The Importance of Monthly Active Users (MAU) for Apps
As an app developer, product marketer, or designer, you're probably constantly asking yourself how to keep your app alive and kicking. One of the most critical metrics for measuring an app’s health and performance is monthly active users (MAU).
MAU can provide valuable insights into user engagement and app retention and give you an idea of how effective your marketing efforts are. What is monthly active users, how do you calculate it, and why is it an essential metric for app makers? Read on for everything you need to know.
MAU is a metric used to measure the total number of unique users who interacted with an application over 30 days.
A high MAU indicates that a large number of users are engaging with your app on a monthly basis, while a low MAU may indicate that your app is not resonating with users or meeting their needs.
MAU is important because it provides a snapshot of how engaged and active users are with your app on a monthly basis and can help you understand how well your app is performing.
MAU can be used to measure user engagement, user retention, your app's virality and revenue potential, and to benchmark your app's growth over time and against industry standards and competitors.
MAU is used primarily by app developers, UX and UI designers, product managers, and marketers, but anyone with a stake in an app's success can derive important insights from it and the other KPIs it drives.
What is MAU?
MAU (monthly active users) is a metric used to measure the total number of unique users who interacted with an application over 30 days. For example, if an app has 100 million MAUs in a particular month, it means that 100 million people have used the app at least once during that month.
MAU is a useful metric that goes hand-in-hand with user engagement and user retention to help measure an app's success and growth over time.
If your app has a high MAU, it means that a large number of users are engaging with your app on a monthly basis. This is a positive sign for your app, as it indicates that your app is popular and has a strong user base. It can also be an indication of user satisfaction and loyalty, since it shows that users are continuing to use your app on a regular basis.
On the other hand, low MAU means that only a small number of users are engaging with your app on a monthly basis. This can be a cause for concern as it indicates that your app may not be resonating with users or meeting their needs. However, it's important to keep in mind that a low MAU is not necessarily a death sentence for your app. It may be an opportunity to reassess your app's value proposition, user experience, and marketing strategies to improve user engagement and retention.
Why is MAU an important metric?
MAU is an important metric for apps because it provides a snapshot of how engaged and active users are with your app on a monthly basis. It is an indication of the size and strength of your user base, and can help you understand how well your app is performing.
There are a few key reasons to track MAU:
First, it's a strong indicator of user engagement. MAU is a measure of how often users are interacting with your app. It can indicate whether users find your app useful and engaging enough to use it on a regular basis.
Second, it helps you understand your customer retention rate. MAU can be used to measure user retention, or the percentage of users who return to your app on a monthly basis. A high MAU indicates that users are sticking around, while a low MAU may indicate that users are losing interest and not returning to your app.
Third, it gives insight into your app's virality and revenue potential. A high MAU can translate into higher revenue potential for your app, because it can lead to more advertising or subscription revenue.
And fourth, it's a meaningful KPI that can help you benchmark your app's growth over time and against industry standards and competitors.
In other words, active users help power other metrics, giving you a clearer overall picture of your app's success. Here are a few examples of the ways you can use MAUs to power deeper analysis into your app's performance:
Measure net new users against your MAUs to get a clear picture of both retention and churn.
Compare MAUs to weekly active users (WAUs) or daily active users (DAUs) to measure the quality of your user engagement and see if you need to find ways to bring retained users to your app more often.
Compare MAUs and retention to changes over time in your number of paid users to investigate the health of your free-to-paid conversion flow.
In the product-led growth era, MAU metrics become even more crucial. Product-led growth (PLG) is a growth strategy that relies on the product itself to drive user acquisition, engagement, and retention — often by capturing new customers by letting them use the product so they can see its value firsthand.
MAU is a key metric used to measure the success of PLG by providing insights into user acquisition, engagement, and retention. And in a PLG model, product improvements are driven by user feedback and data. MAU can be used to measure the impact of these improvements, as a high MAU indicates that users are responding positively to the changes and are continuing to use the product.
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Who uses MAU (and how)?
MAU is used primarily by app developers, UX and UI designers, product managers, and marketers. But anyone with a stake in an app's performance — like investors and even competitors — can derive important insights from MAU and the other KPIs it drives.
App developers and product managers may use MAU to measure the effectiveness of new features or updates to the app. By tracking MAU over time, they can see if changes to the product are having a positive impact on user engagement and retention, and make informed decisions about their products’ future development plans.
Knowing when and how users engage with products or services can provide valuable insight into how to keep them around. Companies can use MAU data to better understand user behavior, allowing them to develop loyalty programs specifically targeting those users who are most likely to keep engaging.
Not only does this help make customers feel valued, but it also helps companies stay agile and focused on customer satisfaction, as well as staying ahead of the competition.
For UX and UI designers, MAU data can give you invaluable insight into how users interact with your UI and user experience.
MAU helps app designers evaluate how the existing designs are working and whether or not improvements should be made to retain more users. You can also see which features are being used properly and what needs to be improved. With clear objectives from the initial design phase, developers can make slight UI changes to maximize the user experience for increased app retention in the future.
