Metrics That Matter: What to Report Up and Across

There are many ways to gauge the success of a product or service, but if you want to measure performance over time, you’ll need to weigh it against an unchanging set of standards. These metrics allow you to see and evaluate the impacts of your initiatives, which means you can repeat successes while steering clear of making the same mistakes twice.

When it comes to an app, there are several metrics worthy of prioritizing. Installs, opens, and conversions are popularly cited by mobile project managers and marketers as important numbers to have, and they are — but they’re not the only ones. These metrics simply scratch the surface when it comes to defining performance.

To really gauge your success, you’ll need a full view of your app’s performance in a variety of categories. Here are some of the most important metrics to follow, as well as tips on how to use the information you get.

What Makes a Metric?

All information is valuable, but you’re going to want to make sure that you’re getting the most value out of your metrics. That means making sure that your information is correct by getting it from reliable sources, and making sure that everyone has the same concept of what the data means. For the former, that also means understanding and conveying the limitations of each particular metric, because a single piece of data doesn’t tell a complete story. For the latter, you’ll want to make sure that you have clear, company-wide definitions for each metric, so there’s no confusion regarding what anything means.

You’ll also want to make sure everybody knows which metrics will be the main objects of focus. Any metric can be of primary importance, depending on your specific goals, but if you try too hard to focus on every metric, you’ll be spread too thin and, potentially, not excelling in any one area. To that same point, however, you will want to make sure that you prioritize both top-of-funnel customer acquisition and monetization. It’s all about striking the right balance while simultaneously making sure that your team isn’t overextended.

Standard Metrics

Some of the most important metrics for your app are also the most obvious. The initial impact metrics — things like attributed installs, attributed opens, and conversions/revenue paint a full-funnel picture of how your app is performing. By getting this data for each individual campaign you do, you can gauge how they’re working, both in terms of drawing interest and money.

Retention and engagement metrics are important for determining how many users are sticking around (and are likely to become paying customers) and for measuring the success of specific campaigns — if you’re retaining and engaging users but they aren’t spending money, you know that you need to try something new. According to a benchmark study conducted by Branch, the average mobile app loses 71% of its users 24 hours after download, 90% of its users a month after download, and 96% of its users three months after download, and you can set your own retention benchmarks based on that data. As far as engagement goes, you can measure the number of active users your app has in a given week or month.

Efficiency metrics can be extremely effective when it comes to judging how well your marketing efforts are performing. Your cost per install gives you an idea of the efficiency of your top-of-funnel efforts, while your cost per activation paints a picture further down the funnel. Finally, cost per conversion shows exactly how much you’re spending on each sale. Together, these metrics give full insight into efficiency at every level of the funnel.

Finally, value metrics show exactly what you’re getting for your dollar. ARPU, or average revenue per user, shows how much revenue each of your users generates over a certain amount of time. You can take that information into account when setting initial impact goals, or you can break it down further to see which methods of customer acquisition are having the most success. ROAS, or return on advertising spend, gives you another specific measurement — in this case, telling you the exact ratio of the money you spend on advertising to the money that the advertising brings back to you.

Advanced Metrics

In addition to the simpler metrics mentioned above, there are more complicated metrics that may be harder to collect, but can be invaluable when it comes to gauging your performance. User value metrics such as average order value and order frequency work together to give you information about your conversions, and differences in these numbers between your website and your app can be important to know and respond to. LTV, or lifetime value, gives you an average of how much, in sales, each user is responsible for during the course of their journey with you.

Brand affinity metrics may be harder to gather than some others, but making them a priority could lower your overall cost per acquisition. After all, getting referrals and shares on social media and review websites is an absolutely free way to get your brand — and your app — in front of new people. A high user rating in the App Store will also catch the interest of new customers. Finally, you can use marketing channel opt-in rates — the rates at which users opt into notifications like email and SMS — to determine how engaged your users are.

Since user churn doesn’t have to mean the end of a relationship with your customer, it’s important to keep track of metrics around it, as well. Getting accurate metrics around app stickiness — a measure of how many people regularly use your app — lets you know which campaigns have been more successful and less likely to cause churn. Additionally, measuring your winback rates lets you know which tactics work when it comes to reclaiming lapsed users.


Having access to the right metrics is critical when it comes to gauging where your app has been and where it’s going. You can isolate your successful campaigns and recreate them while avoiding the missteps you’ve made in the past. Focus on the metrics that matter most to you, and you’ll soon be able to watch them move in the right direction.

Have more questions about the metrics that matter? Make sure to check out Branch’s webinar on the topic, now available on demand!