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Top 12 mobile app metrics you need to track

Today, mobile accounts for about half of web traffic globally. According to research, mobile devices (excluding tablets) generated 58% of global website traffic, which consistently hovered around the 50% mark since the beginning of 2017 before permanently surpassing it in 2020.

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Why is this important? Because mobile devices are a platform for mobile apps that continue to proliferate exponentially. There are more than seven million apps in existence globally, which are expected to generate more than $935 billion in revenue in 2023, according to research from Statista.

Key mobile app statistics for 2023

  • Global consumer spending on apps reached $129 billion as of 2022 (source)

  • By this year mobile apps are expected to generate at least $935 billion in revenue (source)

  • 51% of smartphone users check their apps 1-10 times per day (source)

  • 85% of time people spend on their smartphones is spent using apps (source)

  • The average smartphone user engages with 30 apps per month (source)

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With so much competition and revenue potential at stake, companies with mobile apps need to continually ensure their platforms are optimized to deliver a stand-out user experience (UX) and cut through the noise.

By tracking the 12 essential mobile app metrics in this blog, you can:

  • Understand how your mobile app is being used so you can fully optimize it to create positive user experiences

  • Identify new opportunities to keep users coming back

  • Uncover pain points that are potentially driving uninstalls and users away

What are mobile app metrics?

📈Mobile app metrics measure actions taken while users engage with the platform—be it a web, native or hybrid app. There is a wide range of metrics to measure to effectively gauge how users experience the app so you can ultimately improve the UX and boost customer engagement, acquisition, conversion, retention and revenue generation.

Why are mobile app metrics important?

Mobile app metrics provide a window into the performance of your app, revealing pain points that could drive uninstalls and opportunities to keep users coming back. Tracking key mobile app metrics and quickly taking steps to remedy any issues you identify can prevent customers from forming a negative opinion of your brand. With so many apps to choose from, a poor user experience is sure to drive customers elsewhere.

How to successfully track mobile app metrics

There are a variety of stand-alone mobile app analytics platforms that brands can use to track metrics. However, stand-alone analytics solutions have limitations. They can tell you what happened, but they can’t deliver a holistic picture that also tells you why users behaved the way they did. That’s why it’s important to have a digital experience intelligence (DXI) platform that provides a complete picture, pulls all your mobile app data into one place and turns information into actionable insights.

👉Check out this handy list of mobile app analytics tools to help get you started.

Key mobile app analytics metrics to track

The goal of any app development project is to keep the app on consumers’ smartphones, and users engaged. That can be a tall order with consumers that have little patience for technical glitches and millions of other choices. Staying on top of these key mobile app metrics will put you ahead of the game.

We've outlined 12 mobile app metrics that are critical to product managers, production engineers and UX experts and how to calculate them below.

Mobile app engagement metrics

1. Daily active users (DAU) and monthly active users (MAU)

DAU and MAU show you how many daily active users and monthly active users you have. Defining an “active user” is up to you–it could mean logging into the app or using a specific feature within the app.

  • Product managers use active user metrics to measure user base growth, product-market fit and engagement patterns. For example, they should compare the ratio of daily active users (DAU) to monthly active users (MAU) to industry benchmarks to assess app stickiness. A DAU/MAU ratio of 20% is considered good, while a ratio below indicates improvement is needed, and a ratio above signals a successful app.

  • Production engineers want to ensure the technology stack can handle a potential spike in usage. They need to monitor active users closely so they can allocate resources effectively and handle periods of increased activity that leads to lead to peak loads.

  • UX experts need to monitor active users to identify positive or negative trends. They investigate fluctuations in active user levels so they can identify potential UX issues that are impacting app use and find opportunities for improvement.

How to measure DAU and MAU

To calculate DAU and MAU, you need to set your product analytics tool to track a specific event that makes someone an active user. Your tool will then track how many users complete the action on a daily or monthly basis.

2. Retention rate

Retention rate is the number of users who revisit your app at least once after installing it over a certain period of time. Typically the retention rate is measured on a monthly, quarterly or yearly basis.

