13 Ways to Measure the Success of Your Mobile App

This is a guest post by Michelle Joe:

Michelle Joe is a blogger by choice. She loves to discover the world around her. She likes to share her discoveries, experiences, and express herself through her blogs. You can find her on twitter: @michellejoe524

13 Ways to Measure the Success of Your Mobile App

Sleepless night, stressful days, crazy coding moments and many cups of coffee later, you have finally created the v1.0 of your app. It’s time to put it up on the app store and relax.

But wait!

There is no time for a breather because it’s now time to track all kinds of metrics about your app. It is important to figure out how the market is responding to your app, who is downloading it, and how they are interacting with it. The app store’s metrics, comments, and bug reports usually paint an incomplete picture.

So, you will have to do some detective work on your own.

The trouble is that, an app has many Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that can be tracked. And that’s why deciding where to begin, can be a major pain. However, we are here to help! Listed below are the very basic KPIs that must be measured to learn more about the users and their interactions with your app.

Let’s begin with the most essential mobile metrics that you must measure:

1.    Downloads

‘Number of downloads’ build a rock-solid foundation for the measurement of your app’s success. But it is the not the most definitive KPI. For example, millions of people might download your app after a successful marketing campaign, only to uninstall it a few days later. So, take the results with a pinch of salt. However, download numbers are still important, so keep tracking them.

2.    Installations

Downloads are not the same as installations, and the faster you figure out the reason for discrepancies between the two numbers for your app, the quicker you’ll be able to help your app. If the numbers aren’t the same, or at least pretty close, the reason could be unexpected errors in the installation process, or your apps inability to cope with different OS and devices.

3.    Uninstallations

See a sudden increase in uninstallations? It could be because of a recent app update, or a patch you just added. Tracking this KPI is important.

4.    Conversions

For starters, figure out how you define conversions for your app. It could be creating a user account for using your app, or making a purchase within. This is an essential KPI because it means that the user has volunteered information (email address, name, age, etc.) to use your app, and they might just be willing to become long-term customers.

5.    Churn Rate

Churn rate measures the runners, i.e., people who unsubscribed from your services and/or uninstalled the app. Lower churn rate is better, obviously. A higher one can indicate UX and UI troubles for your app. This churn rate could be affected by actual issues with your app, or even by word of mouth. For example, there was a rumor that the popular instant messaging app AirG spams, and that damaged its reputation, making users uninstall it.

6.    Crashes

If an app crashes once, chances are that it will never be used again. People have very little tolerance for messy apps. So, track them, and figure out what went wrong, where. Crashing apps are often abandoned and uninstalled, so this critical metric also ties into other KPIs.

7.    Unresponsive Gestures

Try to find out if your users tend to perform some gestures more than others when using your app! This could be double tapping, swiping, or scrolling down the app. Is your app responding well to these gestures? Learn more about this too. Unresponsive Gestures can hurt your apps reputation and your image as an app developer. Use qualitative analytics tools such as touch heat maps to track the issue and fix it before it gets out of hand.

8.    App Load Time

Flagships phones are bigger, faster and have plenty of RAM, and that’s why they are sold at a premium price, and mobile users love them. Your app should be able to take advantage of these options and provide a smooth and fast mobile experience. Otherwise, the app will be replaced. So, keep a close eye on your app’s load time, ensuring that it is as fast as possible.

9.    Retention Rate

You have fantastic installation numbers, but the app doesn’t seem to get recurring users as it should. This means that your users are not getting value from it. And that’s why measuring and fixing the retention rate is of utmost importance.

10.           Session Length

Mobile app professionals must also measure the number of sessions per user, as well as their lengths and intervals. For example, for apps like AirG or Evernote, more sessions mean more business, but for something like Facebook, more extended sessions are just as important as higher frequency. Identify what the ideal session is for your app, then strive to create it for your users; keep measuring in the meanwhile.

11.           Devices Used

This one’s quite easy to track, and it offers valuable insights into your users and their habits. By monitoring this metric, you could learn more about the kind of devices being used, what OS these devices are running and how your app can be optimized for the most used devices for optimum user experience.

