Top 50 KPIs for Mobile Apps: The Ultimate Guide
So you’ve created an awesome mobile app. The design is perfectly intuitive and visually stunning. It works even better than you thought it would. In fact, you are starting to wonder how you ever lived without it. You’re even starting to see some measurable results based on industry standard key performance indicators. Naturally, you hope that your audience likes it as much as you do, or at least enough to generate some revenue!
Figuring out your mobile app’s value and assessing your app’s performance starts with knowing which KPIs (key performance indicators) and mobile app metrics are the ones that you should care about and track.
The process starts once your app is listed in the app stores and your “baby” is out in the world. Once it is being downloaded and used by your target audience, you’ll want to track how it is performing via the aforementioned KPIs and metrics. But how do you define success and measure your progress towards your ultimate goals?
It starts by determining the KPIs and metrics that matter the most for your mobile app.
Mobile App KPIs in Proper Context
Understanding the various mobile KPIs (key performance indicators) and how they apply to your business should be the first steps you take when developing a plan for marketing, promoting, and ensuring the success of your app.
Regular reporting and analysis of mobile app marketing KPIs and how your app is progressing helps you improve upon its performance and therefore generate more revenue.
It helps you place a valuation on your app and therefore attract the attention and resources of buyers, investors, and shareholders.
Tracking KPIs should be baked into your development and marketing plans, including which success metrics and performance metrics are the ones that will be considered the most valuable or important.
But of course, there are nearly as many mobile app metrics as there are apps, so understanding what it all means is perhaps the first step in the process.
General Mobile App KPIs
There are some KPIs that measure the general performance of a mobile app. Nearly everyone in the app development or marketing realm should track these, although how much weight or consideration should be applied to each depends on the nature of the app itself. There’ll be more on that in the following sections.
#1 Mobile Downloads
The number of times that an app is downloaded to a device is perhaps the simplest and most obvious way to track its popularity among users. And of course you should be tracking app downloads, as this KPI is the foundation that most of the rest of them are built upon.
Just because someone downloaded an app doesn’t mean that the setup process was completed. Therefore, you should also be tracking actual installations on the various devices that your audience uses.
Someone can decide to uninstall your app for any number of reasons, and they won’t always leave feedback or give a reason why. However, if the uninstalls correspond with an update or changes in your app (or advertising methods or targeting), you should consider what happened and why, especially if the uninstalls occurred in clusters or were performed by a previously fairly stable user base.
Deciding whether or not to register (and therefore give up their personal data) is another sign that users are buying what you’re selling, at least figuratively. Plus you can use their email addresses or other contact info to market future upgrades and other apps to them.
If subscribing for new content or other updates is a feature you offer, you should be tracking the number of signups and unsubscribes. In addition, keeping track of how long it takes for a user to subscribe once the app is installed as well as average subscription length will help you understand more about how your users behave on your app.
Of course, if a user downloads and installs an app and it crashes frequently, that’s obviously not ideal. Keep track of not only the number of crashes that occur, but where in the user process they happen helps to improve the performance of your app and therefore the overall user experience and retention rate.
If you offer an option to upgrade your app to a premium version and/or a paid version, tracking not only the number of upgrades but their timing – how long does it take for a user who has installed and/or registered for the app take to upgrade?
What percentage of the users upgrade versus using a free or basic version?
Is the upgraded version rated more highly than the basic version, or are they similar?
All of these things indicate the level of engagement your users have with the app and the depth of financial commitment they might be willing to make – essential data when you’re attempting to place a valuation on your mobile app.
#8 User Growth Rate
You’ll want to track this not only because you want to make sure your user base is growing, but also how it is growing. Does it spike due to particular events, places or ways that you advertisement, changes in price, app updates, or other activities? Or is it slow and steady?
((Present – Past) / (Past)) X 100
Engagement KPIs for Mobile Apps
There are other key performance indicators that measure how users engage with the app, including how, when, and where they use it and in which ways they connect or engage with your mobile app.
#9 Retention Rate
The number of users that come back or return after a given time period has passed. Retaining users is generally an indicator of creating a “sticky” or valuable app because people use it on a regular or more consistent basis. The higher the retention rate, the more positive implications there are for future earnings from the app.
