10 Key Mobile App User Engagement Metrics You Must Measure

Sakshi Gupta
April 23, 2024
19 mins


Whether a newly launched or legacy mobile app – every product manager keeps a keen eye on mobile app user engagement metrics. 

Successful mobile app owners and product managers know that the key to better business outcomes is an engaged user.

Let’s say, you run a fitness mobile app that helps its users track their workouts, set goals, and stay motivated on their fitness journey.

Even if the initial downloads might be promising, the true measure of success lies in how actively engaged your users are with the mobile app. Do they consistently log their workouts? Do they interact with other features like meal planning or progress tracking?

The answer to these questions lies in measuring mobile app user engagement. In this guide, we help you understand key engagement metrics for mobile apps that you must design and track to achieve product success.

What is user engagement in mobile apps?

User engagement is an important product management metric that helps you determine how deeply your users interact and use your mobile app. It goes beyond mere downloads or installations – wherein, it focuses instead on the frequency, duration, and quality of interactions within the mobile app.

For example, mobile gaming apps often offer in-app purchases for virtual currency, power-ups, or additional content.

Now, a user who is regularly playing the game has more chances of making paid purchases. To identify such users who demonstrate a strong commitment to the game, you need to design user engagement metrics. When you do so, you can run separate campaigns and user experience flows that would help them convert into paid game players, thus, improving your mobile app’s revenue stream.

Let us understand in the next section some popular mobile app user engagement metrics you can focus on to track.

10 metrics for mobile app user engagement

Here, we cover the 10 most important user engagement metrics you should consider measuring for your mobile app:

1. Daily/Weekly/Monthly Active Users

Active users quantify the number of unique users who engage with your mobile app within a specific period. Daily active users (DAU) and monthly active users (MAU) are the most popular periods used for the calculation of active users. You can also calculate them weekly.

By knowing this data, you can gain insight into the app's periodic usage patterns and the frequency of user interactions.

This metric is key for B2C apps like a social media platform and often decides how successful they are based on DAU/MAU numbers. Let’s take the example of Instagram to understand more.

On a typical day, Instagram records 2 billion MAU, indicating that 2 billion unique users actively use the app monthly. Users engage with the app by scrolling through their feeds, liking posts, commenting, and sharing content.

How to measure active users?

You can use user analytics tools to track active users in real time and decide a timeframe and frequency of unique visits as per your product goals.

  1. Define what is an ‘active user’ as per your product. For example, for a social media app like TikTok, an active user could mean opening an app to scroll, like, share, or create short videos.
  2. Determine the period of calculating active users. It could be daily, weekly, monthly, or any other custom period.
  3. Use data from your analytics tool and sum it up for the chosen period. This is often readily available on product analytics tools like Google Analytics, Datdog, Plausible, etc.

When to use active users as a mobile app user engagement metric?

  1. Identify trends: by monitoring DAU over time, businesses can identify trends, such as peak usage hours or seasonal fluctuations, and tailor their user engagement strategies accordingly.
  2. Measure the impact of app updates: if you are planning to release an update or new feature, track active users before and after implementing them to understand their effectiveness in driving user engagement and retention.
  3. Find ways to improve user engagement: it will nudge your product teams to design features and functionalities that encourage habitual usage and provide value to users regularly.

Limitations of active users as a user engagement metric:

Active users do not consider the quality of users who are using the app. It also lacks any insight into the depth of the usage – how many of these active users are truly monetizable?

There is also an element of seasonal variation, like, some days may have more users due to holidays which can give an incorrect picture of usage patterns. Also, the identification of unique users can be challenging, especially in cases where users switch devices or use multiple accounts.

2. Cost per acquisition

Cost per acquisition means the marketing or advertising amount spent in acquiring a new user for your mobile app. It’s a useful and critical metric for evaluating the efficiency and effectiveness of user acquisition campaigns and assessing the return on investment (ROI) for marketing efforts. You can also compare your app’s CAC with industry benchmarks, thus helping you align your marketing strategy and control costs.

