Best Practices

Product Management 101: DAU/WAU/MAU

The acronyms DAU, WAU, and MAU stand for daily active users, weekly active users, and monthly active users, respectively. DAU, in particular, is a popular metric for measuring user retention and engagement within a SaaS product. These numbers are also used to calculate a number of other useful KPIs, including stickiness (the ratio of DAU/MAU) and product engagement.

How do I calculate DAU, WAU, and MAU?

Daily active users (DAU) refers to the number of unique users interacting with your application on a specific day. These users have completed some action within your product, such as logging in, filling out a form, clicking a button — even signing up for the first time. Weekly active users and monthly active users refer to the same thing, but over a different time period.

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 be completing tasks and workflows inside the product. Using these metrics requires that companies first define what active usage means for their specific product. For example, a social network like Facebook closely monitors DAU. But a service like Airbnb would attach a different KPI to product usage, given that people don’t typically travel daily.

What is the right level of engagement for an application?

What is the right level of engagement to trigger “usage” success? Is it logging in, session duration, feature consumption, task completion, or something else? 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 is 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.

Recommended reading

“Introducing the Product Engagement Score” by Brian Crofts

The product engagement score is a function of adoption, stickiness, and growth, and can be a valuable metric for measuring product performance. This single number provides actionable takeaways and allows you to dig into what needs improvement.

The SaaS Product Metrics Pyramid” by Shaun Juncal

Product management is more data-driven than ever, and the average PM has so much data at his or her fingertips that it can be hard to separate out the noise. So, how do you organize all of these different KPIs? Shaun Juncal of Productplan recommends thinking of your metrics as a pyramid. At the top should be your North Star, and various data levers should populate the base.

The KPIs Product Teams Should Track When Prioritizing Efficiency” by Jason Mueller

As companies mature from scale-up to stability, the focus moves from growth metrics to efficiency ones. This article goes through the KPIs that product teams at more established organizations should be tracking, including product usage, NPS, and stickiness (DAU/MAU).

Defining Monthly Active Users Is Harder Than it Looks” by Jeff Link

On its surface, “monthly active users” seems pretty self-explanatory as a metric. However, the reality is far more complicated, as not all users — or actions — are created equal. In this article, four product managers from different industries explain how they calculate their overall MAU numbers.

Epic Guide to SaaS Metrics for Customer Success and Product Management” by Andy Mura

The title of this resource isn’t an overstatement. This “epic guide” from Userlane encompasses all of the SaaS metrics you’re likely to come across as a product manager. Use it as a handy reference whenever you come across a KPI you haven’t seen before.