How to track user behavior inside a Saas app

How do you track user behavior inside a Saas app and why is this necessary in the first place?

This 15 minute read explains in detail how to go about this.

What is Saas?

Software as a service (SaaS) is a software tool provided by a third-party who hosts applications and distributes the services to customers over the Internet. SaaS is one part of three main types of cloud computing, the others are “infrastructure as a service and platform as a service “(IaaS and PaaS). SaaS is very closely related to ASP (application service provider) and “on demand computing software delivery models”. The hosting application management model for SaaS is like that of ASP, where the customer’s software is hosted by the provider who delivers over the internet to approved end users.

When using platforms like Saas, tracking user behavior and is vital in understanding whether your app is effective in converting casual users to the end users you were targeting.

Join us we will break down how to track Saas user behavior. How to use behavioral analytics tools to track user behavior inside a Saas app For the longest time, Google Analytics was the one tool that could be counted on for the tracking of user behavior inside Saas apps. Due to severe limitations that arose, this is no longer the case. Other behavioral analytic tools exist that are often used alongside Google Analytics to improve parameters and results.

1. Non-linear Customer Journeys and Challenges in Data Democratization

The modern customer’s journey is both non-linear and highly complex in nature. To have an understanding of the customer experience across teams, tools and channels, one must broaden their scope beyond product related or strictly marketing parameters.

Non-linear Customer

Today’s businesses will have to look for information from customer experience, product support, marketing both paid and unpaid, advertising to understand exactly what the customer is looking for.Most businesses have found it challenging to obtain a 360-degree view of exactly what the customers experience with the whole organization is, in a bid to realize end-to-end objectives of the business.

2. Limited Understanding of Product Engagement

In order for you to identify leads in a timely manner, knowledge on how customers engage with your service or product is crucial. This applies particularly to SAAS companies which offer “freemium” models for acquiring new customers. They often spend unreasonable amount of money and time trying to acquire leads by repeatedly sending out communications on actions such as “free trial action forms”. Unfortunately, with the vast array of options available to the average customer, these actions do not give any hint of the propensity to purchase of a lead. Even worse, the unwanted volley of emails might even put some prospective customers off from your service or product all together.

For a company that is focused on customer experience, actions indicative of interest in prospects are such as repeated use of particular features, viewing set-up videos and the downloading of how-to tutorials.

However, few products exist that both track behavior across product or service while enabling real-time user interaction with the team.

3. Functional Data Siloes

An enterprise uses approximately 66 different Saas applications primarily for social traffic and web based analytics activity. This is why companies find it difficult to appropriately leverage the flow of data in their organization for the generation of timely and meaningful insights.

As the market has an abundance of solutions that promise great results such as Moreover, the market is crowded with solutions promising results such higher conversion rates, confusion abounds as to which solution to implement, at what cost and during which time.

This conundrum often causes data siloes which more often than not fail to provide timely insights to the business users.

More importantly, companies often do not appreciate the difficulty of bringing together all the customer-centric data for the finding of a single source of truth. Given the fragmented investment in tools across a different sizes of enterprises, an analytics solution that would unify the customer journey and integrate with the relevant applications in their entirety to provide a singular customer view and analyze their needs and interactions across all channels is imperative. Companies need to both anticipate the behavior of their customers and shift their mindset on how they engage all through the decision journey.

4. Inability to Monetize from Data

Though every organisation is now aware that data has the potential to be their gold mine, few know how to set up a sound data plan which will help them consistently monetize it.

Most companies have difficulty simplifying their data structure in order to build that single layer which will augment all the relevant information relating to the customer in one central location. Lead connection and channelizing efforts that will truly convert engagement into revenue is that missing piece that unfortunately is still elusive to many.

Which are the best features of behavior tracking tools?

1. User experience

The behavior tracking tool should offer the best user experience for it to be of maximum value. It should be simple to use and simple to interpret. It should also offer utmost privacy.

User experience

2. Accuracy

The behavior tracking tool should give accurate results on customer behavior. It should also allow the user to select which date to be tracked and how the information should be relayed.

3. Analytics

The behavior tracking tool needs to have features to accurately track page views, heatmaps, and other analytics.

Our recommended tools for tracking user behavior inside a saas app is User Tracker.

User Tracker Tool

This tool allows you to see how your users are engaging with your product. Find out how many times they visited, what they did, when they last interacted with your product and more.

- Make data-driven predictions - Identify trends with customer behavioral analytics. Make predictions based on users with similar attributes to those who churned and converted. Increase your retention rates by analyzing the data and making data-driven features and marketing campaign optimizations.

- Monitor feature engagement - Get a comprehensive view of what’s your most and least prominent features. Identify what top and bottom five features users are visiting the most and least, respectively.

- Detailed feature usage - Get an in-depth analysis of your feature usage. Filter reports to only see what features and its attributes are generating the most engagement. Always know exactly why your users continue coming back with UserTracker.

- Evaluate campaign impacts - With our behavioral analytics software’s dashboard, see how your campaigns are performing. See if there’s a spike in feature-wide activity after launching your campaign using real-time data. Quickly optimize your campaigns if you’re not receiving the ROI you want.

Benefits of Usertracker

Benefits of Usertracker

- It offers complete privacy with no third- party cookies

- The user chooses which data to be tracked

- Offers unlimited page views, heatmaps, domains to be tracked etc.

