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Active users
website analytics

The Importance of Active Users: A Guide to MAU, WAU, and DAU

Aug 30, 2023
10 mins read

Did you know monitoring active users for your online business is crucial and one of the fundamental insights sources?

If you are not already tracking active users on your website or application, you are missing a key aspect of your user data analysis. Tracking active users empowers online businesses to optimize user experiences, create targeted strategies, and make informed decisions that ultimately contribute to growth, customer satisfaction, and long-term success.

You can keep track of your active users on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. But first, understand what active users are and how they differ from general users. Why successful businesses are tracking active users consistently and how you can track the key metrics related to active users with Usermaven. Let’s dive in!

What are active users?

Active users are individuals or accounts that engage with a particular service, platform, application, or website within a specific timeframe. It is a software performance metric that measures the usage and engagement of a digital product or service. This metric finds applications in software management, including social platforms, web applications, eCommerce websites, gaming platforms, mobile applications, and more.

The “active user” description can vary depending on the context and the specific metric being tracked. Various interpretations of an active user are used for different platforms, industries, and analytical goals. For instance, based on platform type, active users can mean different things as follows:

  • Social Media Platform: An active user might be someone who logs in, posts, comments, or engages with others' content regularly.
  • E-commerce Platform: An active user could be someone who visits the site frequently, adds items to the cart, or makes purchases.
  • Gaming App: Active users may be those who play the game daily, participate in in-game events, or interact with other players.

This metric is categorized based on the specific time period for which it is being measured. It is usually measured over a day as Daily active users (DAU), a week as Weekly active users (WAU), and a month as Monthly active users (MAU).

What is the difference between users and active users?

Both of these concepts are used to describe individuals who interact with a platform, service, application, or website. Although related, users and active users represent different levels of engagement.

Users

Users refer to all individuals who have registered, signed up, or created an account on a platform or service. They can include both active and inactive individuals. Users are a broader metric encompassing everyone who has shown interest by creating an account, downloading an app, or joining a service. They can vary widely in their engagement levels. Some might be highly active, using the platform regularly, while others might have signed up but rarely or never engaged beyond that.

This metric provides insight into a platform's total reach and potential user base but doesn't necessarily reflect ongoing engagement.

Active users

Active users are a subset of total users that display ongoing engagement and interaction with a platform within a specified time frame. Active users are defined by specific criteria that measure their level of activity. These criteria include logging in, posting content, making purchases, participating in discussions, and more. They give a clearer picture of the platform's usage patterns and ability to retain users over time.

There are different ways to define active users based on the context and the platform's nature. Common measurements include Daily Active Users (DAU), Weekly Active Users (WAU), and Monthly Active Users (MAU).

This metric is valuable for assessing user satisfaction, understanding user behaviors, optimizing user experience, and making informed product development and marketing strategy decisions.

It's important to track both users and active users to understand the complete user base and to evaluate the platform's effectiveness in retaining and engaging its audience.

Why are active users important?

Active users matter because they provide insights into the health, effectiveness, and growth potential of a platform, service, application, or website. Here’s why they matter:

1. Data analytics

Active users is a metric linked closely to web analytics. It offers insights into a website or web application's performance. Web analytics uses active users to determine user engagement, visitor behavior, content performance, conversion rate, A/B testing, retention, and churn. In short, active users are a fundamental component of web analytics as they clearly show how users interact with a website or web application. This data is vital for optimizing user experiences, enhancing content, and making informed decisions to improve overall website or product performance.

2. Product development

“Active users” is a metric that directly influences the creation, enhancement, and refinement of products, services, applications, or platforms. It offers feedback on what features or content resonates with users. By analyzing this information, businesses can prioritize feature developments and product improvements. Product teams can identify and optimize pain points, obstacles, or frustrations users face during their interactions.

