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How to Discover Your #1 Key SaaS Metric to Scale Quickly

If you are trying to discover how your customers behave to scale your business quickly, this article is for you. 

I’ll help you find your #1 key Saas metric with current tools on the market by looking at:

But before we start, let’s take a moment and lay down some fundamentals. 

Growth Hack = Doing The Work

Growth hack is a buzzword that a lot of people are throwing around to the point of exhaustion. But if you don’t put in the work to understand how unique marketing scenarios can be, it’s next to impossible to develop innovative solutions. 

Marketing is all about systems. So take the time to learn these systems. Each one segways into the next and will ultimately give you a more comprehensive understanding of the marketing scene as a whole. 

Tools Are Just Ingredients

The market is saturated with automation tools – over 7,000 as of today.

It’s helpful to think of tools as ingredients. The tools you use will ultimately affect the outcome of your data and how you respond. Think of what you are trying to achieve and pick the best tool to help you meet your long-term goals. 

The tools mentioned in the article are suggestions, and you can use any version that works best for your particular company in its specific situation. 

Marketing Funnels 

Having a deep understanding of marketing funnels is important to understand this article as a whole, so here’s a quick refresher.

Here’s a basic marketing funnel.

  • Attract
  • Convert
  • Close
  • Delight

While there are many variations of a marketing funnel (like Pirate Metrics), a typical funnel is all about:

  • Creating interest
  • Getting the user into the “consideration zone.”
  • Closing the sale. 

That’s it! 

Now, let’s get into how to discover your #1 metric with current tools on the market.  

Data Collection

Data collection takes the most time and can feel the most daunting. But by gathering as much data as you can, you can make better decisions on which users to focus on. 

For a full data set, we’ve broken this down into four stages:

  1. Segmentation
  2. CRM Integration
  3. User Journey Mapping
  4. Measuring Behavior

#1: Segmentation

Segmentation is the idea that users who convert on a website are not the same, nor should they be treated the same.

Ideally, you want to set something up that targets your ideal customer profile (or ICP) and identify and track who that user is. 

We call this Lead Segmentation

Lead Segmentation

There’s a different set of urgency for a user who arrives through an organic search than a user who sees an ad for “30% off! Buy Now.”

The organic lead has a much higher probability of converting. 

This is why you want to find out how visitors come into your funnel and start segmenting based on:

  • The source  
  • The medium 
  • The commonality between current and past users

Luckily there are plenty of tools out there to help you, such as:

Any of these tools can be used to automatically segment and collect data on the habits of your users.

Here’s a visual of what that looks like: 

saas metric lead segmentation process

When a user meets that ICP, you want to do something more direct and urgent. For example, build a workflow where you constantly remind the user about your product and what they’ll like about it. 

The core basics of marketing are reminding potential customers that you are there and ready. 

Lead Scoring

Usually, when people convert on a book a demo CTA versus sign up now, book a demo tends to be a higher converting lead. 

That person’s eager. They want a salesperson to sell to them. 

There’s also an understanding that if you can enrich the data behind a sign-up, you might find out if the user can afford your product or service in the first place.

These tools help you determine if the user is from a 10,000 person company (that sales should call immediately) vs. a mom-and-pop shop that isn’t able to purchase at an enterprise level. 

That is what lead scoring is all about. 

You can enrich data with tools like:

#2: CRM Integration

The next stage is client retention management software or CRM integration.

The idea is to track people through the process of buying. 

The process for converting SaaS product users looks something like this:

  • First, I need to get in and try out the product. 
  • Then I need to convert as a user. 
  • Then I need to go through onboarding.
  • Then I need to love your product. 

If you don't outline these steps and qualify the users leading up to them, you’re leaving money on the table.  

Some of the CRM’s are:

Integrate With a Dashboard

Dashboards are incredibly important to measure how everything works.

Here’s an example of this from start to finish:

  1. I have Google Tag Manager that helps me see every action on the website, including the sources.
  1. All the information from Analytics is sent via segment over to my database, which follows the lead into the CRM. 
  1. Once they convert on the online form, I receive even more data, and I put this data and the data from the online form in my database. 
  1.  I use a tool to enrich it, and then ultimately, I have perfect data inside of my CRM. 

This information is powerful and can help you predict revenue.

#3: User Journey Mapping

Whether you are a large company or even a startup, user journey mapping is a must-do.

In other words, mapping out all the steps it takes for a user to become a paying customer completes your sales cycle.  

To figure out what that looks like, work your way backward – from the end of the customer cycle to the beginning. Ask yourself:

  • Where did they come from?
  • What did they do?
  • What’s the least amount of steps to get there?
  • How do I do this for other users?

Luckily there are tools to help you do this:

Once you map out all of the steps, you might find that you have too much. In that case, you’ll want to cut some out. (Here’s an article on how to do that.) 

#4: Measuring Behavior 

What happens after a user has converted and they’re inside of the platform? 

There are tools similar to Google Analytics that allow you to know every single action that each user takes as soon as they log into the platform. 

