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The One Metric Dashboard Helping SumoMe Reach 1 Billion Users

A few weeks ago I was hanging with Sean Work of KISSmetrics, drinking hippie gunpowder tea in Venice, CA. I mentioned our company dashboard for our free tool that is used to grow email lists at SumoMe.com, and Sean was blown away.

Sometimes simple is better.

Here’s what our dashboard looks like:

sumome dashboard no headshot

So what’s going on?

1. One Company Goal

We have only one company goal for the year – one billion unique visitors at SumoMe.com.

Rationale: As we aligned the company around one priority, it became much easier for all of us to be on the same road traveling in the same direction. We noticed that, during the times we had a common goal everyone was aware of, we were much more focused and likely to achieve it.

This is what Mark did when I worked for him at Facebook. A simple test (I call “the focus test”) used to find out if a company is aligned is to call any employee and ask if they know what the number one goal of the company is. If not, then the goal is not clear. People need clarity for something they can all rally around.

2. A Motivating Sound

We play the sound of an airplane flying overhead every time we reach a goal of 10,000 unique visitors. Click here to listen.

Rationale: While sitting at our computers all day, we lose track of progress, so the audio queue of a flight sound helps us recognize, non-visually, that we are progressing. It gives everyone a chance to cheer. One of the guys on our team was a bit bummed when SumoMe was getting only 10,000 unique visitors a day. I felt the same. But, small wins and the feeling of momentum are powerful motivators that make us want to get more of those wins.

This is something Jeff Bezos did at Amazon where a bell rang for every online order. Eventually, there was too much ringing so they had to stop.

3. Real People

As people subscribe on List Builder at different websites, it’s good to be reminded that we’re dealing with real people.

Rationale: At Facebook we had a dashboard and we were growing 50,000 new students a day. What this neglected to take into account was that these were real people using our product. Too often, online, we see only the email address, the analytics, or the money that comes in from our customers. The more we can personify those email addresses, the better we can empathize and create better solutions for our customers.

4. Daily Targets

The bottom / second number is our daily target. It gets reset at midnight, and it helps us clearly and visually see how we are doing in real time.

It’s displayed on our wall while we work:

AppSumo Office Wall

Rationale: Our goal is one billion unique visitors this year. That seems like it’ll never happen, which is discouraging and demotivating when times are tough. Since that is the case, we mapped out a daily level of numbers we need to reach. Knowing we are on track on the daily helps make the macro seem more digestible.

Why We Do This

We used to track everything, literally. It was RAINING metrics:

raining metrics

This made us optimize toward too many different goals. It was like trying to cook four dishes at once. We’d start optimizing for the number of orders per day, but then revenue per order would go down, so ultimately, we were spinning our wheels. Therefore, choose just one main metric to target and display on your dashboard.

A good way to think about your dashboard with your team is how actionable the information is. If you saw you were down today, could you instantly make an impact with that information? For us, knowing traffic is low one day motivates us to evaluate what’s off on that day.

Then we evolved to having one goal of 3,333 memberships at Monthly1K.com. So we created a dashboard to reflect that:

dashboard

Yea, real simple. This is what it shows:

  1. Total goal
  2. Percentage of the goal we have reached
  3. Our daily sales

At a high level, your dashboard should reflect the fact that you have united everyone with a common goal and clear alignment. So, set your company goal, clarify the strategy to get there, and then lay out tactics to accomplish the goal.

Goal -> Strategy -> Tactics

What You Can Do for Your OWN Company Today

1. Don’t worry about developing your own dashboard. We always start with a Google Spreadsheet to set our goal and track it on a daily / monthly basis. There are companies like Geckoboard that do this as well. Here’s our current spreadsheet:

current spreadsheet

2. Pick one goal to target for one year. Anything more is too much, and less is too soon. At AppSumo, we like to choose goals that seem hard to accomplish but are significant. A billion people sounds like a lot and is a motivating number for all of us to strive for. Last year’s goal of 3,333 for Monthly 1K reflected that it would be a million dollar product at that number. We wanted the product to go “platinum.”

3. Remember, your goal has to be something you genuinely want to accomplish. Align everyone on your team around that goal so they are motivated to perform their particular role in order to help achieve it.

4. Break down your goal daily, make sure it’s visible regularly to everyone on your team, and evaluate your progress toward that goal on a weekly basis.

About the Author: Noah Kagan is the Chief Sumo at SumoMe.com, which has free tools to help you grow your website. Grab his free strategy for exactly how he grew his email list to 50,000 in 12 months.

  1. This is great. It’s always valuable to be reminded about the importance of focus.

    The challenge I have is choosing the right goal. Where do you draw the line — should you choose a stretch goal … should you go for something “realistic” …something in between?

    • David

      It’s hard to give a definitive formula for all businesses.

      We basically want something that’s reasonable to obtain within a year and fun for us to accomplish.

      Last year we wanted to go “platinum” with 3,333 sales * $300 products = $1 million in revenue.

      This year the 1 billion just sounded really cool.

      Ha. Very scientific.

  2. Thanks for sharing these tips. Having a single, specific company goal is a great idea! It so simple and makes so much sense, that it’s actually brilliant. In terms of setting up the dashboard, is that a report/dashboard from Google Analytics or is it website plugin?

    Thanks!

  3. Interesting … we keep shorter goals for everybody in the company so that we all can work towards it. Longer term goals have rarely worked for us given the dynamic nature of startup life in general.

  4. Now THAT’S a compelling scoreboard!

  5. i want to know how to create a dashboard with the data from email, please help me!!!!!!!

  6. The first thing I did after reading this post was forward it to a friend of mine who runs a small company. What a great idea simply applied. Thanks for sharing and hope you achieve that 1 billion.

  7. The company I’m currently working for, the walls are full of dashboards. There are easily 500 different metrics all over the place, and nobody, nobody looks at them.

    One of the engineers recently took down by mistake the sales dashboard, it was down for full 6 hours, and nobody noticed, not even SVPs.

  8. Nice post. I think I’ll try SumoMe out myself it looks pretty feature packed.

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