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High-level KPIs like ARPU and retention are great for getting a big-picture view of your mobile app’s health, but while they might suffice for an executive summary, developers tasked with moving the needle every day know the value of digging deeper.

We put together a list of some valuable and overlooked KPIs that are driving success in the contemporary mobile marketplace.

Time to First IAP
If your app is part of the vast majority that generates the bulk of revenue through IAPs, knowing the mean time between install and conversion among your paying users can be extremely powerful. This figure creates a measurable goal for your product management team to optimize the right balance between time-to-first IAP and overall retention. Your primary goal is likely to be to get users to pay as quickly as possible, but this must be balanced with retention to make sure that you are not pushing users towards a payment too quickly.

Permissions Granted Ratio
First-time publishers often make the mistake of rushing into their push or contact permission requests. Putting this particular interaction too early doesn’t do much to set your app apart from the dozens of others fighting for your customer’s attention. Measuring the ratio of permissions requested to those accepted provides your product team with hard evidence to validate their time spent crafting a permission request that will pay dividends in future marketing initiatives.

Cost Per Loyal User
Most developers know down to the penny how much they spent to acquire a new user. But how many developers know what they spent to acquire a loyal user? In this case, “loyal” can be defined however the developer sees fit, but a good rule of thumb is to define it as a user who sticks around and continues using the app for at least seven days. This “cost per loyal user” benchmark is much more meaningful than just “cost per user” because it gives developers an idea of how much they are spending on users that really matter.

Time to Profitability
As is the case with any mature app, acquisitions spends are investments. Knowing the amount of time it takes to see a return on that investment is key to properly scheduling your acquisition initiatives. Time to Profitability (or TTP) is a basic calculation that compares the cost of acquiring users against the time it takes for a publisher to recoup the cost of acquisition, either through IAP or ad revenue. While it’s a must-have for any app that has moved beyond soft-launch, it can also serve as a helpful target metric for apps still in their late-developmental stages.

Mobile apps are complicated and measuring user behavior shouldn’t be a one-size fits all solution. In our experience, the publishers that define their measurement strategy well in advance of launches and updates benefit most from the kind of lesser-known metrics we’ve listed here. At Tenjin, we’re dedicated to building the tools that allow our developers to make the smartest decisions for their mobile business. If you have any questions or stories of other under-appreciated metrics, you can reach us at

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