There’s no doubt that mobile is increasingly taking our attention from other channels. According to comScore, we now spend more time engaging with mobile sites than with desktop pages, with most of that time spent on apps.

Apps are the way we’re now connecting with brands. Whether we’re messaging, reading a news article, playing a game, making a purchase, booking travel or finding a date, we can do it easily and simply via an app. In fact, four out of every five minutes that we spend with our phones are actually with apps.

In contrast to traditional marketing approaches aimed at solving our consumer needs, mobile, especially mobile app engagement, solves our problems by giving us access to useful content and information on the go. As consumers, we’re being far more active in seeking out what we want via our mobiles. Making the most of these mobile moments by being useful is how brands will build relationships with consumers in the future. For brand marketers this means putting mobile first; creating native mobile CRM strategies and not simply repurposing a desktop strategy. Yet, Forrester says most brands will continue to underinvest in the mobile channel in 2016.

Just why that is, is a puzzle. Mobile CRM tools enable brands to engage with app-hungry consumers, using push notifications to create mobile touchpoints that increase loyalty and drive sales. Through push notifications you can interact with your app users by sending them real time, personalised and relevant messages based on specific triggers, segmentation criteria and in-app behaviour. Campaigns are cost-effective and quick to implement. But perhaps another benefit to drive home to those yet to implement a mobile-first CRM strategy is how readily measurable and responsive this activity is.

So what does success look like here? With any app, it is not just about downloads. Brands spend money building apps and acquiring consumers, but often fail to engage people enough. Only 3% of apps are still actively used 30 days after first launch by the user. The real measure of mobile CRM success is how people are engaging and reacting to the mobile touchpoints that push notifications create.

These are the six metrics that matter.

1. Acquisition – Opt-ins

Customers who opt-in to notifications as soon as they install the app can be a useful indicator of likely future engagement, so this is certainly a metric to keep an eye on. It could be argued though that best practice might be to ask for opt-in once the app has been used, and perhaps offered as an additional service. This approach could result in improved engagement levels from users further down the line.

2. Engagement – Mobile media index, active users, app sessions, best moments and more

How you actually measure engagement levels will change over the lifetime of your app, and different KPIs will come into play depending on the campaign stage.

The Mobile Media Index (MMI) is a unique measure which calculates user engagement in real time. This will enable you to measure your overall app engagement and inform your mobile communication plans for each user.

Two other metrics that are always valuable here are the increase in the number of active users – those who have opened the app at least once in a selected time period – as a result of app marketing and push notifications, and the increase in the number of app sessions per user.

During the onboarding phase, around a welcome programme for instance, measuring the first session duration and then the time elapsed until the second session provides a good indicator of the effectiveness of your campaign. Insights here can be used to create prompts for people to use your app more frequently.

Once you understand a user’s preferences and can create communications to reach them at their ‘best moment’, based on previous app behaviour, the click-through rate from a push notification is one of the best indicators of engagement.

3. Conversion – Calls to action and building customer lifetime value (CLV)

Engagement is one thing, but are you successfully leading your app users to a desired action – whether that’s viewing a video or making a purchase?

Key metrics to track here are the number of clicks on a call to action, the number of specific actions completed following a push notification campaign, for example, the number of vouchers redeemed, or sales made.

Assessing the CLV of each user in terms of how much they are worth to your app in revenue is a vital conversion metric. There are a host of ways of doing this to inform future campaign activity. CLV here can highlight the value of various segments and how different segments grow over time.

4. Retention – De-installs, opt-out and dormant users

Here you need to measure engagement over time by looking at how quickly apps are de-installed, the opt-out rate to push and the number of dormant users. KPIs around retention can help a brand understand why the level of engagement has decreased and so design a specific programme to re-engage them.

5. Tolerance – App connections vs push

Linked to retention is tolerance – the threshold at which a user is likely to opt-out of notifications or de-install your app. Understanding tolerance levels, based around connections and the number of notifications sent, will tell you how many messages a user is happy to receive. A levelling out of app activity can indicate a user has reached the point at which more messages could impact on customer satisfaction. Tolerance varies for different users and, importantly, for different apps and industries. It will also be much higher if the content is valuable for the user.

6. Optimisation – Feedback loop

Making continuous improvements thanks to customer feedback on apps and services is vital. Actions such as reviews on app stores and the instantaneous feedback available via push notification reports should be factored in to test-and-learn programmes. Functionality like AB testing will help you find out what works for your own users.

Mobile CRM push notification campaigns via apps are relatively low cost and offer metrics that can be easily measured to determine ROI. The real beauty of these metrics, however, is responsiveness; the ability to measure everything almost in real time – and then take action to ensure that your app marketing strategy is always on point.