If you are reading this blog, there is a pretty good chance you already know that user engagement is essential for long-term product success. The challenge at this point is not to convince you that measuring engagement is important, but to share a number of best practices for measuring user experience the right way. After all, if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.

‘User engagement’ can be compared to soccer in a number of ways. Everyone in the industry talks about it, but not everyone is good at improving it. In this article, we’ll share which tools and engagement metrics you can make use of when it comes to properly measuring and developing your mobile app’s UX and engagement levels.

What is User Engagement?

When it comes to mobile apps, the broadest possible definition of user engagement is, “users interacting with your app”. As a result, user engagement can be measured according to all kinds of different interaction qualities – how often users open your app, how long they stick with it, what they do when they’re using it, and whether or not they’re recommending it to their friends. Basically, if your users are engaged with your app in any way, this is user engagement.

Mobile App User Engagement

Today, user engagement is a critical area of focus for many. After all, monitoring vanity metrics like download numbers means nothing without the broader context – when is your mobile app being used, how long for and for what purpose? By measuring and understanding these kinds of engagement KPIs you can stop people from abandoning your app too soon, perfect your user’s onboarding experience, keep them coming for more, and most importantly, keep them satisfied.

Which User Engagement Metrics Should You Track?

If we count any interaction as user engagement, this could become overwhelming very quickly. We need some prioritization when it comes to understanding which engagement metrics we should be concentrating on.

Here are our top picks:

Engagement Metric 1: Daily App Launches

What is it? – An engagement metric showing how many times your app was opened in a single day

Why is it important? – It’s one thing to download an app, it’s another thing to keep using it every day. This metric shows your key users – ones which enjoy your app, keep coming back to your product, and how necessary they view it.

Engagement Metric 2: Daily App Users

What is it? – This engagement metric shows how many people opened up your app at least once in a day i.e. how many daily active users you have. It differs from daily app launches because it does not measure the frequency of app usage from a single person’s perspective. 

Why is it important? – It can show if your users are quickly losing interest in the app, and can point to possible problems in their user experience.

Engagement Metric 3: Session Duration

What is it? – Session duration shows how much time users spend in your app after opening it – you should set a benchmark session length and monitor the impact of any UX changes against this. 

Why is it important? – This is an important measure of user engagement and ease of use at the session level. A shorter session duration does not necessarily have to mean a bad app experience. If the user got what he or she was looking for in your app quickly, this could actually be a good thing. It is essential not to misinterpret this engagement metric – it all depends on your objectives.

Engagement Metric 4: Session Interval

What is it? – This metric measures how much time has passed between two sessions.

Why is it important? – This measure shows how frequently users engage with your app. If your audience is opening your app more frequently on the smartphone than on a tablet, this might mean it’s more useful for them while they’re on the go, and that you might need to improve the content that can be consumed at home. Vice-versa, it could also mean that the limited real-estate of the smartphone is hindering your user experience which is why they opt to use the app mostly on their tablet.

Engagement Metric 5: Retention Rate

What is it? – Arguably the most important metric you’ll ever find for understanding user engagement over the long-term.  Your retention rate provides an overall summary of how many users are coming back to your app or not.

Why is it important? – This metric helps you gauge whether your user retention is improving or weakening over time, or whether they’re trailing off after the onboarding experience and first times of use. This metric is also great for comparing user engagement across devices and different versions of your app. 

Engagement Metric 6: User Acquisition

What is it? – User acquisition is the process of turning potential users into actual users. Whenever someone new installs and uses a new app, he or she is considered an acquired user.

Why is it important? – Users are the base, the foundation of your app. Without users, your app is completely invisible, it doesn’t exist. This metric will ultimately impact your overall user engagement. 

Engagement Metric 7: Number of Screens per Session

What is it? – Do your users open your app then close it immediately or do they scroll through it, opening different parts of it consecutively? That is what this metric is monitoring.

Why is it important? – Knowing what users are doing within your app, which screens they’re opening, and how they’re using them can be vital for detecting user experience issues, or interface problems. It will also show you if some parts of your app are doing better than others, allowing you to focus your development efforts correctly.

Engagement Metric 8: Screens with the Longest & Shortest Visit Duration

What is it? – This metric is an extension of the ‘number of screens per session’ one. It goes into more detail about each screen and gives valuable information about the least and most popular parts of your app.

Why is it important? – If some features of your app aren’t doing great, you can use this insight to improve it, or remove it altogether, focusing all your resources on what your mobile app users find helpful.

Engagement Metric 9: Screens with the Most User Interactions

What is it? – It shows on which screens people have most taps, swipes, flicks, drags, and so on.

