Mobile app development is a business now. And developing an app for your business is Mandatory nowadays. There is an ocean of apps on internet. Customers go for use-friendly apps. If they don’t find one app as per their expectation they’ll uninstall it and will switch to competitors app.
Users don’t even think twice before switching form one app to another. 86% of time spend on smartphones are spent on apps. That means in an hour, 52 minutes are spent on apps while the remaining 8 minutes for other purposes (like calling – who does that anymore?).
Developing a mobile app is one thing; measuring success of an app is different. Once you launch an app you need to measure its success. Of course, there was a goal behind developing an app. Nowadays, venture capitalists and mobile developers can’t solely rely on the number of downloads to calculate an apps’ success.
Companies have moved towards more sophisticated methods of measuring success of mobile apps. They shifted towards methods that involve customer interaction and retention. With that said, here are 11 ways to measure the success of mobile apps:
1. Active Users
It’s common place to assume that a successful app should have a lot of active users. These are different from people who have just downloaded it because they regularly use it. This is a type of engagement metric. If an app is successful, there will be more people using it regularly. Even within this, there are specific criteria to be on the lookout for:
A. Number of loyal users:
These are the people that use the app a designated number of times.
For example, Instagram. Some people might use it once or twice to a day just to have a scroll through their feed. However, loyal users would be on it several times a day for a longer period of time. They’d post a lot of picture and comment and like others’ pictures too.
Basically, they will have a large amount of interaction with the app. This is what differentiates it from active users – they’re more active. Basically; they are possibly addicted like People addicted to Facebook. So the more loyal users an app has, the more successful it is.
B. Number of items engaged with:
The more videos that are viewed in your app, the more successful your app is. YouTube gets 4 billion views a day. So YouTube is pretty damn successful – but you don’t need to be an analytical genius to know that.
This also is applicable to apps based around blogs, articles or other things to read. The more that are read, the more successful the app is.
2. Average time spent on app – Session length
This is a bit of a controversial one because if you think about it. A video sharing app like YouTube would generally tend to have a higher average-time-spent then, say, a weather app.
And to be honest, a lot of good apps out there don’t have to have a high average-time-spent. But aside from those kinds of apps, this metric makes sense for gaming apps. You can spend an average of 1 minute of Flappy Bird and rage quit and deletes the app for good. In option you could be like me and spend countless periods of time to get that oh-so-satisfying high score of 220.
If the app has ads, then the average-time-spent would be crucial in the sustaining and maintaining that app since that is probably where most, if not all, of the revenue comes from.
Suppose you made an app and it’s not on Google Play. It gets 2 million downloads in the first week, Amazing. But then a month later, over 50% of them have deleted the app. What happened there was your app couldn’t retain, for the lack of a better word.
A better word/phrase to describe situation would be: Making the users come back for more because that’s what retention is supposed to be. It’s the property that all successful apps have of making their users keep on using the app instead of simply deleting it a couple of weeks later because it wasn’t worth their time. This can be done in several ways and each app has its own ways.
Retention Rate = ((CE — CN) / CS)) X 100
CS = number of customers at start of period
CE = number of customers at end of period
CN = number of new customers acquired during period
There’s no specific method of retention, there’s no secret. Every app has its unique perks that make the users continue using it. Whether it’s because it’s the only app their friends use or because it gets new updates regularly which keeps the user entertained. Subway Surfer would be a good example of that because it continuously changes the settings of the game from country to country.
A lot of apps nowadays are “Freemium” which is a portmanteau of “Free” and “Premium”. Basically, the app is free to use, but there are some in-app purchase features if you wish to buy them. Some apps (and definitely some PC games out there) take this to a very sinister level – the app/game is free on paper. But once you play the game, you realize that to actually beat the game, you need to buy a lot of real-money purchases.
That is unfair and unethical business practice but this usually has a backlash of poor reviews. Whatever the case, the more transaction like those, the more successful an app technically is because basically user saying they like the app enough to pay real money for it. This doesn’t have to be transactions alone; it could also be subscription as is the case of magazine apps.
5. Specific Goals
Most developers often have a vision which they want for their apps. Maybe it’s to be the most downloaded app or maybe to earn a specific amount of money. Everyone has their own. Therefore what success means can vary.
As long as they haven’t achieved those specific goals they set out with, they might not consider their apps successful, even though they’ve earned a lot of downloads and money.
I know I’ve said downloads aren’t a good way to measure success but it is one way of measuring it and as far as I can tell, it’s a good way of comparing two apps. It shows that it is popular and whether or not the people who downloaded are active users doesn’t really matter. The app looked good enough to be downloaded meaning it was interesting enough to be downloaded.
Furthermore, if the app has tens of millions of downloads then it’s safe to say that it’s a very successful app. Also, if an app does have more downloads, it will look much better than a similar app with less downloads, unless the reviews are terrible.
7. User Reviews & Ratings
Reviews & Ratings of users are very powerful it’s a primary source of information that helps people make informed decisions on buying a product. In this case, the app is free but reviews are important nonetheless. The reviews can also judge an apps success because good or favorable reviews suggests that the developers are putting effort and listen to their customers which usually comes in the form of updates and replies.
Every time I want to download a particular app, I check Ratings given by users. Also, users write detailed review of an app. If there users had a good experience they truly appreciates it. But, if the app is uneasy and users are not finding it usable or any improvement is needed then also they mention everything.
It also helps developers to find out where they are lacking and why users are downloading app with same features but not theirs.
8. Most useful – App Store Category Ranking
The list would be incomplete without an app store ranking. Simple – The better your ranking in your category the better your performance. Check your rating on regular basis, it will help you to improve performance. We can call it “Mother of all metrics”.
A poor rating will affect the success of an app. Getting a poor rating, means you have to get ready to face consequences. To improve your rating in your category you have to check what your competitors are doing. The features your competitors might be proving and you are not providing. Always keep your eye on App store Rankings.
9. Intervals in session
Session intervals mean the gap between timing of one use and another use of an app. It shows the how frequently users use the app. If you are finding gaps between two sessions than how much gap is there. Optimize user experience to reduce the intervals.
Interval should be minimum between two sessions if your app is made for frequent use. If smartphone users are using the app frequently but tablet users are not, than you need to find gap for tables design. You can use push notifications to make your users remind your app.
10. Flow on Screen
To understand user experience of an app, you can track flow of usage on screen. It will help you to get insights, how your users flow from one place to other place, where your users stay for a longer period of time.
You can look at the navigation pattern of users, it will give you sense of where they flow after what. You can find out a particular problematic are on screen and improve it. You can create insight marketing campaigns to get back users and improve designing to create better user experience.
LTV (Lifetime Value) means the total profit your user gave you before leaving the app. Total revenue you earned from a particular user. It will help you to find total profit. Also, you can make assumptions about your future profit too.
It can be measured daily, monthly, quarterly and yearly. It will evaluate how much money that user has generated for you over a period of time. It will help you to measure your app performance.
Those are some ways to measure an app’s success. To the normal person, they’d probably only care about the number of downloads but to those that want to dwell deeper, they would have to concern themselves with all of these facts and then come to a conclusion. With this knowledge, one can also learn how to make their app successful as well. If you know good reviews means an app is doing well, you’ll want to earn good reviews by pleasing the customers.