12.           Social Shares

Word of mouth works! It can make your app the superstar of the app store, or kill its success in a matter of hours. This is why app professionals keep an eye on social shares, and not just the numbers but also the content within. Are your users using the in-app social share buttons? Are they making fun of your app, or sharing because they think it is something that others would find useful? This information can help you decide the future course for app marketing.

13.           Conversion Funnel Drop-offs

Simply put, conversion funnels create a chain of events that lead to a specific action taken by the user. This action can be anything, from making a purchase to merely signing up for a newsletter. The events through the funnel can and should be tracked. If users are dropping off in the middle of an event, then they can’t complete the action desired at the end, and you need to know why!

Final Thoughts

An app is only as successful as it’s developer’s ability to monitor, scale and optimize it. Identifying the proper KPIs to do that is half the job done. Those mentioned above and many others will affect the growth of an app significantly.

Note from rise.global

Use our multi-metric scorecard template to create a scorecard on rise.global that can help you track these metrics – and if you create the correct score algorithm, you will be able to see how well your app is doing from day to day by just looking at the single score that your scorecard will produce.

Dunning Kruger Effect and why scorekeeping matters

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We all need ways to get an accurate reflection of our true skills. Photo credit: Septian Simon

One of the reasons we all need good scorekeeping is that it is a human trait  to misperceive our own strengths and weaknesses.

This is known as the Dunning-Kruger effect and was first covered in the paper Unskilled and unaware of it: how difficulties in recognizing one’s own incompetence lead to inflated self-assessments.

What’s interesting is that the effect occurs at both ends of the ability spectrum:

  • beginners tend to over estimate their strengths
  • experts tend to underestimate them

That’s where a good scorekeeping and success tracking program can help each of us – by providing an accurate reflection of progress against either pre-defined standards, peer comparison or both.

The Success Tracking Difference (5) – Player Controls

In this mini-series, “The Success Tracking Difference“, we are focusing on the differences between the new discipline of Success Tracking and traditional analytics / business dashboards.

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Giving staff more control over how they are measured can lead to higher motivation and performance. Photo by Sergey Svechnikov

If you’re success tracking for your team, for example tracking your Facebook page against your competitors, then there’s no need for privacy controls – you are both the player and the manager.

However if it’s your team who are success tracking then you are the manager and they are the players.

As a success tracking manager you need to lay aside your old dogma of command and control and instead use coaching and calculation to influence your staff behaviour.

As a coach you are as interested in your player’s development, as you are in the success of the team – they go hand in hand: team success and player success. You cannot have one without the other.

As a calculator your job is to create and maintain a score algorithm that blends both sets of objectives. The score algorithm, it’s ranking rules, metrics and weightings, now become your management lever instead of traditional sticks and carrots.

On the player side we know from Deci and Ryan’s research that high performance comes in a context where they feel in control of their circumstances. In most cases that means having some power over how you are measured.

Contexts supportive of autonomy, competence, and relatedness were found to foster greater internalization and integration than contexts that thwart satisfaction of these needs. This latter finding, we argue, is of great significance for individuals who wish to motivate others in a way that engenders commitment, effort, and high-quality performance. – Deci and Ryan (2000)

A good success tracking system should therefore offer players a number of abilities that allow them to control and manipulate the scoring system, without compromising the overall goals of the program for the manager.

Examples of this might include:

  • a granular level of privacy over how they are represented on any leaderboard (whether shown as anonymous or identified)
  • control over their inclusion in the program (the ability to opt-in to receiving a score without appearing on the leaderboard, the ability to opt-out entirely, the right to erasure)
  • communications forums such as a scoring committee or leadership council with the ability to represent the views of players
  • transparency over how the score algorithm works (the ability to reverse engineer so you can see how you got your score)
  • control over how your score and rank is displayed on your social profile (the ability to choose to highlight your best score ever versus your latest score for example)

Now, not all success tracking programs will be able to offer players all the possible controls. There are some contexts – for example a sales leaderboard at work – where opt-out is not viable – however we believe that by maximising the controls available to the player, a manager can, to paraphrase Deci and Ryan, provide a context that supports autonomy and that leads to greater buy-in and ultimately higher performance.