Retention Rate = ((CE – CN) / CS)) X 100
CE = number of customers at end of period
CN = number of new customers acquired during period
CS = number of customers at start of period
#10 Sessions (App Open Rate or AOR)
The number of sessions you generate (also referred to as the number of times that a user opens up the app) is an important indicator of popularity and “stickiness”, since generally the more sessions a user creates and that an app receives, the better.
Keep in mind that in digital analytics, a session is defined as a user or device-specific group of interactions that occur on your website or app within a given time frame. Therefore, defining what a session means for your particular app or project is essential.
You can additionally calculate “stickiness” by dividing you daily active users (DAU) by your monthly active users (MAU).
DAU/MAU = Stickiness
#11 Session Length
The amount of time that users spend on the app per session. Generally, the more time a user spends on the app, the better, but you may also want to look at session length as it relates to the number of crashes and uninstalls and see if there is a correlation.
On the other hand, depending on your app’s functionality and goals, you may not need users to stay long to convert or take a desired action, and the number of session intervals, AOR, or depth of sessions may be a more useful KPI to track.
#12 Session Interval
The amount of time between sessions (e.g. do users visit every day, or do they visit on a weekly basis? More than once per day?). Shorter intervals are usually better, but this KPI can also be tied to when there are content updates or other timely events to take into consideration with your app. For instance, if there is new content to view every morning than your session intervals are likely to be 24 hours or so; on the contrary, if your app isn’t tied to a particular time of day or event, shorter session intervals might be more desirable.
#13 Session Depth
Defined as the number of interactions per session or how far along the user path someone journeys before closing a session or the app. For instance, going from just browsing to making a purchase, or leveling up in a game may signify more session depth than logging and checking for new content or updates, or using an app that requires only a short time to take advantage of its functionality like a photo editor or calculator.
#14 Average Screens Per Visit
The number of unique pages or URLs that a user hits during each visit, averaged. Usually the higher the number, the better for your app, especially if you rely on advertising for monetization (more screens equal more views or impressions).
#15 Daily Active Users (DAU)
The number of active users who use the app on a daily basis. Averaging the number of DAUs over the course of a month or year is a common way to discern a valuation or project future growth.
#16 Monthly Active Users (MAU)
The number of active users of the app on a monthly basis. Keep in mind that these are generally tracked as unique visitors who may visit for multiple sessions, so it is important to pay attention to both KPIs.
#17 Social Shares
The number of times your app is recommended or shared on social media. Obviously, the higher the number the better, but also look at when and where your app is shared, and on what context. This is especially important if you have any social media functionality or integration built into your app.
#18 Brand Awareness
There are several different ways to define brand awareness, including how many times your brand appears in the search engine results, on various social networks, or the “reach” of your brand. Obviously, the more users that are aware of your brand, the better, but you also want to look at and analyze the diversity of brand mentions.
#19 Churn Rate
The rate at which active users unsubscribe or uninstall your app. Of course, you want a low churn rate, and a high one is potentially indicative of functionality problems elsewhere that can be determined by checking when and where the app crashes or users log out or drop off. Churn rate can also be due to lack of updates or changes, new content, or new levels of achievement (if your app is a game or gamified in some way).
1 – Retention Rate
Money might not be everything, but it is certainly important. And you probably want your app to be profitable or financially stable in some way, shape, or form. Therefore, you’ll need to measure how its generating revenue using metrics like the following KPIs.
#20 Average Revenue Per User (ARPU)
The average amount of value or cash generated per user via in-app purchases, ad impressions or clicks, subscriptions, paid downloads, or other form of monetization. Multiplied by the size of the user base or the number of active users this figure gives a good rough idea of the value of the app as a whole.
Lifetime Revenue / # of Users
#21 Lifetime Value (LTV)
The lifetime value of a user is amount of revenue they’ve generated for your app thus far; combined with the average revenue per user it can be a great way to determine the total prospective revenue or value of an app.
Avg value of a Conversion X Avg # of Conversions in a Time Frame X Avg Customer Lifetime
#22 Time To First Purchase
This KPI implies the amount of time it takes a user who has downloaded and installed the app to make a purchase, whether that is an in-app purchase, an ecommerce purchase, or buying the premium or otherwise upgraded version of the app.
