Active User: Definition & Methods of Tracking

Natalya Ustymenko

E-commerce businesses and developers who create web and mobile apps use active users as a key metric. A vital indicator of success is a good perception of how many active users a website or application has. It's obvious that app active users matter for your business, and knowing how to track them will help you create and implement strategies to make sure you stay on top of your industry. In this guide we define what is an active user, discuss their significance, and outline a few tracking strategies.

What is an Active User?

Active users is one of the crucial mobile app KPIs metrics used to assess customer engagement with a certain app or website. The active users measure keeps track of how many people interact with a website or service over a set period. It is used by businesses to analyze and estimate product statistics, and monitor growth, churn, and other figures. 

There are different criteria for defining active users. It depends on the product and the type of business. To speak of apps, the term "activity" implies performing a certain action while using the application. Also, activity can vary depending on the usage frequency and other metrics, which we discuss below in the article.

Why Should You Pay Attention to Active Users

Websites and online apps have seen a fundamental change in how they evaluate user-product interactions. Traditional factors like practicality and functionality are losing importance in favor of emotional factors. Active users have become a key performance indicator for businesses, while money-oriented mindsets are gradually vanishing. One way businesses benefit from active users is by generating traffic from e-commerce websites where people buy products and watch paid ads. Another advantage the high activity rate gives is an outlook on developing trends and how it affects people’s behavior patterns. Tracking events and behavior, in its turn, is crucial for working out actionable marketing campaigns. 

How to Define and Track Active Users

How to determine active users

The number of active users within the chosen time frame is determined by counting every unique user separately. A single user will therefore count as one active user, provided they go online many times each day. There is also a notion of churned users who have been inactive in the application since they downloaded it. These people are not listed among active users but might still utilize the app someday owing to re-engagement marketing.

Activity criteria

Establishing your user activity criteria is your first stage of tracking user engagement metrics. Even if the user opens an application and then instantly closes it, you may still monitor each user ID or other customer identifiers  when they log in and out. Users can also be qualified as active ones if they perform a minimum of one action, like following a link, once logged in. The time spent in the application may determine one's status as an active user. 

While setting the active user indicators, ensure they apply to your app and the business goals. The best way to determine these criteria is to put yourself in the user's shoes. Take some time to come up with useful features that would make you use the app more often.

Key measurement metrics

As mentioned above, active user criteria rely on your business scope and future goals. However, whatever criteria you deploy, it'll take time until your active users are calculated. Here are three common timelines:

DAU or Daily Active Users — the number of unique users who use your app daily. A  good example of apps that usually use DAU is mobile games. App DAU definition implies meaningful user activity, not simply logging in and out.

WAU or Weekly Active Users — the number of unique users who interact with your app over seven days. WAU’s meaning also focuses on aimful user-app interactions.

MAU or Monthly Active Users — the number of unique users who engage with your app over 30 days. As the previous two, the MAU meaning gives much importance to actionable engagement. 

Each metric has a certain value for different businesses. While the DAU metric helps identify daily customer engagement for entertainment industries, MAU benefits apps like online banking or hotel booking, which are used less frequently. Many businesses also regard the MAU metric as an indication of the quality of their retention rate because it allows them to keep track of their users in the long run.

DAU/MAU ratio

Your product stickiness is measured by DAU to MAU ratio. The DAU/MAU measure enables you to predict user engagement and potential profits in the future. Above all, it also shows you your true product value for your customers by tracking each time they use your app. Your DAU/MAU ratio may be low if few users engage with your app each month. Conversely, increasing user engagement and daily interaction results in higher DAU/MAU ratios.

DAU/MAU ratio

Some applications benefit more from DAU and MAU than others due to their specializations and target audience differences. In most cases, the higher your DAU/MAU score, the better it is for your business. The best score is 100% because it indicates that users actively engage with your app daily.

Calculation and Visualization Examples

Now arises the question of how to count daily and monthly active users. Before getting down to your main calculations, do the following steps:

  • Identify the requirements for an active user
  • Choose the time you want to analyze
  • Gather information, then add the total number of distinct users that fit your active user characteristics each time

How to calculate DAU? 

The number of people that access your app each day is referred to as your DAU. You might get this statistic by selecting a single 24-hour period and counting the daily active users. Another option is to calculate the average number of people who use your application each day. All you need to do is sum unique users per day for a month. Once you've done, divide the total by all days in a month.

How to calculate MAU?

