App Engagement Metrics: Best Practices for Using DAU, WAU & MAU Analytics to Grow Your App

When it comes to thinking about how well your app is engaging your customers, one metric to look at is whether app users continue to come back and open the app — and how often.

That’s where DAU (daily active users), WAU (weekly active users) and MAU (monthly active users) mobile metrics come in.

At Urban Airship, we use the term “active users” to mean the number of unique users who opened an app in a specified time period.

Which is Most Important to Monitor — DAU, WAU or MAU?

A lot of folks ask whether they should be looking at daily, weekly or monthly active users to determine the health of their app.

But we suggest asking a slightly different question: How often would my most engaged app users typically interact with my app?

This is a more valuable question. That’s because different apps will have different user behavior pattern patterns.

For example, a news media app looking to drive app opens through frequent push notifications about breaking news will be looking closely at DAU. Their mobile strategy (and business!) is designed to drive daily interaction and user engagement.

app engagement metrics - daily active users report in Urban Airship's Insight mobile analytics solution

Use the Unique App Opens report in Urban Airship's mobile analytics solution Insight to see daily, weekly and monthly active users broken down by platform and opt-in / opt-out users.    

On the other hand, a retail app that offers weekly or monthly (vs. daily) sales and offers would be better off looking at WAU or MAU as indicators of app user engagement levels.

Essentially, your mobile strategy and mobile messaging should be driving the user behavior patterns that make the most sense for the way your best customers use your app — and your analytics should measure how well that strategy is working.

When users are becoming increasingly less active, their likelihood of churning (going inactive or deleting your app) increases. Our Predictive Churn analytics solution helps you know in advance which users are most likely to churn so you can take action to keep them. Learn more in this blog post on preventing customer churn.

Looking Beyond “Active Users” for More User Engagement Signals

DAU, WAU and MAU are great app engagement metrics to look at to get a big picture view of user engagement. But there are many more customer engagement metrics to consider that will help round out your understanding of customer engagement.  

The key question to ask here is:  What actions do app users take to indicate engagement after they’ve opened my app?

Again, the kinds of app engagement metrics to look for here will be unique for each app, and could include:

  • Reading content within your app

  • Adding an item to a shopping cart

  • Making an in-app purchase

  • Sharing something from the app on social media

  • Etc.

Which actions and events are most important and valuable for your app? Dig into your data to take a look.

By the way, if you're not already tracking engagement actions, read about how to set up custom events to tag and measure how often and how many times a user does these actions.

Other Ways to Use DAU, WAU & MAU to Dive Deeper into Your App Engagement Metrics

Depending on the analytics most important for your app, consider using some of the following approaches to explore engagement analytics that could reveal missed opportunities:

  • Look at the ratio of DAU/MAU to answer “how many of my monthly users are coming back daily?”  You can use this percentage as an indicator of app “stickiness.”

  • Look at DAU/MAU over  time. How does seasonality (or your external acquisition efforts) affect your app?

  • Compare the MAU of different segments of users. For example, do users in a certain age group return more to the app?

  • Compare daily, weekly or monthly active users between device properties. Are Android or iOS users stickier?

Taking Action For Mobile Growth

Data is only as valuable as the actions you take because of it.

Once you’ve determined the metrics that are most valuable for your app, create a strategy for acting on them to increase engagement and value. You’ll benefit — and so will your app users.

Our mobile analytics solution, Insight, makes getting the app engagement metrics you need fast and easy. Learn more about the products and features here, and try it free for 30 days.