Date/Time of First Purchase – Date/Time Registered (in days)
This is a relatively simple and necessary number to track if your app involves any kind of exchange of funds, whether they are in-app purchases, upgrades to a premium version, subscriptions, or an ecommerce play.
#24 Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC)
The cost of acquiring a new customer, e.g. the money spent advertising your app, including the time factored in for marketing costs (time is money, after all). You can determine this number by dividing the total gross revenue during a given time period by the sales and marketing costs incurred during the same time period.
Cost of Acquiring a New Customer / # of New Customers
#25 Cost Per Acquisition (CPA)
The cost per acquisition of a conversion. This doesn’t necessarily imply the conversion comes from a new customer, but from a new behavior such as signing up for a subscription, upgrading to a premium or higher level, in-app purchases, or giving new permissions.
Cost / # of Acquisitions
#26 Customer Lifetime Value (CLV)
The lifetime value of a customer based the net profit they generate over time, which in this case is based on their spending in and on the app in proportion to the cost required for their acquisition. A user pool with a high average CLV is a tremendous asset for a mobile app, and keep in mind that successful apps tend to have an excellent CLV to CAC ratio.
Avg value of a Conversion X Avg # of Conversions in a Time Frame X Avg Customer Lifetime
#27 eCAC (Effective Customer Acquisition Cost)
The actual or effective cost of acquiring new customers, including organic discovery methods, paid advertising, and time spent or other expenses incurred during the marketing process. This can be calculated by comparing the number of new customers to the total number of impressions generated by marketing campaigns, and factoring in the cost of those campaigns to achieve a final number.
#28 eCPM (Effective Cost Per Mille)
The actual cost per 1000 impressions or actions, including organic and paid marketing efforts along with the cost of time spent or other expenses incurred. This can be calculated by factoring in the number of impressions or views generated by marketing efforts divided by the number of customers gained.
Cost for Advertising X (Impressions / 1000)
#29 Paid Conversion Rate
The rate of conversion via paid advertising, include PPC advertising, display ads, social media ads (e.g. promoted Tweets or boosted Facebook posts), sponsored posts or reviews, or any other method of marketing your mobile app that involves a direct exchange of money for mentions or views.
#30 Organic Conversion Rate
The rate of conversion via unpaid discovery, such as organic search, word of mouth mentions on social media, influencer marketing, public relations mentions and buzz, related apps in the app store listings, or any other way of marketing your mobile app that doesn’t involve direct paid advertising.
#31 Return On Investment (ROI)
In this case, the return on investment for any marketing tactics or techniques, calculated by dividing the number of gains in customers or revenue that you generated by how much you spent on marketing, including time spent or any expenses incurred.
(Gain from Investment – Cost of Investment) / Cost of Investment
#32 Cost Per Install (CPI)
The Cost Per Install measures your customer acquisition costs for customers that installed your app in response to seeing an advertisement (tracking paid installs rather than organic installs).
Ad Spend / # of Installs Directly Tied to Ad Campaign
User Experience KPIs
The experience of the user is perhaps the most important factor in regard to whether a mobile app succeeds or fails. Accordingly, using these KPIs and others to track, measure, and therefore improve on it might be the most important activity that you can engage in as a mobile app developer or marketer.
The amount of time it takes an app to load from the initial tap to being ready to use; it also applies to in-app screens and how long it takes the user to transition from one screen or activity to another. Basically, the lower the load time the faster the app, and the more desirable of a user experience it provides. You almost always want your load times to be as low as possible.
Another relatively simple KPI to define and track, this is simply which devices your audience uses to access your app. Depending on your target clientele, it is essential to know if they usually use tablets versus smartphones, or Android versus iOS, or other specific devices. Then you can target your app’s performance accordingly.
Like the devices used to access your app, it is important to know which carriers your user base tends to prefer, especially if you are targeting a particular geographic region.
If there is a high crash or uninstall rate for either one, or a strong preference for the Apple or Android realms, that is something to consider and understand why that is the case, and remedy any problems that these preferences may indicate.
#37 Screen Dimensions/Resolution
This KPI is almost always related to the devices that your customers use to access your app, but it is something to consider when making updates and future versions as well as correlating it with app performance metrics like uninstalls or crashes.
#38 Permissions Granted
The amount of access or permissions that your customers allow for via your app; the value and importance of this metric depends on the
#39 API Latency
This is the time interval between your API proxies being called or triggered and their response or load time; in general you want this number to be low. This KPI is tied to load time and the corresponding user behaviors.
