Engage with User for The Better!

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When making a product, the main goal is to give users what they need and hope that our product is able to solve the problem. Now how do we know that the product really works? Well, first, we need to know the relationship between the users and the product. This is when user engagement comes in handy.

What is User Engagement?

According to mixpanels.com,

“User engagement measures whether users find value in a product or service. Engagement can be measured by a variety or combination of activities such as downloads, clicks, shares, and more. Highly engaged users are generally more profitable, provided that their activities are tied to valuable outcomes such as purchases, signups, subscriptions, or clicks.”

Basically, user engagement means the level of user involvement with the product. It is usually in the form of quantitative measures, such as downloads, clicks and shares. User engagement is an unbiased behavioural measurement and is therefore trustworthy, valid, and reliable.

Why User Engagement is Important

As mentioned before, the goal of creating a product is to meet users needs. Therefore, understanding people’s engagement behaviour toward a thing — in this case, a product — reveals how much the product meets the users' needs and how much the users are hooked into using it.

From a business perspective, user engagement is highly correlated with overall profitability. When users are hooked into using our product, they find value in it and are more likely to buy, return, or share the product with their surroundings. By improving engagement, teams can improve the product’s profitability.

How to Measure User Engagement

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To measure user engagement, the team must decide what engagement means to them. Each product has its own metrics for user engagement. For example, in an e-commerce store, a positive engagement counts in the form of purchases or when users add an item to their cart. While in a media publication, all activities might be considered positive engagement because the site makes money from advertising.

Aside from positive engagements, it is also important to define the negative ones, such as unsubscribes, app deletions, plan downgrades, and silenced notifications. When the analytics team know the reasons behind these disengagements, the product can be evaluated for more improvements. Product teams often measure the average activity of all users as a benchmark.

If your product is a mobile-app based, here are the top 10 metrics to measure user engagement:

  1. Number of downloads — This is considered the most important metric in the mobile application. The first step is reaching a substantially large number of downloads to ensure that the app reaches a broad audience to achieve app success.
  2. Total number of users — This is important when building a better engagement, like launching the product marketing campaigns. The numbers can be seen in daily, weekly and monthly active users and further broken down by the device, age, demography, gender and many others to segment the audience. In addition to measuring engagement, getting these numbers helps planning for the growth of your app.
  3. Active app users — This metric is different from the two mentioned above because this metric measures when users are actually using the app regularly rather than just downloading it.
  4. Session interval — This is the time between two consecutive sessions of your app and shows the frequency at which the user opens and uses the app.
  5. Session length — More engagement would mean longer session durations.
  6. Time in the app — Time in the app is a function of session frequency and session length, which tells how long users are staying in your app on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. Similar to other mentioned metrics, this also helps increase the understanding of user behaviour and app usage patterns.
  7. Screen flow — A screen flow helps visualize the actions of your app’s users. This metric will help you get insights into what users do on a particular screen and their next step. This data can be used to put in-app marketing campaigns.
  8. Retention — The percentage of users that return to your app in the last 30 days. It measures how addicted users to your app.
  9. Conversion — The percentage of users who perform a set of goals or a specific goal that you want them to perform in your app.
  10. Lifetime Value (LTV) — The revenue metric for looking at how well you are monetizing. It measures the total of revenue you get before a user stop using your app.

How to Improve User Engagement

  1. Find out what user consider valuable — What is in the product that users find it valuable? Identify key moments and consider product changes that deliver more of them.
  2. Improve the product’s ability —Product’s ability is the key to increase user engagement. By analyzing the customer journey and identifying events that cause users to drop off, product teams can find and fix usability issues.
  3. Educating users — New and experienced users have different needs when they are using an app. It is your duty to keep both of them accommodated in the product and slowly unfurling the product’s capabilities over time, for example, hiding the advanced features for the experienced user so that it is not intimidating for the new user.
  4. Communicating with Users — Back to the product's main purpose — to meet users' needs, product and marketing teams can also simply ask users what they want. This kind of feedback is also helpful to increase user engagement in the future.

Retention in User Engagement


One of the metrics in User Engagement is retention. As mentioned before, retention means the percentage of users that return to your app in the last 30 days. It affects the majority of metrics that are being tracked, as high retention reveals that users have a real and regular need for the product. Different from user engagement, you can consider it as retention when customers come back to your product after the initial use. For example, if users check your product every day, even when they don't take any further actions beyond checking it, that’s retention. Retention brings customers back, which provides an opportunity for engagement.

User engagement is the key to gain more revenue, but since there are a lot of metrics that can be used, increasing user retention alone won’t do the trick. After all, simply getting customers to open an app, software, or another subscription-based product isn’t the same as getting them actively engaged in using it. You can reach out to customers proactively so that you can improve user retention and overall engagement at the same time.

In my team’s PPL project, we haven't explicitly tried to increase user engagement in our product. But one of our main features is to collect used cooking oil and exchange it for money balance in our application account. Unconsciously we have implemented a feature to gain more user engagement because when the user interacts with our app, in this case storing used cooking oil, they get incentive which will make them want to use our app again.

When developing a product, the functionalities are the first thing you need to pay attention to. But the next step is to make sure that users keep using your product to gain revenue. Learning about user engagement can help you and your team to improve your product by making features that will increase user engagements.

That is all for today’s article! Thank you for reading^^

Computer Science, University of Indonesia