A Guide to Mobile KPIs

If you’re gearing up for the launch of your dream app and all set to make it big, then we wish you good luck. But wait—have you figured out how you would measure your app’s success? An obvious answer would be the number of downloads, right? You must be thinking that a good number of downloads can lead to huge success for your mobile app, and you can make all your dreams come true. Well, then you are all set to make it big this time, but not as a success story—instead as an example of a big failure!

Shocked? Don’t worry: This is not an astrology prediction, and you can change it on your own. Several businesses go through this serious misconception as well.

It is not just about downloads; instead, there are several other metrics that you need to track to ensure the success of your mobile app. Before you develop apps, you should first think of what metrics or Key Performance Indicators are important to your business.

Download number is a basic and valuable metric, but have you ever thought of measuring how many users are actually using your app in frequent intervals post installation, how many are transacting on your app, how many have uninstalled it, the number of conversions, and your ROI?

There are more, but the type of metric you need to use is solely dependent on your domain or industry vertical. For example, Amazon's important metrics should be conversions, average order value, and shopping cart abandonment rate, whereas for a hospital such as Johns Hopkins, the number of appointments scheduled and engagement could be the most important metrics to measure an app’s success.

See below for a guide on what metrics are critical for your app’s success and how you should measure them.


Before you begin developing apps, you should define what value your users are going to get out of them. The success lies in how effective a solution your app can provide to the problems your users face. You need to ask yourself the following five W's that will play a significant role in measuring how much impact your solution can have.

Who are your users?

You need to figure out your ideal target audience, their behavior, demographics, etc. The more you narrow down your users, the better you can cater to them strategically.

What devices do your users use?

What device your users use to access your app can make a significant difference. If you can identify the device type, such as whether it is a smartphone or tablet, you can probably offer special features categorized to specific devices, which can eventually bring more engagement and conversion, leading to app success.

What operating system do your users use?

According to a report by Canalys, an independent analyst firm, 79% of Android-based smartphones had been shipped last year in contrast to Apple’s 15% smartphone shipment.

Android users' product-acceptance rate depends on how rich its features are in spite of it being complex. On the other hand, iOS users expect a simple, straightforward intuitive solution which is less complex. You need to identify and implement a perfect blend of features so that your app gets a wide acceptance rate irrespective of the OS used.

Where do your users access your app?

According to a recent Google analysis report, 84% of shoppers use their smartphone when they are in a physical store which shows that there is a need for immediate results. If you intend to design your app to offer a solution for this specific moment, the most important thing you need to integrate within your app is a call-to-action. A good call-to-action can satisfy your users' immediate needs, resulting in more conversions.

When do your users use your app?

Is it during the day or at night or at a specific period on a given day? What time do you get maximum engagement? These questions can help you figure out when to offer your valuable features or ads so that you get maximum engagement.

User Experience and Engagement

Today, thousands of apps are available on Google Play and the App Store, which allows for more options, but makes user retention a tough challenge. In this scenario, the most important feature you need to work on to build a list of loyal users is providing them with a great user experience that they cannot ignore.

You should not be happy with the fact that someone is using your app—rather, you need to analyze whether they really enjoy using your app or if they are just trying to search for the right page in a frustrated state.

Rate and Review on the App Store is one thing you can always consider as a basic metric. Moreover, you can use tools like Helpshift and in-app messaging to get a report and feedback about bugs and crashes and then use them to improve the user experience.

The best way to analyze your user experience is by tracking the number of times your app has been opened up and how long your users were engaged within your app. Both of these can help you understand where you lose users and how to win new ones.

To be more specific, you can consider two parameters in particular which are your MAU or monthly active users and DAU or your daily active users. These metrics will give you insights on what your users like in your app and what should be taken out.

Lifetime Value (LTV)

LTV helps you identify and learn how revenue has been generated per customer such as whether it is through in-app ads, referrals, in-app purchases, or something else. The Lifetime Value is one of the best KPIs to measure the relative health of your app.

