Managing a SaaS Metrics Dashboard with Pardot

July 11, 2013 | Admin

Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) is a great business model on so many different levels. With recurring revenue, strong gross margins, engineering economies of scale, and more, there’s much to love. One of the most important parts of the SaaS model is cost-effectively acquiring customers. And, to cost-effectively acquire customers, a marketing automation system is a required. Today, let’s look at maintaining the lead generation portion of a SaaS Metrics Dashboard in Google Spreadsheets as well as how to configure Pardot, a popular marketing automation system, to track the appropriate metrics.

Lead Generation SaaS Metrics Dashboard

To start, we’re going to focus on the top of the lead funnel and the different core components:

  • Visitors – this includes all sales and marketing generated traffic to the site. Make sure and exclude any non-marketing usage (e.g. from testing, third-party pinging products, product usage, etc.).

  • General Marketing Leads – this includes search engine optimization, social media, blogging, white papers, test drives, general website tracking, and more.

  • Paid Marketing Leads – this includes pay per click ads, banner ads, sponsorships, and any other paid lead or traffic source.

  • Sales Generated Leads – this includes leads generated from cold calling, direct sales emails, partners, etc.

For the metrics, we are only interested in Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs) and not all leads. In Pardot, Assigned Prospects represent MQLs (most people that become a prospect aren’t qualified and shouldn’t be counted).

If you haven’t already, take a look at the SaaS Metrics Dashboard Google Spreadsheet Template and make a copy of the spreadsheet for your own usage.

Configuring Pardot

Pardot is like a slick swiss army knife with a ton of great marketing modules. For our purposes, we want to use Campaigns that are tagged in a way to making reporting easy. The first thing to do is create the appropriate tags. From the top navigation in Pardot, go to Marketing -> Segmentation -> Tags and create the following tags:

  • sales
    For sales generated leads from cold calling, partners, direct emails using the Pardot email plug-in, etc.

  • marketing
    For marketing generated leads from social media, blogging, general website tracking, white papers, SEO, SEM, PPC, etc. (Note: don’t include testing, product usage, or sales generated leads).

  • paid
    For specific paid marketing campaigns like pay per click ads, banner ads, etc. (Note: this is a subset of marketing and all paid campaigns should also be tagged as marketing).

Let’s open up the Pardot Campaigns (Marketing -> Campaigns) and make sure you have the following common categories with the appropriate tag(s) found in parentheses:

  • Google AdWords (marketing, paid)

  • Paid Media (marketing, paid)

  • Social Media (marketing)

  • Website (marketing)

  • Blog (marketing)

  • White Papers (marketing)

  • Cold Calls (sales)

  • Email Plug-in (sales)

  • Partners (sales)

  • Product Usage

  • Testing

Now, apply the most applicable Campaign to the appropriate objects within Pardot (e.g. forms, landing pages, social posts, emails, etc.) so that we can report on the results. To apply the Campaign, edit the object and select the Campaign from the list.

With the basic infrastructure done, we can finally generate our segmented reports. Go to Reports -> Campaigns from the top navigation to load the summary table. Now, click the “Tags” button to the right of the “Filter” box and select the “marketing” tag. Finally, in the “Date Range” field, select “Custom” and choose a date range for a specific month (e.g. choose May 1, 2013 and May 31, 2013). The data table now shows the marketing metrics for a specific month and a specific set of Campaigns tagged as “marketing” and removes all the Campaigns that aren’t relevant.

Let’s go back to the SaaS Metrics Dashboard Google Spreadsheet and update it with data from Pardot. Here’s the process for each month:

  • Load the Reports -> Campaigns screen.

  • Set the “Date Range” to custom and put in the applicable dates for the month and set the “Tag” to “marketing.”

  • At the bottom of the table there’s a “Total” row. Copy the total for the “Visitors” column and put it in the “Visitors” row for the cell in the spreadsheet for that month. Copy the total for the “Assigned Prospects” column and put it in the “General” cell under “New web leads.”

  • Now, add the “paid” tag to go with the “marketing” tag to get information on all the marketing programs with a direct expense. Take the Assigned Prospects from the “Total” row and put that value in the “Paid” row for the cell in the spreadsheet for that month. Since the “General” value for the “New web leads” includes Campaigns tagged “paid”, go ahead and subtract that number out and update the “General” value (e.g. if the “Paid” value was 15 and the “General” value was 30, the resulting “General” value to put in the cell would be 15).

  • Finally, remove the “paid” and “marketing” tags and add in the “sales” tag. Take the “Assigned Prospects” from the “Total” row and plug it into the appropriate “Sales generated leads” row for the cell in the spreadsheet for that month.

So, each month it’ll take 15 minutes to update the data for the previous month (set a recurring reminder on your calendar to do it!). Over time, the dashboard will have the critical top of the funnel information for analysis and review. It’s a fair bit of work to get things setup and configured properly, but the ongoing insight and analysis will be priceless.

What are your thoughts on this? Do you have any systems that work well for you?

  • Its such as you read my thoughts! You appear to grasp so much
    about this, such as you wrote the ebook in it or something.
    I think that you simply could do with a few p.c. to pressure the
    message home a little bit, however other than that, that is magnificent blog.
    A great read. I’ll certainly be back.

  • Superb post but I was wanting to know if you could write
    a litte more on this topic? I’d be very thankful if you could elaborate a little
    bit more. Bless you!

  • It’s really a nice and helpful piece of info. I am happy
    that you simply shared this helpful info with us. Please keep us informed like this.
    Thank you for sharing.