- The company offers support for installation

- Easy to integrate with other analytics

Think about tracking when you think about your product

When you are thinking about your product, tracking should be one of the issues you give serious thought to.

During the development of your product, you need to think about user permissions. Each permission set links with a funnel (journey) and with an actor. When developing your product, you will need to merge the tracking part to the development part. When drawing internal flows, you need to set the tracking KPI’s I.e., how many visitors converted to users? How many users made repeat purchases etc?

While doing this, you also need to give good thought to privacy. Privacy by Design should be feature prominently in your product design. The GDPR requires that you have in place precise documentation that details what, how, why and for how long you are holding and treating personal data.

Thinking about tracking customer behavior from the onset will also prompt you to think of their problems and how you can solve them using your products. In summary, these are the areas to consider while designing for behavior tracking on your Saas application:

- Flow design and usage paths;

- Measurement;

- Privacy;

- Documentation;

- Marketing.

This will definitely get you playing in the big leagues.

Determining utility

Before blindly starting to track user behavior, you need to sit down with your team if you have one and have a conversation to map out what and why you need certain information. In order to determine utility, you need to have a conversation with your team, if you have one and ask pertinent questions.

Here are a few questions you can ask:

- What is the main goal for this collection of data?

- At specific data should you collect in order to fulfill that need best?

- Who will be responsible for collecting, consolidating, and reporting the data?

- How often and how will the reported data be evaluated?

- Who will make decisions on the collected data and how will these decisions be implemented?

The conversations you will have may look like this:

- We’ve noticed that many users are creating an account, however they are not completing the account setup. We want to have an understanding of where users are unable to progress in the onboarding stage of our app.

- We need to tell how many users are making getting through the whole process and distinguish which behaviors are setting them apart from those who don’t. etc.

An actual conversation process will address many more questions. The point is to have a behavior tracker that will actually influence decisions and add value to the company.

A mistake made by many app owners is not properly thinking through the data they are gathering and what to do with it. It’s important to identify which individual problems we are trying to solve and base our tracking algorithms based on them.

Preparing for tracking

So, you have already set the tracking instrumentation in progress. What next? Below are step by step instructions you can follow to clearly outline what needs to be done. This process will also be invaluable for both your product team and developers.

Step 1: List your actors

On your app, any person can perform a number of actions. When you set up a user, they could follow one particular journey while a different user follows a different journey.

When we have clearly defined the journey a user can follow, we will call him an Actor.

When you have an integrated system, the journey of for example a merchant would be different from a customer’s journey, you cannot rule out though that a merchant could also be a customer and you also have to define that possibility. After you have defined all users and set them up as actors, list them all and join me in the next step.

Step 2: Highlight the journeys (flows, paths, funnels)

Now that you clearly know who your actors are, you can move to the next step, which is identifying the journeys they can make.

In your application, a user can do several things in the accomplishment of a task. To the developers, this would be called a flow, the sales people would call it a funnel or in simple terms, a path or journey.

We prefer the term journey as it best captures the experience the user will have using your product. A funnel has a too high connotation of selling while a flow is just a logical term.

So, returning to our main point, some journeys are unique to some users while others are unique to others. Some journeys however branch out and have different destinations.

For example, a user in Facebook can upload a photo, post a status, comment on or like a status etc. All these actions are a journey (or flow from the development perspective).

While mapping out your tracker, first highlight all the possible journeys your users may experience in the application. This will give you the ability to collect data on them.

A good illustration can be gotten from Kickoff video on exactly how to identify main journeys a user can take in your app.
Tools such or Realtime Board can be used to map out your journeys.

Step 3: Identify key events in journeys

As each journey sets off some events, you will track these events to see how they will relate and also to measure which frictions may exist between them. Once you have highlighted your journeys, you need to map out which users will be able to follow which journeys.

Identify key events in journeys

When a User starts follows a journey they are no longer a user, they are now an actor and they are acting like a particular predefined user. To use the example we used before, a merchant in Facebook promoting their page will act differently from a user who has logged in to update their status and read posts. If the Merchant can post a statues on their page and a user does the same action, those are two totally different journeys. Assign a name to each actor following a particular journey. For example they can be customers, or merchants, or patients depending on the predefined actions they took.

Step 4: Highlight the relationship between journeys

Journeys are never “standalone sequences of events”. Practically, each individual journey has the ability to lead to one or more other journeys.

An example is a customer who logs in to sign up for a bank account can end up requesting a loan or credit card. These are different journeys that this same customer can take.

Following the “Hard email reclaim journey”, users who give feedback are usually encouraged to become customers of the company’s products. Following the Domain Reclaim Procedure, and using the bank illustration, the customer who opened an account and took a loan can be persuaded to make the transition into a mortgage owner.

It is important to understand the transition between actions of a user of your Saas app and maximise on which interactive features or interactions will lead to bankable actions.

After the set-up of the initial design, the data analyses should be such that you can track the progress towards the main goals of the app.


Hopefully, you now understand the science behind user behavior tracking in a Saas app and how it can be used to influence trends. With the current speed at which technology is advancing, it will be easy for an app to anticipate your needs even before you think of them and offer solutions to problems you didn’t know you had.

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