SaaS Analytics: Leveraging Google Analytics For A SaaS StartUp

Published on November 6th, 2023

12 min read


Though SaaS and Ecommerce might sound similar, they are absolutely not!

One major difference between SaaS and Ecommerce Startup is that SaaS requires you to generate recurring revenue. You need to keep a check on the business growth in your user base, profitability, market share, and cash flow.

As far as a SaaS Startup is concerned, the general metrics available on Google Analytics are not enough, as the goal for SaaS business is to turn these visitors into customers who will continue using the product and also significantly contribute to the revenue.

Ever heard of the phrase “What gets measured gets done”? Well, that’s a very common phrase in marketing and probably everyone has heard it. Being in marketing everyone values the importance of SaaS analytics, but just using it isn’t enough, using it properly to achieve the desired results is.

KISSmetrics and Mixpanel are some of the powerful Business Intelligence (BI) tools that can be considered as good alternatives to Google Analytics for SaaS if you want to track individual users but they are costly for a SaaS startup. The only problem with Google Analytics is that being a free tool, it’s poorly documented and people haven’t been able to uncover the real power of this tool.

It’s just like inserting the right key until you find a passage that leads towards a secret treasure!

That’s exactly why we shared this with you. After reading this blog, you’ll be dazed to see what powers this tool beholds and that too with just some tweaks.

Did you know Google Analytics allows you to add up to 20 Custom Dimensions per GA property?

Don’t worry, we have got it all covered.

Here we assume that you are already familiar with Google Analytics Services, I mean, you’ve already set up your Google Analytics account, if not you can check it here. It’s super easy!

Now, getting back to the business.

To start with, first, you’d want to analyze Marketing and Application pages separately since application pages are to solve user problems and marketing pages are to convert leads. Both the pages serve two different purposes and they should be tracked accordingly. So first things first, use different tracking IDs for them. This will help you get more refined data and both the pages won’t be competing over custom variables, dimensions, and metrics.

For SaaS, create 2 views:

  1. People who are already your customers – Application Page
  2. People who aren’t your customers – just visitors – Marketing Pages

Create a different Tracking ID for Marketing and Application Pages:

Go to the Account List page in Google Analytics > Admin > Create New Property > Select Classic or Universal Analytics.

We recommend selecting Universal Analytics – It supports Custom Dimensions.

To better understand how you can leverage Google Analytics for a SaaS startup, we shall take Dave McClure’s help and will consider his AARRR model:



Based on our experiences with various SaaS companies, we have come up with a model that focuses on retaining paid-subscription customers and will help you expand your client base through referrals.

(Note: This is a modified version of Dave McClure’s Pirate Metrics to fit the sales processes of SaaS businesses since it relies on revenue from subscriptions.)


Your attempts have succeeded. With ads, emails, social media, or maybe word-of-mouth, you’ve got people to visit your website. But, is that your goal?

Certainly not.

Being a SaaS company, you want to convert a non-user into a paying, long-term customer. At this stage, it’s crucial to understand how many people are interested in your product. You also need to understand what channels brought them to your website. GA tracks 6 main acquisition channels: Direct, Organic, Social, Paid Search, Email, and (Other) and analyzes each one of them to understand what is working best for you.

  • Set realistic goals to ensure you get proper “Bounce Rates” or “% Exit”, e.g., Say visitors read “x” number of posts before they subscribe to your blog, or spend “x” seconds or visited “x” pages before they signed up for a free trial, etc.
  • Check where are your visitors coming from. You can track this in Google Analytics:

Acquisition → All Traffic → Channels

    • Direct – Visitors who type the website address directly.
    • Organic – Traffic from Google Search Ranking.
    • Social – Traffic from Social Media, such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, etc.
    • Paid – Traffic from Paid Ads.
    • Email – Traffic from a link you sent them in an email.
    • Other – Traffic from channels without standardized rules and documents.
  • Check for the Unique Visitors – For this, all you need to do is:
    • Set User ID and Client ID as a Custom Dimension.
    • Set up “Login” as an Event in Google Analytics.
    • No. of logins” as a Custom Metric.

This will help you keep track of unique visitors.

At the end of this phase, you should be able to understand which customers are interested in your product and where they are coming from.


Customers who are interested in your product or the product you sell will start researching about it, the features it has, the cost of your product, maybe even sign up for a free trial. Here you have a chance to enhance their knowledge and subtly advertise your product as well through webinars, Video Tutorials, Blogs, Chatbots, etc.

