Are You Tracking These KPIs in Your User Acquisition Strategy?

“How do you measure the performance and value of your mobile app?” If we ask this question to a performance marketer, we are likely to get varied answers. Setting the right KPIs is an essential part of any successful mobile user acquisition strategy. While there are different KPIs that are tracked and analyzed by apps of different verticals, in general, the following top three KPIs are important ones to measure to optimize your performance.

1. Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC)

CAC refers to the total cost of acquiring a customer from getting their attention to getting them to buy. If you’re a business owner, you probably track CAC because you want to know the cost of convincing someone that your product or service is the right one for them.

Any reduction in customer acquisition costs increases profit margins, so you’ll no doubt be interested in tracking and using this metric to optimize the returns on your advertising investments.

CAC is also an important metric for investors, who frequently use it to analyze the scalability of new tech companies.

Should you track your customer acquisition costs across each of your marketing channels? The answer is yes. Without question.

That way, you can identify which avenues have the lowest acquisition costs overall and concentrate your efforts there.

Of course, you will need to have mechanisms in place that will help you to keep track of which customers are coming from which channel.

How do you measure CAC?

In simple terms, you can calculate your CAC by dividing your total acquisition spend (sales and marketing costs) in any given period by the number of customers gained in that same period:

So let’s say that your company spends £36,000 in the first quarter and gains 1000 shiny new customers for their efforts. The total cost to acquire each individual customer would be £36 (36,000 total spend divided by 1000 new customers).

In reality, it can get a little more complicated than this, especially if your campaign investments pay off at a later date.

2. Cost Per Acquisition

People often lump customer acquisition cost (CAC) and cost per acquisition (CPA) together. But they are, in fact, two completely different metrics.

Let’s say, for example, that you are launching a new app. Your CAC would be the total expenditure it takes to get someone to pay for your app.

Your CPA, on the other hand, would be the cost of getting them to download it and try it out in the first place.

How much does it cost you to get a single user to download and install your app? What’s the cost to get them to sign up for a free trial to your software service? Both of these questions relate to CPA directly.

It’s easy to see why people often use CAC and CPA interchangeably because CPA is a KPI that must be factored into the overall CAC calculation.

However, CPA is an important performance indicator in its own right, especially for SaaS and app companies; because it allows businesses to differentiate between the cost of getting someone to complete the desired action (signing up for a trial or using an app) and getting them from that point to the point at which they start to pay.

It may be helpful to think of CPA as “cost per action” that can be a better measure of true performance, as this metric involves getting someone to complete an action (not a purchase).

Your conversion rates for turning users into customers are also an extremely important metric to track because of the insights they give into the quality of your initial user experience.

3. App Store Optimization KPIs (ASO)

What KPIs do you need to track as part of your ASO (app store optimization) strategy?

In this section, we’ll go over a few of the key ones that relate to user acquisition.

Visibility is key to user acquisition. But with over 2 million apps fighting it out for users attention, it can be hard to get noticed.

As you can see from the chart below, the majority of apps are discovered while browsing an app store. So if you want your app to get off the ground, you need to figure out how to get to the top of the search results.

New Mobile App Discovery Methods
(Image sourced from Apptentive,

Ok, so you know you want to be seen. But what metrics should you be tracking to make sure that you get enough eyeballs on your app in the store?

Well, visibility in app stores is based mainly on Search, Top Charts and Featured.

Here’s a list of the relevant KPI’s for tracking visibility and discoverability in the app stores:

  • App keyword rankings – This involves tracking how well you rank for a list of relevant keywords.
  • Top charts rankings. – Where do you rank in the top charts? You’ll need to monitor both the paid and unpaid rankings.
  • Category rankings. – Where does your app rank in its specific category? Like Education, Finance or Food & Drink for instance.
  • You will want to know if and when you are featured in any of the major app stores. You can use a free service like APPLyzer or App Annie to do this.

You’ll want to track the evolution of ASO KPIs like these daily and/or monthly. You should also track them in every country where your app is available.

It’s also a good idea to monitor your competitors’ rankings too so that you can compare.

Are you a performance marketer for an app? Get in touch to discuss what KPIs make sense for you and what results can you expect from different campaign types.

Ian is the Founder and CEO of Appinstitute, one of the world's leading DIY app builders. Naylor has founded, grown and sold 4 successful internet and technology companies during the past 18 years around the world. An expert authority on mobile app trends, Ian is a regular speaker at numerous industry events. Appinstitute has been named in the top 50 creative companies in England by Creative England.