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What are the most effective ways to collect data to fuel development?

One of my biggest lessons when building a business is the importance of building a product based on data as opposed on assumptions. I unfortunately learned this the hard way... Do you have any recommendations on the based way to collect data to fuel development? I am currently working on bringing to market a SaaS platform but if we could make the answers a bit generic that perhaps may help others as well. Thanks so much for the help.

3 Replies

Sam McAfee
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0
Sam McAfee Advisor
Building Popup Incubators for Corporate Innovation Programs
If you haven't already read "Lean Analytics", read it ASAP.

The first thing to do is understand your metrics categories. I have found it useful to combine Lean Analytics phases ("empathy", "stickiness", "growth) with the Pirate Metrics framework (AARRR: Acquisition, Activation, Retention, Revenue, and Referral).

Combining them goes like this:

Empathy phase: Are you solving the right problem? Use Acquisition and Activation metrics.

Stickiness phase: Does your solution adequately solve the problem? Use Retention and Revenue metrics.

Growth phase: Is your solution good enough that customers share it without being prompted? Use Referral metrics.

Depending on what phase you are in, you'll be looking more closely at one set of metrics over another. Go in the order above--as in, there is no point optimizing share rates until your retention is pretty solid, etc.

Now, for each "feature" idea on the product backlog, make sure you have a clear definition of which metric you'll watch to see if that feature was successful. Focus on one at a time. Have the team iterate until you reach some stable state in the customer lifecycle, and then move to the next metric.

So, for example, make sure your landing page articulates the value proposition such that you can acquire leads or customers at a cost that makes sense.

Technically? You can use Google Analytics for pretty much all of this. But if you want to get fancy, Mix Panel and Heap Analytics are also good (paid) tools for managing metrics.

The key is to focus on one metric (or set of related metrics) at at time.

Good luck.

PS: I cover this in more detail here.
Sebastien Mirolo
0
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Sebastien Mirolo Entrepreneur
Subscription Product Engineering
I agree that the first thing to clearly articulate is which metrics matter to your business. Is it:
1. time to answer (ex: Google replies to a search query in less than 0.5s)?
2. value delivered to customer (ex: DjaoDjin charges $189/month to host a SaaS product. So we monitor that each customer makes x10 that in revenue)
3. number of referral per customers?
4. ...

The first question is highly technical so you want to instrument close to the http end-point. The second question is about transaction volume, something you can read directly into a Stripe dashboard. For the third question, best might be to send a survey to customers and collect results.

I usually call random (paying) customers once a week and chat with them. Whatever most of them keep complaining about week after week is surely important. We then devise a metric that can be used to drive the issue away, then how to most efficiently collect that metric (goal in Google analytics dashboard, write code to generate app event in logs, etc.).
Terry Mackin
0
0
Terry Mackin Entrepreneur
Remarkable Partners, LLC
Get the product in the hands of users and iterate based on a combination of B2B experience and perhaps B2C panels for consumer input.
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