Actions like:

  • Swipes if it’s a mobile app. 
  • Clicks 
  • Invites

Tools that do this are: 

  • Kissmetrics
  • Amplitude
  • Mixpanel

This will give you an entire playing field of data to organize and analyze.

The next step is to ask yourself:

  • What is the pathway that is the most successful? 
  • What do all of these users have in common? 
  • What do my paid users (my best users) have in common?

Once you analyze this behavior, you can start to channel all users to perform the same actions that your best users do.

For example, if most paying customers hand over their credit card after performing a specific action, encourage all users to do that. 

Automated messaging can help accomplish this. This can be anything from in-app messaging to emails.

Fortunately, there are different tools to help you do this:

Where to Start: 3 Real-World Examples

Every paying user usually has one to two actions in common. Oftentimes, about 80% of users do one action, while 20% do the other.

So if you can mimic that action for every user who signs up, you win the game.

This is how you discover your #1 metric.

Example #1: Planday

Planday is an hourly shift workers software.

If a user invites another employee, the likelihood of them becoming a paid customer increases by 70%.

Let’s think about that. 

Why on earth would it be important for somebody to invite somebody else to a platform? 

It’s much harder for a company to cancel any type of contract with a tool or service that other employees are using. 

So that’s their #1 metric.

Example #2. LetsBuild

LetsBuild is a construction project management company. If a user uploads a project, the likelihood of them becoming a paid customer increases by 60%.

So their #1 metric (and goal) is for everyone to upload a project. 

They do this by:

  1. Making it easy for users to download data instead of manually entering data. This significantly removes the number of steps it takes to upload a project.
  2. Changing all of the messaging features to: "Upload your project.” 

Example #3. Actimo

Once a user logs in and creates their first message, there is a 35% likelihood they will become a paid user–so that’s their #1 metric. 

To achieve this, they shifted their approach to automated messaging.

When a user logs in, a message automatically populates. This reduces the time-to-value and allows the user to easily send that first message. 

These are just three examples of metrics that help create more paid conversions. 

Here are some other examples of metrics that can help conversions:

  • Logging back in
  • Referral/Invite
  • Scheduled Demo
  • Upload
  • Create 1st Campaign
  • Add Profile Information
  • Complete the onboarding
  • Watch Explainer Video

Monitoring these activities can also help prevent churn and downgrades as well. 

Now that we’ve dived into data collection let’s move into onboarding. 

Onboarding 

Typically you only have a few seconds to really engage a user, and minor adjustments can make significant differences in onboarding. 

 Here are some of the basic actions companies miss within their onboarding:

  • Personalizing the content: how it serves the user. 
  • Ensuring it’s hyper intuitive: everybody should understand how to get to X, Y, & Z. 
  • Keeping it short: not everybody will find your product as interesting as you. 
  • Mixing mediums: video’s in a pop-up that users can easily watch.

For example, a small pop-up window that automatically plays a video without the audio:

FIND EXAMPLE

You can record these videos in a matter of seconds using a microphone and a screen capture tool. Screen-capture tools are a dime a dozen, so pick whichever one you like. Loom is a free one. 

The idea behind it is pretty simple: pull the user through the entire experience

Next, let’s look at reporting tools. 

Reporting

Let’s touch quickly on reporting because you miss so much by not having it. 

Tools that show where users come from, their most successful campaigns, and the most successful actions are extremely powerful. By seeing the number of people who use a product on a daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly basis means you own the entire system

Tools that do this are: 

  • Tableau
  • Geckoboard
  • RJMetrics

Having that amount of data on hand at any time is the difference between companies that can really scale and those that can’t.

Next, we’ll look at retention. 

Retention

We’re going to finish here because small retention hacks can make a big difference.

Do you remember the telecom example about phone carriers not caring about you? 

That is the difference between keeping a company alive and also making sure you’re scaling. 

Here are three actions you can take to help retention:

#1. Let users know they are important.

This can be in the form of a thank you card, loyalty program, gifts on anniversaries, candy, cookies, tickets to events, discounting their bill, champagne… whatever. 

Let them know they matter and that their business is important. 

If this is for a contract carrying 30, 40, 50%+ of your business, make sure it’s apparent you are thrilled to have them on board.

#2 Gamify

Especially for SaaS companies, using dashboards to gamify and monitor user activity is not only valuable to the user but can help you track data on key user metrics. 

An example of this is a fitness app, where points are rewarded and detracted based on activity level. 

#3. Add Emotion

One of my favorite examples is this image: the bear.

saas metric retention example


This is a platform-based, desktop-based solution. When you go to uninstall it, the bear starts to cry. It says, “I thought we were friends!”

Then it says, “Removing bear fur from hard drive, drying bear’s tears, bear’s girlfriend stops calling, buffing claw marks off the motherboard.”

The platform has a way of measuring how effective it was. They found that 10% of people actually reinstalled it because a cartoon bear cried!

A quick recap

By gathering as much data as you can, you can make better decisions on which users to focus on. If you learn how customers behave on your site, you can target them accordingly to scale your business quickly

Taylor Ryan
Taylor Ryan
CEO, Klint Marketing
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