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Best Ways to Measure Mobile App Success

Magdalena Brych

After creating an awesome mobile App, the next thing is to measure its performance. This comes after your app has been listed in app stores and is downloaded by the target audience. Even if the target audience responds positively, you still need to assess the App against the industrial standards of Key Performance Indicators. It is important as it helps you track the performance as well as continuously improve your app, hence generate more revenue.

This process starts by determining various KPIs and the metrics that are significant to your mobile app. Defining KPI involves stating what good performance means to you in relation to your app as well as find out how to measure the indicators along the way. The next step is tracking.

There are six categories of tracking the mobile app success:

  1. General Mobile App KPIs
  2. User Engagement KPIs
  3. Revenue Focused KPIs
  4. User Experience KPIs
  5. Marketing KPIS
  6. App store category ranking


While all six types are important, you first need to establish the most relevant KPIs in reference to your App and then focus on tracking them.

Below are top three indicators to look for in each category.


General Mobile App KPIs

Most people working in the app development or marketing team track these general mobile app KPIs. However, how much emphasis is put on each one depends on the App type hence it may vary from one app to another. These indicators are:

1. Mobile downloads

The most obvious measurement of success is the number of times an app has been downloaded, contrasted against a given period of time. For example, a million of users over two-year span since the app’s launch. This KPI measures the app’s popularity among its users.

The interpretation of the figures might vary from one app to another; for example, attracting a million users in the course of a year might be considered a success for one person but a slow adoption rate for another. Whichever the case, the number of mobile downloads will point you to the areas which need to be improved on, for example, your marketing skills.

2. Subscriptions

If one of the features you offer is content or upgrades subscription, then you should track the number of signups and unsubscribes. Unsubscribing helps you monitor the features to be updated or find out about errors that you have not noticed before. It tells how the users find the price/value ratio of the subscription You should also monitor the length of time it takes for a user to subscribe after installing your app.

3. Upgrades

If you offer basic and premium versions of your mobile app, then this KPI comes in handy. You need to track the number of people who use the premium version, what percentage of all users they constitute, how long it takes for users to upgrade as well as whether the paid versions get higher ratings than the basic ones.

This will help you valuate your app.

4. User growth rate

You need to know how your user base is growing, and whether it is a steady or a spiky growth. For example, does it spike during certain events i.e.updates or advertisements or is the growth slow but steady?


User Engagement KPIs

User Engagement

Another Key Performance Indicator involves measuring user engagement with the app. This requires answering questions such as when, how and where they engage with your mobile app and collect details about it.

1. Retention rate

This is the number of users that return to your app after a specified period of time. How long does it take for a user to come back to your app? The concept behind this is that if you create a ‘sticky’ or valuable app, people tend to come back to it.

The monitoring process might help create ideas on how to make money via the app. As a general formula, retention rate is calculated as follows:

Retention Rate = ((CECN) / CS)) X 100


CE = number of customers at the end of a period
CN = number of new customers acquired during a given period
CS = number of customers at the beginning of a period

2. Sessions (App Open Rate)

This is the number of times a user interacts with the app or, to be more precise, opens the app. It indicates the popularity of an app as well as its “stickiness”. 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. It is, therefore, important to pre-define what a session means for your app.

3. Daily Active Users (DAU)

One of the ways to predict future growth for an app, is to calculate the number of Daily Active Users within a period of time. DAU is an user who created an account and logged in for any interaction. Web and mobile app businesses typically consider DAU as their primary measure of growth or engagement

4. Churn Rate

Despite its negative effect, measuring the rate at which users unsubscribe or uninstall your app will help you improve your app. The most common reasons might be the lack of updates or new content, crash issues as well as general functionality problems. Finding out at what point a user has unsubscribed or uninstalled your app might give you an idea how to make your app better.


Revenue Focused KPIs

An app is not only built with  the user in mind, but it is also built with money in mind. Therefore, you can measure how your app generates money in the following ways:

1. Average  Revenue per User (ARPU)

There are very many forms of monetization such as paid downloads, ad impressions or clicks, in-app purchases as well as subscriptions. The average amount of money or value generated per user multiplied by the size of the user base, could give you a rough idea of your app’s monetary value.

2. Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC)

Customers come at a cost. This might be the cost of advertising, devoted time as well as other resources. The costs can be determined by dividing the gross revenue by the cost of advertisement and other related costs.

3. Customer Lifetime Value (CLC)

This measures the net profit  customers generate over time, which includes customers in and on the app in ratio to the cost of acquiring them. The most successful apps tend to have a higher CLC to CAC ratio.