However, the “value" you get is completely dependent on your vertical. For example, if you have a gaming app like Angry Birds, you may need to understand the LTV based on in-app purchases while a news app like the NY Times would focus on the value of ad impressions or sponsored content.

In both cases, Lifetime Value helps you segment and identify your target audience while revealing the most valuable users. This insight plays an important role in helping you plan out a marketing strategy. In a nutshell, LTV enables you to plan a marketing budget efficiently to make the process of user acquisition smoother.

Retention Rate

Retaining your users is one of the most challenging tasks for any mobile app today. Gone are the days when Nokia became famous by developing the video game Snake in the 1970s followed by other games like Tetris, Tic-Tac-Toe, and Pong. During that time, mobile was new and users were living under a surprising state of mind given the innovative way they could communicate.

Now, users have become much more elegant, and they have plenty of options available. You may have an impressive rate of new users every month, but there is a high possibility that after 3 months, you get a significant uninstall rate. Realizing the early indication of retention can also help you to understand your app’s real viability in the market.

If you can identify the correlations and how they affect your retention rate, you can use those insights to improve your app by updating the needed features.

Session Length

Session length can play a key role in your monetization strategy. If you have an e-commerce app, then your objective must be to drive sales, and there you may be concerned about a high conversion rate combined with a short session length. By contrast, if your app objective is focused on in-app ads or in-app purchases, then you may need to have your users engaged as long as possible.

Average Revenue per User (ARPU)

If you have a large engaged user base, it is an achievement to be happy about, but engagement is not everything. You might have created the app to drive revenue in some way, right?

You might make $200 from your top 100 users for a cool $20,000. But what if you have a user base of 10,000 people? Does this figure look impressive then?

You have to look at the larger picture, and calculating the average revenue per user can help you identify the value of every user of your app.

App Performance and Uptime

Have you ever used an app which took almost 10 seconds to load? What did you do afterward? Did you use that again? Never, right? Now, put yourself in your customers’ shoes: Do you think if your app takes that long to load, your customers would use it again? Simply put, they will not. After all, your users are not aliens, so why would they wait that long if you wouldn't?

Today, time is money and a slight delay in loading your app can cost a significant amount of loss to you. Users need a seamless experience, and if your app can’t provide that, they will jump to your competitor’s app in no time. So, this should be considered an important metric to make your app-loading experience frictionless and as efficient as possible.


You can have a significant number of downloads, but if this doesn’t lead to conversion, then your monetization strategy may not be effective at all.

You can have a gaming app or a food ordering app, but your objective will always be converting users into paying customers, right? Only the acquisition mode will be different, such as whether it is by enabling your users to click on an ad or through in-app purchases or by getting them to sign up for a premium version.

You can optimize the conversion process by identifying the user journey and their typical behavior patterns. This helps you understand where the natural break lies in your app, for example, where you can place your ads.

Cost per Acquisition (CPA)

What you will measure to drive user acquisition is closely related to the marketing strategy. You can choose paid, owned, or earned media channels to drive acquisition, but you also need to analyze how all these channels will help you grow your user base well.

If you can identify them, then you need to compare the CPA to the LTV. Your objective should be making your KPI positive, and if it isn’t positive, you need to tweak your strategy to ensure you don’t incur a huge loss.

Wrapping Up

All the KPIs mentioned above help you to measure your mobile app performance. However, you should also look at how these are interrelated. If your call-to-action is not good enough, you may see a huge drop in your conversion rate. Similarly, if you gain too many customers with comparatively low value, you may end up seeing an increasing number of downloads hurt your ARPU. Finding the right KPI is a challenge, but if you can take this up effectively, your app will surely taste success in the long term.

So, which KPI fits in your strategy best? Do you have any other KPIs to share?

Let us know by tweeting @chaione.

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