Marketers may use MAU as a metric to track the success of their user acquisition and retention strategies. By tracking MAU over time, they can see if their marketing efforts are driving new users to the app and keeping them engaged.
Knowing how many users were active during a given month can also provide useful information about what types of content and features resonate best with users so that marketing efforts can be targeted accordingly. Additionally, tracking MAUs over time can help identify potential issues with user retention and engagement that need to be addressed to improve user experience and boost customer loyalty going forward.
Finally, investors may use MAU as a metric to evaluate the potential of an app or company. A high MAU can be an indicator of a strong user base and revenue potential, which can be attractive to investors. And competitors may use MAU to benchmark their performance against other apps in the market. By comparing their MAU to that of competitors, they can identify areas where they may need to improve to remain competitive.
How to Calculate MAU?
The formula for calculating MAUs is:
MAU = Number of unique users who use the app in one month
Note that MAU can be calculated using calendar months or 30-day time periods.
Calculating MAUs is a two-step process:
First, you need to define what makes a user "active." This can be as simple as opening your app or logging in, or you might need to set a higher bar for active engagement, depending on your app's features and purpose (for example, performing a specific action within the app).
Once you know how to identify active users, count how many new and returning active users your app saw within the calendar month or 30-day period in question.
MAUs can also be expressed as a percentage of the total users. In this case, divide your MAUs by total app downloads.
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Example MAU calculation
Here's an example of how to calculate monthly active users:
Let's say that an app had 100,000 unique users during the month of January. During the month of February, 70,000 of those users returned to the app and used it at least once. Additionally, the app acquired 30,000 new users during the month of February who used the app at least once.
To calculate MAU for February, we would add the number of returning users (70,000) to the number of new users (30,000) to get a total of 100,000 users who used the app at least once during the month. This would give us an MAU of 100,000 for the month of February.
Let's say this app has been downloaded 200,000 times. Then, we can express the MAU as:
100,000 / 200,000 = 0.5 or 50% monthly active users.
The limits of MAU
While MAU is a useful metric for measuring the engagement and success of an app, there are some limitations to its use. Here are a few potential drawbacks of using MAU, and some ways that stakeholders can avoid these limitations:
MAU doesn't capture user behavior. While MAU can give an indication of how many users are using an app, it doesn't provide any insights into how users are actually interacting with the app. For example, an app may have a high MAU but low user engagement if users are only using the app briefly and not engaging with its key features. To address this limitation, use additional metrics, such as daily active users (DAU) or session length, to gain a more comprehensive understanding of user behavior.
MAU doesn't capture user satisfaction. MAU only measures how many users are using an app, not how satisfied they are with the app. An app may have a high MAU but low user satisfaction if users are using the app out of habit or because they have no other options. To avoid this limitation, you may need to track other metrics like Net Promoter Score (NPS) or customer feedback surveys, to keep a finger on the pulse of user satisfaction.
MAU doesn't account for user churn. MAU only measures how many users are using an app during a given month, but it doesn't capture how many users are leaving the app. An app may have a high MAU but a high user churn rate if users are leaving the app as quickly as they are joining it. To keep tabs on user loyalty and attrition, stakeholders need to measure retention and churn rates in addition to MAU.
What do changes in MAU mean?
An increase in MAU often indicates that (new users + reactivations of lapsed users) > churn of existing users. New user engagement could be driven by a new advertising campaign, positive press, or the app being featured in the app store, which can drive an increase in downloads and new users.
A MAU decrease could indicate something wrong with the product or service that needs attention. Addressing issues that have put off existing user experience via a new release or feature can help reduce churn rates among these users; this, in turn, would help to increase MAU.
When it comes to reactivating lapsed users, start-ups can reach out to them with email campaigns or push notifications.
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How to increase monthly active users
Looking for actionable strategies to increase your app's monthly active users? Try the ones below:
Improve user experience. Ensuring that your app is easy to use and navigate can help to increase user engagement and retention. Consider conducting user research and gathering feedback to identify pain points and areas for improvement.
Add new features. Adding new features or improving existing ones can make your app more appealing to users and encourage them to use it more frequently. Give highest priority to features that are highly requested by users or that differentiate your app from competitors.
Offer incentives. Offering incentives, such as discounts or exclusive content, can encourage users to engage with your app more frequently. You could also offer incentives for completing specific actions, such as sharing the app with friends or using it for a certain number of days in a row. As a bonus, incentives are a time-proven way to boost customer loyalty.
Improve app store optimization (ASO). Optimizing your app's listing in the app store can help to increase visibility and attract new users. Consider optimizing your app's title, description, and screenshots to make it more appealing to potential users.
Use paid user acquisition. Investing in paid user acquisition, such as app store ads or social media ads, can help to attract new users to your app. This strategy works best if you have data on your most loyal and engaged users —then you can target specific user demographics or interests to increase the likelihood of attracting similarly engaged users.
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In today's conversation-centric ecommerce landscape, the ability to have engaging conversations is a huge driver for customer experience — and, in turn, monthly active users. With Sendbird’s chat API, your app will become the center point of customer engagement while providing the capabilities needed to keep users engaged and connected.
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