Decoding SaaS Metrics : User Engagement Guide

Marek Szukiełojć
October 13, 2023
5 min read


Imagine you've created this brilliant SaaS application, tailored to empower non-coders to sift through data analytics effortlessly. The expectations are sky-high and the adrenaline pumps through every pixel of your digital offering. Then, just as you prepare to ascend to engagement heaven, a barrage of questions catapults you back into a quizzical reality. What even constitutes an "Active User"? How do we untangle the enigma of WAU and MAU?

Engagement is when your customer is realizing value. Therefore, the engagement of your product is closely related to your activation events—which are experienced as critical aha moments by your users.

~ Lincoln Murphy (

Dive into the Metrics Sea

User Engagement: Not Just Numbers, but Narratives

Here, "user engagement" isn’t merely a statistic. It’s a narrative about realizing value. As aptly described by Lincoln Murphy, it’s "when your customer is realizing value from your SaaS." It’s an intertwining saga where your product and your user meet, interact, and hopefully, form a lasting digital bond. Key User Engagement Actions - be it adding a task, initiating a test, or sharing results - not only quantify, but also narrate how value is perceived, embraced, and utilized by your users.

Influencing Growth Through Engaged Users

When users extract tangible value and become tightly knit into the fabric of your SaaS offering, their engagement transcends into retention, enabling a domino effect. Retention flowers into revenue and referrals, which in turn, bloom into growth. Thus, meticulously understanding and nurturing user engagement doesn’t just retain users but serenades them into becoming ambassadors of your brand, instigating organic and sustainable growth.

Dissecting Metrics: The Key Players in Your SaaS Journey

1. DAU, WAU, MAU - The Pillars of User Engagement

While DAU, WAU, and MAU (Daily, Weekly, and Monthly Active Users, respectively) might seem like mere acronyms, they become the architects of your user engagement story. Defined aptly, ‘active’ users could range from those simply logging in, to those who engage in more complex tasks. The deeper question – what really defines an “active” user in the context of your specific offering?

2. Stickiness - Measuring Sustained Engagement

'Stickiness', manifested through the DAU/MAU ratio, reveals how many users are consistently engaging with your application. The stickier your app, the higher the ratio, meaning that users are returning and engaging with your platform persistently through the month.

3. User Retention - D1, D7, D30

With D1, D7, and D30 metrics, we navigate through the terrain of short-term to medium-term user retention. Observing how many users stick around after 1, 7, and 30 days provides critical insights into the initial user experience and the subsequent value realization.

4. Retention Curves - Visualizing User Drop-off and Stability

The retention curve graphically displays user retention over time, helping visualize not only the sharp initial drop-off but also the stabilization point, enabling strategies to be built to enhance initial and sustained engagement.

5. The Golden Metric - W1 User Retention

With often 60-80% of users dispersing after the initial week, boosting W1 (Week 1) retention becomes imperative. Elevating W1 can cause a ripple effect, lifting the entire retention curve and essentially amplifying long-term user engagement.

Navigating Through with the Right Tools

Deploying robust analytics tools like Mixpanel, Amplitude, or KISSmetrics can not only help you dive deeper into these metrics but also allow for creating effective cohort analyses and retention curves. Utilizing alerts and triggers, especially focusing on tripwire metrics, can ensure that you're not just passively observing data, but proactively engaging with it to bolster user interaction and value realization.

Closing Note

User engagement, while multidimensional and at times, complex, threads through every aspect of your SaaS startup’s journey, from initial user acquisition to sustained growth. Your SaaS application is not just a tool but a digital environment where users should consistently realize value, engage, and ultimately, evolve into proponents of your offering.

In the eloquent complexity of metrics and user behaviors, lies not just numbers, but stories waiting to be understood, narrated, and optimally, celebrated.

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