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The Essential Customer-Centric Metrics for Growing your SaaS Business

At Observable, we believe every business should measure how their customers’ progression with the product and brand relates to business growth. After all, customers’ success is the key component for a sustainable business.

6 min read • Published

Lindsey Renken

Co-Founder and Chief Data Scientist

In the data era, many startups are collecting a lot of it. However, many struggle to determine where to focus their attention in regards to what to collect and how to analyze it.

In this article, I’ll give a laundry-list of the essential metrics you should be analyzing to better understand - and ultimately better serve - your customers at every stage of their journey with your product and brand.

If you get overwhelmed, choose one or two to focus on that make the most sense for your businesses initiatives. Then, just keep tackling them one-by-one until you've reach coverage for your business.

Before Acquiring Your Customer

Primarily, you’ll want to measure intent to make a purchase by looking at engagement with marketing and sales efforts. Each business will need to select measurements to collect based on their unique marketing and sales strategies.

Taking it a step further, measure how well the target audience for your marketing copy matches the demographics of users who are ultimately the most successful customers.

You should also track which marketing campaigns or sales strategies convert best, at what time, and through which channels.

Interactions with the Marketing Website

User behavior can be measured in quantities of 1) how much, 2) how many, and 3) how long.

Collect call-to-action link clicks on the website to measure the effectiveness of the marketing copy surrounding each link. Additionally, measure page views, scrolling, video views, etc.

Visitor Demographics and Representation in Marketing Copy

First, take inventory of the demographics of your most successful visitors. This can be done by surveying your visitors - for example, upon collecting an email for a downloadable ebook or subscription to a newsletter, etc. You can also collect and back-fill this information once visitors sign up for a free or paid plan.  

Next, you’ll need to take inventory of your marketing copy. Write out the target audience in terms of the demographics data you collect from users. Check to see if these demographics match up to your current cohort of visitors. If you have applicable information, you can segment your most valuable paying customers and match the marketing copy to their demographics. After all, you’ll want to attract more of these customers. If not, visitor information will do for now.

You can repeat this process to evaluate the key-value features advertised in your marketing and sales copy. Take inventory, and then have visitors or valuable customers explain the core benefits of your product to you. Investigate how they match up.

Engagement on External Platforms

Social media, external blogs, forums, and newsletters - these are all channels that are owned by another entity, but you have control over and a following on. The audiences you build on these platforms should be very similar to the customers of your product.

However, these audiences will have slightly differing, but complementary initiatives. You’ll be looking to grow the audience, the reach and engagement - to ultimately use these platforms to convert more and more users.

Good metrics to measure are user engagement - clicks, views, likes, comments - and how many followers you have or people in your target audience you are reaching. Lastly, measure the most active times of days for these audiences and what the most effective publishing time or day is.

Initial and Additional Referrers

In order to understand which marketing campaigns or sales strategies work the best, it’s good to add UTM parameters to links linking back to your website wherever possible. Specifically, you’ll want to capture the campaign, source, and medium.  

Sales Conversations

It’s important to record who was involved in each conversation, and any additional data regarding the length of the conversation and each topic covered.

After Acquiring Your Customer

Primarily, you’ll need to gauge how well users have gone through the on-boarding process, how they have integrated the product into their workflows, and whether they have adopted and engaged with the key-value features of your product.

You’ll also want to measure improvements made to the product, on-boarding flow, marketing copy and engineering to see how your team is improving your conversion rates between journey stages and what to attribute these improvements to over time.

Interactions with the Steps in On-boarding

Again, we’ll need to measure how much, how many, and how long people interact with certain steps, as well as time gaps between certain steps.

You’ll want to identify each critical step in on-boarding, so you can measure drop-off at each stage, and conduct a well-informed investigation if need-be.

Interactions with Primary and Secondary Key Value Adding Features

Key-value features are parts of the product that provide the most value to the users. Primary key-value features are the most important, followed by the secondary features, which are still core to the main benefits the product offers. Measure how much, how many, and how long.

Bug Reports

Capturing bugs, product downtime or malfunctions as they occur for customers is required for assessing the impact and appropriate response to these events. You have the opportunity to rectify a mistake and enhance the user experience when an unexpected error in the product arises.

Be careful not to sound the alarm too often or unnecessarily. Many bugs and errors only affect users inconsequentially.

Measure how bugs and errors in the program affect user experience in aggregate for segments over time. It’ll help you assess where resources should be allocated.

Feature Deployments

Record the time of each significant deployment and which features or processes are affected. In doing this, you can measure which adjustments or new features have affected the on-boarding flow, adoption and engagement the most.

Support Conversations

With support conversations, it’s ideal to measure who was involved with the conversation, the sentiment and topic(s) of the conversation, how long it took to resolve, and how satisfied the person was with the service. All of this data will be helpful to look at in aggregate to find trends that can be used to improve the user experience.   

Customer Feedback

If you’re just starting out, you can collect customer feedback to gauge your product-market fit. You can collect information on how upset customers would be if they no longer had access to your product. You can also collect information on what your customers believe your most valuable features are, and the ideal persona of the customer that would receive the most value out of your product.

Other feedback can be collected in the form of Net Promoter Scores, or intelligently asking for a customer’s experiences with a certain product, feature or campaign. When asking for feedback, provide a specific area you’d like feedback on, and make sure to ask in a timely manner.

Transactional Emails and In-App Message Engagement

With emails, open and click-through rates are always helpful to measure. You can also measure send times, length of time spent reading the message, length of the subject line, or any variable measurement that you’re testing for making optimizations.