We might characterise it as “Give more to Get more“.

How will the world be better when everyone is Success Tracking?

If Success Tracking spreads then we will see more people and organisations reaching their potential. 

This is our vision, it’s a picture of the way we want the world to be.

Rise was founded to provide technology and services that enable Success Tracking.
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A lot of potential remains unlocked because:
  • we don’t persist,
  • we don’t continue to iterate,
  • we accept the status quo or;
  • we expect external circumstances to change around us (e.g. winning the lottery).
By hoping for big wins, we can end up sitting around doing nothing, when we could have been making a start.
Success Tracking is the art of intentional, incremental, improvements that we make ourselves. It is:
  • Owning the 20 mile march.
  • The slow route to success.
  • Kaizen, little by little, 1% improvements.
  • Starting with one starfish
  • A journey worth taking note of.
  • Diligence, discipline and perseverance.
  • Achieving mastery, autonomy and purpose.
  • A mindset that runs counter to the prevalent get-rich-quick culture but it works!
I think there are two ways to success:
  1. the fast way – you get lucky and succeed fast – you land a big fish, you hit a home run or you win the lottery
  2. the slow way – hours of measured practice, tracking performance and optimising to improve, all add up to eventual success

The slow way is the best way because:

  1. It’s repeatable – you can apply the same approach to other roles
  2. It’s satisfying – you can feel you genuinely earned it
  3. You’ve achieved mastery – you know not just that you’re successful at something but why you are successful, it wasn’t just luck
  4. It’s respected – friends and peers will value your persistence
  5. You can take time to enjoy the journey – make friends along the way, take note of the highway, study the geeky aspects of what you’re doing. The journey to success can be as worthwhile as the achievement itself.
Slow success of course can take time – it took Gamification Guru Andrzej Marczewski 5 years to change career to his dream job – https://blog.rise.global/2017/07/04/7-ways-to-train-for-your-dream-job-lessons-learned/ – but change it he did, tracking his progress all the way.
Maintaining interest in performance over a long period of time is hard.
Most of us start with good intentions. We set up a dashboard we plan to check regularly, reviewing our analytics and optimising behaviour but over time we inevitably fade.
Success Tracking offers a methodology for us to achieve success by keeping us interested in our weekly or monthly performance.
Success Tracking does this through:
  • newsletters – we receive regular news bulletins tracking our success
  • storytelling – personalised stories  that bring the data to life “personal best!”
  • community – when we journey together we go further, we conform to peer behaviour
  • positive scorekeeping – we focus on tracking what we what more of so its always aspirational
We’ve set up Success Tracking University as an place for us to teach and explore the Success Tracking paradigm. Together we can make a vision of slowly achieved potential a reality.
I am keen to hear how you can help!

Why leaders must take control of the score

As a leader, one of your jobs is to keep those you lead focused on the goals you are trying to reach.

An underused tool in every leader’s toolbox is to create and share “the score”.

“The score” is how you have decided everyone should measure success, whether as individuals or as a group.

Whether we realise it or not, we all take account of the score in our daily lives. Indeed,  if you don’t share the score, people will invent their own. This can have hideous consequences as people chase after the wrong activities. No, it’s far better for you to take control of the score by choosing which KPIs matter and communicating them clearly.

As a leader it is your job to identify the scores that matter for the objectives you are seeking.

To do this, first write out the objectives and the success criteria for those objectives. These may be fairly numerical already. Then break down those objectives into the constituent parts and identify the important signals that you can measure reliably and easily. These are the metrics that go into making your score.

Next you need to attribute the score correctly. You have several options:

  • personal scores – this is a score for each individual. This approach works best in a group setting where there isn’t really a team objective – e.g. a conference, a group of separate businesses or a very large business
  • team scores – a score for your team. This works best when you are seeking to focus the efforts of your internal team – e.g. a KPI such as number of visitors to our website each month
  • market comparison – in more mature markets it may be more useful to focus on the comparison with peers – e.g. we are the number 1 supplier of milk in our region.

