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Raj Aggarwal is CEO of Localytics.

The mobile market now makes up a staggering 15 percent of all Internet traffic, with more than 1.5 billion users worldwide, according to Mary Meeker’s latest Internet Trends report. Despite these findings, many brands have yet to reap the benefits that are now possible through the most personal connection available with their target consumers – the app.

It’s already an app world. In 2012, 250,000 new apps were added to the Apple App Store. Apps are here to stay and are growing at a breakneck speed. But marketing to app users is a unique challenge. Fortunately marketers have a vast resource in the data available about app usage, such as interactions and downloads that offers an unprecedented opportunity to engage mobile users in a more contextual and personal way.

While downloads are crucial to increasing your user base, each new user is only as valuable as those who actually use your app more than once. Engagement is your goal, and here are the five most important metrics you need to focus on:

1) Usage

Don’t forget the basics. Know which devices your users have, which OS, their locations and what times of day they use your app. Tracking these foundation details provides insights into critical behavior differences, such as smartphone app usage compared to tablets.

2) Engagement

Not all downloads are created equal. There is no value in an ad campaign that generates volumes of downloads, but three months later, yields few repeat users. The reality is that 22 percent of apps that are downloaded are only used once. By analyzing how long users spend in your app, how many times they relaunch it, and the interval between those actions, you’ll not only understand where and when you are at risk of losing the user, but also the content and promotions that keep them coming back.

3) Screen flow

It’s important to analyze screen flow to understand how users move through your app’s content, where they stay the longest and where they drop off. These metrics help you see which features are being used – and which ones are not – so you can do more of what is working and less of what isn’t.

4) Conversion

Since monetization is most often your goal, you must track app user conversions like your other business KPIs. If you have an ecommerce app, this means tracking checkouts and cart abandonment rates. For news apps, you might track article views and shares.

5) Lifetime value

Ultimately, lifetime value is the most important KPI for marketers because it shows the value of a mobile user as compared to all of your other customers. How you determine lifetime value depends on the nature of your app. If you are a retail or ecommerce app, it’s about revenue, but if you’re a content app, then it could be determined by time spent in the app. Knowing which kinds of users and in-app behaviors drive lifetime value ensures that effort and resources are always laser-focused on the most profitable user segments. For example, if you’re an ecommerce app, you can compare the lifetime value of users who came from paid acquisition campaigns versus those who downloaded your app organically. This makes it easy to see where your marketing dollars should go.


Tracking these five metrics and slicing and dicing the data in many ways will provide you with a wealth or rich, actionable insights that will help you improve the user experience, hone your marketing content and strategies and, ultimately, meet your business goals. So don’t let your mobile strategy start and stop with the download.

Photo via blakespot/Flickr

Raj Aggarwal is CEO of Localytics, a Boston-based mobile app analytics and marketing company. You can follow him on Twitter at @analyticsraj.


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