Applying User Metrics To Score And Rank Mobile Apps: Forrester's App Engagement Index

Do you measure the success of your app? And if so, how do you define success?

App success depends on both the type of app and the purpose of an app; in general, we can't measure success just by counting the number of downloads or looking at the time spent with the app. But for certain apps, such as communication, dating, games, movies, music, news/media, social networking, and sports, it's easier to define success: The more engaged a user is, the better.

To help marketing leaders and app providers evaluate and benchmark these apps as consumers embrace the mobile mind shift, Forrester has created the App Engagement Index. We use actual smartphone behavior collected from more than 3,000 US and UK smartphone owners who have agreed to supply their data — permitting precise usage analysis at a detailed level.* The Index analyzes every app used by more than 2% of the panelists and rates its user engagement and relative performance across four metrics: 

Calculating the App Engagement index

 

The Index combines these metrics, scores each app from zero (not engaging at all) to 1,000 (the maximum possible engagement), and places it on a spectrum of four segments: addicting, engaging, enticing, and intriguing.

Four segments of the app engagement index

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Three Interesting Findings From Our UK Mobile Behavioral Tracking Study

Behavior tracking data is the new black. It is a type of big data that can help you better understand your target consumers — everything from the amount of time they spend on each social media outlet to their most popular time of day to visit shopping websites. Compared with other data sources, it allows you to capture actions at a very detailed level with precision, eliminating measurement errors by analyzing usage of what consumers do, not what they say they do.

In our recent publication, Mobile Behavioral Data: UK, we analyzed Forrester's UK Consumer Technographics® Behavioral Study, November 2013 to March 2014, and found that:

  • WhatsApp keeps UK smartphone owners engaged the longest. Forty-one percent of UK adults use the app for just over 8 hours per month (or about 2 hours per week). That is longer user engagement than for any of the other top 10 most popular apps that UK consumers use on their smartphone; this includes Facebook, the most popular app, which keeps smartphone users engaged for a little over 90 minutes per week. 
  • Young UK smartphone owners are most likely to use finance/banking apps. More than half of 18- to 24-year-old UK smartphone owners use finance/banking apps, like the Lloyds Bank app and the NatWest app. These youngsters show the highest adoption of finance/banking apps in the UK, and rates decline with age; about 40% of 25- to 44-year-olds and 34% of 45- to 54-year-olds use finance/banking apps.
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Game Time — What Can We Learn From Gaming Apps?

Want to track how many calories you burned on your lunch run? There’s an app for that. Want to turn your face into an Emoji? There’s an app for that. Want to kill time by making patterns out of different colors of candy? There’s an app for that, and it’s quite popular, in fact. Candy Crush Saga, the most popular gaming app in the United States, according to Forrester’s Consumer Technographics® Behavioral Study, attracts close to 14% (about 1 out of every 7) of US online smartphone owners. On average, users access the app almost every other day, and when they do, they spend more than a half an hour per day using it. That’s more time than users spend on any social networking app, even Facebook.

Spending this much time using a gaming app is not unique to Candy Crush. Gaming apps frequently make it to the top of the list when sorting by time spent per day. Juice Cubes, another gaming app, keeps users engaged for an average of 37 minutes per day, 3 days per week. Who are these gamers, and where do they get the time?

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Smartphones Boast Breadth While Tablets Engage — An Introduction To Forrester’s Mobile Behavioral Data

I recently “overheard” a member of our market research online community (MROC) say, “I treat my smartphone like my child and carry it everywhere I go.” It’s official: Smartphones have replaced children. Not really, but the statement speaks to the way that consumers have changed their thinking and behavior because of mobile devices. The rapid adoption and dominant presence of mobile devices speaks to their importance in consumers' daily lives.

As part of our effort to develop forward-thinking research using innovative approaches, Forrester is collecting behavioral data by tracking consumers' activities on smartphones and tablets. By using a passive tracking technology, we now have a detailed, inside look into what consumers are doing on their smartphones and tablets and when they're doing it. Preliminary results have shown some surprising (and not so surprising) data insights.

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