21 essential mobile metrics for measuring success

A mobile app is just like planning a wedding. If you want it to succeed, you need hard work and dedication, coupled with plenty of love and an eye for detail.

There are so many facets of an app that need to be managed in order to consider it a success. And as business management writer Peter Drucker once said — “What gets measured, gets managed”, it is important to measure all the facets you want to manage.

An app can have many key performance indicators (KPI) that need tracking. Depending what it’s for, who it’s for and how it operates, app pros can focus on different ones. In this article we’ll cover the essential ones. Whatever you do, here are 21 mobile metrics you absolutely must measure:


Everything needs a solid foundation to be built upon, including measuring your app’s progress. In this case, that foundation is the number of downloads. However, this KPI is not a definitive measure of success. You might have millions of downloads thanks to an awesome marketing campaign, but those users might hate the app and uninstall it right away. Still, download numbers are an important metric and should be tracked.

2. Installations

Don’t get confused — downloads and installations are not the same thing. Looking for discrepancies between the two can uncover errors in the installation process, on different devices or operating systems

3. Uninstallations

Tracking uninstalls is also an important mobile KPI. This is especially true if the uninstalling can be brought to correlation with a recent patch, update or feature.

4. Conversions

Depending on the type of app, conversions can be anything from users creating an account within the app, to making a purchase. It is an important KPI because it means this group is willing to give up some of their private information (for example, an email address or birthdate), and is more inclined to becoming long-term users.

5. Churn Rate

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Churn is an essential KPI. It means tracking active users that decide to unsubscribe or uninstall the app. The lower the churn rate, the better. A higher churn rate, on the other hand, could be an indicator of issues in the UX or UI, or could be the users’ response to infrequent patches or updates.

6. User Growth Rate

This one might sound obvious at first, but there are a few important pointers to keep in mind. Undoubtedly, it is important to have a steady growth rate. But you should also keep in mind *why* your app is growing. Was it a newly implemented feature that got users rolling? Or a tweaked marketing campaign? Always keep in mind the reasons behind the app’s growth rate.

7. Crashes

It’s 2017, and it has been some time since users stopped tolerating crashes. If your app crashed once, it will most likely just get one more chance before being abandoned and uninstalled. Make sure to track how often your app crashes, how many times a day it crashes on users, how many users are affected by your app’s crashes and what were your users doing when the crash occurred.

You can use qualitative analytics tools, like Appsee’s user session recordings, to get to the bottom of your app’s crashings.

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8. Unresponsive Gestures

If your users are performing certain gestures within the app, like swiping, or double tapping, and your app is not responding to them, that could be a major issue.

Unresponsive gestures usually occur due to poor UI design or bugs, and could hurt both your app’s and your company’s image. Qualitative analytics tools, like touch heatmaps, allow you to track this KPI and remove any issues before they escalate.

9. App Load Time

There’s a reason why flagship phones always come with faster processors and more RAM — mobile users love speed. They want their mobile experience to be fast and smooth, and if your app can’t provide — it will be replaced.

That’s why it is essential to track your app’s load time. That includes how long it takes the app to load from the moment users tap on its icon, to the moment it’s ready to be used, or how long it takes the app to transition from one page to another.

10. Retention Rate

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Are your users coming back to your app, or does the app get sent to happy hunting grounds after just one use? If your users are coming back, that means the app offers something of value and it can retain them.

If we had to choose between all the KPIs mentioned here, retention rate is one of the most important ones. Make sure to track your retention rates, especially after patching or implementing new features.

11. Session Length, Intervals

Number of sessions, their length and intervals are all important metrics for mobile app professionals. However, not all apps should strive for the same numbers. For apps like Evernote, having long sessions is not necessary, but having a higher frequency is.

For accommodation and booking apps, a higher frequency might not be something to strive to, but having longer sessions probably is. Identify what your ideal sessions look like, then start measuring.

12. Daily Active Users/Monthly Active Users

Another important metric which is not a one-size-fits-all. It tracks the number of the app’s daily active users, or monthly. Depending on the type of app, one might be more important than the other. For messaging or social media apps, like Facebook or Snapchat, having a high number of daily active users is important. Apps selling flight tickets will focus more on monthly active users.

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13. Devices

This one is easy to track but can give you important information about your users. Information like device type (smartphone or tablet), or operating system (Android or iOS) can help you tweak your app’s performance. For example, learning about the most common screen size can help you improve your app’s UI.

14. Permissions

Keeping tabs on the level of permissions approved by the users can tell you plenty about engagement and the overall user experience. Users that allow services like push notifications or features like the camera are usually more engaged with the app and more easily retained.

15. Average Screens per Visit

How many screens to users usually open when they use your app? One? Five? A dozen? This is an important KPI for a number of different reasons, for example user engagement, or navigation trends. If your pages are monetized, it can help you track earnings. Essentially, you will want to have as higher numbers as possible here.

16. Screens with Longest/Shortest Duration

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This KPI can help you uncover which app features are simply rocking it, and which are completely useless and / or forgotten. Also, it can help uncover bugs and errors in the app.

For example, if users start leaving a page much faster than they usually do, that might be a sign of a broken feature. Use session recording tools to investigate and fix the issue.

17. Social Shares

Ah, the famed and dreaded word of mouth. It can turn your app into a superstar, or kill it literally overnight. Any self-respecting app professional will keep both eyes open on social shares. Not just their amount, mind you, but also their content.

Are people using in-app social sharing features? How? Are they viewing the app in a positive light, or are they mocking it? Perhaps they’re complaining to their friends about a broken feature? Or praising one? This information can help you tailor future development strategies.

18. Conversion Funnel Drop-offs

Conversion funnels are the chain of events leading to a specific action of your choosing. That action can be anything, from creating an account to making a purchase. This chain of events can and must be tracked. If users start dropping off in the middle of a conversion funnel, you will want to know why. Using qualitative analytics tools like user session recordings is quite helpful here.

19. Revenue and Lifetime Value

If your app has any type of monetization (and chances are, it does), it should be tracked. There are multiple ways users can generate revenue, including in-app purchases or ad impressions, or ad clicks. Also make sure to keep track of your users’ lifetime value (LTV) — the total amount of revenue they’ve generated since first using the app.

20. Numbers of Items in Shopping Cart

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There is a significant difference between placing items in shopping carts, and actually buying things. Mobile shopping cart abandonment is at an all-time high, and it is also an important KPI that needs to be measured.

It is a good indicator of intent, but also a signal that something’s not right.

21. Screen Quit Rate

This is an important metric, regardless of the type of app on offer. It is vital to track if users are quitting a particular app screen more than others, and if so — why? Perhaps they hit a dead end, instead of an empty state?

Perhaps the app’s UI is flawed, or a broken feature is forcing them away? There can be many of these tiny nuisances in an app, that frequently fly under the app pros’ radar, but hurt the UX, badly. When an unusually high screen quit rate is detected, qualitative analytics tools like user session recordings can uncover why it is happening.

Final Thoughts

The success of an app depends heavily on its creators’ ability to monitor and optimize it. Being able to properly identify which key performance indicators to track, and understanding how those KPI affect the growth of an app are paramount.

The essential KPIs listed here will give you a solid foundation to help you expand your user-base and turn your app into a behemoth. If you want to learn more about which KPIs you should track according to a specific stage of your app, check out this free KPI Handbook.

This post was originally featured on Web Analytics World.

Qualitative app analytics lets you watch user session recordings and touch heatmaps for every screen, for a deep understanding of UX + user behavior. Appsee.com