February 23, 2024
We’ve framed these metrics around important questions your data should answer, following the order of the customer lifecycle:
New Visitors measures the number of unique individuals that visit your website for the first time.
This metric gauges the effectiveness of marketing efforts in attracting an inflow of potential leads. It's useful to measure the success of campaigns in attracting new audiences, identifying effective channels, and optimising campaign content. New Visitors is also useful for assessing the ability of the business to expand its reach into new market segments or demographics. A great dashboard will allow you to break down New Visitors by origin, so you can identify growth opportunities.
Leads represent potential customers that have demonstrated interest in your offerings through engagement like form submissions, content downloads, or event sign-ups.
The quality, and not just the quantity, of leads is important – high quality leads align with your target customer profile and have a high chance of converting to customers. Leads serves as an early indicator of your sales pipeline and is useful for gauging market interest in your product. Hence it deserves a spot on your leadership dashboard.
Pipeline measures the total value of active deals.
Any sales team that wants to achieve consistent growth needs to maintain a healthy pipeline. This metric is critical for forecasting revenue and is useful for sales planning. For example, if your pipeline value is high, you might invest more in sales enablement tools or staff to ensure you can effectively handle and convert these opportunities.
Your dashboard should allow you to check that your pipeline is balanced in terms of the numbers of deals at each stage. A heavily weighted pipeline at the final stage will dissipate quickly whilst a pipeline that's all in the first stage could take a long time to reap rewards. Regularly review and remove dead leads from your pipeline to keep it clean and focused.
Booked Sales is the value of closed wins in your CRM.
This metric is essential for your dashboard so you can track and forecast revenue. It provides a clear picture of the revenue that has been secured, and can help predict cash flow based on the expected payment schedules of the booked deals. It's also great for evaluating the performance of sales teams, individuals, and strategies, indicating how effective they are at closing deals.
Before you make your dashboard, ensure that all sales are recorded accurately and promptly in your CRM. This helps provide a real-time view of revenue. Clearly define what constitutes a 'Booked Sale' – is it when a contract is signed?
New Users measures the number of users signing up to your product for the first time.
This metric reflects customer acquisition efforts and market traction. It’s important to gauge not only whether you’re gaining more users, but whether you’ve gained more users this period versus the last period. This metric is also useful for identifying and prioritising high-performing channels, campaigns, and sequences. Ideally, your dashboard will allow you to break down New Users by campaign or channel, so you can identify high performing sources of new users.
Retention is the percentage of users who were retained in the current period out of those who were active in the previous one. It's the inverse of User Churn Rate.
High Retention indicates that customers find ongoing value in your offering. Understanding these retained customers will allow you to optimise your product and growth strategies to find more satisfied customers. Focusing on customer segments with the highest retention rates can help to drive your LTV and increase unit-level profitability.
This is the number of unique customers with an active, paid subscription.
Though basic, it’s great for understanding market traction and the effectiveness of marketing and sales strategies. It’s useful for benchmarking against yourself and competitors, alongside resource planning.
MRR is the current monthly value of predictable and repeatable income from customers with active subscriptions, exclusive of one-time payments or fees.
This metric reflects the health of your core business and is the North Star metric for many companies. It’s mainly used for growth tracking, forecasting, and valuation. MRR deserves prime real estate in your dashboard, which should allow you to break down this metric into meaningful segments, such as by product, customer type, or region. This can reveal growth levers and insights into which areas are performing well and which need attention.
Together these metrics give an excellent overview of your company’s health. They can serve as key levers for growing your business. For more information on >60 SaaS metrics, head to our Metrics Dictionary.
Now you’ve got a grip on the most important leadership metrics, let’s outline what makes a great dashboard.
1. Simple but not simplistic
Your dashboard should clearly convey information to your team without oversimplifying to the point of triviality.
2. High signal/noise ratio
Your dashboard should have a high amount of useful information (signal) versus less useful data (noise). The most common dashboard mistake we see is metric overload. Focus on a few metrics that most directly affect your team’s performance.
3. Clean, clear, and glanceable
It should be easy to understand the key takeaways at a glance without straining your eyes. This is key in reducing attention deficit and keeping your number-shy team members engaged.
Viewing data relative to history gives crucial context, which helps you to understand whether a metric is improving or worsening. Benchmarking is also useful for setting and tracking goals.
5. Easily investigated
Great dashboards allow users to manipulate the data to drill down and explore different perspectives at a deeper level. This is important when you need specific answers to specific questions. Interactivity can be added through menus, splits, and filters.
6. Accurate & up-to-date
If you’re operating from a spreadsheet that’s updated once or twice a month from different teams, you’re operating in the dark and susceptible to errors in human data input. Having an up-to-date, accurate dashboard is crucial for fast-paced environments where timely decisions can significantly impact business performance.
What use is your data when it’s siloed? Data is best used cross-functionally. Making your dashboard sharable helps to align team members around goals, keep everyone informed, and stops you sharing ugly screenshots in Slack.
Getting started with traditional BI tools like Tableau and Looker is resource-intensive. Here’s what the typical process looks like:
1. Define formulae for KPIs
How will you calculate each KPI? This will determine what underlying data you’ll need.
2. Connect data
Often, native tool integrations aren’t available, so you need to set up and pay for third-party data connectors.
3. Clean, filter, and transform data
Handle inconsistencies, missing values, and outliers. Transform the data into a suitable format for analysis. These could include normalising dates, categorising data, or creating calculated fields.
4. Design the dashboard
Decide on the types of visualisations (bar charts, line graphs, heat maps) that best represent your data. Adjust colours, fonts, and sizes to make the dashboard visually appealing and easy to read.
5. Add interactivity
Add splits and filters so you can view specific subsets of data.
6. Calculate the metrics
Some important metrics can’t be pulled straight from your SaaS tools, they need to be calculated.
7. Setup sharing functionality
Ideally, you can share your dashboard easily among team members and external stakeholders, so your data is more accessible. This means it can be more frequently used to inform decisions. To do this, you’ll need to add access permissions or set up HTML embeds.
Yes, more modern BI alternatives exist, but most still require knowledge of SQL or data science. And if you want to find meaningful insights in your data, then you’re back to querying a database.
What if you could connect your SaaS tools in minutes and get beautiful, strategic dashboards for all your departments? Check out Calliper’s overview dashboard:
We believe everyone should be able to leverage data in their decision-making, no matter their technical skills. So we made a plug-and-play business intelligence solution for SaaS operators. It connects to data sources like Stripe, Hubspot, and Mixpanel out of the box with no coding – setup takes minutes. It’s pre-built around the most important metrics for each department, so you can focus on metrics that help you grow. Unlike other BI tools, Calliper provides a feed of automated insights based on trends in your data. Check it out here.
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