Software exists to solve a problem, automate processes, or simplify users’ lives. If it loses any of those characteristics, it becomes obsolete and useless. 

But how can you know if your software is helpful? By keeping on top of important metrics using a KPI dashboard for SaaS businesses.

SaaS businesses need to track metrics almost as much as they need their code to work. In fact, using a dashboard to track certain metrics can keep your code functioning by helping you discover errors, software issues, and measure overall customer satisfaction. Without KPIs, you’ve got no way of analysing the productivity of your team or the success of your business.

Software exists to solve a problem, automate processes, or help users in any way. If it loses any of those characteristics, it becomes obsolete and useless. 

But how can you know if your software is helpful? Reviewing your KPI dashboard for SaaS businesses. Here’s a list of the metrics you can’t miss. 

Table of contents

Metrics show you the health of your business,
See yours up close with Trevor.io as your SaaS KPI dashboard. Try it free for 2 weeks!

5 reasons you need a KPI dashboard for your SaaS business

Software is fragile. One faulty update can cause users to have a terrible experience. A good way of ensuring that your customers have a smooth experience most of the time is by keeping track of key metrics. Here are some reasons why you need a startup KPI dashboard for your growing business.

1. Spot software issues

This is one of the most important uses of KPI dashboards for SaaS. Closely monitoring certain metrics might indicate a bug or a problem with your website or app. For example, if you see a big drop in your registration numbers, it might indicate that there’s an issue with the registration form. 

2. Notice opportunities for improvement 

Frequently reviewing your metrics allows you to find areas of improvement that you wouldn’t see otherwise. For example, if your users are spending too much time on your checkout page, it might indicate that the page is taking too long to load, or that it’s not intuitive to navigate. Making small tweaks to the page could increase user satisfaction and improve conversion.

3. Get visibility of your growth

You might have money hitting the bank account, but revenue isn’t the only sign of growth. To get a full picture of your business growth, you need to track other key performance indicators (KPIs) like customer churn, number of leads, or product demo sign-ups. Those metrics will paint a full picture of your potential business growth. 

4. Align your team members

KPI dashboards align your team members toward priorities. If everyone has access to the same metrics and it’s clear which are the most important ones, your team members will have an accurate perception of their priorities. 

Clear priorities also lead to increased morale. For example, if a team member is wondering if they should work on the new feature vs fixing the issue with the registration form, looking at the metrics in their SaaS KPI dashboard will show them that the registration form is causing a serious drop in conversion (and should be their main priority). 

5. Forecast new strategies

Using historical data to test future scenarios is always useful. SaaS KPI dashboards allow you and your team to look at past, current, and future data all in one place. For example, if you want to increase your prices, but you have a low net promoter score, and you have been losing users to a cheaper alternative, the dashboard will tell you it is a bad idea.

North star vs counter metrics

Software is never boring. You can think everything is going perfect and suddenly something breaks, and the quest to find the bug begins. North star and counter metrics make it easier for you to find mistakes. 

Before we deep dive into the most important SaaS metrics to keep track of in your KPI dashboard, let’s go over these two concepts.

A north star metric (NSM) is a figure that SaaS businesses like yours use to measure the value your product is adding to the consumer’s life. NSMs are inherent to each business, and if the number grows, that means your product is performing well.

Examples of NSMs for different platforms include 

  • Instagram: monthly active users
  • Airbnb: number of nights booked
  • Trevor.io: number of active users

Counter metrics are what you measure to guarantee that whenever you optimise your NSM, you’re not unintentionally hurting other aspects of your business. 

For example, let’s say you offer a free basic plan and several paid versions for your software solution. Suppose you measure “monthly active users” as an NSM, but don’t track conversion rate or monthly active paying users as counter metrics. In that case, you might see the number of active users going up, but your profits show a stagnant number month over month.

8 Essential metrics for every SaaS KPI dashboard

These metrics can act as NSM or counter metrics. Building up your Saas KPI dashboard correctly, you can have it all in the same place to get at-a-glance visualisation of your business performance. 

1. Customer churn and conversion rate

These are two of the most important metrics to track in SaaS businesses: 

  1. Customer churn indicates the number of paid customers who stopped using your software over a given period. To calculate it, you should divide the number of lost users during a date range by the number of total users up to that date. 
  2. The conversion rate is the opposite, it means the number of users who become paying customers after a free trial or being exposed to a marketing ad. To calculate the conversion rate, you should divide the number of new paying users by the number of trial users or leads over a period of time.


Comparing churn vs conversion rate allows you to see if your users are satisfied with the product and if your marketing efforts are paying off.

2. Product qualified leads (PQL)

A PQL is an individual or a business that found value in your product after a free trial or other limited access to your solution. It’s similar to a marketing qualified lead but it’s even more valuable because they made a decision to try out your product. During this stage, you should continue to work those leads and encourage them to become paying customers.

