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With literally millions of competitors, making a successful mobile app seems like a ‘mission impossible’. But if you track the right KPIs, you’ll be able to successfully optimize and direct your app towards success.

Mobile app development has grown into an industry of its own, covering everything from gaming and social networking to personal finance and e-commerce. It’s a crowded marketplace for most app categories, and the fierce competition is making app developers especially vigilant when it comes to performance tracking.

Fortunately, mobile apps generate huge volumes of big data which can help you work out how well your app is doing. And by using the right metrics, analyzing them and acting on them quickly, marketers and business decision-makers can ensure their mobile apps are a success.

Metrics can help you understand how your users are interacting with your applications and services, when and why; and they can help you ensure that your apps are making money. However, there are a lot of different metrics to choose from, from Daily Active Users (DAU) to Cost Per Acquisition (CPA), which makes data visualization an incredibly helpful and powerful tool for making sense of it all.

Here are eight useful metrics for measuring the success of your mobile apps, and some examples of reports and data visualizations that can display their overall performance in the best possible way, giving you a clear overview of app performance at any point in time.

Number of Users

The most basic measurement to indicate the success of your app is how many people have downloaded and installed it, which is your ground floor for all other metrics. Whether it’s a consumer or a B2B app, you will want to create a broad user base then focus on engagement and retention moving forward. So, you should look to track the number of downloads, and also track your activation rates, as this will indicate what proportion of downloads actually leads to usage.

Also consider gathering data on how users actually found your app and decided to download it - whether it was from a particular social ad platform like Facebook, Instagram or Twitter ads, or a mobile or video ad service such as Brightroll, Tapjoy or Google AdMob. This will enable you to hone your channel advertising and marketing activities.

The best way to visualize download data in your marketing dashboards is through a simple downloads-per-day Bar Chart, which will clearly and easily show you the most popular days and times that users are downloading your app.

Number of Active Users

Measuring app downloads is one thing, but you really want a healthy level of active users who are regularly interacting with your mobile apps and services, and increasing your revenue opportunities. The two most popular metrics that can help you track these are Daily Active Users (DAU) and Monthly Active Users (MAU). DAU tracks the number of users who open your app at least once a day, with MAU measuring users who have a session with your app at least once a month.

A number of graphs are suitable for representing the KPI performance of these two metrics, such as a Line Chart that tracks the number of active users over time, whether that’s hourly, daily, weekly, bi-weekly or monthly. Data visualization also enables you to layer this information on the same graph, so you can correlate trends more easily.

Stickiness

Once you gain the ability to consistently track your DAU and MAU numbers, you can use them to calculate how frequently people return to your app - which is termed ‘stickiness’. This is simple to do, and involves dividing the daily by the monthly active users to get a percentage figure. A high percentage means users are returning more often to use your app. If this percentage increases over time, you’re getting better at retaining active users. In essence, it means that more of your monthly average users are becoming daily users, which is an indication of your success.

Mobile App Development

Retention Rate

You can also gain good business intelligence from keeping an eye on your retention rate, which could be seen as measuring stickiness over a longer period. This can tell you how many people come back to your app month-to-month, for example, or from one season to the next. Some app developers look at particular demographics or cohorts – groups that signed up at the same time - and track their retention rate.

Having tracked your retention rates, you can then focus your efforts on improving them through user experience enhancements, new features, additional help, emails and communications, and in-app messaging. You can visualize this KPI in your marketing dashboard through a horizontal or vertical Bar Chart, or Grouped Bar Chart, which displays different cohorts side-by-side.

Churn Rate

The flipside of your Retention Rate is your Churn Rate, which represents how many users have abandoned your app in a particular time frame by uninstalling it from their devices. This could be because of new features or a software update that are proving unpopular, but it could equally be down to a more competitive offering on the market. Regardless, it is a good metric to measure your mobile app performance, and once again, it can be depicted using a straightforward Bar Chart.

Average Revenue Per User (ARPU)

As well as metrics to track user numbers, you also want to measure how much revenue your app is generating. Besides the total revenue, which is a major business KPI, one of the most important metrics is Average Revenue Per User (ARPU), which tells you how much revenue is being generated on average by each of your users. ARPU is used by all sorts of businesses, but is generally associated with subscription revenues. In terms of mobile apps, it can also encompass paid downloads, in-app purchases, ad clicks, and other forms of monetization.

You calculate ARPU by taking your total revenue for the month and dividing the figure by your total number of monthly active users. An effective way to illustrate this figure through data visualization is by using a chart that displays a single figure, or perhaps one that compares three different data points from three different time periods (month, quarter or even a year).

Mobile App Performance

Cost Per Acquisition (CPA)

Cost Per Acquisition (CPA) is also useful in determining the success of your app, because it factors in the cost of acquiring new users. To measure the CPA of a marketing campaign, you should take the total of your costs for that campaign and divide it by the conversions, or acquisitions, that it produced. As with ARPU, you can show this using a single data-point chart.

Customer Lifetime Value (LTV)

Building on your CPA, you can then calculate how much value each of your customers brings to your app over the time they use it. For this, you’ll need to track important factors such as how often users make transactions such as in-app purchases, and the value of those transactions; and how long customers usually stay as customers. As a rule of thumb, if your CPA is greater than your LTV, you’re most likely paying too much to acquire customers. You might like to track your LTV over time, and a good way to view it on your marketing dashboard is as a Bar Chart that plots months against revenue.

What about Reviews?

Apart from clear success metrics you can get directly from the app or by cross-referencing them with revenue and other important business performance information, one key element of a mobile app success are the customer reviews left on mobile app platforms such as Google Play, Apple's App Store, Amazon Appstore, or Microsoft Store

Understanding how customers have rated your app can help you optimize your app for a better user experience, but also to introduce new features and in which directions you can steer your app further. Visualizing the ratings, which normally go from 0 to 5 stars, can be done easily with a Bullet Graph or a Gauge Graph that displays the current average rating in a defined range.

Using Adverity to track and visualize your mobile app performance data

When it comes to measuring your mobile app performance, Adverity can help you integrate all the data you need to derive the metrics mentioned above, and offers you a wide variety of data visualization options that will enable you to build great looking, but also effective and insightful, marketing dashboards.

By displaying your KPIs clearly, your app development, marketing and business decision makers will be able to stay on top of your app’s performance, and make successful data-driven decisions on how to drive your mobile app development further.

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adverity-author-vladimir-ceric

Written by Vladimir Ceric

Vladimir is a senior marketer in Adverity's team, bringing over two decades of experience in creating content for technology companies. An engineer by education, a marketer by profession, and a technology lover by choice, he likes to combine his experiences in creating clear and understandable content on complex technical topics.

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