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You Never Know What Operational Metrics You’ll Need – So Instrument Everything

startup metrics

It happens over and over and over again.  A company has a successful growth spurt and is ready to ratchet up to the next level.  They are sitting around a table trying to decide whether to add more offerings, enter adjacent markets, raise their prices, etc, etc, etc.  Very quickly they realize it would be ideal if they had analytics and metrics on A, B and C to help make the best informed decision.  But they don’t have A, B and C because they didn’t capture the data during the earlier days and now it’s too late.

This dilemma happens at all stages of company evolution.  So why not instrument everything for data collection from the start?  Seriously, data storage is unbelievably cheap so that’s not the inhibitor.  The hardest part is deciding what information/metrics to keep.  My answer is EVERYTHING.  Now you just have to figure out what “everything” means.  Let’s explore further.

  • Customer usage information – which modules/capabilities, how often, how much (quantity), etc
  • Time-based data – how long before customers ____, ____ and ____
  • Demographic data – geography, company size, industry, job title
  • Customer Lifecycle data – especially things related to customer acquisition (sales and marketing), service, support and hosting

The list obviously could go on and on but these are some examples to get you thinking.  Again, capture it all and you’ll be amazed how frequently you’ll say in a planning meeting something like “wow, I’m glad we actually thought to capture this information”.

This information will come from your financial system, hosting platform, CRM, marketing automation platform, website analytics service, etc.  But this creates an added burden of consolidating the data for analysis and correlation across data types.  Check out metrics aggregating vendors like Mixpanel and KISSmetrics.  Or check out Heap Analytics’ technology that makes it easy to instrument any element of a web page with the click of a button and without requiring the web developer to be involved.  Here’s a report from someone who compared these two to give you an idea about the capabilities they have:  See Report Here.  I’m not promoting one over the other and have actually never directly used either.  So use the comparison information for education on the topic of operational instrumentation.

Also, for you metrics addicts in SaaS companies, check out my article titled “Visualizing the Interactions Between CAC, Churn and LTV“.

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