What is an active user?

Glossary Active user

How to define active users

An active user is a user who engages with an app within a given period of time. This metric gives app developers and marketers valuable insight into their app’s growth, engagement, and stickiness.

What are the most commonly used measurement periods for an active user?

There are three commonly used active user definitions:

Daily active user (DAU): A daily active user is someone who interacts with an app on a specific day (e.g. January 1st).

Weekly active user (WAU): A weekly active user is someone who interacts with an app over a period of seven days (e.g. January 1st-7th).

Monthly active user (MAU): A monthly active user is someone who interacts with an app over a period of 30 days (e.g. January 1st-31st).

The usefulness of each measurement period depends on an app’s vertical. While it’s beneficial to maintain a healthy number of daily active users, an app that is based on seasonal or occasional usage, such as a last-minute hotel booking app or a banking app, might place more emphasis on monthly active users. Monthly active users is an important metric for many businesses because it is another indication of whether their retention rate is healthy.

Daily active users and monthly active users are typically the most commonly used of the three metrics, and can be used to calculate an app’s “stickiness”. Stickiness measures how often users are returning to an app.

For example, if you have 500 monthly active users, and 50 of these users interact with the product every day, then your app has a stickiness of 10%. This means 10% of your daily active users are becoming monthly active users.

App stickiness formula

What is the difference between users and active users?

During the selected period, active users are calculated by counting each user uniquely. So if a single user is active multiple times in a day, they'll count as one active user. However, an app will also have inactive, or churned, users who have installed the app but have not used it during the selected period. These users are therefore not counted as active users, but may use the app during a future period with the help of re-engagement campaigns.

Why are active users important?

From a business perspective, active users are important because they have the potential to generate revenue. An app needs active users to survive, so a healthy count of active users is positive.

Calculating an app’s number of active users over a period of time can also help assess the effectiveness of marketing campaigns. Spikes in active user counts that correlate with a push notification on a particular day, or a weekly offer, can be analyzed against like-for-like campaigns to assess performance.

Knowing active user numbers is also essential in calculating key metrics. Figures like retention rate rely on finding out whether users remain active over a period of time, and metrics like lifetime value (LTV) can’t be calculated without retention.

In sum, active user counts act both as a way of checking on the general health of an app and as a first step to calculating deeper and more informative metrics further down the line.

Active users and Adjust

By themselves, active user counts are simple indicators of an app’s health. Knowing daily, weekly and monthly active users during one particular time period and over the course of time will give you an indicator of app performance.

However, to make the most of these figures, marketers and advertisers must attribute individual active users with other information gathered through data collection. In-app spend, session counts, user behavior, and other metrics need to be combined to determine whether active users are truly delivering value.

Datascape provides all of your data in one unified dashboard to deliver clear insights that facilitate quick decision-making.

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