How ClearCalcs Improves User Activation With Cohort Analysis

Curious to learn how ClearCalcs uses Userpilot to improve its new user activation rates with cohort analysis? Read on!

We meet Chris Borzillo, the CEO and co-founder of ClearCalcs, in his home office in Australia. He immediately cracks us up with the way he introduces his business:

“We’re like Netflix for Engineering Calculations. The difference for us is that our content is timber beam calculators, steel column calculators, concrete footings…The game for us is creating the right content for the right people, and helping them discover it – just like Netflix.”

But not every engineer gets to discover the calculators they’re looking for – and drops off before getting their job done.

In this case study, we’re going to explore how ClearCalcs improves their user activation with in-app experiences built in Userpilot, and how cohort analysis helps them see the impact of their experiences on activation rate between different user cohorts and experiment in a data-driven way.

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Why do engineers fail to activate?

Why do the new users leave before getting their calculations done? And what could ClearCalcs do to change that?

ClearCalcs’ users sign up to find a specific calculator and may leave if they don’t find it within the first few minutes in the app.

“Just like when you’re a comedy fan, if Netflix doesn’t have comedy movies, you’re not going to subscribe. For us, it’s the same – the more content we have, the more successful our engineers will be. The difference for us is that our content is timber beam calculators, steel column calculators, concrete footings…The game for us is creating the right content for the right people, and help them discover it – just like Netflix. It’s [onboarding] all about helping people easily access the calculators we created, understand the terminology, and where to press the buttons”

But not every new user finds the right calculator immediately after signing up.

So here are the challenges ClearCalcs was looking to solve with Userpilot:

  • Helping new trial signups find the right piece of content [calculator]
  • Making the experience easier for new users, who may be initially overwhelmed by the number of options:
ClearCalcs calculations
Calculations available in ClearCalcs

The onboarding experiences are also aimed at making navigating the app easier for new signups:

“The big, big challenge that we know from our NPS tracking with Userpilot (we have an NPS of 53) is that while the existing customers say ‘thank you for making it so simple,’ at the same time new users say ‘*** is this?!’

Chris adds:

“It’s really about how we help them in the first 10 minutes

Why is user activation so important?

User activation is defined as the moment when your users experience the value of your product. It’s when the user fully engages with the key features of your product that are relevant to their persona and use case.

Activation is the metric that has the largest impact on MRR from all the “pirate metrics,” according to a study by FairMarkit:

Pirate metrics impact on MRR

That’s why it’s considered important collateral for retention and success for product-led SaaS companies, including ClearCalcs.

“Tracking MRR, with sales cycles of 30-40 days, takes too long to learn. So we really need another metric to tell us whether we are successful or not. For us, activation is that golden metric, and we test it cohort by cohort. It’s about understanding what makes the user successful, and what makes them more likely to buy.”

Improving user activation with Userpilot

ClearCalcs welcome survey

What role does Userpilot play in ClearCalcs user activation strategy?

ClearCalcs uses Userpilot for:

  • Tracking user behavior and activation rates
  • Addressing the roadblocks in user activation
  • Experimenting with the best in-app experiences for improving activation

“The value that Userpilot creates for us is that it lets us test things that we can’t necessarily allocate dev resources to” – says Chris.

ClearCalcs truly embraces the experimentation mindset, and uses Userpilot to uncover new ways of improving activation:

“Thomas Edison didn’t fail thousands of times to invent the lightbulb. He found thousands of ways of how not to build a lightbulb. Similarly, we use Userpilot to find 10,000 ways of how *not* to onboard someone…in the hope that the 10,001 will show us the right way.”

Understanding activation between different user segments

This is something we discussed at length in our activation-related posts before: looking at one activation rate for your entire user base, e.g., the free trials and annual enterprise accounts, is like comparing apples to oranges. You should look at the activation rate between different user segments (Userpilot can help you segment your users more quickly) independently.

Chris of ClearCalcs understands that and divides his activation cohort analysis tables by segment – looking independently at trialists, paid users, and on a company-account level.

“We noticed that sometimes we have these paying accounts not activating till month 5 or later. [When we analyzed them on individual level and account level] we noticed something interesting – often one person is buying, then immediately adding 6 or 7 of their colleagues, and those colleagues aren’t logging in for 5 months. So it’s some good learning for us – to actually send some email onboarding to the people being added to help them activate.

clearcalcs activation cohorts by segment
ClearCalc’s activation cohorts, anonymized

Not every user is relevant – using segmentation to understand activation better

ClearCalcs has a strong inbound motion, but not every user who signs up for the free trial is actually qualified and would be relevant for ClearCalcs’ statistics.

“It doesn’t make sense to look at activation overall. So we want to break it down by attributes in whatever shape or form. We want to break it down by country, state, and title – so we can have a look at e.g. engineers vs. architects.”

ClearCalcs uses Userpilot’s welcome flow to segment their users by role:

clearcalcs onboarding flow - welcome screen


clearcalcs onboarding flow - segmentation by goals

…and company size:

clearcalcs onboarding flow - segmentation by company size

Then, ClearCalcs breaks the flows down by calculation type:

clearcalcs onboarding flow - flows by calculation type

This helps them personalize the onboarding flow for the different user needs, and thus improve user activation in each segment.

How can SaaS companies improve activation with Userpilot?

If you are also looking to improve activation rates, Userpilot has all the right features to help you achieve that goal.

Here’s how Userpilot can help you:

  • Create intuitive onboarding experiences via interactive walkthroughs, product tours, and checklists to drive users toward activation.
Checklist created in Userpilot

Checklist created in Userpilot

  • Conduct in-app product experiments to determine which changes result in a higher performance.
A/B testing in Userpilot

A/B testing in Userpilot

  • Spot friction points in the activation funnel to proactively resolve issues.
Funnel analysis in Userpilot

Funnel analysis in Userpilot

  • Monitor activation metrics on a visual dashboard to always be on top of changing trends.
New user activation dashboard in Userpilot

New user activation dashboard in Userpilot


ClearCalcs shows exceptional insight into its user activation rates and is very data-driven in the way they go about improving them.

First, the company breaks its user base into different segments based on its role, goals, and company size, and then – it breaks the user segments down into monthly cohorts. Chris tracks the user behavior for each cohort in each segment over time, experimenting with different in-app flows to improve the activation metric for each segment.

Userpilot helps ClearCalcs segment their users, track their activity, and build in-app experiences to improve user activation – completely code-free. Book a free consultation today to see how we can help you improve your activation metrics too!

Try Userpilot and Take Your User Activation to the Next Level

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