To know which of these customers are actually using your product, you should compare this list against their level of activity. Usually, if they’ve been inactive during the most part of their trial, they’ll end up churning. That’s a good moment to work on their retention by reaching out, listening to their needs, and offering support. 

3. Customer acquisition cost (CAC) and customer lifetime value (LTV or CLV)

These two metrics are measured separately but should go together in the analysis. CAC is the amount of money it’s costing you to get a new paying user. That number alone can give you insight into your spending, but it’ll become more valuable when compared to CLV. LTV is the revenue you expect to get from a customer over their lifetime (the time they’ll use your service). 

For example, if you earn $8 per user per month, the average account holds 10 users, and they use your service for two years. The LTV will be $1920. The CAC rate should be at least 3x lower than the LTV to be profitable. In this scenario, the maximum you should be spending acquiring each account should be $640.

The LTV:CAC ratio represents the amount of money it takes businesses to acquire a new customer compared to the revenue they’ll bring the company. 
Source: CleverTap

4. Net promoter score (NPS), referrals, or viral coefficient

These are crucial metrics to keep an eye on, especially, in early-stage SaaS startups since they measure customer success. The NPS shows how likely your customers are to promote your product to others. It’s usually a number between 0-10, zero being not likely, and 10 being extremely likely to recommend.

The number of referrals represents the number of users you’re getting because one of your current customers recommended your product. If this number is low, you can think of implementing a referral program. Referrals can also be measured with a viral coefficient. The viral coefficient is the number of new customers that your current customers generate on average. 

To calculate the viral coefficient, you should multiply the number of current customers by the average referral per customer by the average conversion rate for referrals, and divide it by 100.



NPS, referral number, and viral coefficient are three metrics that represent customer satisfaction and can be used to forecast growth.

5. Activation rate

This is a KPI that gives SaaS business owners a lot of perspective on their products. The activation rate represents the time an average user takes to find the software valuable. To measure this, you should define a “key action” that delivers instant customer value, and set a period to review.

Examples of key actions include 

  • Trevor.io: creating their first dashboard. 
  • Instagram: posting for the first time.
  • Airbnb: booking their first stay.

To calculate this rate, you should divide the number of users that performed a key action during a period of time by the number of new users during the same period.

6. Monthly recurring revenue (MRR) and annual recurring revenue (ARR) 

SaaS businesses are all about solving a market problem, but also about making money. These two metrics monitor revenue: 

  1. MRR is the amount of revenue your business is making month over month. To calculate this, you should multiply your monthly account or user average revenue by the number of monthly active users.
  1. ARR follows the same logic but uses a year as a timeframe. So, instead of multiplying your monthly account/user average revenue, you should take the annual number and divide it by the number of annual active users.

You can also use the same formulas to calculate monthly and annual recurring profits. 

7. Renewal and retention

This metric is a collateral representation of customer satisfaction. It indicates the percentage of customers that choose to renew their subscription after it expires. There are two ways to calculate this metric: 

  • Option #1, use this to get the number of renewed users: Divide the number of users who renewed their subscription by the number of users who had a chance to renew their subscriptions and multiply it by 100.
  • Option #2, use this to get the value generated by renewed users: Divide the value of users that renewed their subscription by the value of subscriptions that had the chance to renew, and multiply it by 100. 

This metric is often confused with the previous one, but they’re different. The renewal rate is the number of users that chose to renew. Retention rate is the number of users that you managed to renew, or chose not to churn. A high retention rate means your customers find value in your product or service. Being able to retain your customers is what makes your growth predictable and stable. 

To calculate this metric, you should subtract the number of users at the end of the period minus the number of new customers during this period, divide that result by the total number of users at the start of the period, and multiply by 100. 

8. Daily, weekly, or monthly active users (DAU, WAU, MAU) 

These numbers indicate how many people are actively using your software solution on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. Depending on your type of service, the time interval can be more or less relevant. 

For example, if your product is usually accessed daily, three-day inactivity needs to immediately trigger an alert. However, if you host payroll software that’s usually accessed once a week, you shouldn’t be alarmed by three-day inactivity.

This metric is also relevant to see if any of your retaining efforts paid off and a user became active again after a long period of inactivity.

Bonus: Product-specific metrics 

Your SaaS KPI dashboard isn’t complete until you add a product-specific metric. That can be represented by anything important to your business. A good idea is to add your NSM and your counter metrics.

Top 3 BI dashboard tools for SaaS businesses

While you can choose to have one visualisation for everything, there are different types of BI dashboards that you can use and divide into different areas. You can have an HR, financial, health metrics, sales KPI dashboard, or any other BI dashboard examples you can think of, and that your BI tool allows you to have. Some of the best BI dashboard software out there are:

1. Trevor.io

This BI dashboard tool offers on-premise and cloud-hosted options for you to choose the one that adjusts best to your needs.

