Top 5 SaaS Metrics to Monitor a Customer’s First Session

Top 5 SaaS Metrics to Monitor a Customer’s First Session

Software companies love new customers…

BUT few pay special attention to them.

The most important part of getting customer success stories is making sure you have excited customers to tell that story. It’s crazy simple.

It all starts with…

The customer relationship.

Let me define it: 

It’s the relationship between a customer and a business. Just like any relationship, it can be good, okay, or completely terrible.

And the best way to knock it out of the park with new customers is to hyper-personalize your initial interactions. That’s the best way to start the customer relationship. Check out what my friends Brennan Dunn at Right Message and Dave Rogenmoser at Proof are doing. Their products are designed to help you create personal experiences that convert. 

So, If you want to grow your SaaS so that it’s 1) profitable and 2) ready to be sold one day, you need customers who want to keep using your software. For me, this has been the key to exiting 3 tech companies—having great customer retention.

Now, how do you increase customer retention?

By making your software as easy-peasy as possible by watching your customers’ first interaction with it and optimizing it to be a better experience for all.

Here are the 5 metrics to look at when monitoring a customer’s first interaction with your software.

#1: Clicks

As the founder of a SaaS company, you probably use or have used other software to help create, organize, and upkeep your own product, team, and goals. 

For example, using Trello to keep track of tasks, Slack to organize your team communication, and Hubspot to reach your marketing and sales goals.

What happened the first time you used a new software and a button didn’t do what you thought it would OR you couldn’t figure out how to do something simple (ex. deleting a card in Trello)?

Did you click one button 10 times in a row out of frustration?

This is the kind of click that you do when an Internet browser or App won’t close on your computer.

Click. Click. Click. Click. Click. CLICK.

It’s also the kind of clicking that your customers are going to do the first time they use your software and a button doesn’t work as it should OR they can’t find what they’re looking for.

By tracking this metric, you’re finding the frustration point of your customers—one of the most important metrics to measure. If you see a pattern that customers are going full woodpecker on a specific button, that tells you that your button doesn’t work the way they need or the way you’re making it seem like it works.

Fix that button/feature and create a better experience for your customer so that this frustration point disappears. 

Frustration points ruin customer experience (and retention).

Get rid of them. FAST!

#2: Mouse Movement

Let’s say that your SaaS product is a task management software like Asana. Customers type in tasks that are public to their team and everyone collaborates to get the task done. 

For your software, after somebody creates a task they need to add it to their calendar with the day the task needs to be done by. 

I want you to watch where their mouse moves when they search for the Add To Calendar button. For example, if your Add To Calendar is on the left-hand side but you see a pattern where first time customers always move their mouse to the right-hand side to find this button: you’re on to something.

Your customer thinks it is more convenient for that button to be on the right-hand side which means, it is more convenient for that button to be on the right-hand side.

Remember, this is a relationship. Your customers shouldn’t be compromising on things like this for the sake of your software. You’re the one responsible. 

Good news: it’s an easy fix!

Watch the mouse movements to see where your customers are looking for their next click after finishing tasks in your software. Whenever you see a pattern in the mouse movements, change what you can to put the next action they need in the area of the screen they’re moving towards.

Use Hotjar for this. With it you’ll be able to visually understand your users quickly via heat maps that show their mouse movements within your product.

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#3: Task Duration

Part of building a loyal customer base who will make your SaaS company profitable (and sellable) is making sure that you’re keeping your promises.

For example, if you are Slack and your promise is that you are making communication between teams easier, then that’s the task duration you should be measuring for.

The Slack team can ask themselves, How long does it take a user to find a document that was shared with them on our platform vs. email?

They can time how long this takes with a customer’s first session using Slack and then compare that to how long it takes to find a document in email.

Which platform took longer, Slack or email?

If email took longer, than Slack is keeping their promise. And like any relationship, when you keep your promises the relationship strengthens. People want to keep interacting with you. 

And they want to keep using your software.

And you guessed it… when customers stick… you grow. Now if you’ve gotten this far in this post, it’s super clear to me that you are metrics driven and I know that I can help you even further with my piece on how to measure advanced metrics. Check it out.

