We live in an increasingly data-driven world, and that’s no less true in the mobile industry. App metrics have become absolutely vital to developers looking to understand their users better and improve their experience in the app.

From engagement metrics allowing developers to optimize app content and campaigns, to business metrics measuring revenue against UA costs, the challenge remains in understanding the power of app metrics to improve user acquisition.

A recent survey revealed that more than 90% of developers implement third party analytics within their app, but are still unsure how to leverage their app metrics correctly. Between industry jargon and all the different formulas, too many developers are simply at a loss of what to do with all the collected data.

In an attempt to help you understand the power of app metrics, and to an extent, mobile game KPIs, we’ve compiled a glossary of the many different app metrics.

User & usage metrics

User metrics shed light on how large your user base is and illustrate what kind of users your app appeals to, i.e. users segmented by demographic, geo, or device. Developers can use this information to optimize and localize their app for a better user experience.

Daily active users (DAU): This metric reflects the total amount of users that visit your app on a daily basis. This gives you insights on how immersed users are within your app, and is a measure of your app’s success.

Monthly active users (MAU): This metric is similar to the above - it reflects the total amount of users visiting your app on a monthly basis. This will help you understand your app’s popularity (increasing, stagnant or decreasing).

Device/OS: Mobile apps are deployed on so many different devices. It’s important for you to identify which device,operating system (OS) and OS version (iOS 7.x, iOS 8, …) your loyal user base is coming from, so you can optimize your app for those specific platforms.

Geo segmentation: This metric will tell you where your users are located. This will help you localize your app, and identify issues more easily. (Before introducing your app to new geos, it is also highly recommended to check out your competitor’s traction in the local market. This will help you understand where it would be best to launch first.)

Engagement metrics

Engagement metrics provide valuable insights into user behavior and engagement. Understanding users’ interaction with your app is essential to improving its functionality, retaining a loyal user base, and optimizing your monetization strategy.

Average session duration: This measures how long your average user will spend on your app within one session. The more engaged your users are, the longer they will interact with your app.

Session interval: The time-span between one app session and the next. This metric shows how frequently your users engage with your app.

Retention rate: This metric is calculated by dividing the amount of Monthly Active Users with the Amount of Monthly Installs. This metric gives you an overview of how loyal your user base is over a longer period of time.

Churn rate: The churn rate is the opposite of the Retention Rate (RR), and references how many users uninstalled your app. You can easily calculate this by using this formula {1-RR%}. So if your app’s retention rate is 60% from one month to the next, the churn rate will amount to 40%.

App rating: One of the strongest engagement metrics is your app’s rating - i.e. the average rating your users grant your app - this metric references user satisfaction with your app. It’s prominently displayed on your app profile within the app marketplace and is a major incentive for users to install your app.

Business metrics

A vital part of your app’s success lies in its ability to generate revenue and remain ROI positive. Business metrics keep track of monetization and user acquisition strategies, helping developers make informed decisions as well as foresee any financial issues with their app.

eCPM: This is a revenue measurement every developer should be familiar with. It literally means “effective Cost Per Mille”, meaning your advertising revenue per 1K impressions. eCPM ultimately measures how well your ads are performing and how much revenue your app is amassing from them. Simply divide your total earnings by total impressions and multiply that number by 1,000. This metric is also very useful to predict future earnings. However, developers beware - eCPM neglects to account for fill rate.

Average revenue per user (ARPU): Not to be confused with LTV, this metric reflects the current average revenue derived from your user base. It is calculated by summing up your app’s total revenue, and dividing that number by active users. The higher the average, the more lucrative your user base is.

Lifetime value (LTV): This is your primary revenue assessment metric, defining the financial value of your app and each user’s net worth. It estimates the amount of revenue a user will contribute during their lifetime using your app. This metric varies from app type: for example a commerce app like Uber will calculate user LTV in terms of frequency of use or money spent on rides. LTV is probably the easiest way to quantify your app’s overall success. High LTV users = higher overall revenue. Tracking LTV is necessary in order to identify which user base your revenue is flowing from (existing or new users), foresee revenue fluctuation, and also ensure you make calculated decisions on acquisition spending.

Performance metrics

Performance Metrics provide valuable insights on the user’s experience within your app, tracking technical errors and failures. It’s critically important to understand these metrics since users won’t give your app the time of day if it keeps crashing, or loads really slowly.

Crash rate: The crash rate will show you the ratio of crashes versus the action performed, so you can pinpoint the problem within your app.  At first, all mobile apps crash. Developers need to stay on top of this technical failure to avoid disrupting the user’s experience and causing data loss. Some app intelligence solutions also provide deeper insights, such as how much a crash costs you, if they happen with app updates, etc.

API latency: Most apps use several APIs or services (for example mobile advertising networks.) API latency refers to the amount of time it takes for a response after your user makes a request or a transaction within your app. The rule of thumb is one second per request.

App loading: This metric measures how long different requests take to load in your app. For example, how long it takes for a game level to load or the amount of time it takes for a search to return results. Also known as app load per session/period.

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