor user retention.

To track load speed, you can use tools like Google PageSpeed Insights or WebPageTest. These tools will provide you with insights on your app’s load speed.

Industry benchmarks for app load speed vary depending on the app’s functionality and purpose. The average load time for mobile landing pages across industries is 22 seconds. Yet, 53% of mobile site visitors leave a page that takes longer than 3 seconds to load.

14. Session length

Session length refers to the amount of time users spend in your app during each session. It is a measure of user engagement and can indicate how valuable your app is to users.

Tracking session length can help you understand how engaged your users are and identify areas for improvement. If users are spending a short amount of time in your app, it may indicate that you are not offering enough value or not delivering on your value proposition.

To track session length, you can use analytics tools like Google Analytics or Firebase Analytics.

According to data from Localytics, the average session length for mobile apps across all industries is around 5.7 minutes.

15. Time to first purchase

Time to first purchase is an important metric for apps that rely on in-app purchases as a primary source of revenue. Tracking time to first purchase can help you understand how effective your app is at converting users into paying customers. If users are taking a long time to purchase anything, it may indicate friction in the user experience or barriers that are preventing them from making a purchase, or indicates you are targeting the wrong segment of the market.

Time to first purchase is a metric that can also be tracked using Google Analytics or Firebase Analytics.

16. Cost per install

Cost per install (CPI) measures the amount of money spent on acquiring one new user to install your app. CPI helps businesses understand the effectiveness and efficiency of your mobile user acquisition campaigns. By monitoring CPI, you can optimize your ad spend and improve your return on investment (ROI). If your CPI is too high, it may indicate that your ads are not targeting the right audience or your app store optimization needs improvement.

To calculate CPI, divide the total cost of your user acquisition campaigns by the number of installs generated by those campaigns. For example, if you spent $1,000 on a campaign that generated 500 installs, your CPI would be $2.

Industry benchmarks for CPI vary depending on the app’s purpose and functionality. The average CPI for mobile apps across all industries is around $3.21 for iOS and $1.51 for Android.

17. User satisfaction

Tracking user satisfaction can provide valuable insights into the user experience and overall performance of your app.

User satisfaction data can be collected in multiple ways. In app surveys, customer feedback tools, app store reviews, or CSAT score can show you how users perceive your app and give you valuable insight to improve and enhance features. In-app surveys can be triggered after a user completes a specific action or visits a particular screen. Customer feedback tools can provide a platform for users to submit feedback and complaints directly to your customer support team.

Focus on your mobile app KPI metrics with support from Sendbird

So, what are you going to get up to after reading this article?

Hopefully, it’s building a plan for tracking the above 12 mobile app KPI metrics, which will make your app successful and keep your team aligned and moving toward the same company-wide growth goals.

And how about us?

We’re going to continue to support your app with functionality like chat, voice, and video, customer support management, live streaming, and an in-app inbox. Just use our easy SDKs, APIs, webhooks, and UI kits to bring these cutting-edge features to life in your product in no time.

Try Sendbird for free and see how we focus on digitizing human interactions for the modern world so you can focus on your modern tech, your audience, your goals, and your all-important KPI metrics.

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