Launching a mobile app is like building a new relationship with your audience. As with any new relationship, you’ll want to get a sense of how things are going. If you want your app to be a success, you need to understand the appropriate metrics in order to optimize and iterate your app to your target goals. The following terms represent the fundamental mobile app analytics that will help you measure the impact of the hard work you put in to developing your brand.

Downloads

Tracking downloads is essential to creating better engagement, like segmenting audiences, tracking specific behavior and launching successful app marketing campaigns. Google Analytics measures downloads by the number of users that install your app and initiate their first launch in a given time period. By knowing your download numbers and seeing how they trend over time, you’ll be able to measure the success of your various marketing efforts.

Sessions

A session is defined as when a user launches and subsequently closes out your app, which counts as one session. It’s the foundation metric underlying usage data, and helps to identify the steps a user takes while interacting with your app. Sessions are critical to analyzing and improving app value.

Session Duration

This measures the time each user spends in your app from open to close. In general, the more engaged the user is, the longer their session will be, but keep in mind that optimal session length will vary depending on the kind of app and functionality you provide. For example, users typically spend more time in a gaming app than they would in a retail app.

Active Users

While measuring downloads is important, the active user metric is an important indication of those that are actively engaging with your app over a certain time period. To determine this metric, a unique identifier is associated with each device that opens your app. Active users can be further segmented by:

Daily Active Users (DAU)

Users that open your app at least once daily.

Monthly Active Users (MAU)

Users who have at least one session in a 30-day period.

You can learn even more about your user base when observing the ratio of DAU to MAU:
Daily Active Users / Monthly Active Users = Stickiness Ratio
Your “stickiness” ratio measures the percentage of your monthly actives that come back on a daily basis. For example, a ratio of .5, or 50%, would mean that the average user of your app is using it 15 out of 30 days that month.

It’s important to analyze this cohort of your most engaged users and their behavior in your app so that you can create a more engaging experience and convert more users into active users.
Keep in mind that your Active Users number should be higher than your Downloads metric, indicating that there are users returning to your app, rather than abandoning it after first launch.

Events

An event is used to measure how often a user takes action on a certain piece of content within your app. More specific than what screens a user is looking at, it’s typically defined by some kind of interaction, like pressing a certain button, making a purchase, reaching a certain checkpoint in a game, or sharing a piece of content.

Screen Views

This metric looks at the total number of screens your users have viewed in your app. Measuring screen views allows you to see which content is being viewed most by your users, and how they are navigating between different pieces of content. Average Screen Views per Session is another useful metric to take note of, and will give you an idea of how many screens your user engages with in a typical session.

Retention

This is a measure of the percentage of users that return to your app after a specific time period. Measure your retention rate over a series of days, weeks, and months, and take note of losses or gains that could be attributed to any marketing efforts, known issues, or other circumstances. Conversely, retention allows you to see the other side of users who choose to abandon your app, known as Churn Rate. User churn is an important metric to measure and be aware of. Understanding what point in the user life cycle leads to churn will allow you to make progress at those points, with things like personalized messages, a better onboarding process, or overall improvement in long-term value.