3. Marketing and monetization

Active user metrics guide marketing strategies that allow businesses to target periods of high user engagement for promotions and campaigns. It also helps in identifying user segments that might require additional attention. Focusing on active users encourages businesses to prioritize user needs and preferences, leading to a user-centric approach to marketing, development, and design.

Active users are critical for platforms that generate revenue through ads, subscriptions, or transactions. Higher active user numbers can attract advertisers and increase the likelihood of users engaging in revenue-generating activities.

4. Churn and retention

Tracking active users helps identify user retention rates. If active user numbers drop, it could indicate that users are leaving the platform, prompting a need to investigate and address potential issues causing the churn.

What are two types of active users?

Two types of active users refer to different stages of user interaction and engagement with a platform, service, application, or website.

1. New users

New users are individuals who recently signed up or registered for the first time on the platform. They usually explore a platform’s features and offerings and represent potential growth. They are important for businesses because attracting and retaining new users is required to expand the user base and increase overall business growth.

Businesses aim to provide a positive and seamless onboarding experience, guiding them through the platform's features, helping them understand its value, and encouraging them to take meaningful actions to become active users.

2. Returning users

A returning user is an individual who has used the platform before and is coming back for subsequent interaction. Returning users are familiar with the platform's features and have decided to engage with it again. They indicate the platform’s ability to retain users over time. Their continued engagement suggests they find value in the platform and are likelier to become loyal users.

Regarding returning users, businesses aim to maintain their interest and keep them engaged. They do this by providing fresh content, updates, and experiences that encourage them to continue using the platform. It's also an opportunity to deepen their engagement and encourage more frequent visits.

Both are important for a platform's overall success and sustainability, and strategies should be in place to cater to their specific needs and behaviors.

What are some metrics for measuring active users?

The following metrics are commonly used to measure active users and their engagement with a platform, service, application, or website:

1. MAU

MAU (Monthly Active Users) is the measure of the number of unique users that engage with a platform, service, application, or website within a time frame of a calendar month. This metric offers insights into the overall user base and the sustained interest in the offering over a longer time frame. MAU is a key metric for assessing user engagement and the health of a digital product.

Importance of MAU

The importance of MAU can be realized on the points:

  • MAU is an indicator of long-term engagement. It tells how many users are using your platform consistently over a month so that you can identify the user base that remains engaged beyond short-term activity.
  • Tracking MAU helps in monitoring user retention rates. An MAU drop might indicate user satisfaction issues or the need to improve the platform's value proposition.
  • A high MAU is a sign that users find your product or platform valuable and keep returning regularly to receive it.
  • Stakeholders, investors, and partners often look at MAU to assess the health and success of a digital product.
  • MAU is a key performance indicator for businesses or platforms implementing monetization strategies. The higher the MAU, the more revenue generation will be.

2. WAU

WAU (Weekly Active Users) is the count of unique users that engage with a platform, service, application, or website within a week (7 days). This metric unlocks short-term user engagement trends and helps businesses find out the frequency of user interaction and identify patterns that might not be evident when looking at longer time frames.

Importance of WAU

The following points highlight the importance of WAU:

  • WAU captures short-term engagement trends. It is particularly useful for platforms with fluctuating or rapidly changing user behaviors.
  • If you implement updates, new features, or changes to your platform, tracking WAU can help you gauge how these changes impact user engagement in the immediate consequence.
  • You can also measure the effectiveness of short-term marketing campaigns or promotions.
  • Also, with WAU, you can detect any disruptions in engagement if your platform experiences downtime or technical issues.

3. DAU

DAU (Daily Active Users) measures the number of unique users engaging with a platform, service, application, or website within a day. DAU provides insights into the immediate and ongoing engagement of users daily.