How to measure cost per acquisition?

CAC = total marketing and advertising spend / total users acquired using that amount

For example, consider a note-taking mobile app that uses Twitter (or X) ads for new downloads. The total cost of the campaign, including ad spending and campaign management fees, is $1,000. During the campaign period, the app acquires 200 new users. To calculate the CPA, divide the total cost ($1,000) by the number of new users (200), resulting in a CPA of $5 per user.

When to use cost per acquisition as a mobile app user engagement metric?

  1. Control marketing spend: CAC helps identify the most cost-effective marketing channels and campaigns for acquiring new users for your mobile app.
  2. Budget allocation: CAN helps evaluate the potential return on investment (ROI) of different marketing channels and optimize the budget as per business goals.
  3. Stop underperforming campaigns: by analyzing CPA data, businesses can identify underperforming campaigns or channels and make adjustments to targeting, messaging, or creative assets.

Limitations of CAC as a user engagement metric:

CPA primarily measures the cost of acquiring new users for the app – there is no inclusion of user retention or long-term engagement. Thus, CPA alone may not provide a comprehensive view of user engagement beyond the initial acquisition stage.

Another important point is – CAC is dependent on external factors like market trends, competition, and changes in advertising platforms' algorithms or policies. This volatility can make it challenging to establish consistent benchmarks or assess the true effectiveness of user acquisition efforts over time.

3. Lifetime value (LTV)

Lifetime value (LTV) refers to the total revenue or value that a user generates for a business over the entire duration of their relationship with the company. When it comes to mobile apps, you will consider the duration starting when they downloaded the app until getting churned.

LTV is a great metric to identify high-quality app users who are truly generating revenues for your business. You can understand their behavior and design strategies to nurture the same in other users who have low LTV.

For example – suppose a meditation app generates revenue primarily through in-app purchases and upsells of premium features. A user downloads the app, subscribes to it for months, or makes several purchases over a year, and then stops using the app. The total revenue generated by this user during their tenure with the app represents their lifetime value to the company.

How to measure lifetime value for mobile apps?

There are two formulas to calculate customer lifetime value:

LTV = Number of repeat sales * Average order value * Average retention time 


LTV = lifetime of customer * Average monthly revenue per customer

For example, if your average order value is $100 and a customer makes 5 purchases in 2 years, then LTV = 100*5*2 = $1000

When to use lifetime value as a mobile app user engagement metric?

  1. Optimize marketing: LTV provides valuable insights for making strategic decisions regarding user acquisition, retention, and monetization strategies.
  2. Evaluate marketing performance: your LTV should be higher than the customer acquisition cost (CAC). Thus, knowing LTV helps evaluate how effective your acquisition efforts are.
  3. Monetize: LTV helps identify opportunities to increase revenue per user and maximize overall lifetime value through targeted pricing and promotions.

Limitations of lifetime value as a user engagement metric:

LTV does not consider external factors such as market dynamics, competition, and economic conditions that can influence user behavior and revenue generation (like the COVID-19 case in 2019).

4. Churn rate

The churn rate measures the percentage of users who stop using your mobile app within a specific period. Knowing this metric helps you understand the effectiveness of your user engagement efforts for retention. You can better plan to reduce the churn rate and align resources accordingly.

How to measure the churn rate for mobile apps?

To calculate the churn rate, you divide the number of users who stop using the app within a given time by the total number of active users at the beginning of that period.

Churn rate in a given timeframe = (number of users churned during the timeframe / total number of users during the timeframe) * 100

For example, consider a dating app. If a user stops logging in, swiping, or messaging to matched users within the app for a certain period, they are considered churned. Otherwise, if they were on a paid plan and they unsubscribed, they will be considered churned too.

For this dating app, if you had 1,000 active users at the beginning of the month and 100 users churn out during the month, the churn rate would be 10%.

When to use churn rate as a mobile app user engagement metric?