  • Set micro-conversions as “Goals” – Sign Up or Subscribe to a Blog/Newsletter can be the micro-conversions.
  • Since you already have “User ID” as a Dimension, you can analyze the actions of individual users.
  • Signups – Check how many visitors have signed up for a free service, like a trial or a freemium account. Compare this with the number of Monthly Unique Visitors, this will indicate the success of your marketing strategy in driving sales.
  • Leads by Lifecycle Stage – Leads are people who are actually interested in your product or the product you have. Your leads are of 3 types: Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL) – has done extensive research and frequent visits to your website; Sales Qualified Lead (SQL) – evaluating sellers and signed up for trials of competing products; Product Qualified Leads (PQLs) – who have been utilizing a company’s free version of a product – pre-customers.
  • For better user insights – Create a pre-defined segment for “Sessions with Conversions”. This will allow you to compare “All sessions” or “Sessions without conversions” with the “Sessions with conversions”. You can check this in the Behavior Flow report:

Acquisition → New Users report and Behavior → Behavior Flow report to identify their behavior patterns.


How many customers are returning to your website to make yet another purchase after making a purchase, is crucial for you as it tells a lot about the quality of your product/service?

For a SaaS company, you always want to keep your customers happy and satisfied. With every company, the retention policy varies. While some might check in for daily active users, some might check monthly active users. You should set what retention metrics apply to your business and then track them.

  • Calculate “Returning Users” – “New Visits – Aggregate Count” = Returning Users.
  • The Cohort Analysis Report is yet another amazing feature as it allows you to keep a check on metrics like Goals-per user, Revenue per User, and much more. However, for the Retention part of the funnel, you need to set the metric in Cohort Analysis Report as “User Retention” to get a clearer picture of your retention rate and how it’s been changing.
  • Use the Custom Dimensions feature and define a separate segment for “Activated Users”. Apply this segment in the Cohort Analysis (based on the date of their first visit). This will help you filter out the activated users and analyze their retention rates.
  • Also, check the New vs Returning under the Behavior in Audience option and compare the two segments of users.


Referrals are a great opportunity to generate additional revenue for your business. Because word-of-mouth is the best way to get additional customers if someone they trust recommends it. It closely relates to the halo effect. It’s a tendency that allows people to view something positively if they have received great feedback and are introduced to it in a positive way.

Using proper URL tagging(utm_source, utm_medium, utm_campaign), you can trace the campaign with the best referrals. You must also keep a check on the number of these visitors who converted and which source/channel helped you get the maximum number of conversions.


The basic purpose of any SaaS company when creating a website is, it’s obvious, generating sales. Driving people’s attention and getting them to perform a particular action, can be considered as micro-conversions but they aren’t the reason you set up the website in the first place, are they?

For a SaaS StartUp, you’ll notice that the cost of acquiring your first customer is overwhelming. As a SaaS Company, you ideally want your customers to move on from Free Trials to Paid Version. And to keep your company viable, you must focus and design a proper strategy for how you can properly nurture your leads for the bottom of your funnel.

It’s not enough to measure the amount of money you’re generating. You need to check whether your strategies were fruitful. For this you can:

  • Gather the basic dataNo. of customers and Amount of revenue generated. You can further elaborate on information using this data and calculate how much revenue you are collecting in a time period, how much you spend on acquiring customers, how long it takes to regenerate the cost of gaining these customers, and your Return On Investment (ROI).
  • Events are probably the most underestimated aspect of GA. Taking one step at a time, you would want to drive traffic to your website, and once they are on maybe you want them to “Sign Up” or “Subscribe to a Blog/Newsletter”- micro-conversions. You can keep the following as your Goals:
    • Sign In/ Sign Up
    • Unsubscribe
    • Change Plan
  • Since you’ve already created Custom Dimensions and you can set event goals for each of those dimensions, and track the conversion of each goal, this will help you know when a customer pays/subscribes.


We hope that we could clearly state what to track in google analytics for SaaS. Now that we’ve discussed all the key SaaS metrics, and analysis strategies you need for individual parts of the funnel, you can get started with analyzing your data. SaaS Analytics gives you some crucial insights that can assist you in designing effective strategies that can help you scale your business and generate genuine results.


Technical Content Strategist and Inbound Coordinator at FirstPrinciples, Heba is a motivated self-starter with a knack for analyzing and solving tough business problems. When not working, you can find her either reading a book, painting landscapes or sketching places she yearns to visit one day.

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