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progressive web apps

How to Measure the Impact of PWAs: Benchmarking and KPIs

Angela Stringfellow

Last updated on

Progressive web apps (PWAs) allow businesses to balance users’ expectations of lightning-fast native apps with the costs of developing them. PWAs operate as web apps but provide many native app functionalities, giving users and businesses the best of both worlds.

Users get a fast, reliable, engaging experience, and businesses seamlessly take advantage of low costs, offline capabilities, and push notifications.

PWAs are more affordable to develop than native apps, but like any digital solution, they come with a cost. So, how do you know if your PWA was worth the investment?

Whether you’re worried about return on investment (ROI) or want to improve user engagement, tracking the PWA’s key performance indicators (KPIs) will give you everything you need. KPIs are performance metrics that help you check your web app's health, ultimately telling you in black and white whether the PWA is successful or not.

It might sound like an extra step to track KPIs, but performance-minded development is essential to maximizing your resources, whether you’re a small business or an enterprise. In this guide, we’ll explain why benchmarking PWA KPIs is such a game-changer, list common KPIs, and show you how to measure (and maximize) the success of your PWA with these critical metrics.

In this article:

The Benefits of Benchmarking KPIs for PWAs

Person using a PWA on a tablet device
Photo by KaboomPics.com from Pexels

Benchmarks are industry-standard numbers you use to understand whether your KPIs are average, better, or worse than other businesses in your space.

Benchmarks give context to KPIs. If you have a 2% conversion rate, is that good or bad? You can’t know unless you have context for your business, product, customers, and industry. Two percent is excellent in some cases and horrible in others. You need benchmarks to understand the value of certain KPIs and evaluate true performance.

Not all teams have the resources to track PWA KPI benchmarks, but this strategic approach has many benefits, from improved resource utilization to customer insights.

Accurate Goal-Setting

Benchmarks help you set realistic, achievable goals. When you know industry standards, you’ll choose objectives that are neither too conservative nor overly ambitious, facilitating predictable growth.

Resource Utilization

Identifying where your PWA underperforms compared to other companies helps you prioritize improvements. For example, if your competitor’s app has much higher engagement rates, that might be a clue for you to rework your UI, app speed, or page design. You don’t have to spend hours wondering what’s wrong—the benchmarks will tell you!

Better Investment Decisions

Benchmarking justifies the investments made in developing and deploying a PWA. It shows precisely how improving certain KPIs leads to better performance. In an era of tightening budgets, this is a game-changer for proving ROI and simplifying typically fraught conversations with the accounting department.

Customer Insights

As a development team, you’re accountable to customer expectations. However, user needs change all the time, and you have no way of knowing when user shifts will make your PWA obsolete.

User engagement benchmarks are the antidote that helps you tailor experiences to exceed their expectations. Understanding your PWA performance makes it easier for the marketing team to position the product in the marketplace, ensuring users understand exactly how the web app improves their lives.

5 Common Types of KPIs for PWAs

Evaluating PWA KPIs and performance insights on a laptop
Photo by Campaign Creators from Unsplash

You’ll need to track key performance indicators to benchmark your performance against other PWAs. What’s important to realize is that not all metrics are KPIs, but all KPIs are metrics.

KPIs are the most critical metrics to your PWA’s success, weeding out less actionable or irrelevant data points that only hinder your progress. By choosing a set of KPIs to track—instead of monitoring absolutely everything—you focus your efforts on the number that move the needle for your brand, making the most of your time and budget.

The question is which KPIs are best to track for a PWA. There’s no one-size-fits-all answer because every brand, web app, and user base is different. The exact KPI mix you track will differ, but here’s a comprehensive list to get you started.

User Engagement Metrics

Performance Metrics

Revenue Metrics

Accessibility Metrics

Retention Metrics

5 Steps for Measuring the Impact of PWAs

Closeup of a graph or data visualization illustrating PWA KPI insights
Photo by Markus Winkler from Unsplash

As you can see, there are dozens of KPIs to choose from. However, selecting KPIs is just the tip of the iceberg; you also have to track, measure, and optimize PWA performance based on what the KPIs tell you.

Don’t allow your data to languish in a spreadsheet. Follow these five steps to measure the impact of your PWA and make a bigger splash with your users.

1. Identify Your KPIs

Remember, not all data points are helpful. First, you have to identify the KPIs that reflect your PWA’s contribution to the bottom line. Choosing the right KPIs limits the data collection scope by focusing on metrics that measure tangible business outcomes.

We can’t tell you which KPIs to track, but some of the most popular options include retention rate, conversions, bounce rate, and ROI. You don’t have to meticulously monitor every metric in Google Analytics—track six to eight metrics at most to maintain a narrow focus.

2. Identify Appropriate Benchmarks

KPIs in hand, it’s time to define appropriate benchmarks for these metrics. With benchmarking, you’ll quickly understand whether that 2% conversion rate is a sign you’re on the right track or a red flag that something’s up.

It’s incredibly important to select benchmarks from companies of a similar niche, size, and stage. It doesn’t do much good for a startup to compare itself to Apple, after all.

