How to Measure User Engagement Meaningfully

We are all part of a digitally advanced era where an average mobile app loses around 77% of its users within just 3 days of downloading the app, and around 90% after just the first 30 days. Keeping this and a number of other mobile-related stats into consideration, organizations, digital marketers and app developers need to pay a lot of focus to one of the most important mobile app elements – app engagement.

In this read, we will have a look at the different ways to measure app engagement (or user engagement) and how it can impact the overall profitability of a business entity in the modern technological sphere.


What is App Engagement?

Before we go into the details of calculating, measuring or making comparisons using app engagement numbers, we first need to understand what it really means – specifically in the context of mobile apps.

In the simplest of definitions, mobile app engagement tells you the overall value of your business, product or service from a user’s perspective. It gives a clear picture of how frequently or how long a potential or existing user likes to engage with your mobile app.

According to Esteban Kolsky, 72% of users tend to share a positive experience with 6 or more people. On the contrary, 13% of unhappy users will share their experience with 15 people or even more. With the ever-increasing mobile app competition in the world of mobile apps in recent times, user engagement has become one of the key factors that define an app’s overall success or failure.


Baseline App Engagement Metrics

It is imperative to understand the fact that measuring user engagement varies from one business to another, from one industry to another. There are a lot of internal or external factors that will determine the way an organization measures it’s app’s user engagement over a certain time period. 

Having said that, we have picked the top most important average mobile user engagement metrics that you – being a business owner, app developer or a product manager – need to pay heed to:

App Downloads

The first step in achieving success in your mobile app is trying to meet certain goals in terms of the app’s total number of downloads. This is one of the most important metrics as far as user engagement is concerned. This is split into two parts:

Conversion rate –  this is the percentage of app users that download an app once they have viewed the app page. This gives a clearer picture of how well an app page is able to convince a user to download the app.

Install Rate – this is the percentage of users that download an app directly from the app store results without visiting your app page. This metric gives a better idea of how well an app stands out in the main search results section of an app store.

App Active Users

Knowing your app’s active users can determine the overall growth of your app within a certain time frame. Marketers and business owners can have a better understanding of these numbers by viewing the Daily Active Users (DAUs), Weekly Active Users (WAUs) and Monthly Active Users (MAUs).

It can be further segmented in terms of region, age, gender, device, etc. 

App Session Duration

The session duration metric tells you about the time a user spends between the first and the last activity he performs. Developers usually set a session timeout that indicates a user is idle after a certain time period and that the session has ended.

Session duration largely depends on the industry or the nature of your business model. For example, banking and finance apps will not have lengthy session durations as compared to learning or entertainment apps.

App Session Interval

This is the metric that tells you about the time between two app sessions. This is a useful number if you want to know the time your user takes to return to your mobile app. If this number is gradually increasing over time, you might want to revisit and have a look at all the app’s parameters to ensure everything is working the way it should.

Screen Flow

A screen flow analysis gives an idea of the number of visits per screen or a section of an app, number of exits and the navigational flow between screens. This number helps you in identifying your user’s behavioral patterns in various app sections.

This tracking information helps developers and app managers to go back and redo certain parameters if a specific action is not leading to a desired result.

User Retention & Stickiness

These two metrics are relevant as they tell you about the times or reason why a user returns to your mobile app. The retention rate is usually defined as the percentage of users that return to your app in the last 30, 60 or 90 days.

On the other hand, stickiness is the metric that tells you about the app activities that are attracting your users back to your app. This metric comes in quite handy when you want to know which specific sections or activities are contributing towards user engagement.

Churn Rate

This metric is the opposite of user retention as it tells you about the percentage of users who quit using your app and never return. Developers and app managers should be well-informed about the sections or steps of an app funnel that is resulting in users to leave for good.

User Acquisition

For marketers and sales personnel, knowing the various channels from where users are coming is an important user engagement element. User acquisitions can stem from various sources such as organic search, paid search, referrals, social media campaigns, etc.

Once you know which channels are giving you the highest number of new acquisitions and those that are not, you will be better-positioned to make smart marketing investments in future.

Lifetime Value (LTV)

The lifetime value is an estimated revenue projection that you can make from a user’s expected lifetime with your product or service. Or in other words, it is the total revenue that you can earn from a retained user before he falls under the churn category.

Organizations need to monetize their digital channels to the maximum, and have accurate estimates to tell them where they stand financially.

Conversion Rate

Conversion rate tells you about the number of successful actions of your users in terms of app sign ups, transactions, form filling, in-app purchases, etc. There are numerous actionable sections in an app and as a developer or an app manager, you would assign certain targets to yourself in a specific time period. 

In order to have a thorough visibility of your targets being achieved or not, conversion rates is what you will need to look at as you will be able to calculate these numbers at each step of your funneled data and know precisely where the users are quitting or dropping off.


Best Tools to Measure App Engagement

Now that we are aware of the most effective app engagement KPIs and metrics that will affect your app’s overall growth, let us have a look at some of the best tools to measure these metrics and give you the insights that you need:

Whether it’s about monitoring active users, impressions, installs, mobile attribution, fraud prevention or any other mobile-related metric – the following app engagement tools will do the job for you:


Common Mistakes Made while Measuring App Engagement

It is not rare even for experienced developers, marketers or app managers to formulate a user engagement strategy that might not be the most efficient one – keeping into consideration the various internal and external factors that affect a business model. Here are some of the common mistakes that you need to be vigilant of:

Measuring User Engagement in Totality – Measuring overall user engagement might be useful, but not very actionable. For example, looking at an overall 15-day active user count number is less actionable than looking at 15-day active users who transacted in a specific app section.

Reporting Total User Count – Having more users is different from having more usage. For a banking app, a number that says ‘500,000 transactions per week’ looks more fancy. However, a more meaningful number would be ‘8.5 transactions per user per week.’

Measuring All Metrics At Once – It is never a good idea to measure all metrics at once. You will be bombarding your resources and management staff with information that you might not even need in a given time period or it might be irrelevant to the nature of your business in general.

Ignoring the Difference between Business and Consumer Apps – Know that apps that are used by employees at workplaces will have very different user engagement figures and behaviors as compared to consumer product apps. The main difference is the choice and freedom to use a specific app. If an employee is instructed to use an app for work, he or she will not have much choice and might be forcefully using it over a certain time period.


Retain Existing Users Instead of Acquiring New Ones

User retention and user acquisition are two important parameters for user engagement. However, most marketers and experts believe that if you have to choose one of these two to focus on and build a marketing strategy around it, you should always go with user retention.

The sole reason for this is the fact that the cost of retaining an existing user offsets the cost of acquiring a new one. 

As the marketing saying goes ‘don’t spend money to lose money’. This is exactly what you might be doing when you focus too much on bringing in a new user rather than ensuring that your current users stay with your product or service. According to a report, most online businesses bring less than 20% of customers back to make another purchase within a 6-month time period. 


Measuring App Engagement – In a Nutshell

There is no app engagement metric that can be deemed as less important than another metric. However, these numbers and measuring tools only become effective once you have a thorough understanding of your own business model, your users’ expectations and an app’s growth potential in the most impactful areas, rather than investing your resources in irrelevant data or KPIs. 


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