There's a fairly frequent discussion about mobile apps taking place among alumni professionals. I've seen it on listservs and in LinkedIn Groups, and I've heard it in hallways at conferences. It goes something like this:
"We're considering launching a mobile app for alumni, and I'm curious whether your school has one, and if so, are you happy with it?"
Most of the replies come from people who say they are "very satisfied" with their app. Others say that a particular app is "great."
But I almost never hear anyone say why their app satisfies them, or what makes it great.
In other words, I'm wondering: which metrics indicate a successful app? And how do those metrics fit into the context of a particular institution?
[Which metrics indicate a successful app?]
What would be useful to know? Anything that explains what your goal was in creating an app, and how you know those goals have (or haven't) been met.
I made up these hypothetical examples that might illustrate useful information (these examples are not necessarily going to be relevant for you):
You decide that it would be useful to learn how many alumni click through to your alumni website from within the app. You further decide that a 1:10 "click through-to-download" ratio is your arbitrary goal for the first 6 months. You get 1,000 app-driven web visits from your 10,000 downloads. Success.
You decide to correlate new Facebook "Likes" with use of the app. You check the last 3 months as a baseline (using Facebook Insights), and discover 10% of monthly Likes are from mobile devices. Then you launch your app. Six months after launching the app you see a doubling of mobile-based Likes. You have a useful proxy for the effect of the app on a specific kind of interaction with your page.
[Which metrics characterize your app's success?]
Even numbers like these aren't that useful, because the goals must be somewhat arbitrary, and you can't yet attribute many outcomes to the use of your mobile app. For example, did it generate increased giving? Greater brand awareness for your institution? More applicants for admission? Higher event attendance or volunteerism? It's hard to know.
But one thing we do know is that counting downloads doesn't tell us much. Sharing interaction metrics will provide context for satisfaction with the app. And others can then assess your results for relevance to their own institution.
What metrics are you using to characterize your alumni app's success?