App Engagement: Engagement Metrics and Some Industry Stats


When talking about app optimization, we often hear mobile experts talk about “engagement.” But what exactly is engagement? How do most app managers define engagement and what are some ways to improve engagement? In this post, I’ll go through some of the most common metrics that app managers use to define engagement and some industry statistics that will show you just how important engagement is. Come back for part II of this topic which will talk about A/B testing ideas to improve engagement.

Defining App Engagement

Generally, engagement refers to a set of metrics that track how much users are actually interacting with your app. We all track monthly active users (MAUs), but any experienced app manager knows that MAUs can be really misleading and doesn’t offer actionable insights by itself. Tracking user engagement in addition to MAUs can give you deeper insights on how many people are actually using your app and how deeply.

We’ve found that everyone defines engagement a little differently based on the function of the app and types of users, but here are a few of the most common metrics by which to measure user engagement:

  1. DAUs/MAUs (ratio of daily active users to monthly active users) – What percentage of your users are visiting every day? You can also break this down and see what percentage of your users are visiting 8 times a month, 4 times a month, etc.
  2. Average visits per month – How often does each user open the app? Some app managers look at the inverse of this which is visit interval or what is the average time between visits. You can look at it either way. The insight is similar.
  3. Time in app – How long is the duration of each visit?
  4. Screen views – How many screens is each user visiting?
  5. Retention – What percent of new installs are visiting the next day, the day after that, the day after that, etc.? The most common metric for this is 30/60/90 day retention (how many users are still visiting 30, 60, and 90 days after the first install).

There is also a sixth metric that is kind of an engagement metric. This is the conversion rate between engagement and revenue. Not every app has the goal of generating revenue (e.g. retail companion apps that drive in-store or online purchases, branding apps, social/messaging apps that are not yet monetized, etc.). If revenue is a goal, it’s always good to look at how each engagement metric correlates to revenue. You can also use engagement metrics to create user segments to find relationships between different levels of engagement to different levels of purchase. For example, you can run an analysis between number of visits per month and number of app purchases. You might find that purchases go up if a user visits more than 4 times a month. With this information, you can try to increase purchase by finding ways to get more users to be weekly users.

Stats and graphs!

32 is the average number of apps installed per US device according to a Statista study done in 2013, although Nielsen reported 41 in 2012 (these studies are not related so don’t take this as trend data).

26% of apps are opened just once according to Localytics in 2011. Similarly, Compuware found in 2012 that 79% self reportedly say they’ll try an app again if it doesn’t work the first time, but only 16% would give it more than 2 tries.

26% is also the percent of apps that used a lot according to a different Localytics study.

Localytics app analytics - engagement rates

10% – 60% is the average retention rate after one month by app category according to Mixpanel.

Flurry also has a great chart on 90 day retention and use frequency by category from 2012.

QuadrantChart EngagementRetentionStats ByCategory resized 600


The app marketplace is crowded. User attention spans are low but really not that low if you think about it. People won’t tolerate a bad experience because there are so many great apps out there, but if your app is good, users are willing to engage.

So the question is how to improve engagement for your app. Stay tuned for Part II for some A/B testing ideas.

About Apptimize

Apptimize is an innovation engine that provides A/B testing and feature release management for native mobile, web, mobile web, hybrid mobile, OTT, and server. Industry leaders like HotelTonight, The Wall Street Journal, and Glassdoor have created amazing user experiences with Apptimize.

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