top of page
Open Site Navigation

Daily Active Users (DAU) vs. Monthly Active Users (MAU): How to Calculate Active Users for Your SaaS

daily active users

Amongst the many SaaS metrics and acronyms floating around in the startup world, you’ll eventually come across DAU and MAU.

Daily Active Users (DAU) and Monthly Active Users (MAU) can give you an overview of the health of your business and the effectiveness of your marketing strategies. They’re useful metrics, especially for SaaS companies, to keep an eye on.

In this article, we’ll take a look at the importance of monthly active users and daily active users, how to use the DAU/MAU ratio, and how to calculate each of these metrics for your SaaS startup.

Are DAU/MAU metrics important?

monthly active users

While some experts consider “active users” to be a vanity metric, DAU and MAU continue to be some of the most commonly used figures in measuring the performance of SaaS startups.

Defining an “active user” varies between products, industries and businesses, but in the majority of cases, it’s simply counted as a unique user logging into your app (without any deeper context).

For your specific SaaS product, simply tracking logins to your app may not be as useful as classifying an “active user” with more specific value based actions, such as:

  1. Completing a task

  2. Adding a team member

  3. Sharing with friends

  4. Creating a report

  5. Playing an mp3

Frequent usage by lots of users is taken as a sign that your SaaS startup is healthy and has strong growth potential. But this doesn’t take into account how much value each person is getting from your app, or the level of engagement at each login.

In that respect, DAU and MAU don’t measure the overall levels of success that each person is experiencing with your product.

How to calculate daily active users (DAU)

How to calculate daily active users (DAU)

Daily active users are calculated using the total number of unique users on a given day. These calculations take into account any new users who have downloaded the app, and any existing users who have logged in or taken an action within the app.

DAU is a popular metric, especially in the IPO technology sector, where daily user counts can cause shares to plummet or skyrocket on any given day.

For DAU to provide value for your SaaS startup, it should be looked at in combination with a wider range of measurements that give you insights into how engaged and how valuable users are finding your product.

Daily active users shouldn’t be relied on as a standalone metric

Relying on your daily active user count as a growth indicator can give you a wildly misleading picture of your SaaS business. Say, for example, your product gets media coverage that results in 500 new signups every day for a week. It’s cause for celebration when you look at your business growth from this perspective.

What the DAU doesn’t show you in cases like this is the percentage of those same users who sign up and forget about your product on day one, or the users who sign up but get no value from using it and eventually churn out. Unless you can sustain this level of new user sign-ups organically, your DAU metrics will eventually plummet again as they correct themselves against outside drivers such as PR, media coverage, and advertising campaigns.

How to calculate monthly active users (MAU)

How to calculate monthly active users (MAU)

“Monthly active users” refers to the number of people who have opened and engaged with your app in some way in the past month (30 days) leading up to your calculation date.

These users must be unique and each user is only counted once in every 30-day period – no matter how many times they have performed an action inside the app.

This metric gives an indication of your company’s performance over time in terms of being able to attract and retain subscribers. Other metrics can give you an inaccurate picture of your business growth, but MAU gives you clarity over whether you’re gaining or losing users over time.