What is not measured, can’t be improved.
But what are the key performance indicators (KPIs) for mobile app businesses?
What should we measure and how do we understand that our marketing efforts are effective and bringing results?
In this post, Katerina Zolotareva, Marketing and Customer Success Manager at TheTool, talks about KPIs that are the most critical for the success of an App Store Optimization strategy for mobile apps and games in both Apple App Store and Google Play Store.
Mobile apps have different goals at different product stages. Their main intents could be:
- driving installs,
- reducing customer acquisition costs,
- increasing revenues from the app,
- improving user retention,
- reducing churn rate,
- working on engagement rates,
- increasing the volume of Daily or Monthly Active Users (DAU / MAU).
ASO goals and main KPIs to track
One way or another, App Store Optimization process enters at any stage of the product cycle. ASO is never a single action, it is a process to be done continuously to ensure a steady growth in every phase of app business. Never forget this!
In the beginning of app lifecycle, it is aimed at improving app’s visibility and discoverability, in order to drive installs and lower the costs of paid marketing and user acquisition. On the later stages, ASO will be more focused on maintaining top positions in search and category rankings, monitoring competitor’s actions, working on improving the conversion rate, retention and user sentiment.
Find optimization tactics in SplitMetrics’s App Store Optimization Guide.
Let’s take a look at the KPIs involved in each of these goals and see how can we measure and optimize them. Because ASO can and MUST be measured. :)
Goal: Boost visibility in the app stores
The first and the main objective of App Store Optimization is to improve the visibility of an app or game in the app stores, so more users can organically find it, download it and use it. Visibility in the stores is based on Search, Top Charts and Featured.
To measure visibility, we need to track and monitor these KPIs, that can be done in virtually all ASO tools:
- App Keywords rankings – rankings in search results on particular keywords
- Top Charts rankings – positions of app in Top Charts (Free / Paid / Grossing)
- Category rankings – position in a certain app/game category, for example, lifestyle or utilities.
- Featured – whether your app appears as featured in the app stores. You can track this KPI with App Annie.
Read also: The Ultimate Guide to App Keyword Optimization
Tracking the evolution of these indicators on a daily and monthly level, in all the countries where the app is available, and comparing the rankings with those of the competitors is an essence of any App Store Optimization strategy.
Goal: Improve Conversion Rate on app store listing
Conversion rate to install is the next most important ASO objective after visibility. Having a high-converting, selling app product page is essential to convert the visitors to users.
The conversion rate is affected by numerous ASO on-metadata factors, such as:
- app title,
- short description (on Google Play Store),
- graphic elements like icon, screenshots, feature graphic (only on Google Play) or video.
Some ASO off-metadata factors matter too: such as installs, user ratings and reviews.
The conversion rate is measured as a percentage of installs divided by the total number of visitors. It is important to keep track of it constantly (per day, per country), and experiment with app store listing elements to improve the conversion rate, to ensure that you make the most out of the traffic that you are driving towards app product page.
Read also: What’s a Good App Page Conversion Rate? We Asked 10M Users
The most common way to optimize conversion rate and other app store metrics and make experiments with your app store listing is A/B testing – comparing 2 different listing element variations and driving traffic to the possible options to see which one has more installs. Some great tools for A/B testing are SplitMetrics or Google Experiments in Google Play Console.
Goal: Mobile App Growth
In mobile app marketing, growth is commonly understood as a higher number of installs, but in practice, there is something more than that.
Installs is without a doubt, one of the essential KPIs to evaluate the evolution of an app, and can be tracked in the developer console. But installs driven only by paid marketing channels is definitely not a goal of app developers and marketers. So instead of advertising an app, we want to achieve an organic growth, so to speak, to have a great share of installs driven by organic (non-paid) channels.
This leads us to the next important KPI – organic uplift.
Organic uplift, or organic multiplier, is a ratio that shows how many organic installs account for one non-organic install. It is measured as a percentage of organic installs divided by non-organic installs, and the higher is the organic uplift, the less the user acquisition costs will be.
In order to have data about the number of organic and non-organic installs, and to be able to measure organic uplift, it comes in handy to have an SDK or tracker implemented for your mobile app. Solutions like AppsFlyer or Adjust, among others, provide this data and some platforms, like TheTool, thanks to its attribution partner integrations, can calculate and graphically illustrate the effect of organic uplift:
On the later stages of app product cycle, the installs, though, don’t have as much meaning as the active users of an app.
The main KPIs for marketers at this stage become DAU and MAU – daily and monthly active users of the app. To measure these rates, there are a few tools, like Google Analytics, Mixpanel or any mobile app analytics tool.
Goal: Positive user feedback
User sentiment has a great role in both rankings (visibility) and Conversion rate.
It is already known that app stores give weight to the apps that have a higher average score and a great number of reviews written by users. This serves as an indicator of a stable, bug-free app that offers a good user experience.
On the other hand, when users come across the app product page and take the decision of downloading it, they are, in turn, evaluating the quality of app looking at its reviews and ratings. A lot of negative reviews or low average score can significantly decrease conversion rate to install and demotivate the users from download intent.
Ratings and reviews are very important indicators of a “healthy” app and need to be monitored and treated on a daily basis. As now both stores offer developers the possibility to interact with users replying to their reviews and in the end, users can change their rating, it is very important to react timely on negative reviews, trying to solve user problems as soon as you can. This way you can ensure a positive user sentiment and a great image of your app.
We recommend tracking these with tools like Appbot.
Goal: App Monetization (Business)
And finally, the goal of many app developers is to monetize their app or game with advertising, in-app purchases or in-app subscriptions. At this point, the KPIs related to revenue are:
- Average Revenue per User (ARPU) – is measured as total revenue divided by the number of users or subscribers.
- Lifetime Value (LTV) – is a prediction of the net future profit attributed to a certain user.
- Revenue – is the total amount of money your app or game generates.
Easy to see that for a proper monetization of an app the quality of users starts to matter much more than just the number of installs of the app.
For app developers, the user with higher LTV, the one that is going to pay for more than a year, becomes more valuable and more interesting than those who will just pay for the first month and then unsubscribe. At the moment of optimization of revenue KPIs, the goal of app marketers will be optimizing their traffic and user acquisition to focus on more “high-quality” users.
ASO KPIs: conclusions
No single indicator can show with a great degree of confidence the overall success of mobile app or game, but we can try to measure the results of different elements of app marketing strategy separately.
By studying different metrics, and combining them together, we can get a more or less complete picture of our mobile app performance. iTunes Connect, Google Play Console, attribution and analytics platforms can help us identify which of our app marketing efforts led to desired results.
Which ASO KPIs are you tracking? How do you do it? Feel free to share your thoughts or experience in the comments!