Why is it important? This is a great metric to understand how users are navigating through your app, and that can be crucial to spotting trouble areas. This information can be vital to planning future versions and helping you bring back users that had given up on your app.

Engagement Metric 10: No. of In-App Events

What is it? – In-app events are all the things users can do when they engage with your app. There are countless events, depending on the type of the app. For example, a shopping app could have events such as registration, logging in, going to checkout, adding to wishlist, adding payment info, purchasing something. A mobile game can have events such as completing a level, buying an in-game item, or creating a new character.

Why is it important? – There are two important things you can learn from monitoring in-app events. Firstly, you can understand how your audience behaves, helping you transform and optimize user experience. Second, you can create your marketing strategies around this information, to boost user acquisition and retention rates.

Engagement Metric 11: Lifetime Value

What is it? – Lifetime value, or LTV, is primarily a revenue metric, showing how much the users of your app are worth – moneywise. In other words, how much revenue they generated. There are different ways to track your app customers’ LTV, including monthly value, revenue per customer, or value per customer.

Why is it important? – With LTV, you can understand your app’s revenue, user engagement, user retention and how many customers are actively engaged with your app. It offers invaluable insight into what you need to do to optimize your marketing strategies.

How to Measure User Engagement

When you have a diverse user base, which is usually the case with mobile apps, the best way to monitor these KPIs is through cohort analysis and by performing user queries to slice and dice your users’ attributes in relevant ways. A cohort is, according to Adeven’s Simon Kendall, “a group of users who share some common criteria”.

There are three main tools you should focus on to achieve a greater understanding of your users (all available through Appsee): Action Cohorts with User Analytics, Conversion Funnels, and Retention Analytics.

User Engagement Tool 1: Action Cohorts with User Analytics

What is it? – It’s one thing for people to come to your app, it’s completely different to understand what they’re doing there. In analytics, action cohorts and user analytics allow you to create groups of users based on what they do in your app within a specific time frame and according to specific common attributes. Tools like these can help you to understand trends among users behavior and engagement over time. With Appsee’s action cohorts you can group users who perform certain tasks, like in-app purchases, and with our user query builder, you can drill down into the history of engagement for particular users of interest.

Why is it important? – Action cohorts and user analytics will help you to understand what your users need, what they expect from the app, and what you need to do to keep them coming back for more. Together, these analytical tools will help you to optimize your app and prepare for future updates.

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Example of action cohorts for recurring purchases.

User Engagement Tool 2: Conversion Funnels

What is it? – A conversion funnel visualizes the entire process your app users go through, from the very first moment they encounter the app, to the moment they make an in-app purchase or complete another important conversion step.

Why is it important? – Analyzing conversion funnels enables you to spot issues in the user experience and user engagement. When part of a qualitative analytics platform, conversion funnels also allows you to zoom in on specific sessions of users who dropped from your funnels.

If an app is a social media platform, a forum, or another similar format, the conversion funnel can help you to understand why your users had failed to complete the registration form. If you’re offering an m-commerce solution, it can help to clarify why they are abandoning the shopping cart. If you are offering a mobile gaming app – you could use the conversion funnel to investigate why users are failing to complete a certain level or a specific boss fight. Appsee allows you to create ad-hoc funnels after releasing the app, without having to re-submit it. Conversion funnels, especially when paired with session recordings, can help you to identify friction points in critical user processes, optimize accurately and increase user engagement overall.

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Example of a conversion funnel with Appsee.

User Engagement Tool 3: Retention Analytics

What is it? – Retentionrevolves around users that began using your app within a predefined time frame. Appsee presents this data through cohort analysis, grouping users who started using the app at a specific point in time.

Why is it important? – Retention analytics can help you to understand how inclined users are to return and how many never do. It gives valuable insights into how long it takes for people to return to your app, average session intervals, and numbers of overall sessions.

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Example of retention cohorts with Appsee 

In Summary: Don’t Measure Twice, Cut Once

‘Measure twice, cut once’ as an old proverb goes. Back in the day, this meant that you should prepare thoroughly before actually going ahead with a particular action. Obviously, this is relevant for app building, but with one big difference – cutting once, and measuring twice will not suffice here. When it comes to building a successful mobile app, a more precise proverb would be ‘measure all the time, and keep measuring until the end of days’. Also, ‘cut’ whenever you have the chance. Most successful apps cut frequently.

Want to improve your user engagement tracking? You can grab a free trial with Appsee and within a few minutes start playing around with our user behavior tools.

Further reading: Learn more about the leading app analytics platforms in 2019-2020 and what makes them great. Read more here. 

User Engagement Analytics

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