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The User Journey to In-App Purchases: How to Optimize Your Sales Funnel

While there’s plenty of information about the conventional buyer’s journey online, app developers already know that the journey users take to make in-app purchases is very different from a standard customer cycle for B2B goods.

It’s essential to understand what the user journey looks like so you can properly optimize and troubleshoot your sales funnel to maximize revenue.

In this post, we’re going to discuss exactly that, looking at each stage of the user journey to in-app purchases and what metrics you should be focusing on along the way.


At this stage of the user journey, your audience is going to discover and install the mobile app.

While installing the app is the primary action here, there’s another crucial step that needs to be taken: They need to open the app, too, and believe it or not, just because someone downloads the app doesn’t mean that they’ll ever even open it. This may happen if they see another competing app they opt for instead.

In order to keep an eye on how effective the Install stage is for app users (and for your own profit), you’ll want to track the following:

Our Activity by Events and Retention Rate reports can give you a solid understanding of how users behave within your app soon after the install.

Activity by events
Activity by Events report in MyTracker

Initial Engagement

Did you know that 25% of people will abandon a mobile app after a single use? That’s an insanely high churn rate, especially if you paid to acquire each user and if it takes several uses in order to drive in-app purchases.

This makes the initial engagement stage of the app user’s journey essential if you want to eventually see an ROI on advertising and acquisition costs.

The initial engagement is all about capturing user interest and getting them to reopen the app and to keep them using it. It’s not about driving purchases just yet, but instead showing the value of the app (whether that’s entertainment, like in a game, or practical like in a solutions-based app).

To keep users engaged and to get them re-opening the app, you can try the following strategies:

At this stage, you’ll want to track the following metrics:

sessions report
Sessions report in MyTracker

In-App Purchase

After regular engagement has taken place, you will start to hopefully see in-app purchases from those customers.

In-app purchases often require several steps.

First, they may add items to their cart. Users then need to set up the payment process (often through instant-pay options like PayPal, credit cards, or mobile-based options like Apple funds). Only then can they purchase and complete the transaction.

In order to increase in-app purchases, you can do the following:

You should watch the following metrics at this stage to ensure that users are still moving through the funnel:

revenue report MyTracker
Revenue report in MyTracker


While some think that the user journey to in-app purchases ends with the initial purchase, that’s not technically true. Most apps would prefer to have continual, ongoing purchases from steady customers instead of trying to get a new stream of first-time customers every time a purchase is made.

Keeping users engaged is an important part of retention for paying customers. This means that whatever they’re purchasing needs to offer real value, and that the app itself still needs to be engaging to keep them interested.

At this stage, using well-timed sales and both push notifications and in-app notifications to remind users about purchase options can go a long way to increase purchase frequency.

The core metric to track at this stage is:

You can also use MyTracker’s Retention report to see how long, on average, new devices retain day-to-day after the initial install. This can help you better understand where you may be losing users, potentially adding push notifications or email campaigns where they drop off to re-engage them before they uninstall the app.

retention report MyTracker
Retention report in MyTracker

How to Build a Tracking Funnel with MyTracker

Interested in tracking your user’s journey to in-app purchase? With the right analytics, you can.

With MyTracker's new Conversion Funnels tool you can track the user journey using five pre-configured events and an unlimited number of custom events and parameters, while also benefiting from additional filters to refine the required data. 

You will be able to track the following:

Conversion Funnels in MyTracker
Conversion Funnels in MyTracker

Check out our post with real app examples to see how to set up and analyze a conversion funnel in 5 easy steps!

Final Thoughts

Understanding the user journey to in-app purchases is essential for all developers and app-based businesses if you want to optimize for higher engagement and revenue moving forward. Make sure that you’ve considered each of the four stages above and have strategies in place to keep users moving through the funnel so that they can reach conversion & retention.

Keep a close eye on your analytics, too, to ensure that they’re actually progressing through each stage as you expect. Any number of issues (including technical issues!) could be stopping users in their tracks, and finding them fast can prevent lost revenue over time.

Ready to optimize your user journey to maximize in-app purchases?

Tags: product analytics marketing analytics