Monthly Active Users

Monthly active users (MAU) is the number of unique users that take a specific action at least once a month, but it can be used to calculate much more. Typically, MAU applies to users that visit a website, but it can also refer to other activities such as logging into an account or viewing a social media post.

What Can You Learn From Monthly Active User Metrics?

MAU is considered a key performance indicator (KPI) for many businesses. The metric tells you how many customers are using a product or service as well as how many people are active on your app or social media accounts.

What you learn from tracking and analyzing monthly active users depends on who you designate as a user and what actions you consider to be active. The metric will look different for each company, which is why MAU isn’t the best way of comparing competitors.

However, MAU can tell you:

  • The general health of a business 
  • How successful a marketing campaign was at attracting users
  • Level of interest in a product or service
  • Retention rate
  • Churn rate
  • Growth rate and potential (particularly if you don’t have paid users yet)
  • Revenue growth and potential

Monthly active users can also be the basis for other metrics like the lifetime value of a customer and cost per acquisition. Most importantly, MAU can indicate the perceived value of an app, service or product. It’s so vital for social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook that valuations of these businesses are tied to the number of monthly active users. This, in turn, can impact a company’s ability to secure financing and capital.

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How to Calculate Monthly Active Users vs Daily Active Users

Daily active users (DAU) is a related metric that is usually tracked alongside MAU. DAU is the number of unique active users on a given day. DAU can help you identify superusers or it may be a better barometer of product/service performance than MAU. 

To calculate MAU and DAU:

First, you have to define who qualifies as a user and what action designates a user as active. One company can define an MAU as a user who likes or shares a post while another company may count MAUs as anyone who views any page of their website. Robust analytics platforms like Mixpanel give you the flexibility to customize MAU using a wide variety of variables so that it’s relevant to a specific business, product or app. 

Next, define the timeline. Daily active users are pretty straightforward. They are users that perform an action every day for a predetermined period. For monthly active users, you can go by the calendar month or any 30-day period prior to calculating the MAU. 

Each unique user is only counted once even if they are active numerous times throughout the day or month. You can identify a user by:

  • Account name/username
  • Email address
  • ID number

Don’t be alarmed if your MAU or DAU fluctuates wildly at times. Because outside forces can influence daily and monthly use, you’ll probably see data anomalies. It’s not uncommon for MAU to drop after a successful marketing campaign or positive press sends an influx of users your way.  

What you want to see is steadily MAU growth over time. Growth indicates that retention and acquisition are stronger than churn.

Calculating DAU/MAU Ratio

These metrics can also be used to calculate the DAU/MAU ratio. Simply divide DAU by MAU to get the user ratio percentage.

Example: If you have 1,000 daily users and 5,000 monthly users the DAU/MAU ratio is 20%. 

The DAU/MAU ratio will tell you the rate of returning users (a.k.a. stickiness). A high rate suggests good engagement and perceived value whereas a low rate indicates lack of interest that requires further analysis.

Going Beyond MAU With User Analytics

Monthly active users and daily active users are easy to track with an analytics platform. MAU and DAU are some of the most commonly used metrics in the Mixpanel system.

But MAU is a high-level metric. It tells you how many users are active, but it provides few details about what users are doing and the value they are getting out of a product or service. 

You’ll want to dig deeper into user behavior data to get a better idea of how engaged users are and whether you’re providing a good user experience. Tracking this data over time will tell you if MAUs and DAUs are becoming more or less engaged. It can also tell you if changes made to a product or service are well received. 

MAU is a powerful metric, but it’s just the starting point.

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