Finally, as a leader it’s not only your job to identify the scores that matter but also to communicate them regularly.

This could take many forms from a weekly email to a big screen TV leaderboard in the office. Whatever you choose, you need to remember that facts don’t speak for themselves. The medium you choose is important – people will take more notice of a leaderboard engraved in stone than one hastily scrawled on a piece of paper!

The score is an essential part of leadership. We all take account of the score whether we realise it or not. As a leader you can leverage the score and its communication to achieve the goals you’ve set for your team.

A great example of the importance of leaders and ‘communicating the score’ has recently taken the world’s media by storm. The Republican Party or Grand Old Party (GOP) Presidential candidates for the 2016 US elections recently debated each other on Fox News and presented to the audience what “scores” were important to them to keep and raise for the country. From here on in, how these individuals communicate their leadership goals to the people will be paramount. The use of Social Media will be more important than ever in reaching out and speaking to the electorate. Therefore we plan to monitor the online influence of the candidates and how this correlates with their popularity in the polls. Why not follow the The GOP Candidates Social Media Power Board and see for yourself. Interested in how much influence you have online? Why not join our Online Influencer Board and see how you compare?

 

 

Beware! People invent their own scores if you don’t give them yours.

One of my working theories is that if you don’t show people the score, for whatever endeavour you are currently engaged in, they will, subconsciously or otherwise, invent their own.

Take the example of the creative agency whose management team has failed to share the company KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) with their staff. As a result some staff believe the “score” is the number of awards the agency wins and spend undue time trying to win awards rather than deliver results for clients. Others might believe the score is the number of hours spent in the office – and so is bred a work culture where being seen to be present, long into the night, is valued more highly than  a job finished on time and to budget.

Some of the best offices I’ve been in show people the score that matters and keep them notified.

When I visited Playfish, the social games company that sold to EA in Nov 2009 for $300 million, the digital dashboard allover the office clearly showed the number of DAUs (Daily Active Users) and MAUs (Monthly Active Users) – the two key metrics that the company believed were important (and for a social games company they are.) If you worked at Playfish you could never have been in any doubt what was the important score – it wasn’t the number of lines of code you had written, the brilliance of your memos or your attentiveness at meetings – no it was the engagement of your customers. As long as those two numbers were climbing, everyone could sleep easy, knowing that they and their company were hitting their objectives.

Scorekeeping vs measurement: the former will get you to drink your milk!

This is taken from Chuck Coonradt’s book “Scorekeeping for Success”.

What’s the difference between measurement and score keeping?  According to Chuck, “the major difference between score-keeping and measurement is that scorekeeping by nature is a positive process, while measurement is a negative one”.

Measurement Scorekeeping
Catches people doing it wrong Reinforces behaviour we want repeated
Is externally imposed Is chosen by player
Is presented after game Is dynamic
Forces competition Allows competition
Maximises excuses Maximises  celebration
Discourages ownership Stimulates ownership
Causes unnatural inhibition Is natural stimulation
Is too big to correct Is frequent enough to fix

Consider tracking a child’s growth in height, done by a nurse at the child’s doctor’s office versus by the child’s mum.

Measurement is what the nurse does when she measures how tall a child is, marks it at the doctor’s office on a chart that is never seen again, and uses it to place the child in a national percentile that lets him know that he is not the tallest person in his age group in the country.

measurement vs scorekeeping

Scorekeeping is what your mother does when she periodically measures how her child’s height and makes a loving mark on the wall, charting his growth; in a manner that is visible, encouraging and stimulating.

mum measuring

 

The nurse’s measurement will result in no behaviour change. Create a defeatist attitude based on realisation that most kids are taller than you are. It won’t get you to drink your milk.

The mum’s scorekeping, as the marks proceed progressively up the wall, motivates the child to drink his milk as he sees the progress he is making.