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How to choose the right KPIs for your mobile campaigns

Published: June 2, 2016

Author: Craig Weinberg

As we previously explored, even the smartest digital marketers tend to make a ton of mistakes when it comes to mobile campaigns. We’re going to give some insights into fixing one of the very first mistakes they make: choosing the wrong KPIs.
We’ll start off by identifying the most common KPI-related mistake, then show you a better methodology. Once you get that down, we’ll give you a tip to make sure you’ve not only chosen the right KPIs but are tracking them most effectively.
Let’s dive in.

Less Is More

One of the most amazing aspects of mobile is the sheer breadth of data it brings marketers. There’s no cookie limitation, most users interact with their phones dozens and dozens of times a day…I could go on. But this bonanza doesn’t mean marketers should try to focus on the full range.
While we do want to know everything about our user, when it comes to measuring the effectiveness of our campaign, we want to focus on no more than 2-3 parameters. We have seen advertisers tracking page views, daily visits, email addresses submitted, and so on and so on. We recommend two short-term KPIs (based on your business and goals) and one long-term, universal KPI, which we’ll reveal below.

How Do You Narrow Things Down?

To make your life easier in identifying your short-term KPIs, ask yourself these two main questions:

  1. After a user downloads your app, what is the most important action he/she can take, right there in the first session? Is it sign-up? Tutorial completion? Executing the first order? Connecting to friends? Liking content? Whatever the desired action is, this is your first KPI.
  2. Now ask yourself: what is the retention action my user should take – what will convince me that this user is actually an active user in my service? Is it first money deposit? Posting content? Inviting a friend? Subscribing?  Whatever that action might be, this is your second (and usually last) KPI.


Track Your KPIs Effectively

Now that you’ve identified your short-term KPIs, you need to make sure that every action taken in your campaigns is being attributed back to them. Basically, you need to determine how many engagement (KPI1) or retention (KPI2) actions each part of your campaign has generated, e.g.:

  • How many sign ups did each creative produce?
  • How many payment events did each media source drive?
  • Which geo provided the highest subscription ratio?
  • Etc.

To complicate things a bit, we believe that although you should track actual user value on a monthly basis, you can’t wait for monthly results to optimize. Instead, you must optimize and adjust on a daily basis based on your short-term KPIs – for instance, you wouldn’t want to wait a month before pulling the plug on a poor-performing creative or a geo with no KPI1s recorded.
That is why we recommended a third, longer-term KPI – total money spent on the last 30 days. This will give you a very helpful zoom-out onto campaign performance over time.
So, to sum up: one KPI for engagement, one KPI for retention, and one KPI to help you track longer term progress against budget and goals. If it sounds simple, good! You’ll be amazed at how much easier it makes it to measure (and improve) your mobile effectiveness.

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