What is MAU? This is the number of unique people that access your app in 30 days. You might get this figure by selecting a particular month and counting the number of unique users who showed increased activity throughout that time. Similarly to the daily active user procedure, you might determine the average number for each month. You just need to add all the unique users for every month. Then split that amount by 12, which stands for all months in a year.

Visualize the results

Once the necessary information is collected, it's time to put it into visuals.  With the help of various infographics, you can observe current trends and drive the right marketing solutions. You can visualize your results with:

  • Single Value charts 
  • Line charts 

To understand how user behaviors change throughout a year, you can create a line graph and compare monthly metrics over that period. One more way is to visualize your monthly active users' growth or decline over time by creating line graphs containing data from multiple years. You can pinpoint the elements that lead to higher user engagement by examining your statistics.

Knowing your company objectives influence your user rates and contributes to more far-reaching and well-informed decisions. For instance, if your marketing campaign proved successful this year, why not employ one the next one?  Likewise, if you discover your average monthly active user count is below usual, try looking into the causes of the drop and try different plans for dealing with it. 

Useful Tools to Track and Analyze Active Users

Google Analytics 

The most widely used tool for doing analytical research is Google Analytics. It offers factual info on the visitors to your site, including sessions, pageviews, churn rates, the time spent on a page, and other statistics which provide businesses with valuable insights about user activity.

Google Search Console

Publishing companies and search marketing specialists may track their site's general performance concerning Google search using Google Search Console — a free online tool offered by Google. It provides the information required to track website performance and raise search ranks. Google can also inform via Search Console when it finds security flaws or when a human action penalty has been applied.


Website analytics provider Statcounter site traffic information and tracks how many users were acquired during a set time. Statcounter allows you to examine site data both via mobile devices and browsers. To ensure a more qualitative analysis, primary features such as traffic analysis, tracking excessive activity, and user behavior are available. All the basic website analytics are depicted on a personalized dashboard.  Businesses are free to learn more about the statistics of the site's pages and the whole website to reduce unfavorable patterns and improve efficiency.


Chartbeat is a simple tool for analyzing content online. It aims at editors, authors, developers, and other professionals who publish content and need to track a comprehensive interaction of customers with it.

Chartbeat's main attributes are:

  • Real-time statistics
  • Information on user interaction and page-level traffic for the top 20 most visited page
  • Statistics for social media channels
  • Mobile apps

Open Web Analytics

OWA enables businesses to monitor and examine consumer activity across websites and apps. Since the service is open source, you must deploy the most recent version of OWA from GitHub. Both websites and online apps can be connected to Open Web Analytics. Customers can alter the service's user interface and access key site data on a personalized dashboard. The dashboard also displays details on recent visitors, including their browser type, how many pages they went through, and when they visited the site. Apart from the dashboard, you may also monitor a company's profitability, entry or leave rates, and much more. 


Ahrefs is a collection of SEO tools for optimizing content, collecting keywords, and inspecting websites. This is a useful platform for planning website optimization and monitoring the success of promotions. Marketing professionals from Facebook, Adobe, Netflix, and other companies use Ahrefs because it is robust, user-friendly for beginners, and has many fantastic features.


This service is a functional tool for sophisticated website analysis. With it, you may identify industry leaders and examine all the important factors, such as site adaptability and advertising channels. Information is presented in tabular and graphical form, with the option to submit it as a file for in-depth analysis on a laptop or smartphone, if necessary.

Final thoughts

In the realm of apps, there are many criteria active users fall under. They vary depending on the company sectors and aims. Evaluate the success of your marketing activities and increase your mobile app KPIs by tracking the number of active users over set periods. Besides determining whether your product meets corporate goals, active user assessment allows you to concentrate your advertising strategies more efficiently. With the right analytical tools and frame of mind, you are fully armed to reach your active customers with compelling messages which will have a wide response.

FAQ block

What defines an active user?

An active user is someone who utilizes your product, be it an app or a website, regularly over a set period. Active users are often categorized and monitored depending on their activity frequency: DAU, WAU, MAU.

Why is it important to track active users?

Every firm strives to build a loyal and sustainable consumer base. By tracking active users, you can gain actionable data and utilize it for the benefit of your company. Read for more detailed reasons above.

What are the tracking tools?

Google Analytics, Google Search Console, Statcounter, etc.

Alexandr Anikienko


October 24, 2022

Vladyslav Pobyva


November 15, 2022

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