What is User Engagement? How to Measure It?


How do you measure success? It all depends on how you define success for your business, yet we come to know that it usually goes beyond how many people download your app. Although every new download is precious, with the greater part of apps being free on stores, a download doesn’t necessarily guarantee a certain user base. When we consider that 23% of users abandon an app after the first use and 62% of users would use an app less than 11 times, we can see that user engagement is the essential factor to win out.  

What is User Engagement?

There are dozens of user engagement definitions varying from vertical to vertical. Generally, for the mobile world, user engagement is the level of user involvement with your app. It refers to the frequency, intensity, and depth of interaction between a user and your app over a period of time. Basically, it is an interpretation of different metrics coming together. This makes quantifying user engagement tricky since we can’t directly measure the engagement but we measure other metrics and call the results as user engagement.  

Your app might have tens of different features. Do you need to measure everything about these features, come up with many dashboards, and try to figure out what to do with them? No, this would only confuse you and waste your time. Instead of measuring everything, identify the core and most valuable features for user engagement and your aim by tracking them. Focusing helps you have a clearer understanding of your app’s user engagement. 

Here are the most common user engagement measurement methods and metrics app publishers track. 

How to Measure User Engagement?

Active Users

Sounds pretty obvious, right? Tracking active users depends on how you define “active” for your app. Does it mean launching the app, signing up, logging in, or doing any other activity? So, an active user is different for every app and this metric shows how many users are “active”, opening your app or interacting with it.

Active users are generally measured as Daily Active Users (DAU), Weekly Active Users(WAU), and Monthly Active Users(MAU). You can break out these metrics by day, device, country, time of the day to identify how, when, where your users are reaching and interacting with your app. By segmenting your users, you can get to know your user base and active users, and you can work on improving the engagement according to these segments.

Knowing active users also helps you understand your app stickiness. App stickiness is a measure of how likely your app kee a user engaged in the long term (the definition of long term is also up to your app). It is calculated as DAU/MAU. Although it may sound like a vanity metric, you can combine this data with others to reach valuable insights.  

Image: Braze, Calculation of app stickiness

Number of Sessions

For many apps, each launch is considered as a session. However, this may change from business to business. For example, Localytics takes a session as the focused use of the app, hence, leaving an app only to relaunch immediately is also considered as a session.  

The number of app sessions measures how frequently users interact with your app. By examining the daily, monthly number of sessions or at the time period that makes sense to your business, you can understand user engagement, identify which users are heavy users, and which are occasional users. Naturally, higher frequencies imply a more engaged user.

You can improve user engagement by increasing the number of sessions with push notifications, offers, discounts, and updates, etc. 

Session Length

The session length of an app is the amount of time from when a user launches an app until they stop using it. Some apps consider this time when the app is in front of the users, yet some apps such as music streaming apps consider the time spent streaming in the background as a session. 

Session length is an important factor for user engagement since it helps you to understand how much time a user spends in and interacts with your app. This metric helps you to understand user behavior and segment your uses accordingly. 

Session length not only gives insights about user engagement but also about the user experience. It helps you understand the app flow. Here, although a longer session length might seem like a good indicator, there are cases where it is not. For example, if you have a gaming app, it is very desirable to have long sessions. However, if you have a ridesharing, or taxi app, it would be best to have short sessions for user experience. Always keep an eye on the category benchmarks to understand if your app performances well or not. 

Image: Localytics, This graphic might be an indicator of bad user experience for a taxi app but a good one for a social app. Session length is an important metric both for user engagement and user experience.

Session Interval

The session interval is the time between the user’s first session and their next one. Simply put, it shows the frequency of the app launches. By looking at the session interval of your app, you should keep in mind that there are different benchmarks of user engagement for different categories. A texting app would have a lesser session interval than a hotel booking app. 

What is also important with session intervals is that it guides you to improve user experience by giving you insights about when to send push notifications, etc. 

Time In App

By tracking time in app, you track how long users spend in your app over a period of time. This period of time depends on your business. It is an important metric for user engagement since it indicates how often your app is used. Very similar to the session metrics, it helps you understand the user behaviors over time and come up with a pattern.  


Screenflow visualizes user engagement in your app. It shows how users navigate your app, tracks screen exits, flows between screens and total occurrences of visits. By tracking how your users are interacting with your app, you can detect its weak and strong points. You can understand the mental models of your users.  

By tracking screenflow, you can find out what the users who don’t complete an action do instead. You can use this data to build a strategy to improve your user engagement.

Image: SimiCart, An example of screenflow data


Retention rate is the percentage of users who return to your app based on the date of their first visit. Across all industries, 71% of all app users churn within 90 days, but what is a good retention rate? You should follow industry benchmarks to decide if you are doing well. The common formula to calculate the retention rate is “(Number Users Retained at End of Time Period / Total Users at Start of Time Period ) x 100“. 

Tracking retention helps you identify the most engaged users and work on what is working for your app and what is not.

Lifetime Value

Lifetime value (LTV) is an estimate of the average revenue a user generates throughout their lifetime as a user. Depending on your goal, LTV can monetary measures such as revenue or non-monetary measures such as levels won. Apart from gaining an insight about the user engagement, you can also decide on how much you should spend on user acquisition by measuring LTV.  

There are many different ways to calculate lifetime value depending on the app vertical and monetization policies. One of the most simple methods to calculate it to take the average monthly amount from each user and divide it by the churn rate.  But as we said, this calculation doesn’t apply to all businesses. 

Apart from these metrics, you can also track the number of users that sign up to extra notifications or alerts and also the percentage of completion of desired actions. 


Back to our first question: How do you measure success? Measuring the user engagement is one of the ways for sure. User engagement is important to understand whether your app’s health is doing fine or not. Start tracking it if you aren’t yet to unlock the future potentials of your app.  

Tracking user engagement? With the power of stories, Storyly helps your app fuel in-app engagement and provides you with analytics. Check it out! 


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