User Quality: Engaged users matter more than MAUs


I hear it over and over again – people have no idea how often their users visit their app, or which ones visit the most frequently.

really like me

The stats that people tend to be able to rattle off include number of sessions each month and number of monthly average unique visitors. These are nice vanity metrics to give your investors and are useful to measure growth over time. Where these numbers are less helpful is in understanding why you are growing.

To understand the why, we need to dig into user engagement. An increase in user acquisition can be attributed to marketing, but an increase in user engagement either means you’ve done something to make your product better or you’ve found a superior audience. There are two questions you should be asking:

1) Did engagement increase when I made a change to my product?

2) Is there a cohort of users that is more engaged than others? If yes, what characteristics does this cohort share?

Cohort analysis allows you to understand who comes back to your app each month, each week, each day, or even each hour. Mixpanel calls this hourly cohort analysis addiction factor and makes it easy to create cohorts based on anything you know about your users. 

For app developers, for example, a quick and easy report to run is retention or addiction by app version; rather than waiting for your users to update their apps and looking at cohorts purely based on time of signup, you can see immediate impact based on app version.

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For both apps and websites, you can run A/B tests and track which cohort is most engaged. What could possibly matter more to your product decisions than how they impact user addiction?

You might spot some variation across devices, browsers, operating systems, and screen size, for example. These insights can help you tweak low-performing variations to increase addiction.

From a marketing perspective, it’s interesting to dig into whether demographics impact engagement. Is there a gender or age difference? Are certain countries or cities more engaged? Understanding who gets the most of your app is key to effectively targeting your advertising dollars.

What this all boils down to is this: simply focusing on the number of unique visits each month (MAUs) is less helpful than focusing on the quality of those MAUs. We don’t just care about acquiring users, we care about gaining engaged, or addicted, users. In other words, it’s not just about user acquisition  – it’s about user quality. Do your users really like you?



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