We’ve seen countless different ways SaaS companies configure their data to provide go-to-market teams visibility into how customers are using their product, whether it’s in a data warehouse like Snowflake or BigQuery, a CDP like Segment, or a CRM like Salesforce - but that’s not what this post is about.
We’re taking it back to the basics by providing a tried and true checklist of the actual data PLG companies should be collecting before adopting a product-led revenue platform like Correlated. We’ll cover the key events, customer lifecycle data points, and firmographic data points that you should be tracking to be successful in your product-led revenue efforts.
Let’s kick things off with the events you’ll want to track.
Tools for collecting and acting on product usage data
You can either leverage a CDP like Segment to track real-time events or store product-generated events in your Data Warehouse. We typically recommend that even if you’re using Segment, that you consider piping that data into a Data Warehouse for future use. If tracking events via a Data Warehouse, it’s best to store them as raw events and generate roll-ups as needed. It’s also very important to attach userIds and accountIds to all events and roll-ups (including if that data is coming in from Segment).
The most time-sensitive events should ideally be tracked in real-time, which means when paired with a tool like Correlated, your team can follow up with revenue opportunities as soon as possible (aka when customers are actually engaged and more likely to buy). Events like “sign-ins” and “invites sent” can help target power users in your product that are undoubtedly more ready to purchase or expand, while various “feature usage” events can help your entire GTM team support customers across their lifecycle - from buying signals like clicking into a new product/feature, or churn risks like removing key integrations.
8 events to track for PLG products
- Sign-Ups: This event should be sent when a user signs up for your product.
- Sign-Ins: This event should be sent when a user signs in to your product.
- Account Created: This event should be sent when a new account is created.
- Invites Sent: This event should be sent when a user invites another user to the product.
- Subscription Started: This event should be sent when a subscription is started.
- Subscription Ended: This event should be sent when a subscription has ended or is canceled.
- Subscription Changed: This event should be sent when a subscription is changed - upgraded or downgraded.
- Feature Usage: These events should be sent when a user engages with core features in your product (clicks, activates, or views key features relevant from onboarding to adoption).
Lifecycle data points for the customer journey
These data points should be shared via a CRM like Salesforce or a Data Warehouse. Again, all data points should be tagged with accountIDs and userIDs. It’s also a good idea to include a column of when the row was last modified, since many downstream applications use timestamp columns to pull data incrementally (and thus, more efficiently).
Lifecycle data points allow your team to monitor customers across the entirety of their journey with your company - from the day they sign up for a free trial, convert to a paid customer, and adopt your product. By pulling in information like customer status (e.g. trial, paid), you can power tailored playbooks for different stages, such as running a re-engagement sequence for churned customers, or an onboarding sequence for those trialing.
The reason why it’s important to track these key lifecycle data points as dimensional tables vs events is that events are time-series data sets, and come with some limitations. For example, you probably track when an account was created in the product, but if you haven’t set up event tracking yet, you’ll miss all the accounts created before event tracking was set up. Further, if you do have the full history of lifecycle events, you have to query that table every single time to get the first time someone did something (like the first time someone started to pay). This isn’t very efficient over time, so even with a full history of lifecycle events, it’s good to have that summary table that contains just the milestones you care about.
7 lifecycle data points to track for PLG
- Sign-Up Date: This should track the date the customer signed up for your product.
- Subscription / Plan Type: This should differentiate between different subscription types. Basic, Premier, etc.
- Subscription Start Date: This should track the date the customer began paying for your product. First Invoice Date, etc.
- Subscription End Date: This should track the date the customer ended their subscription or stopped paying for your product. Subscription Expired, etc.
- License Utilization: This should track the number of seats or licenses the customer is using - Only if relevant to your company.
- Customer Status: This should track what stage the customer is at in their lifecycle. Active, Trialing, Paying, Churned, etc.
- Lifecycle Milestones: These are unique to what your company identifies as a milestone. Total Lifetime Usage of Key Features, Total Lifetime Usage of Seats / Licenses, Integrations Connected, Features Activated Date, etc.
Who’s using your product: firmographic data
Finally, you need to track firmographic data to identify who your customers are. Similar to your lifecycle data points, this data should be shared via a CRM like Salesforce or a Data Warehouse, and any DW tables must include an accountId, userId, and for best results, a timestamp column.
Just as important as knowing where each customer is in their lifecycle, any PLG motion will benefit from also knowing who their customers are and how to group or segment them accordingly. Factors such as market segment, company size, user/contact roles, and industry will enable you to target each persona with relevant messaging for a higher return. Information like who owns an account internally, from CSMs, AEs, or SDRs will keep everyone accountable for their book of business.
6 firmographic data points to track for PLG
- MRR / ARR: This should track the customer's recurring revenue. Monthly, annually, etc.
- Market Segment / Company Size: This should track how to segment the customer. Enterprise, SMB, 500+ employees, etc.
- Industry: This should track what industry or vertical the customer is in. Fintech, Ecommerce, Health, etc.
- Contact Role / Job Title: This should track a user's role at the company. Decision-Maker, Day to Day Contact, CEO, SDR, etc.
- Account Owner Emails and Names: This should track who at your company owns a customer account. Customer Success Manager Owner, Account Executive Owner, SDR / BDR Owner, etc.
- Communication Activity: This should track when the last point of contact took place. Days Since Last Activity, Last Call Date, Last Email Received, etc.
Once you’re able to track these crucial 21 events/data points, you’re ready to hit the ground running as a product-led company! Keep in mind that while it’s not impossible to be successful with less than what we’ve outlined here, these are the foundational items that Correlated strongly recommends as a bare minimum to get started.
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