NEW! 💥 Change the way you work with Sherlock Actions >>

*This information in post was originally presented at the 2018 ProductLed Summit. A few things have changed since then (including our logo), but the importance of Account-Level Product Engagement isn’t one of them.

Watch the video of our presentation or read this post which outlines the main points. Either way, you’ll find the information of utmost use for your modern SaaS business.

Account-Level Product Engagement is an obvious fact

Why should you care about this topic? Why isn’t tracking and reporting on product engagement at the user level good enough?

It’s elementary, my good friend. If you are a SaaS business, you operate at an account-level.

  • Accounts sign-up
  • Accounts adopt
  • Accounts convert
  • Accounts pay
  • Accounts expand
  • Accounts cancel

Are you seeing the trend?

You’re not a social media app (you aren’t, right?) — you’re a SaaS app. You sell to businesses — your product is used by teams. You operate at the account-level. Why wouldn’t you track engagement in the same way?

SaaS sales teams have always know this. They know they sell to accounts — buyers, decision makers, influencers, users, etc. This is why CRMs have always been organized at the account-level.

salesforce account-based crm

SaaS marketers caught on too. That’s why there’s an Account-Based Marketing (ABM) movement.

Google searches for Account-based marketing since 2010

So why not track account-level product engagement? Curious.

But who cares about why? Let’s all agree it needs to happen. In SaaS, users come and go, but accounts stay forever (except when they don’t, but that’s a different post). If you aren’t tracking account-level product engagement insights, you’re missing an essential view of your business.

Indeed, as a SaaS product, if you aren’t organizing and viewing your data at the account-level, then there is no way to make it actionable.

What is Account-Level Product Engagement?

It’s a combination of two concepts. You know product engagement is an evaluation of how users are engaging with your product.

Now organize and assess that at an account-level.

Remarkable! That’s account-level product engagement.

How to organize your product engagement data at the account level

This is simplicity itself. Accounts are not people. But people use your product.

Very well. Organizing product engagement data at the account level just means aggregating all the activity for the individual users on an account to an account unit.

Like so:

user-level product engagement
account-level product engagement

Say you have an account with three active users and:

  • Two of them created a document
  • One of them uploaded a document three times
  • One of them edited a document  three times
  • One of them edited a document twice
  • One of them edited a document once

Their activity would break down like this:

That’s great. Organizing this data around their account would look like this:

Elementary. But it’s an essential first step in being able to assess account-level product engagement.

How to assess product engagement data at the account level

You’re organized at the account level, excellent! Now you can start assessing account-level product engagement. Now you can start understanding — not just your product’s engagement — but the health of your whole business.

Once you have this data aggregated, you can do some remarkable things, including:

  • Score the engagement-level of your accounts.
  • Identify engagement trends for your accounts. When you score account-level product engagement, you can track that engagement over time. This means you can identify both problems and opportunities in your customer base. Who’s trending down(and needs some support)? Who’s trending up(it’s time to expand!)?
  • Track the Activation progress of your accounts and generate Product Qualified Leads. Tracking Activation and onboarding progress for SaaS has to happen at the account-level. By tracking how your new accounts are progressing with their onboarding your sales team will know who to focus on when
  • Identify feature adoption at the account-level. When you think about how your key features are being adopted, the context needs to be at the account level

Assessing account-level product engagement shifts your entire perspective.


Account-level product engagement — taking action

Account-level product engagement is so singular precisely because it’s so actionable. Here are four ways you can operationalize this data and drive real returns for your SaaS business:

1. Track Account Activation

We’ve already said it. SaaS = Accounts — accounts sign-up, accounts onboard. For most products, Activation can’t be completed by a single user. It takes a team to get to first value for most SaaS products.

If it takes 4, 5, 6 steps to become activated with your product, these steps are usually taken by several different users.

user to account product engagement

When you track Activation progress at the account-level, you give your teams important insights into which accounts are ready to move forward and which ones need help.

2. Track Account Health

We’ll skip the part where we tell you SaaS is account-based (you do know SaaS is measured at the account-level, right?).

So if you want to measure the health of your business, you need to to be able to measure the health of your accounts. What indicates the health of an account? You guessed it: account-level product engagement.

When you measure account-level product engagement, you don’t only see the health of the account. You can also:

  • Identify expansion opportunities: Identify which accounts are increasing their engagement and might be ready to expand.
  • Identify at-risk accounts: Identify accounts as their engagement starts to wane and get ahead of potential churn.
  • Improve feature adoption: Locate those accounts who haven’t used some of your key features and drive adoption.
  • Prioritize daily work: Your CS team works and things at the account-level. So having engagement data aggregated at the account-level will give them the ability to identify which accounts need attention on any given day, which will help them prioritize their work and be more efficient.

3. Refine Customer Acquisition Efforts

For strange effects and extraordinary combinations (ok, not strange at all), tracking account-level product engagement will also help you identify customers who get the most value from your product.

Enter your marketing department. Enter the ability to track the best leads possible. Here’s how:

  • Identify target customer profile: By looking at your most engaged accounts, and identifying similarities between them, you can create an ideal customer profile that will help you focus your top-of-funnel and outbound efforts
  • Drive look-alike campaigns: Feeding lookalike advertising systems (like Facebook, Google, and others) your most engaged accounts/users is a singular way to attract the right prospects into your funnel
  • Identify case study candidates: Case studies and social proof points are obviously of the utmost use when it comes to converting prospects into leads. Your best social proof candidates will come from your most engaged, most successful accounts

4. Optimize your Sales process with Product Qualified Leads

Every modern SaaS sales team must be able to qualify trial accounts based on their engagement with the product. That means you need a way to identify Product Qualified Leads (PQLs).

Product Qualified Leads are the most qualified leads for a SaaS business because they have already started to get value from a product. They haven’t only expressed some esoteric interest in the product — they have actually used it, become Activated, and showed consistent engagement. These are the accounts that are most likely to convert to paid.

And you can’t have a Product Qualified Leads process without account-level product engagement. Remember: accounts signup, accounts get set-up, accounts convert to paid.

Tracking your account-level product engagement data is simply the only way to create and drive a PQL process.

Account-level product engagement — an essential piece of the game of SaaS

The bottom-line is this: SaaS is an account-based game. You simply can’t plan or execute well in this game without understanding account-level product engagement. It’s elementary, my friend.

If you do track this account-level product engagement effectively, you will bring clarity and efficiency to your entire operation. It will be like shining a light on your business, uncovering the insights that will drive the work of your entire revenue team.

Don’t spend another day in the dark. Start your account-level product engagement tracking today.