App Metrics That Go Beyond Vanity Metrics

Becky Doles

Focus on useful app metrics. Customer retention rates, time spent in app, and direct conversions analytics define your mobile app user behavior.

It’s natural to want to quantify the success of your mobile app. Key app metrics not only justify ongoing investment, but they also validate effort and offer a virtual stamp of approval.

However, not all measurements are created equal. There are valuable app metrics, and then there are vanity metrics.

Vanity metrics look good on paper, but they don’t represent direct progress toward corporate business objectives. For example, companies often cite the number of downloads for a mobile app as proof that it’s successful. Yet that number is meaningless if users are downloading an app, but then letting it sit idle. The same is true when it comes to measuring traffic results. An increased percentage of traffic from mobile devices may be a good thing, but it may also just be an indicator that consumers are increasingly using their smartphones in lieu of laptops. There’s certainly no guarantee the mobile channel is driving revenue just because that’s where traffic originates.

Particularly with mobile marketing, it’s critical to pay attention to meaningful app metrics, and not just feel-good statistics.

  • Customer retention rates (as measured by ongoing active use) signal an app’s continued relevance.
  • Time spent in an app, along with in-app activity, indicates user engagement and the likelihood of greater brand stickiness. For example, entertainment app publishers might look at the total hours of content viewed. For news apps, it could be the number of articles read.
  • Direct conversions from a mobile app demonstrate how that app is impacting the bottom line. Retailers might measure the quantity of barcode scans performed, or the number of items added to a shopping list.

As the mobile app market matures, marketers have to recognize that vanity metrics aren’t enough. Companies need detailed app analytics in order to optimize performance and generate a return on mobile investments.

Becky Doles

Becky is the Senior Content Marketing Manager at TUNE. Before TUNE, she led a variety of marketing and communications projects at San Francisco startups. Becky received her bachelor's degree in English from Wake Forest University. After living nearly a decade in San Francisco and Seattle, she has returned to her home of Charleston, SC, where you can find her enjoying the sun and salt water with her family.

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