What are the key metrics for mobile performance?

“We have one million downloads.”
“We were featured in the App Store!”
“Our average session length is over one minute.”
Launching and growing a mobile application is one of the most exciting, stressful, and all-consuming experiences a company can experience. For some, mobile is an extension of a company to a new platform – like a bricks-and-mortar retailer expanding to web, and apps. For others, it is the sole channel of interaction. Either way, expectations for mobile performance are high. But how high? And how can you tell if you are successful or not?
For business-to-consumer (B2C) apps – including shopping, gaming, and social media – just a handful of key performance indicators (KPIs) can provide an actionable status report on the overall health of the business and implications for the product itself.
Not just downloads – but active users. – e.g., opening the app daily, weekly, or monthly – not just who just have it downloaded on their phone or tablet.
Not just dollars per session – but ARPU. There are “fish” and there are “whales” – what matters is “average revenue per user” - looking at the amount of revenue divided by the number of active users, to get at a normalized look at how revenue scales with the user base.
Not just number of sessions – but retention. Perhaps one of the most important and most overlooked metrics is retention. Great that people have downloaded your app – and opened it – but how many of them come back the next day, week or month? This has massive implications for how long the monetizable lifetime of a user is. Having a sense of retention is critical to forecasting.
Not just revenue - but LTV. “Lifetime value” assesses how much revenue each user drives over the course of their lifetime in the app. This is the best proxy to scale up revenue as the user base increases.
Not just marketing spend – but CPA / CAC. “Cost per acquisition” or “Customer acquisition cost” is more meaningful than an overall absolute dollar amount, as it tells for every dollar spent to acquire new users, how many new users were driven to the app.
The comparison of LTV to CAC highlights the profitability of the app. These metrics will not always be perfect – but they are the ones that startups need to understand, explain, and act upon.




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