Beyond Google Analytics: Advanced SaaS Marketing Metrics

Beyond Google Analytics: Advanced SaaS Marketing Metrics

Posted on March 30, 2017 Mary Merritt

In digital marketing there is nothing more valuable than accurate, specific, and actionable data. If you can determine how well your campaigns are converting, then you are able to make data-driven decisions, iterate, and improve your marketing efforts consistently over time. Some conversions are simple: a user books an appointment, calls your office, fills out a lead form, makes an eCommerce purchase - it isn't difficult to track and assign values to these actions for most businesses using Google Analytics and a CRM system.

SaaS companies face a unique analytics challenge when it comes time to measure digital marketing success: most users start out as a free trial user, and even those who subscribe to the service can have widely varying values (determined by the length and level of their subscriptions). Most SaaS companies are savvy enough to know that user churn and average revenue per customer are important metrics to track - some of them even track cost per acquisition, but very few of them can tell you the specific cost per acquisition or average subscriber revenue for each unique marketing campaign. Aggregate data is not valuable when looking for digital marketing insights.

The true value of a free trial sign-up from one campaign vs. another is often hard to determine, and web metrics tools like Google Analytics generally don't give marketing insights past the initial trial signup. If two campaigns both drove 15 free trial sign-ups yesterday, they will look equal in a simple web metrics view (and this is a great start), but wouldn't it be great to look back in a month to see which of the two campaigns resulted in the highest conversion of trial users to customers? You can ask all kinds of valuable questions beyond trial sign-ups: what's the subscriber churn from you latest campaign? What is the average revenue earned per customer from a particular marketing effort or channel? These are the questions any data-savvy marketer wants answered, and needs answered in order to calculate a real return on investment in SaaS marketing spend.

Advanced SaaS Marketing Metrics

So, if you're a SaaS marketer using a web metrics tool like Google Analytics to track initial successes on your marketing website, how do you dive deeper and improve your metrics? You may want to look at event-based customer analytics tools or marketing-friendly business intelligence software. Tools like KISSmetrics are designed to track specific users across all of their sessions - when a user signs in to use your software, their activities are attached to their unique profile, and you are able to see their full customer story from sign-up. This is powerful, because you can track significant events like subscription, renewal, and even the use of key features in your software, and then later associate these events with marketing efforts.

Your New Secret Weapon: Cohort Analysis

The ability to divide your users into groups, or cohorts, is an incredibly valuable analytics feature for SaaS marketers that's found in more advanced analytics implementations. Cohort reporting allows you to build cohort reports based on a marketing channel or campaign - for example, run a report every month to see the percent of trial users who converted to subscribers over the past 30 days, who also initially found your product via your latest Facebook Ads campaign. This gives you real conversion and revenue data to associate with marketing initiatives, and you can continue to put money into the channels that truly give you the best result.

What About Google Analytics?

If you're ready to upgrade your SaaS metrics, there is no reason to stop using Google Analytics. You can run a tool like KISSmetrics alongside Analytics, and still pull valuable data from both tools. Analytics will have greater insights into user engagement on your marketing website before they become a user (especially for AdWords), and your customer analytics tool will give you better long-term insights into customer behavior after sign-up (without losing sight of the marketing effort that won them as a customer in the first place). Both platforms can be invaluable in uncovering granular and tactical data to inform your digital marketing efforts.