Mobile App Marketing KPIs
There are plenty of key performance indicators tied to the effectiveness of how you market your app. Choosing the ones that track your preferred or most effective methods is essential, along with measuring your app’s growth and mentions on social media and influencer networks. Naturally, you should also be reporting on any paid advertising and monitoring your app store analytics to see what is driving and downloads.
#40 Install Source (Attribution)
The platform and referral source where your customers discover and install your app with is a key piece of knowledge that will inform the rest of your campaign.
Is it via paid ads or links, organic mentions, or some combination of the two, and what is that ratio?
What sources are the most and least successful?
Which app store do they use and how do they get to your app’s page (keyword search, inbound link, social media promotion, etc.)?
You want to track this so you can do more of the same regarding successful sources, and lower or adjust your marketing methods on the less advantageous ones.
#41 Virality and K Factor
This is the viral popularity or word of mouth surrounding your mobile app marketing. Virality can be measured in a variety of different ways, but one common method is to calculate the k factor by multiplying the number of mentions (organic or paid) by the corresponding conversion percentage.
However you track virality, it is important to determine one way of tracking it from the beginning and sticking with it for the most complete and cohesive results.
#42 Channel Breakdown
The range and type of channels that users use to access your app; generally you want to aim for variety in sources along with analyzing the type of source as it relates to its popularity with your target demographics and how the users who arrived via various channels behave once they download and install your app.
The geographic location of your users (and subsequently their language) may affect in-app purchases and ad revenue, so it is important to track. It can also inform your future mobile app marketing campaigns by letting you know which locations to target and/or which locations are already saturated.
The gender, ethnicity, and age of your audience. Tracking the demographics of your actual customer base as it compares to your target audience is an excellent way to judge the effectiveness of your marketing efforts.
#45 Cohort Analysis
Your user base can likely be grouped in a variety of categories or collectives based on their demographics, locations, in-app behaviors, or other common characteristics. Grouping them and seeing the patterns in their behavior can be a valuable learning experience or source of knowledge about your current and potential customers.
#46 Behavioral Metrics
The type of behaviors that are unique to your app can be a valuable insight into your audience’s’ minds.
This KPI applies to both how the user arrived at your app and what they do once it is downloaded; it also can include other apps they’ve downloaded, social networks they participate in, or websites they actively visit.
Essentially, tracking behavioral metrics allows you to create a collection of user profiles and therefore develop app features and marketing plans that tap into and take advantage of these behaviors.
App Store Optimization (ASO)
Perhaps the most important part of marketing and promoting your mobile app is the app store experience and how it attracts users – how they discover your app, decide whether or to install and/or purchase it, and rate and review it.
The keywords or phrases that caused users to discover and download your app. Tracking the user path from initial keyword search to the eventual purchase will let you see which keywords actually generate revenue and other positive or desired behaviors.
#48 App Store Category Ranking
Monitoring your rankings over time and studying how they affect your app’s performance is essential; and in general, the better your ranking the better your performance. Keep in mind that this KPI is directly correlated to your
#49 Views To Installs
The number of times that a user viewed your app listing before installing it. In general, the lower number of views to install, the better, since it shows that your advertising and app store listing are more effective.
The more positive reviews, the better; also pay attention to the total number of reviews since that shows a user is passionate and engaged enough to take the time to write a review of your app. Negative reviews also give you a chance to learn from critics as to what to improve, while positive reviews can show you features that you should boost, augment, or even consider upgrading to a premium version or a spin off app. Sometimes you can learn the most about what people want from this kind of direct feedback.
Like app store reviews, the more positive ratings and the higher the average rating or score, the better. That said, since it takes less effort to rate an app, the number of ratings is not as indicative of passion or engagement as reviews.
Of course, not all KPIs and metrics are created equal when it comes to measuring a mobile app’s success or placing a value on a given app.
So there are lots of key performance indicators that mobile app developers should consider at various points in the creation process; however, distilling all these apps into a coherent report or cohesive analysis – making them tell a story – is easier said than done.
About the author: Angela Zade handles content marketing at Evus Technologies, a startup studio based out of Las Vegas, US that specializes in creating indispensable enterprise and consumer apps for mobile devices.