  1. Growth forecasting: helps set realistic customer acquisition goals for growth using historical churn data and user engagement efforts.
  2. Design retention strategies: a bad churn rate will automatically prioritize investment in mobile app user retention efforts.
  3. Highlight issues in the mobile app: when you notice a high churn rate, your product teams will focus on finding issues in your mobile app across usability, bugs, misaligned value propositions, etc.

Limitations of churn rate as a user engagement metric:

One aspect of churn rate is how it reflects past behavior and may not capture immediate changes in user sentiment or behavior. Thus, before the churn rate shows you there is something wrong with your mobile app, it is usually too late. Also, it does not provide sufficient context to understand why users are leaving the app – you must invest in additional user engagement tools to find the reason.

5. Retention rate

The retention rate focuses on the other end of the churn rate – it measures the percentage of users who have chosen to stay with your app in a specific timeframe.

For example, if an app has a monthly retention rate of 65%, it means that 65% of users who downloaded the app in a given month continued to use it in the following month. A high retention rate indicates that users find value in the app and are likely to continue using it.

How to measure the retention rate for mobile apps?

The formula for retention rate is similar to churn rate as follows:

Retention rate in a given timeframe = (number of users who continue using the app during the timeframe / total number of users during the timeframe) * 100

When to use retention rate as a mobile app user engagement metric?

  1. Plan for long-term growth: retention rate helps in designing monetization strategies via conversion of retained users to paid ones. 
  2. Determine customer satisfaction: high retention rates indicate that users are satisfied with the app's features, content, and overall experience. 
  3. Plan marketing budgets: retaining existing users is generally more cost-effective than acquiring new ones. Thus, having a good retention rate means better optimization of marketing budgets for more channel experiments.

Limitations of retention rate as a user engagement metric:

Retention rate measures the outcome of user engagement but does not necessarily reveal the underlying reasons behind user actions. Just like churn rate, you must adopt product analytics tools 

6. Session interval

Session interval measures the average time a user spends between two consecutive sessions in your mobile app. This indicates the frequency at which users return to engage with the app after their previous interaction.

This metric is better than relying on app open rates – as a user can open your app 100s of times, but not engage much for the coming weeks, or worse, abandon it. Session interval provides a better insight into how sticky your mobile app truly is.

How to measure the session interval for mobile apps?

One has to adopt product analytics software for measuring session intervals.

Let’s understand how they are calculated with examples:

Consider a social media mobile app. A user checks their social media feed in the morning, then again during lunch break, and once more at night. The session intervals would be measured between each of these sessions.

Here’s another example – consider a user who opens a music app for the first time at 9:00 AM and then closes it. They return to the app again at 2:00 PM. Thus, in this case, the session interval would be five hours.

When to use session intervals as a mobile app user engagement metric?

  1. Identify engagement trends: for example, you can determine the best time when your users are most active. Or, finding any spikes or dips in session intervals which may indicate the effectiveness of marketing campaigns.
  2. Design re-engagement efforts: using session intervals, you can find users who have too much gap between app usage. For them, you can focus on re-engagement tactics to reduce session intervals and increase frequency.
  3. User segmentation: segmenting users based on their session intervals allows for targeted analysis and comparison across different user groups. This will help you enrich your user persona data.

Limitations of session intervals as a user engagement metric:

Session intervals do not differentiate between sessions of varying quality or depth of engagement. It also does not account for factors such as the user's intent, external circumstances, or app-specific events that may influence session intervals

For example, a user may return to the app frequently but only spend a short time or engage with a limited number of features during each session – which is low-quality engagement that you may miss out on.

7. Average session duration

Average session duration (length) is the time spent by the user in a single session of engaging with your mobile app. This metric helps you understand how well-engaged the user is when using your app. 

For example, a gaming app like Candy Crush would want high average session lengths. For such mobile apps, the longer the user keeps playing, the better the chances of pushing them into paid user activities.

How to measure the average session duration for mobile apps?

