Daily Active Users (DAU), Weekly Active Users (WAU), and Monthly Active Users (MAU)
Why measure daily, weekly, and monthly active users?
The success of SaaS applications depends on retention — and retention depends on usage. This usage is often measured with a series of related metrics. Daily active users (DAU), weekly active users (WAU), and monthly active users (MAU) all represent, as the names suggest, measures of active usage inside the product. These are the most common ways to measure user engagement.
Is more usage better than less?
Not necessarily. While one would generally expect more engagement to be better than less, this is not always the case. Sometimes more engagement is an indicator of friction, revealing that users are spending more time than they should completing tasks and workflows inside the product. Using these metrics requires that companies first define what active usage means for their specific product. While a social network like Facebook closely monitors DAU, given that people don’t typically travel daily, a service like AirBnB would attach a different KPI to product usage.
What is the right level of engagement for an application?
What is the right level of engagement to trigger “usage” success — logging in, session duration, feature consumption, task completion? These are context-sensitive decisions. Further, what’s the desired level of engagement? Not every app is meant to be a daily usage application. And more usage doesn’t always mean more value for end users (as mentioned above, sometimes it actually means less).
What are alternatives to measuring DAU, WAU, and MAU?
Because of the limitations of these metrics, many companies have moved to ratio metrics such as “stickiness,” which calculates the percentage of monthly active users who return daily (mathematically expressed as DAU/MAU). The stickiness ratio if often seen as a truer measure of engagement. Another related metric is user retention over time, which measures the percentage of users that remain active over time.