Importance of DAU

DAU is important because:

  • It offers a real-time snapshot of how many users actively use the platform on any given day. It helps you understand the current state of user engagement.
  • Tracking DAU allows you to identify any sudden spikes or drops in user engagement quickly. It enables you to respond promptly to issues or capitalize on positive trends.
  • It helps you understand how often users interact with your platform daily, which features they use, and what actions they take.
  • Consistent and high DAU numbers often correlate with high user satisfaction levels.
  • Higher DAUs can increase monetization opportunities, especially for platforms that generate revenue through ads, subscriptions, or transactions.

How do we measure MAU, WAU & DAU?

To measure active users, you first need to select the time period for which you want to measure active users. For instance, you might choose "July" as the target month, a week of “July,” or a single day in “July.” Next, identify all the unique users who engaged with your platform during the selected time period, such as users who logged in, performed actions, or accessed content. Count all the unique users who interacted with the platform at least once during the selected time frame to find your MAU, WAU, or DAU.

You can use active user data for comparison and analysis across different months, weeks, or days to identify trends, growth, or changes in engagement patterns. For example, comparing July's MAU with June's MAU can show whether engagement increases or decreases. You can also segment your MAU data to understand engagement patterns among user groups, regions, or demographics.

How do we accurately track active users?

Businesses can leverage analytics tools like Usermaven to track active users accurately. Usermaven is a website and product analytics tool hosted in the EU and offers privacy-friendly data insights. It offers you essential metrics in real-time and in a straightforward manner. You won’t be caught up in the intricate configurations and complex interfaces of other analytics tools like Google Analytics.

With Website Analytics, your dashboard offers instant insights about new and returning active users. You can also track data related to active users, such as total visitors, pageviews, sessions, visit duration, and more, depending on your selected time period.

importance of active users

With Product Analytics, you can track active users and user behavior. The product insights dashboard offers a glimpse of the tracking abilities of Usermavem. You can identify obstacles, boost product engagement, and reduce customer churn. Moreover, setting up Usermaven is easy and quick, without developers needing to track features and key actions.

Conclusion

This article highlights the concept of active users and their significance for various contexts, including online businesses and digital platforms.

Tracking active users is like having a front-row seat to your online business's success story. It helps you understand how much users love your platform, where they spend their time, and what keeps them returning for more. From improving user experience to tailoring content and boosting revenue opportunities, active user tracking is the secret sauce that turns engagement into growth.

FAQs

1. What are the most commonly used measurement periods for an active user?

The measurement periods for active users can vary depending on the platform, industry, and specific goals of the analysis. However, three common measurement periods widely used to track active users are DAU, WAU, and MAU. Daily active users (DAU) are the number of unique users that engage with a platform or service daily. Weekly active users (WAU) are the number of unique users that engage with a platform or service every week. Monthly active users (MAU) are the number of unique users that engage with a platform or service every month.

2. What is an active user in SaaS?

For SaaS, an active user is an individual who actively engages with their platform in a specified period. An active user can mean different for different SaaS based on their platform’s specifications and functionalities, but the general concept revolves around user interaction and engagement. Some factors defining it include usage frequency, interaction threshold, or performing a specific action.

3. Why should I track active users?

Tracking users is important because it indicates the performance of a platform in terms of how much they are engaged, interested, and satisfied with your offering. You can use these data insights to make data-driven decisions about product development, retention, user experience optimization, marketing strategies, and more.

4. Why Is DAU Important?

Daily active user (DAU) is important as it provides valuable insights into users' immediate engagement and usage patterns. It offers real-time insights by giving you a snapshot of how many users are engaging with your platform daily. You can identify any sudden drops or spikes in user engagement. It allows you to address issues promptly or capitalize on positive trends. Moreover, DAU data helps measure the effectiveness of marketing campaigns and promotions.

5. What is the difference between WAU and MAU?

While both are used to measure user engagement and activity on a platform, service, application, or website, WAU and MAU differ with respect to the specified time frame of tracking. WAU refers to the number of unique users who engage with a platform or service within a period of one week, and MAU refers to the same number of engaging unique users within a calendar month.

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