  • Product managers need to know whether their efforts lead to good retention rates and loyal users. They analyze retention rates to assess the app's long-term value proposition and guide feature prioritization. For example, high retention among users of a specific feature might justify further investment.

  • Production engineers view retention rates from a technical perspective. They track and assess how infrastructure or technology performance improvements could affect retention rates and grow user loyalty.

  • UX experts analyze retention rates to identify any friction points in the user experience that may cause users to abandon the app. Some of the most common app friction points are overly complicated onboarding steps or frequent app crashes.

How to calculate retention rate

Retention rate = (active users at end of period / active users at the start) x 100

3. Churn rate

Churn rate is the exact opposite of retention rate and measures the rate at which users uninstall your app or downgrade and/or cancel their subscriptions. High churn rates can be detrimental to a business’s success, so it’s critical to keep a close watch on it.

  • Product managers monitor churn rates, also known as abandonment rates, to evaluate the app's ability to retain users. Keeping an eye on churn rates can guide strategies for reducing user attrition, such as targeted re-engagement campaigns or loyalty programs. Check out these churn rate benchmarks to see how you stack up.

  • Production engineers investigate potential technical issues that may contribute to churn. Some of the most common technical issues that lead to churn are slow load times or bugs on the technology end of the platform.

  • UX experts are the problem seekers and solvers in the app world. They identify UX pain points, such as a high churn rate, that could be driving users away from the app. They also propose design improvements to minimize churn.

🧐 According to research, 90% of users reported they stopped using an app due to poor performance and 86% deleted or uninstalled at least one mobile app because of problems with its performance.

How to calculate churn rate

Churn = (users at start of month* – users at end of month) / users at start of month x 100

*You can substitute “month” for the specific period of time you’re looking to measure.

4. Average session length

This is the average amount of time users spend on your mobile app. Since not all apps are intended to be used daily, you’ll need to define what an active user is as it relates specifically to your app.

  • Product managers analyze average session length to assess user engagement and the effectiveness of content or feature updates. For example, increased session lengths after a content update could indicate high user engagement and positive user response.

  • Production engineers keep an eye on average session length so they can troubleshoot potential technical issues going forward. They monitor session length to understand server load and optimize app performance.

  • UX experts are continually looking to identify opportunities to improve user flow, navigation or content consumption. To do this, they monitor average session length to identify and investigate session length patterns.

How to calculate average session length

The average session duration = the total duration of all sessions (in seconds) / number of sessions

(Source: Google)

5. In-app engagement

An especially important metric, in-app engagement helps you understand how users interact with your mobile app.

  • Product managers track in-app engagement metrics (e.g., likes, comments, shares or video views) to understand user preferences and inform content or feature updates. For example, if users frequently share a specific type of content, they could consider promoting it more prominently or creating similar content.

  • Production engineers view in-app engagement from the technology end, monitoring it to ensure the app infrastructure supports high levels of user interaction without causing performance issues.

  • UX experts use in-app engagement data to identify opportunities for improving user interactions, such as simplifying content sharing or refining comment functionality.

How to measure engagement

You can best measure in-app engagement by looking at DAU and MAU, retention rate, churn rate and average session length.

Other key mobile app metrics

6. Downloads (installs)

A download, which is considered a mobile app vanity metric, is a net-new install of an application on a mobile device (downloads and installs are the same things). Apps are downloaded from app stores such as the Apple App Store or Google Play store.

  • Product managers need to track the number of app downloads to gauge the effectiveness of marketing campaigns, app store optimization (ASO) and feature updates. For example, if a spike in downloads occurs right after a promotional event, that could indicate the campaign was successful.

  • Production engineers evaluate downloads from a different lens. They monitor downloads to anticipate server load and infrastructure requirements to ensure smooth app performance. If downloads don’t meet performance expectations, that could signal problems on the technical end.

  • UX experts have a different vantage point. They evaluate the impact of app store listing changes (e.g., app icons, screenshots, descriptions) on download rates. If downloads are lower than expected, they evaluate and make improvement recommendations.

7. Session interval

This is a measurement of the time between two consecutive sessions or visits of a customer using your mobile app.

