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Five metrics for businesses to effectively measure and build on their app’s success


Evidently inspired by the booming trend created by Pokémon GO, McDonald’s Australia have launched their own VR app to coincide with the launch of their current Monopoly Game. The app turns the company’s in-store promotion into a mobile gaming experience that converges the digital and physical worlds.

However, riding on the coattails of someone else’s success doesn’t automatically make your app a smash hit. As more and more businesses realise the power of effective mobile strategies to increase customer engagement and brand interaction, there is a  greater need for meaningful metrics to prove an app’s worth to investors, and to drive further loyalty and growth.

Insights drawn from the following five metric categories provide a valuable perspective on how data can inform the best app decisions for your business:

1. Acquisition Metrics

Acquisitions represent the amount of people who have downloaded and installed your app. They’re important because they show whether your user base is growing and where your users are coming from. From this metric, you can discern:

  • Which channels new acquisitions are coming from;
  • What percentage of downloads have turned into opens;
  • Cost per acquisition;
  • App store ratings and reviews; and
  • Your conversion rate of app store traffic to downloads.

While these insights will help guide future strategy, budget allocations, and ad network targeting, it’s important to recognise that acquisition metrics, like number of downloads, are vanity metrics. They aren’t indicative of how big your app userbase actually is because many people downloading your app many not be using it at all.

The real value of acquisition metrics is in analysing how your acquisition campaigns are performing. That means already having metrics in place before your launch, to measure against post-launch.

2. Engagement Metrics

Engagement metrics show if your users are getting value from your app and vice versa. From these, you can find out:

  • Average session times;
  • Sessions by key demographics; and
  • The frequency of app launches and session intervals between launches.

The real value in engagement metrics is they reveal the characteristics of your most engaged and frequent users – i.e. those completing long sessions and interacting in ways that unlock revenue potential. For example, if your sales cycle takes five minutes to complete and the average session time is four minutes, you either need to make the sales cycle shorter or optimise certain steps to push customers further along.

3. Behaviour Metrics

Behaviour metrics are an effective way of understanding what people are actually doing in your app, and can show:

  • What screens they spend the most and least time on, what buttons they’re clicking on, what features they’re not using;
  • What percentage of people completed a desired event or action;
  • The percentage of push notifications/in-app messages opened; and
  • What kind of in-app events are attributed to that push.

These insights can help improve user experience in future app updates. A/B testing different copy, timing and offers is also a great way to determine how to better attract customers and optimise the product to meet their expectations.

4. Funnels/Flow Metrics

As a subset of behaviour metrics, funnel metrics show how users flow through your app. During development, map out at least one funnel that specifies the steps users should ideally move though to finish a certain event. Explicitly outlining these steps breaks down in-app events and improves the chances of reaching conversion goals. Using data findings, such as what percentage of people entered the funnel, completed the final conversion step, or completed each individual step, will highlight where the user experience can be further optimised to push more customers through the funnel.

5. Retention Metrics

Retention is measured as the percentage of people who return to your app after their first visit. Average retention for most apps is pretty bleak. According to a recent study by The Leading Edge, an app needs to prove its value within the first ten seconds of being downloaded, or it runs the risk of being deleted immediately. How can you defy those stats? Start by analysing:

  • Your average user lifetime;
  • The difference in retention based on device, segment and campaign; and
  • Your average customer lifetime value in dollar terms.

Tracking retention by different groups will unveil why some people stay and others leave. Retention is also one of the most important metrics to measure as you release updates. If you see retention decrease at this stage, it means the update wasn’t well received by loyal users.

App analytics doesn’t have to be overwhelming. The trick is not to get bogged down in analysis paralysis over thousands of numbers that don’t 1) Uncover new insights or 2) Drive future action. By identifying metrics that are valuable for your app, monitoring them as you make changes to app functions and marketing, and optimising accordingly, you’ll see phenomenal success.

About the author

LoganLogan Merrick is  co-founder and director of Buzinga App Development, an Australian app development and innovation consultancy. Alongside Buzinga co-founder, Graham McCorkill, Logan has led the company from a two-man startup to an award-winning business in just three years. He previously wrote Content marketing and remarketing: two useful processes, demystified for start-ups for Dynamic Business.