A general formula for calculating CLC is as follows:

Avg value of a Conversion X Avg # of Conversions in a Time Frame X Avg Customer Lifetime

4. Return on Investment (ROI)

When you spend money and other resources on the app (e.g. marketing the app through advertisement) you expect to make profits out of it. Therefore, return on investment is measured by dividing the number of gains in customers or revenue that you have generated by how much you have spent on marketing, including the time spent or any other expenses incurred.

In simple terms:

(Gain from InvestmentCost of Investment) / Cost of Investment


User Experience KPIs

No matter how good you think your app is, the experience of the user wraps it all up. It is good to remember that you do not create the app for yourself but for other people. Therefore, you should track and measure user experience in order to know the areas that require improvement.

This can be done by measuring the following elements:

1. Load time

Isn’t it annoying when you wait for an app to load? The amount of time it takes for your app to load from the time a user taps your app to the time it becomes active is key. Some people uninstall an app not because it lacks the features they need, but because of the  time it takes to load.

This includes the transition times from one activity to another within your app. Aim at making the loading time low and hence a faster app.

2. Devices

How does your user access your app? Which devices do they use: phones, tablets or laptops? Knowing which  devices your users use to access the app will help you target and improve on the app’s performance.

3. OS

Your app should be able to work both on Android and IOS. However, if either of them has high crash rate once your app is installed or high uninstallation rate, then you should look into the reasons behind the situation as well as work on a remedy for it.

If your app also tends to attract users from one side of the realm, then you should still investigate why this is so.


Mobile App Marketing KPIs

 Mobile App Marketing

There are many effective ways to market your app. Measuring how effective a chosen method is, will help you establish the driving force for the downloads and in result focus on it and maybe get rid of the ones that do not bring in more users.

You can, therefore, monitor your app store analytics. Some of the best KPIs in this area include:

1. Install Source (Attribution)

Where did your users find your app in order to install it? This knowledge is essential and can become a driving force for your campaign. Which sources attract more users to download your app?

Which sources have better performance and which poor? Are they paid or organic? Such information will  allow you to focus on the right marketing strategies.

2. Channel Breakdown

Channel Breakdown involves details concerning the type of channels your users use to arrive to your app. It involves analyzing their behavior once they start using your app. How do users from a certain channel behave once they arrive to your app? How does it differ from users who came through another channel?

3. Geometrics

Although geo-metrics is most often ignored, it is important to know your user’s location. It affects the revenues collected from different locations. Analyzing the users’ behavior patterns from the different locations will help you understand and specifically focus your marketing efforts. You will also know which areas are saturated and are in need of more marketing.

4. Demographics

Do you know the gender of your target audience? What is their ethnicity and age? By comparing such information to the actual demographics of your users will help you analyze the success of your app. If your app was initially targeted for men and you find that a higher percentage of users are female, then it shows that you should re-evaluate your app.


App Store Category Ranking

Generally, the higher your rankings in the app store, the better your performance. You should make an effort to monitor and analyze your rankings in the app store over time. Bear in mind that the app store category ranking is directly affected by the following elements:

1. Keywords

Tracing the user funnel from the keywords they have typed while searching your app before arriving  and downloading your app will shed light into which phrases generate revenue and which don’t.

The process might even give an idea on which features to update. For example, if someone searched for ‘voice book reader’ then you might provide an update to include voice recognition in your app.

2. Reviews

A customer who takes time to write a review about your app, no matter how long or short it may be, is a sign of being engaged with your app. Take note of the number of reviews your app has received. Take note what the users are saying, compliments make you feel good about your app also take notice of the complaints as they may be more informative.

Both complaints and positive criticism are a key to knowing what to improve or what to include in your app. It will help you get to know the users’ needs. What is more it is important  not to get discouraged by the extremely negative reviews. For example ‘very useless app.’ with no further comment.

3. Ratings

Just like reviews, the more the ratings you have, the better. However, ratings take less time and effort to fill in, hence it does not necessarily show engagement of the user as far as your app goes.

Sometimes people who rate also write a review. Therefore, it is advisable to check the reviews after the ratings. You might find reasons to introduce premium versions of the app if the ratings are positive, or find a way to bridge the gap if the ratings are poor.


Measuring mobile App success can be done in various ways as discussed above. However, sticking to those key performance indicators, which are in line with the nature of your mobile app, will give you trustworthy base for your app optimization and growth plans.


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