  • Product managers use session interval data to inform strategies for driving user engagement. Some tactics that product managers use to decrease session interval time are push notifications, in-app messaging or content updates.

  • Production engineers are on the lookout for how session intervals will impact technology decisions. They monitor session intervals to anticipate resource demands and maintain optimal app performance.

  • UX experts want app users to re-engage more quickly, so they analyze session intervals to understand user habits and identify opportunities for encouraging more frequent app usage.

How to calculate session interval

Average session interval = total session interval time / number of sessions

8. Screen flow

This shows you the exact path or flow that users take directly within your app.

  • Product managers identify popular user flows and drop-off points to guide app feature development and improve user satisfaction. For example, if users frequently abandon the app during the checkout process, product managers should consider streamlining the flow.

  • Production engineers monitor screen flow data to help them understand how the technology is performing. Screen flow tells them whether the technology is optimal for critical app paths and ensures a smooth user experience.

  • UX experts want to provide the best user experience. They analyze screen flow to identify usability issues, such as confusing navigation or unintuitive interactions, and propose design improvements.

How to measure screen flow

A digital experience intelligence platform, such as Glassbox, can help you see the paths users are taking on your app and understand why drop-offs and deviations happen.

9. User acquisition (UA)

User acquisition measures the number of new installs generated by campaigns or promotional offers.

  • Product managers track user acquisition sources to optimize marketing campaigns and allocate budget effectively. For example, they may invest more in high-performing channels or explore new acquisition opportunities.

  • Production engineers monitor how user acquisition may impact technology. They assess user acquisition data to prepare for potential server load increases and maintain app performance.

  • UX experts evaluate user acquisition channels to understand how different user segments engage with the app. They use this information to tailor the user experience accordingly.

How to measure user acquisition

User acquisition cost = (cost of sales + cost of marketing) / new users acquired

10. User lifetime value (LTV)

LTV measures how much revenue a user generates for your business over the entire span of their relationship with your mobile app.

  • Product managers use LTV data to inform their customer acquisition and retention strategies. For users with a high LTV, product managers may consider adjusting acquisition budgets or targeting high-value user segments with personalized offers.

  • Production engineers look at the technical side, monitoring LTV so they can evaluate and forecast the impact of infrastructure improvements or optimizations on long-term user engagement and revenue.

  • UX experts analyze LTV to understand how UX improvements contribute to increased user engagement, satisfaction and revenue generation and what improvements may be needed going forward.

How to calculate LTV

LTV = average revenue per customer x average customer lifetime

11. Conversion rate

A conversion rate is the percentage of users that completed a desired action compared to the total number of visitors. The higher the conversion rate, the better the conversion rate optimization achieved.

  • Product managers monitor conversion rates for key app goals (e.g., sign-ups, purchases or content sharing) to evaluate the effectiveness of features, promotions and user flows. For example, they may test different pricing strategies or promotional offers to improve purchase conversions.

  • Production engineers assess conversion rates to optimize app performance and reduce technical barriers that may impact conversion rates, such as slow load times or app crashes.

  • UX experts investigate conversion rates and address UX-related conversion barriers—such as confusing CTAs or complex forms—to improve user flow and conversion rates.

How to calculate conversion rate

Conversion rate = number of conversions / total visitors x 100

12. App ratings and reviews

App ratings and reviews are categorized as a mobile app analytics metric. App ratings and reviews influence potential users on whether they want to install the app on their smartphones.

  • Product managers keep an eye on app store ratings and reviews to understand user satisfaction, identify areas for improvement and address user concerns. This information helps them respond to reviews to demonstrate active engagement and commitment to user satisfaction.

  • Production engineers use feedback from reviews to identify and resolve technical issues that may be impacting user experiences, such as bugs or performance problems.

  • UX experts analyze user feedback from reviews to identify user experience pain points and prioritize design improvements to create a more user-centric experience.

Deliver mobile experiences your customers love and keep them coming back

Mobile app metrics help teams understand how their app is being used so they can improve their user interface, prioritize feature development, fix crashes and optimize performance. The data can also help identify new opportunities.

Want to learn more? Check out The Ultimate Guide to Optimizing Mobile Apps.