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9 Worst Practices in SaaS Metrics


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The 9 *horror* worst practices you should avoid when tracking your SaaS startup metrics.

The 9 *horror* worst practices you should avoid when tracking your SaaS startup metrics.

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  • 1. 9 Worst Practices in SaaS Metrics Christoph Janz Point Nine Capital
  • 2. About me Founder Angel investor VC More about me: LinkedIn: Point Nine Capital: Twitter: chrija
  • 3. When I find the time I blog at, mainly about SaaS topics. My SaaS KPI dashboard:
  • 4. 9 HORROR worst practices in SaaS Metrics
  • 5. I want to talk about 9 of the worst practices in SaaS metrics – like the SaaS metric equivalent of this... Image source:
  • 6. ...or this... Image source:
  • 7. ...or this! :-) Image source:
  • 8. Confuse MRR with Cash Inflow (or Bookings or Sales or Revenues) 9 worst practice
  • 9. MRR: • Monthly Recurring Revenue • Shows how much revenue you make next month if you don‘t win any new customers (assuming no churn, no upgrades/downgrades, etc.) • #1 SaaS metric. Much more important indicator than bookings or cash inflow (but cash inflow pays the bills!) • 2 customers • 1 on a $20/m monthly plan • 1 on a $120/y yearly plan => MRR = $30 Example:
  • 10. Underestimate churn (by mixing up monthly with yearly plans) 8 worst practice
  • 11. Churn rate # of customers who churned # of customers who could have churned Including customers who can‘t cancel in the denominator screws up your churn estimate! If you include customers who can‘t churn in your churn calculation, you‘ll be hit by a bad surprise once they can leave!
  • 12. 7 worst practice Ignore your cohorts
  • 13. Cohort analyses are the only way to get a good understanding of retention and customer lifetimes Image source: MixPanel
  • 14. Don‘t track each step of the conversion funnel worst practice 6
  • 15. Whether you use the age-old AIDA formula ...
  • 16. AARRR! ... or Dave McClure‘s „AARRR“ ... (for Acquisition, Activation, Retention, Referral and Revenue)
  • 17. Visitors Free Trial Signups Paying Customers Visitor-to-Trial Conversion Rate Trial-to-Paying Conversion Rate ... you have to track the key steps of your conversion funnel and you should be obsessed about improving each of them. Retention Rate and Account Expansions Referrals
  • 18. Mix up visitors to your marketing website with users of your software worst practice 5
  • 19. 0,00%$ 0,50%$ 1,00%$ 1,50%$ 2,00%$ 2,50%$ 3,00%$ 3,50%$ 4,00%$ 4,50%$ 5,00%$ 0$ 200$ 400$ 600$ 800$ 1000$ 1200$ 1400$ 1600$ 1800$ 1$ 2$ 3$ 4$ 5$ 6$ Visits$ Signups$ Signup$Rate$ This can lead to a weird chart like this: Your visits are going up slowly but surely, but your signups are flat (and hence your signup rate goes down).
  • 20. 0,00%$ 1,00%$ 2,00%$ 3,00%$ 4,00%$ 5,00%$ 6,00%$ 0$ 200$ 400$ 600$ 800$ 1000$ 1200$ 1400$ 1600$ 1$ 2$ 3$ 4$ 5$ 6$ Signups$ Website$visits$ Signup$Rate$ If you correctly track separate app visits from website visits it looks like this.Turns out your signup rate didn‘t go down (good news) but you‘re not growing website traffic (bad news), which is a very actionable insight.
  • 21. Show CACs on a blended basis only 4 worst practice (mixing up paid and non-paid sources of leads)
  • 22. • 100 customers @ $0 per customer • 20 customers @ $500 per customer average CACs of $83.33, but the average is pretty meaningless Example:
  • 23. Catch the low-hanging fruits, just don‘t expect them to scale!
  • 24. Attribute all conversions to your sales team 3 worst practice
  • 25. Do you know these cars? When small children take a tour in them, they believe they are steering them around the curves. If you‘re attributing all conversions to your sales efforts you‘re doing something similar. :)
  • 26. Find out how well your signups are converting without being called by a salesperson. A/B test and calculate the ROI on your sales investments based on the conversion uplift.
  • 27. Assume you‘re growing exponentially 2 worst practice
  • 28. • True exponential growth is very, very rare in SaaS – requires virality which most SaaS products don‘t have • Most SaaS companies grow linearly and with step changes • Even a modest exponential growth rate of 10% p.m. is very hard to sustain for a longer period of time Reading exponential growth into linear growth numbers can lead to wrong conclusions
  • 29. Don‘t start tracking KPIs until investors request it 1 worst practice
  • 30. Don‘t manage your company likes this. :-)
  • 31. • Investors want historic numbers, not just a snapshot • Many metrics are actionable – they tell you what to focus on, when to invest in acceleration, etc. • Metrics help you focus your team on what matters most Because...
  • 32. Thank you. Questions?