Learning from Apple: Determining the Right Metrics for Your Business

– Discuss on Hacker News –

Moving the Needle?

At Kera we’re interested in determining whether our tutorials are helping users learn an application. Are we improving the learning experience and delivering better results? We need metrics that give real indications on how well we are helping SaaS companies educate and train their users.


What I learned from Apple about KPIs:

Relevant. Quantifiable. Actionable. 

At Apple, I worked directly with the Sales Director of EMEIA and we used only 5 KPIs to measure our overall success on a bi-weekly basis. Too much information is almost as bad as no information. It’s about picking the few, right metrics that impact the business.

For example, one KPI we used was Sell-Thru — despite most companies in the industry using Sell-In. Sell-Thru data is a lot harder to come by because we need to know exactly how many units are sold by each of our channel partners (Apple’s customers, not end users). This is extremely hard to get even with Apple’s influence and actually involved many interns calling up and chasing partners for that data. However, this is crucial to Apple’s success because it doesn’t matter how many we sell to them, only how many they sell to their customers. If we can predict their inventory levels, we can forecast sales and keep our inventory levels to a minimum and match demand.

So what metrics should we use for learning?

Metrics for Learning

1. Active Users / Retention Rate

Users that understand how an application works and are able to derive value from it are more inclined to come back. You should see active users increase with better onboarding and user education. One of our clients had a 10X increase in active users after implementing a Kera tutorial.

2. Engagement with a Feature

Users that aren’t aware of a feature or tool won’t engage with it. With proper onboarding, you’ll be able to draw attention to the feature and you should see a rise in use of the feature.

3. Support Tickets

The more confused your users are, the more support tickets you’ll get. If you group support tickets into categories, you can analyze them and figure out which parts of your website are challenging for users. Build proper onboarding experiences and you should see a decrease in those support ticket categories.


While this isn’t really a true KPI (rather a qualitative analysis), usability studies can be a way to gauge how complex your SaaS product is. If it’s complicated, you may want to offer resources such as a FAQ, manuals, documentations, how-to-videos/screencasts, webinars, tooltips, or tutorials.

My company Kera is a tutorial building and management platform for businesses. The main benefit of Kera tutorials is that it’s in app so users never have to leave your application to learn to do something. Give it a try here

-Taige Zhang