How do you measure success in the digital world? How can you make revenue projections? How will you convince angel investors and venture capitalists to invest in your project? These are hard questions every business owner has to ask himself at one point or another during the lifecycle of his app/website.
One key metric that will help you answer all of these questions and more is Monthly Active Users (or MAU for short). It is one of the most widely used, informative, and practical metrics companies and developers can use to gauge their success, and in this blog post, we'll go over everything you need to know about it.
Why Is MAU Important?
Measuring and tracking monthly active users gives you critical insights into the state of your business, the performance of your app/website, and the user engagement with various services and products. In this section, we'll go over precisely why MAU is such a paramount metric.
- Excellent measure of active users: Having monthly figures of active users is one of the key metrics that show user growth, the popularity of the app, revenues, and more. There are very few metrics that will tell you more about an app's success than the number of unique users in a month.
- Longitudinal information: Unlike daily and weekly active users, MAU is less susceptible to fluctuations and outliers, which makes it ideal for getting a longitudinal view of how your app is performing. Daily active users and weekly active users are still essential metrics with key benefits, but if you want the bird's eye, long-term view of performance and engagement, there's nothing better than MAU.
- Giving a holistic view of how different parts of your app/website perform: Whether you've designed an app, service, or website, it is likely compartmentalized into different sections and parts, and you want accurate data on how each section, each product, each service is doing, and this is where MAU truly shines. Not only does it give you information about monthly active users, but it also helps you understand how each section of your app is doing. This is key information in helping you improve and develop your product going forward.
How Do You Calculate MAU?
Being such an important metric you rely on during development and planning, getting MAU right is vital. To do that, you make sure the team truly understands what MAU means, ensure data collection is accurate and reliable, and turn the data you collect into useful graphs and charts that can better help your team make sense of it. In this section, we'll go over what you need to know to accurately and effectively measure monthly active users.
#1 Make Sure You Use a Consistent, Useful Definition of Monthly Active Users (MAU)
What is an active user? This question might appear deceptively simple, but answering it precisely and thoroughly will be key to making Monthly Active Users useful as a metric.
When you calculate monthly active users, you need to have clear criteria for what makes a user active during that month. Is opening the app once during the entire duration of the month enough to flag a user as active? Does spending 10 minutes on a website?
It is important to understand there are no universal answers to these questions. It will depend on the type of the app, criteria for success, and more. A game might consider minutes of engagement as the user being active while an e-commerce platform might only consider users to actively make a purchase as active. Both of these make sense, and the challenge most app developers will face is coming up with criteria and definitions that separate who is a monthly active user and who isn't.
#2 Data Integrity is Paramount
When calculating monthly active users, it is very important the calculations are done properly and data integrity is checked regularly. Being an important metric that will inform key business decisions, companies can't afford to make mistakes when calculating MAU.
If the processes you use overinflate monthly active users (MAU) systematically, after a few months, this could give you an entirely wrong impression of an app's success and where it currently stands in the market. Delaying potentially necessary changes and making your business uncompetitive.
If, on the other hand, the processes you use undercount monthly active users (MAU), your business might not get the necessary investment to truly shine. Products and services you introduce might not get the attention they deserve as their true success isn't truly being caught on the graphs. This, too, can have catastrophic implications.
There are a number of excellent tools and software programs you can use to make this process easier. They'll help you collect information about users, see how they interact with your app, and automatically apply criteria to separate active users each month.
#3 Quantify Trends and Generate Reports Based on the Data
Now that you have raw monthly active user (MAU) numbers, you need to extract useful information from it. How many users visit your website/app alone is a deeply useful metric by itself, but only when you properly analyze and segment the data can you truly leverage MAU's full potential.
- Segment the data: While learning the number of monthly active users is important, learning the types of users that interact with your app is equally important. How many of these are existing users? How many are new users? How many visited your website due to social networks? How many became engaged due to in-app messages? By assigning user ID, tracking new customers, and segmenting the data, you can learn a lot about your customer base and what keeps your users engaged.
- Generate reports: Monthly Active Users (MAU) and data derived from it are all deeply informative regarding the direction of your app, its success, and its failures. By generating reports that go in-depth into not only the raw data, but the broader trends and the various segments making MAU, you and your team can see how your apps/websites are doing, what new features and products are successful, what have floundered, and steps you can take to improve metrics. This information is invaluable to any business.
- Qualify types of interactions: The manner in which users interact with your app/website is very important. So while it is essential you have a unifying definition of "active" to measure MAU, it is also equally important to keep track of different types of interactions from existing and new users. While quantifying active users by the amount of time they spend on the app is useful, you might also want to quantify how much they spend on a specific feature, product page, etc. Having more information never really hurts, and qualifying types of interactions is a great start to understand your users and clients better.
Tips on Increasing MAU
While MAU data is extremely important, MAU isn't a static measurement to only gauge and observe. There are multiple strategies and approaches that will help you improve user engagement, increase MAU, and score better on other key metrics. In this section, we'll go over a number of tips you can use to improve monthly active users.
#1 Give Existing and New Users an Incentive to Continue Interacting with Your Platform
Why would your clients turn into daily active users or monthly active users? A surprising number of app developers don't have the answer to this question. If you want people to continue interacting with your platform, you need to give them incentives to do so.
These incentives come in many forms and shapes. They could be sign-up bonuses, they could be regular promotions, they could be discounts after they meet specific criteria. How you design the incentives will largely depend on your industry and the size of your company.
#2 Remind Your Users You Exist
Today, potential users are bombarded with ads, notifications, and messages telling them to use specific apps and services, and by not leveraging your contact channels with potential clients, you are putting yourself at a distinct disadvantage.
By relying on push notifications, in-app messages, and even emails and forums, you can remind potential clients you exist and offer key services/products. This can turn many potential users into unique users who actively engage with your platform each month.
#3 Prevent Your App from Stagnating
Fading into obscurity is the worst thing to happen to an app, and companies need to go out of their way to enact measures to prevent it from happening. Thankfully, there are multiple ways to go about this.
To improve the customer experience and improve customer satisfaction, developers can and should actively listen to their users to see what kind of features, services, and products they like to see and work on implementing them. Big releases not only put you on the map again and could potentially net you free coverage and a slew of new users, but they'll also induce loyalty in existing customers.
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