SaaS Marketing Metrics in Google Analytics: A Tutorial

Separating Marketing Data from Product Data

Let’s say that you’re a startup with a Software as a Service (SaaS) business model and you’re looking over your metrics in Google Analytics.  Maybe you’re creating some kind of social media startup or some other product where people are going to spend a lot of time on your site. You’re past the initial launch phase, so you’ve got some customers using your product, but you aren’t getting as many new conversions as you’d like and you’re looking at analytics; what are you seeing?  Are you seeing how well your site is performing with potential new customers, or how well your production site is performing with your existing customers?  Can you separate the two out?

 

These views (one filtering out referral spam) show pretty good stats for average session duration and bounce rate, but how heavily influenced is that by the existing customers?

The problem is that while you may have a single website, or even a website and subdomain or two completely different websites (on the same Analytics property), from a marketing perspective you really have two distinct websites, and they need to be treated as such. First is a marketing business front end focused on attracting new customers, next is the product that’s being used by your customers - each have their own metrics and relevant analyses.  The concerns of the marketing front end are entirely different than those of the product portion; if the two are mixed together it will skew the data for your marketing front end. Your data won’t be actionable, or even particularly insightful, from a marketing perspective.  Google Analytics is a very powerful tool - but like all tools it isn’t a mind reader and needs to be used properly to get good results.

Considering how many possible setups there are for a SaaS site, there’s no one way to solve this problem, but we’ll show you an example to get you pointed in the right direction.  In this example, we’ll pretend that we, TimeShare CMO, have a SaaS service on a subdomain (my.timesharecmo.com) along with our marketing front end site (timesharecmo.com). There’s a signup process that starts on timesharecmo.com and actually finishes on my.timesharecmo.com.  Using this technique, you’ll end up with something like this for your views:

Now you can see how your marketing efforts are performing, without being skewed by the usage of your SaaS site.

To proceed, you’ll first create two views: a Marketing site view and a Production Site view.

Once you’ve created the marketing view, you’ll need to create the filters for it.  If you’re using a subdomain, as we are in our example, you’ll first need to include a filter that shows the full domain path so you can tell Google Analytics which pages, specifically, you’re referring to with your filters and goals.  Here’s how that filter should look:

Breaking this out, the first portion of the Advanced section instructs Google Analytics to extract the hostname from the requested URL (for example: my.timesharecmo.com).  The second portion extracts the path requested (for example: /sign-up/success).  The third portion combines the two fields and tells Google Analytics to work with that instead of just the path; so any filters, goals, segments, etc, that operate on a requested path (ie /sign-up/succes) will instead operate on the full domain and path (ie my.timesharecmo.com/sign-up/success), along with any page locations within the Analytics data showing the full domain and path instead of just the path.

Next, you’ll create a filter that uses Regular Expressions to Include ONLY the data from your marketing front end site AND the data from the sign up portion that’s on your product site:

In this example, we have two pages that we’re including from the my.timesharecmo.com subdomain: /sign-up and /sign-up/success.  So the regular expression is going to be:

^timesharecmo.com|my.timesharecmo.com\/sign-up|my.timesharecmo.com\/sign-up\/success

Let’s break that out to clarify what each portion means.  The ^ (hat) at the very beginning means “the beginning of the line”, so it WON’T match my.timesharecmo.com or any pages or subdirectories from it.

The | (pipe) is the logical operator OR, so each match that is separated by a pipe will be included (so you can include additional pages, subdomains, or other domains this way, as long as they’re on the same Analytics property).  If you’re not familiar with logical operators this will be a little confusing, but this will match the first page AND the second AND the third, etc.

The \/ is a /, since a / is a “special character” in Regular Expressions, it needs to be “escaped” with a \.

So this filter includes ONLY the data that’s coming into Google Analytics that begins with timesharecmo.com (so all pages and subdirectories), and only the pages my.timesharecmo.com/sign-up and my.timesharecmo.com/sign-up/success; everything else is excluded from this view.  That’s it for the marketing view!

Now, for the product view, switch to the filters section of the product view.  You’ll have to add the “show full domain” filter from above, then create a new filter.  This filter will only include the my.timesharecmo.com subdomain:

To finish the process of separating the marketing and product site data, you’ll have to create one last filter to exclude the signup flow portion of the product site that was included in the marketing view from above:

This filter is very simple after creating the corresponding include filter for the marketing view:

my.timesharecmo.com\/sign-up|my.timesharecmo.com\/sign-up\/success

As you can see, these are the same pages that were included from the product site in the marketing view above, now being excluded since they’re really marketing data rather than product data, and already present in the marketing view.

That’s it!  Now you can create goals and funnels in your marketing view with your signup pages to track your sign ups and view the marketing performance of your website without the data being skewed by your product site data.