#4: Tutorial Click-Throughs and Watch/Interaction Time

First off, you need to get a super clear picture on how your new customers are interacting with your software. To do this, check out my friends at UserTesting – so you can see, hear and talk to your customers as they use your product.

Now you can also learn a TON about the efficiency of your tutorials by watching people interact with them. A first time user of your software should watch your tutorial videos or interact with the screen pop-ups that are showing them around your software. 

If they don’t, there’s something wrong with your onboarding. For example, if you have a 10 minute tutorial video on how to get started with your software and while tracking your customers’ first sessions you find that 90% of customers aren’t watching the entire video—there’s a problem!

You’ll need to ask your customers what you can do to make your tutorial more user-friendly or test different variations of the tutorial to see which variation motivates new customers to watch the whole thing or interact with all the product walk-through pop-ups.

If new customers are regularly not watching your 10 minute tutorial, maybe you need to break that tutorial into four 2.5 minute long videos that pop-up as a user starts a new task that they haven’t completed before.

Your tutorials are going to save your customer support team from answering repeat questions so they can focus on bigger customer problems. 

You want your new customers to watch these videos or click-through and read your entire documentation so that they know the foundation of how to use your software.

You also need these tutorials to do their job. After a new customer watches your tutorial, how long is it taking them to complete the task that the tutorial taught them how to complete?

For example, if they just watched a tutorial on Klaviyo about setting up email flows (aka automated email marketing)—how long did it take them to set up that flow after watching the tutorial?

Did it take them 30 minutes or did it take them 2 hours?

What else can the tutorial show them that will help them take less time to set up that email flow?

Make sure your tutorials are user-friendly and pulling their weight to teach your customers what they need to know to use your software efficiently. 

#5: In-App Occurrences

And lastly, you want to observe the occurrences happening in customers’ first interaction with your software. Occurrences are anything that users are doing inside of your software. 

Let me highlight that user experience is EVERYTHING. I recommend you check out one of my friends, Samuel Hulick. He is super passionate about ux and onboarding and has some killer training programs, check them out at

Now, while the above 4 metrics are also all occurrences, you want to look at everything a user is doing in your software and ask yourself:

Is there a way for us to make this better?

Just like with clicks, mouse movements, task duration, and tutorial interaction… your customers are telling you a lot when they’re using your software. If you can watch enough customer’s first interactions (for new software founders, aim for at least 25) you’ll keep seeing patterns in how customers are inputting information into your software.

For example, let’s say you run a social media scheduling platform. Your customers can choose the photo, caption, call-to-action, date, and time that their posts go out. Here’s the order that customers are given to schedule this post, although they don’t have to go in this order:

  1. Choose Photo
  2. Choose Caption
  3. Choose CTA
  4. Choose Date
  5. Choose Time

By watching 25 customers’ first sessions, you notice that 18 of them skipped around the order you set up and instead chose this order:

  1. Choose Date
  2. Choose Time
  3. Choose Photo
  4. Choose Caption
  5. Choose CTA

This pattern in occurrences tells you that customers prefer to start their scheduling with the date and time of the post over the photo and caption.

You guessed it—I want you to change that order so that it’s a natural flow for them to move from one part of the post scheduling process to another. 

If you are making your software better by making it more efficient and convenient based off of your customers’ experience with it, you’re going to be the software company that builds long customer relationships. 

You’ll be the one who creates trust by fulfilling all of the promises that you made before they gave you money. And this is how you create customers who stick with your software for the long run, showing investors how valuable your SaaS is.

On a scale of 1-10, how much visibility do you have over a customer’s first user session? Have you connected the importance of this experience to the health of your startup?

If you can’t confidently say 10—it’s not a bad thing. Just because you’re not at a 10 today doesn’t mean you can’t be at a 10 soon.

All you need to do is:

  1. Get a clear forecast on all major growth metrics (like customers’ first experience)
  2. Assign ownership of these metrics to your team
  3. Constantly measure the actuals of these metrics
  4. Course-correct based on the data
  5. Know exactly where you’re going

I created the Precision Scorecard for SaaS founders like you. You can’t grow if you’re not tracking the right metrics for your business. You can’t be profitable if you’re not growing. And you can’t sell if your company isn’t big enough.

Get the Precision Scorecard here, to increase your customer success stories and by default—your own success story.

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