Top Trevor.io features: 

  • It’s extremely lightweight and highly scalable
  • It’s a truly no-code solution but also allows SQL experts to write their queries if preferred
  • It supports unlimited users, ad-hoc queries, and dashboards with any plan.

Why is Trevor.io ideal for SaaS?

Trevor.io was designed for startups and SaaS businesses. It connects to most SQL data sources and allows you to create automated alerts so you can keep working on your business while having the data come to you. 

Main Trevor.io drawbacks: 

  • This tool is less suitable for marketing-driven businesses and e-commerce because it may be harder to connect their data. However, you can link to custom Google Sheets data sources.
  • It can be expensive for small teams. 

Pricing: 

Choose from a variety of plans from $299 to $499 a month or get a quote for the self-hosted version, tailored to your business needs. Get started with a 14-day free trial and 75% off for the first three months.

Metrics show you the health of your business,
See yours up close with Trevor.io as your SaaS KPI dashboard. Try it free for 2 weeks!

2. Power BI

Power BI offers on-premise hosting that enables everyone from individuals to enterprise-level executives to have visual access to their data. 

Top Power BI features: 

  • Power BI has a natural language query tool that enables users to write questions in conversational language
  • It integrates with tools like Office 365 for file sharing and collaboration
  • It lets you embed reports and analytics to share with clients. 

Why is Power BI ideal for SaaS?

Power BI is pretty affordable and it’s great for growing businesses. Also, since its interface is similar to other Microsoft products, it has a relatively short learning curve. 

Main Power BI drawbacks:

  • It was designed for MS and isn’t particularly Mac-friendly. 
  • Can run slow when handling large data sources. 

Pricing:

Power BI offers a free version for individual users and goes up to $4,995 to get the licence for your whole organisation.

3. Tableau

This BI tool is owned by Salesforce and uses the VizQL programming language. It offers cloud-hosted and on-premise BI solutions.

Top Tableau features:

  • It offers a natural language query builder that supports conversational language. 
  • It has white label solutions to embed analytics and brand as you wish
  • It’s mobile and tablet friendly. 

Why is Tableau ideal for SaaS?

Tableau is great for Saas businesses because it’s easy and intuitive to use for tech people, connects to hundreds of different data sources, and allows mobile visualisation which is great for busy professionals.

Main Tableau drawbacks: 

  • It needs programming skills to understand the VizQL language and write queries
  • It needs you to clean the data before you can create queries.

Pricing:

Pricing starts at $70 per month and goes up according to business needs. 

Related Post: When to Set up a KPI Dashboard for Startups and Which Crucial Metrics to Consider

Do you need an analytics dashboard for your SaaS business?

If you want to have easy access to your SaaS business performance metrics in real-time, you shouldn’t think twice about getting a dashboard solution for your business. This guide to BI dashboards can help you get to know all their characteristics and will allow you to make an informed decision on which tool to get for your business.

Trevor.io is a great solution for mid-size SaaS startups that need KPI dashboards for different purposes. Also, since Trevor.io offers unlimited access to users and ad-hoc queries, you can build a data-based culture where it’s easy for everyone to be informed before making a decision. Plus, getting automated alerts allows you to focus on important workflows without worrying that you’ll miss any important data updates.

Metrics show you the health of your business,
See yours up close with Trevor.io as your SaaS KPI dashboard. Try it free for 2 weeks!

Frequently asked questions about KPI dashboards for SaaS

What should be on a SaaS dashboard?

SaaS dashboards should include key performance indicators and any product-specific metrics. Some metrics to include are: 

  • Customer churn and conversion rate
  • Customer acquisition cost and lifetime value
  • Product qualified leads
  • Monthly and annual revenue rate 

What KPIs do SaaS companies use?

SaaS businesses review KPIs that will indicate some kind of software malfunction or customer satisfaction. Some examples include

  • Net promoter score
  • Renewal and retention rate
  • Activation rate
  • Churn and conversion rates

What are the most important dashboards any SaaS should have?

SaaS businesses should always have these five dashboards:

  • Sales dashboard
  • Revenue and growth dashboard
  • Users dashboard 
  • Customer service dashboard
  • Traffic and social media analytics dashboard

What are SaaS metrics?

SaaS metrics are regular key performance indicators that are particularly important for SaaS businesses. Most of them have to do with customer acquisition, retention, and satisfaction. Some examples of SaaS metrics are

  • Customer acquisition cost
  • Customer lifetime value
  • Daily, weekly, and monthly active users
  • Customer retention rate
  • Renewal rate

Related Post: 8 Critical Metrics for Your Insurance KPI Dashboard You Won’t Want to Skip (+ Examples)