Start by looking for published research on average KPI performance in your industry. A lot of businesses don’t want to share these numbers, but many news outlets will aggregate numbers on conversions, user engagement, and retention rates in your niche. Industry reports, market research firms, and trade associations are good data sources.

You can also create benchmarks by conducting your own comparative analysis with direct competitors. Conduct a SWOT analysis to understand your PWA’s performance against others with similar customer bases and business models.

Tools like SimilarWeb or Ahrefs are great for peeking at competitors’ performance. However, these reports are not guaranteed to be 100% accurate unless your competitors share that information publicly (and we doubt they would), so take these numbers with a grain of salt.

3. Set SMART Goals

Once you know your KPIs and the appropriate benchmarks, it’s time to set goals. The SMART goal-setting framework will help you set clear, actionable goals that give you a solid foundation for assessing PWA performance.

Every goal should follow this five-part framework:

  • Specific: Clearly define what you want to accomplish with your PWA. For example, instead of a general goal like "increase user engagement," specify "increase the average session length by 20% within the next six months."
  • Measurable: Attach specific metrics that allow you to track progress. For example, to increase session length, the measurable aspect would be tracking average session times with analytics tools.
  • Achievable: Choose realistic goals given your resources and market conditions. For example, a 200% increase in session time might seem achievable if your starting session length is low, but it could be too ambitious (at least for now) given potential constraints such as current user engagement levels, content quality, and available resources for improvement.
  • Relevant: Your goals should align with broader business objectives. Suppose the primary goal of your PWA is to boost sales. In that case, it’s better to enhance features supporting the checkout process than, say, content consumption.
  • Time-bound: Always set a clear deadline for achieving your goal. Due dates ensure timely progress and keep your efforts focused. A set date also gives you a clear time to evaluate progress instead of letting things linger too long.

For example, a goal like “Increase conversion rates” isn’t a SMART goal because it isn’t specific enough. Plus, it doesn’t define a deadline for assessing performance.

The SMART version of this goal would be, “Increase checkout funnel conversion rates to 10% by the end of Q3.” That gives you something very clear to pursue, guiding your efforts to build an even better PWA experience.

4. Analyze and Interpret Data

Once you set a SMART goal loaded with KPIs, it’s time to gather and interpret data on those KPIs through powerful PWA analytics. There are a billion ways to do this, but the easiest way to assess PWA KPIs is through a mix of tools like:

  • Google Analytics: Configure Google Analytics for your PWA to track user interactions, conversions, and traffic sources. Google Analytics can be handy for monitoring user behavior and engagement levels.
  • Lighthouse: Utilize Google’s Lighthouse tool to assess the performance, accessibility, and adherence to progressive web app standards.
  • Web vitals: Track Core Web Vitals (Largest Contentful Paint, First Input Delay, and Cumulative Layout Shift) to measure user experience related to speed and interaction.
  • Funnel analysis: Use funnel analysis to see where users drop off and where they convert, identifying (and fixing) potential pain points in the user journey.
  • User feedback: Collect and analyze user feedback about their PWA experience. You may need to bribe them with a contest or discount code, but this feedback is invaluable for understanding users.
  • Accounting software: You can only understand some metrics—such as LTV, ROI, or conversions—if you check your accounting software. If you don’t have software that calculates financial KPIs automatically, work with the finance team to access these numbers for a more well-rounded look into your bottom-line performance.

Don’t just pull data from one source. Systematically analyzing data from various sources gives you a more holistic understanding of how your web app is really doing. Every digital tool is a little different, so monitoring KPIs across different solutions could provide some much-needed cross-checks, too.

5. Optimize the PWA Over Time

Performance improvements are the ultimate goal of benchmarking and tracking KPIs. At this stage, you’ve got plenty of data to understand whether your PWA is a success or if the team needs to return to the drawing board.

Adopt an agile approach to developing and enhancing your PWA. Use the data collected from analytics and user feedback to prioritize updates that address the most significant issues or opportunities for improvement.

This might involve tweaking the user interface, enhancing load times, or adding new features. If you’re implementing push notifications, test them out at webpushtest.com to ensure the best performance.

Boost the User Experience with Engaging Notifications

Person working in an office on a laptop while using a PWA on mobile
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

The more feature-laden your PWA, the better the user experience. While you can refine many aspects of your UI, a solid notification system is the best way to boost user engagement.

There’s no need to build this yourself, either. MagicBell provides an all-in-one inbox that simplifies cross-platform communication for PWAs. See it in action for yourself: Create your free MagicBell account now.

Frequently Asked Questions

Should my small business set up a progressive web app?

Maybe! Small businesses benefit from PWAs because they’re simpler and more affordable to develop than native apps.

They also help small businesses increase their reach and engagement without the need for app store submissions. This greater reach improves customer experiences, potentially leading to higher conversion rates and revenue.

What are the best PWA KPIs?

There’s no clear-cut answer because every app, brand, and user base differs. However, the most common KPIs are conversion rate, page load time, Net Promoter Score, and churn rate.

How do you calculate PWA ROI?

You need to know the costs incurred to develop the app and the financial benefits of developing the app. Use this formula to calculate PWA ROI:

(Net Financial Gain / Total Costs) X 100

For example, if your PWA's total cost is $20,000 and generates benefits worth $30,000, your investment yields a 50% return.