You have to calculate the average time spent by a user when they open and close the app (or first action and last action performed) in a single event. 

Average session duration = total session duration (in a timeframe) / total number of sessions

When to use average session duration as a mobile app user engagement metric?

  1. Find monetizable users: the more your users spend time, the higher the chances of them finding value in your mobile app. This means better upselling opportunities and chances of conversion.
  2. Compare engagement: by analyzing session duration for specific features, product teams can identify the most engaging features and prioritize enhancements or optimizations accordingly.
  3. Content relevance: if your users spend more time on the app, it may mean they are finding your app’s features or content relevant to engage with. You can focus your product and content development efforts in the same direction.

Limitations of the average session duration as a user engagement metric:

Average session duration does not provide insights into user intent or motivation behind session length. What if the user is simply idling around or is stuck while using your mobile app? It can be challenging to interpret its significance accurately without understanding the underlying reasons for session duration.

8. Stickiness ratio

A sticky app is one that users feel a constant need to use almost daily or as required. It has high engagement and low churn – an ideal situation for monetizing.

To measure how ‘sticky’ your mobile app is, you can use the stickiness ratio. 

It helps you visualize how good your app engagement efforts are, while also suggesting any scope of improvement – and by how much can you improve.

How to measure the stickiness ratio for mobile apps?

Stickiness ratio is calculated between daily and monthly active users. First, determine DAU and MAU for your app. Here’s the formula to determine the stickiness ratio:

Stickiness Ratio = (DAU / MAU)

For example, consider a fitness tracking app with 50,000 monthly active users (MAU) and 12,000 daily active users (DAU). To calculate the stickiness ratio for this app:

Stickiness Ratio = (DAU / MAU)

Stickiness Ratio = (12,000 / 50,000)

Stickiness Ratio = 0.24 or 24%

This indicates that 24% of the app's monthly active users engage with the app daily.

When to use stickiness ratio as a mobile app user engagement metric?

  1. Helps assess user retention: stickiness ratio helps answer the question – how well are your users retained in the app?
  2. Analyze customer journey: helps analyze user engagement patterns across different stages of the customer journey, such as onboarding, activation, and retention.
  3. Compare to industry benchmarks: helps identify strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities for improvement to competition and industry trends.

Limitations of the stickiness ratio as a user engagement metric:

The stickiness ratio measures the frequency of engagement relative to the user base. It does not provide insights into user retention over longer periods.

This means – high stickiness may mask underlying issues with user churn and retention rates. It does not guarantee that users are truly satisfied or deriving value from the app.

9. Conversion rate

Conversion rate refers to how many users are performing a specific task that your company wants them to do. These tasks are often associated with monetary gains – like, making a purchase, signing up for a subscription, or completing a demo booking form.

For example, for an eCommerce mobile app, a primary goal is to enable people to purchase from your store. Then, you measure how many people are currently doing so based on your total users or website visitors – and that’s your conversion rate. Knowing this, your company can strategize how to improve your conversion rate – which could be via simplifying the checkout process or optimizing product pages.

How to measure the conversion rate for mobile apps?

When you divide the number of users who complete the desired action (e.g., making a purchase in the previous example) by the total number of users who were eligible to take that action – you get the conversion rate.

Conversion rate = (Number of Conversions / total eligible users) * 100

You get to define who is an ‘eligible user’ and context – could be website visitors, signed-up users, engaged users, etc.

When to use conversion rate as a mobile app user engagement metric?

  1. Identify conversion barriers: when you have low conversion rates, your product teams can focus on identifying what is making the user not complete the desired action. 
  2. Track engagement at specific points: you can track conversion rates across various touchpoints within the mobile app, such as onboarding flows, product pages, checkout processes, or subscription flows. This helps prioritize which sections of the mobile app need CRO strategy implementation.
  3. Instant feedback: low conversion rates simply means your marketing campaigns aren’t effective.

