What is an active user?
An active user is a visitor who interacts with a website, app, service, or product in a meaningful way during a specific period of time. The number of active users is a KPI that developers and marketers use to measure engagement, growth, and churn.
How to track active users
Usually defining an active user depends on the service and product in question. For example, an active user on a social media network could be anyone that has an account and logs in.
Most mobile organizations measure and track the number of active users by:
- Month — monthly active users (MAU),
- Week — weekly active users (WAU), and/or
- Day — daily active users (DAU)
Monitoring active user count can help companies monitor the health of cross-platform and cross-channel growth.
Measuring active users (rather than simply measuring app downloads and app installs) ensures that a company’s acquisition engine is not a leaky bucket, or a situation in which you’re acquiring new users without being able to activate and engage them. Experts suggest running cohort analysis to monitor mobile user retention, as well as tracking engagement metrics that are highly correlated with retention — among them, daily sessions per user, average time spent, and number of clicks.
Tracking the stickiness of an app or website, which refers to the ratio of active users to the number of unique users, can also provide insights into user engagement. Stickiness can be measured using the DAU/MAU ratio which compares the number of daily active users to monthly active users. A high ratio means users regularly engage and return to your app, while a low ratio can indicate infrequent use.
In addition, lifetime value (LTV) is calculated using active user data and is crucial for understanding retention rate and the overall success of a mobile app strategy. As app users tend to have a higher LTV than non-app users, many brands are focused on growing their app’s number of new and returning users.
Organizations use mobile analytics tools to collect and interpret data related to active users and other key metrics. To gauge performance, it’s useful to establish a benchmark and regularly assess active user metrics and user behavior over specific timeframes.