If your SaaS product is like many with a free trial offering, then odds are, your customer journey probably looks something like this:

trial account activation funnel for SaaS businesses

Arguably the most important phase in this journey (and the one that causes us all the most agita) is the “Activation” phase. You know this phase. It’s the one that keeps you up a night. It’s the one that carries both euphoric satisfaction (Yes…a new customer!) and crushing disappointment (Why aren’t they using the product? Why don’t they love us?!) During this phase, your goal is to ensure that the accounts testing your product get to a point of “first value.” The fact is, without getting to this point, there is no way for them to assess whether or not your product will be valuable to their business.

If there is no “first value”, there is no value, period. There is no way to convert a trial user to a paid user unless they first become “activated” within your product. This is why to the ability to track this phase of your customer journey is oh-so important—it’s essential for your entire operation to be able to tell both how many and which accounts reach this point.

Defining activated accounts

Simply put, an “activated account” is an account that has performed a series of actions which get them to the point of first value. This is different for every product. For a project management application, the point of first value might be:

• Account created
• Invited 2+ team members
• Created project
• Uploaded 2+ files
• Created 3+ calendar events
• Created 1+ tasks
• Completed 1+ tasks

For this product, accounts that do all of these things would be considered activated during their trial. It is clear that these accounts have used the product’s core functionality and should, at this point, be able to properly assess its value.

The specific events that determine an account’s activation are unique to every product. Activation for your product is going to be very different than activation for another product, even if they are very similar in nature.

As you can see, defining and tracking account activation is all about product engagement. Activation is defined by specific actions and engagement with your product. Given that Sherlock is all about product engagement, this is right in our wheelhouse.

Tracking activation in Sherlock

With Sherlock you can now very easily track the activation progress for your users and accounts. By setting up Activation tracking in Sherlock, you will be able to identify those accounts which have met your criteria and achieved “Activation”, those which haven’t, and every account in-between.

Setting up your Sherlock account to track engagement is actually very easy. Here’s how it works:

Step 1: Define Activation with activation criteria

Simply click on the “Account activation” link on your Account overview page and you can set the criteria for your activation. You can define this activation using specific events that an account should take, a series of account traits, or a combination of both.

Setting up Activation in Sherlock

Step 2: …….

Oh, right. There is no step 2. You’re done.

At this point, Sherlock will take your activation criteria and immediately calculate the Activation Rate for all your accounts. What is an Activation Rate, you ask? It’s elementary:

Activation rate

Once you set up your Sherlock account to track activation, you will see a new metric everywhere you navigate in Sherlock as well as in your various Destinations. We call it Activation Rate.

The Activation Rate describes an account’s progress toward Activation. It is always displayed as a percentage. For example, if your activation criteria has 4 steps and an account has met 3 of them, then its Activation Rate will be 75%. An account with an Activation Rate of 100% is considered “Activated”.

This is a metric with which you will become very familiar once you set it up in Sherlock. It will help define many of your internal processes – from sales to CS to product development.

Where to find Activation Rate in Sherlock (and beyond)

Activation Rate is a key metric that you can find in various places in Sherlock.

First of all, you will find it on every account detail page:

As well as on the Account overview page:

You will also have default segments for Activated accounts that will allow you to see those accounts with Activation rates = 100%. At the same time, you will have the ability to create your own segments based on Activation Rate.

Finally, you will also be able to access Activation Rates in any of the tools to which you are sending Sherlock data. Here are three importan places that you can connect to from Segment:

By connecting Sherlock to your team’s Slack account, you will receive a daily update letting you know if any new accounts have entered any segments you’ve created, including your new Activated Accounts segment. This will alert your team to any newly-activated accounts.

tracking activated account in slack

If you do most of your account management work in Intercom, then syncing your Sherlock account with Intercom is a great way to manage this activation phase. With this integration, you will see Sherlock account segments populate to Companies in Intercom.

tracking activated accounts in intercom

Having this data readily available in Intercom will enable your CS team to always know which accounts are activated (and which aren’t) while performing their day-to-day work. You can also use this attribute to trigger messaging from Intercom, as shown below.

tracking account activation in intercom

If you have a sales team working your trial accounts, then knowing when a trial becomes activated is essential for them. They need to be able to prioritize their leads on a daily basis. Knowing whether or not an account is activated helps inform when and how to engage with that account in a sales situation. It’s essential knowledge for a scaling sales team.

By connecting Sherlock to Salesforce, you will be able to import your account segments into Salesforce account records. From there, your sales team can create reports to show which accounts are actually activated and ready for that all-important follow-up call.

Tracking trial account activation is essential for all SaaS products

Thought I’d end by stating the obvious.

The reality is, accounts that are trialing your product are at the most fragile, most vulnerable point in their lifecycle. At this stage, they are like newborn infants. The world (that is, the world of your product) is huge, unknown…scary, even. They need support, they need nurturing, and they need attention. How you monitor and act during this period will determine whether your new account becomes a strong, happy, successful adult, or…well, not. By tracking the health of your accounts closely with Sherlock, you will put yourself in a much better position to see to their proper development. Happy parenting, SaaStrs!