Limitations of the conversion rate as a user engagement metric:

Since it focuses on specific actions, it may not capture the full spectrum of user engagement. For example, it may overlook other interactions and behaviors that contribute to overall engagement, such as browsing, exploring content, or interacting with features.

One may also end up pursuing aggressive marketing tactics to improve conversion rates – which is not good for long-term and sustainable user engagement.

10. Most active or visited screens

Knowing which screens your users are interacting with or interested in most is a helpful way to understand UI and UX optimization effects. It can also provide valuable insights into user preferences, behavior, and areas of interest within the app.

For example, consider a news mobile app. If the ‘current news’ feed screen consistently ranks as the most visited screen, it indicates that users are more engaged with consuming and interacting with current news content on their feed than other categories. You can focus on ensuring you have the best current news available for them.

How to measure the most visited screen for mobile apps?

For this, you must opt for product analytics tools like Google Analytics, Nudge, MoEngage, etc. They allow setting up event tracking within the analytics platform. You can gather data on user visits to each screen and identify which screens receive the highest traffic.

When to use the most visited screens as a mobile app user engagement metric?

  1. Develop features: knowing popular features helps prioritize optimization for better user engagement.
  2. Implement in-app nudges: by knowing the most popular screens, you can know at which location you must implement in-app nudges to drive engagement and conversions.
  3. Refine UX: you will also come to know which screens are not popular – and figure out why. You can refine the design, layout, and functionality of those screens for a smoother user journey, and track changes.

Limitations of the most visited screens as a user engagement metric:

There could be some potential bias or skewed results while determining popular screens – as you may be running marketing campaigns that might be driving traffic, which may not be consistent or sustainable.

Also, sometimes user behavior and preferences may evolve, leading to changes in the popularity of screens within the app.

How to track user engagement on an app?

For this, you can explore Nudge’s analytics dashboard capabilities. We help you measure and act on your user engagement metrics – all without the hassle of coding:

  1. Define key metrics: as per your business goal, decide which mobile app user engagement metrics you want to focus on and define its outcomes.
  2. Choose an analytics platform: opt for a user experience platform (like Nudge) – because that will help you not only measure performance but also experiment with user engagement strategies in a single platform.
  3. Use cohort analysis: group users based on shared characteristics or behaviors (e.g., users who signed up in a specific month) and track their engagement metrics over subsequent periods as decided in step 1.
  4. Improve user engagement: explore various user engagement strategies that you can implement to improve your engagement metrics.
  5. Iterate, iterate, iterate!: continuously analyze user engagement data via chosen metrics and gather feedback from users. Then, iterate based on recommendations.

You can perform these five-step processes using Nudge – run comprehensive and unique user engagement strategies for better performance: Nudge for user engagement

10 tips to increase engagement for your mobile app

Keep this checklist handy when strategizing for increasing mobile app user engagement:

  1. Is your onboarding process optimized for desirable completion rates?
  2. How effective is your content and copy in making the users understand your mobile app’s value proposition and working?
  3. Consider providing incentives such as discounts, rewards, or exclusive content to incentivize user engagement.
  4. Ensure the app does work and your bugs are fixed – for example, work on your app loading time, 404 errors, etc.
  5. Leverage social proof – showcase user testimonials, reviews, and ratings to build trust and credibility.
  6. Adopt proactive customer support – try to address user queries, concerns, and issues promptly within your app’s user experience via tooltips, AI agents, in-app messages, etc.
  7. Use deep links to direct users to specific content or features within the app.
  8. Consider building a user community – helps nurture user-generated content and active DIY support.
  9. Incorporate gamification elements such as rewards, challenges, and leaderboards to make the app more interactive and engaging.

Connect with Nudge to help improve your mobile app user engagement metrics

Nudge is a user experience platform that helps you design engaging user flows across onboarding, activation, retention, and more. It helps you experiment with your flows and track any improvements, thus helping you design an optimized UX for your mobile app – book a demo today.

Sakshi Gupta
April 23, 2024