How to Make Your Perfect SaaS Dashboard

This is an Analytics Recipe written by Charles Liu from KISSmetrics. Every week we'll feature a new recipe from a tool on the Segment platform.

I've talked to countless SaaS entrepreneurs and companies in the past few years years and I've always been struck by the anxiety they feel around their metrics. Which metrics, they wonder, are important? And how, they ask, should I keep track of them?

Their anxiety is natural. Everyone has heard of Big Data, and seemingly every "expert" has an amazing story about how a single insight led to a 10X increase in revenue. But where are those insights, and what should be tracked to find them?

The answer, it turns out, is heartening. While there are hole-in-one types of insights hiding in massive datasets, most valuable information sits within your everyday, lunchpail metrics: visitors, signups, revenue and retention.

Spotlighted Tool: KISSmetrics

In this recipe, you’ll learn how to use KISSmetrics to setup a SaaS KPI Dashboard to keep tabs on these workhorse metrics that track the most fundamental parts of your business.

With this dashboard you'll measure marketing performance, incremental changes, and overall company progress with ease. It will form a reliable source of truth, an empirical bedrock, upon which you'll set goals and measure progress with your team, your board and your investors.

Step 1: Set up your tracking

Note: Below we'll set up a very...thorough template for a SaaS startup. Remember throughout that a template is not an ideal! You're the best person to evaluate the needs of your business, so think hard about what works best for you!

Where applicable, every SaaS company should track:

  • Visitors
  • Signups
  • Paying Customers
  • Signup Conversion Rate
  • Signup to Paid Conversion Rate
  • Revenue

Let's walk through how to track these events and create your dashboard.

Track Visitors

KISSmetrics automatically tracks visitors through the VISITED SITE event. This automatic tracking begins as soon as you’ve installed the initial JavaScript snippet.

Track Signups

To track signups, you'll want to create an "event" that is sent at the moment a user signs up for your service.

Via Segment:

analytics.track('Signed Up');

If you use KISSmetrics alone:

_kmq.push(['record', 'Signed Up']);

Track Revenue

Via Segment:

analytics.track('Subscription billed', {revenue: 50});

If you use KISSmetrics alone:

_kmq.push(['record', 'Subscription billed' {'Billing amount': 50}]);

Using just these 3 events we can create the 6 metrics for our KPI dashboard. You’ll need to have data in your KISSmetrics account in order to create this dashboard, so make sure that your tracking has been installed correctly before you move on.

Step 2: Create your KPI dashboard in KISSmetrics

Now that you have all the events you need to make your dashboard, let’s create your dashboard inside of KISSmetrics.

Add a new metric by clicking the plus button in the Metrics area or the Add new metric in the sidebar.

Create the Unique Visitor Metric

  • Select the “Number of People Who Did Event” Metric
  • Select the “Visited Site” event from the drop-down menu.
  • Click “Save metric” to create your metric.

Note: KISSmetrics requires data to create a dashboard, so make sure your tracking is installed correctly before moving on.

... and the other 5 KPIs

  • Signups: "Number of People Who Did Event" --> "Signed Up"
  • Paying Customers: "Number of People Who Did Event" --> "Subscription billed"
  • Conversion Rate
    • First event is “Visited Site”
    • Second event is "Signed Up"
    • Check the "This conversion repeats" checkbox
  • Paid Conversion Rate
    • First event is "Signed Up"
    • Second event is "Subscription billed"
    • Check the "This conversion repeats" checkbox
  • Revenue: “Total Value of Property” --> “Billing amount”

At last! Here’s what our KISSmetrics dashboard looks like:

Congratulations! Your dashboard now contains 6 of the most important metrics for any SaaS business, whether you're Amazon, Netflix or the humblest of sites.

Early stage startups should focus on driving traffic (increasing visitors) to raise awareness around your app or service. Later, you’ll focus on driving signups, because the ratio of visitors to signups is a measure of company's traction. Where traction is low (few signups per 100 visitors), you're in trouble. A dashboard that presents these critical metrics puts your company's vital statistics right in your face, all the time.

Step 3: Take action

You have a product vision, a timeline, and a great team. You've seen the stats, you know where you need to improve. This is your time to shine. So get to work!