Setting up Google Analytics for SaaS-companies
Analytics Dashboard

Written by Bartek Bezemer

About the author
I want you to get more out of your online marketing by helping you learn from the greats and give you practical tips.

May 2, 2020

As a SaaS-company you want to get the most out of your website. How can you set up Google Analytics to act on data and not on gut feeling?

Software as a Service or SaaS for service is becoming more and more popular. Look at how Adobe has switched from a one-off software company to a SaaS-company. These services are popping up everywhere and therefore the competition is heating up with advertising money going through the roof. You want to get the most out of your website and grow your business. 

Before you dive into this post I’d recommend reading the following articles to get up to speed:

In the above mentioned article I teach you how to implement Google Analytics through Google Tag Manager, how to efficiently create different views and exclude payment service providers from your conversion measurements. 

Define your business goals

One of the most important steps in successful ecommerce is defining your business goal for your website. Do you want to get quotes or sell without intervention of a sales-department? This step might seem very simple, but it is essential for the setup of your Google Analytics account. 

Without a proper definition of your business goals, you will set up advertising campaigns that do not convert and create web pages with mixed signals. Optimizing without clear objectives, leads to nothing in the end. Steering towards one goal is the core of good ecommerce. We want to, no have to, define our goals as early as possible, as a common pitfall of web analytics is gathering unnecessary amounts of data which will never be used. Only advanced users will tap into reports that are difficult to interpret for the average user. But you as a business owner only want to focus on what matters most. 

In this scenario we will define the business goal, which overarches the sub goals in Google Analytics. This business goal will be simple as it does only adhere to the business plan on an abstract level. We do not formulate a SMART-objective as the business goal will help us structure the different components of Google Analytics. Your SMART-objective should be however incorporated into your business plan, which you hopefully created before starting your business. 

The business goal for this Google Analytics project will be: generate online sales through trials. Trials will be the main goal of all conversion events on our website.Through the customer portal we can convert trial users into paying customers. This means our Analytics account will need not only a basic implementation, but also an ecommerce configuration to see how much revenue we generate from trials.

Goal definition for conversion optimization

In the previous section I described a scenario where we established that generating sales through trials is the goal of our website and our product environment. From this we can already define multiple goals, namely the following: 

  • Amount of requested trials
  • Amount of successful first logins 
  • Amount of successful transactions

We’ll break down the aforementioned goals first, later in the I’ll show you how to create those goals within your own account. 

Tracking trial sign-ups through thank you pages

A successful trial sign-up is easy to track as we can set a thank you page right after the sign-up. As a user signs-up, they are automatically redirected to the respective thank you page. Thank you pages are one of the most crucial parts for a succesful Google Analytics account. Defining goals will therefore be the core of your business and essential for optimizing online campaigns.

On a side note, it’s possible to redirect successful sign-ups directly into the trial environment. You can use that as a goal in Google Analytics as well. But make sure your thank you page has a unique identifier or else you won’t be able to separate successful sign ups from successful first logins. 

Tracking successful first logins

The following one, a successful login, might be a little more challenging, but we want to keep them separated from trial sign-ups as it is more easily steer on trial sign-ups than trial environment logins. Measuring first time logins is useful, but not mandatory to determine whether our follow-up communication is successful. 

The best way to track first opens is to build in a unique identifier in the first open URL. This can be done through a virtual URL, which can be configured through Google Tag Manager, but most of us won’t feel comfortable playing around with virtual URLs. Creating a virtual URL can best be handled with a technician who can create a URL which is detectable by Google Analytics and possible to set as goals. A reason to use virtual URLs might be when URLs of your environment are dynamically generated, making them unsuitable for proper measurement. 

Another more suitable option is using a UTM-code in the Call to Action (CTA) in the invitation email with the credentials to the login page. These are easy to create through the Google Campaign URL builder.

Tracking successful purchases 

In the beginning we described that we wouldn’t have a sales team, but a full self service software tool. This means we also want a full view on the ecommerce revenue generated on our website. 

Google Analytics does not track ecommerce by default and needs to be configured manually. As with everything that needs coding, I recommend letting a developer implement ecommerce tracking. It requires some adjustment to the tracking code.Once you have the enhanced ecommerce enabled in your account you can see from which region your sales are coming from, from which channels, how much revenue you generate and where people abandon your sales funnel. 

Goal creation in Google Analytics 

Creating goals in Google Analytics is a fairly easy endeavour if you’ve not used virtual URLs or weird URLs lay-out that will confuse you when analyzing your data.  You can create a goal in the admin section of your selected view. The first part of the goal creation consists of a name, the goal id and type of goal. For this post I’ve created a destination which will track our thank you page. Note that if you use an existing goal id, the previous data will not be overwritten and therefore will give false findings to those unfamiliar with the change. I always recommend creating a note in the annotations so other users can trace back a change. 

Google Analytics Goal Details SaaS

The next part is about the goal details. You specify the destination of the goal, in this case /thank-you and the goal value which I’ve given a fictional value of 100 USD. After this you can complete the goal and start tracking. 

Building an ecommerce dashboard 

An essential element of growing your business week over week, month over month is keeping track of your results on a regular basis. Google Analytics has an easy build in Dashboard functionality where you can mix up your most valuable metrics in a single view. 

I try to automate as many valuable metrics to have a steady stream of data coming in. It’s easy to lose track of your successes, or get distracted by unrelated aspects of your business, when you don’t reflect on your earlier defined business goals. In this post I’m creating a regional dashboard for the Google Merchandise Store where I break down how to create different widgets to display regional sales. It displays all the interesting features we want to track for our business.

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