Analytics for startups: What should I track?
Out of many of the questions we are asked, the most common one we get after setting up our analytics service Mixpanel is what should we track? We generally provide this free “consulting” because we do care to see the companies that use us become successful.
Real world examples
To help beginners to our platform get an understanding of what to track, I decided that few real world examples were necessary. Additionally, we hope this helps others understand the value and importance of integrating metrics with every new feature as part of their product iteration cycle.
Case 1: TicketStumbler.com
TicketStumbler is a website that helps people find, compare, and buy event tickets. To help them we advised them to track the following:
- Track searches. How often do people use the search box and more importantly do they find what they want? We would advise initially to track when a search happens and if a user clicks on a event because of search.
- Track registrations. Do people care to register? We would advise tracking how many times the page is viewed and as well as how many people actually sign up to find out the overall conversion ratio.
- Track the buttons. Find out whether people are clicking on those “View tickets” buttons at all as well as other prominent buttons.
- Track if people buy a ticket. This is the most important, TicketStumbler has a green “Buy Ticket” button that should definitely be tracked as it clearly will help them understand how their revenue is trending.
- Track your power user features. TicketStumbler let’s users get alerts about tickets but do people even use it? What’s the conversion rate for someone adding their email to get an alert?
Of course Mixpanel provides a wealth of information automatically with integration, such as figuring out your cohorts and how many unique visitors are responding amongst other things.
Case 2: Dawdle.com
Dawdle is a website that let’s consumers buy and sell used games. To help them we advised them to track the following:
- If you’re going to make it prominent, track it! For sure the most obvious thing to track are those big buttons: “Buy now”, “Sell now”, “Learn more.” If those are converting low, they are clearly ineffective and they need to change their front page. This goes for everyone, learn about how users interact with things like this.
- Again, search. Search on Dawdle is at the top and prominent on the site but do people even use it? If not it probably shouldn’t be so prominent, that’s prime real-estate being wasted.
- Track the platforms. It would be very useful for Dawdle and their business to find out the platform that leads to their greatest leads and to prominently display it for great optimization. Additionally, it could tell them something about their users and their desires.
- Track what gets clicked, it’s all important. Are people clicking on the title, the image, the low price? Knowing what your customers are doing is valuable even if it may not appear to be so immediately.
- Test, test, test! This page clearly needs to be A/B tested. Test variations and figure out the trends. Some of these buttons might be completely distracting. Tracking the buttons of course will help you learn what your users find important in the first place.
The lists for these two cases of course only scratches the surface but with any new startup and product experimenting is key. If data can’t point you in the right direction, take a guess but make sure you track its performance via metrics.
Use the most engaging metrics to help define better features to create a stickier/viral/optimized product instead of merely adhering to what a few users tell you through a feedback form. The most important part about metrics is that you should track things that help you get to your goals. If it’s revenue through leads, figure out the funnels and the drop off rates. If it’s getting viral, figure out how often your viral channels are getting used and figure out your viral coefficient.
Good luck and feel free to try out our service built with startups in mind.