A session is a single instance of active engagement by a user in an app or on a website.
What are sessions?
A session is the amount of time in which a user is actively engaged with either an app in the foreground or with an open website.
The session metric denotes both the length and the frequency with which a user interacts with an app or webpage, and shows developers, marketers, and product managers alike the trends of app or webpage usage by specific users.
In the mobile ecosystem, a session begins when the app is opened in the foreground, and ends when it goes into the background with no events occurring during a predetermined time window, dependent on the mobile measurement provider.
Note that because of the typical multitasking nature of mobile users, events that occur within the predetermined window count towards the current session.
In web, a session begins when the website is opened and ends after a 30 minute timeout window has passed with no events occurring. The last event triggered marks the official end of a web session.
Why are sessions important?
Session analysis sheds light on the ways in which users truly interact with an app, identifying sweet spots, pitfalls and points for optimization, through two main pieces of information:
- Session metadata – session length
- Usage data – measuring predetermined rich in-app events
Knowing how individual users are engaged (or not) with certain in-app activities, and then comparing it to an app’s entire user base, allows marketers to improve media source performance, and inform future audience segmentation for optimized user acquisition and re-engagement efforts.
For product managers, session data can be used to pinpoint which app elements to improve, remove or add, and the current opportunities or problems that exist overall.
Sessions can also be analyzed to optimize vertical-specific performance, and target or re-engage users accordingly.
For example, product managers might use session lengths to correlate the time users invest in their app, to the quality of the experience the app currently offers. On the other hand, marketers may look at the average number of sessions per user which shows the frequency a user engages.
Comparing this to retention, which indicates the overall length of time for which users remain active, marketers can understand the connection between retention rate and session frequency of their users, and optimize accordingly.
No matter the vertical, analyzing and optimizing based on sessions, paired with other crucial metrics, directly affects user experience and acquisition, and creates more opportunity for revenue and high-value, loyal users.