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Hey there! Welcome to the first team AMA on Growth Hackers with Segment - https://segment.com. We make it really easy to install tools for growth hacking and analytics. We have pretty neat seat in the marketing tech landscape – we get to learn from our customers every day about how they are using new tools (https://segment.com/integrations), and also evaluate all the up and coming applications for the platform. We’d love to answer your questions about how to solve growth hacking problems with software and where we see the ecosystem going. We'll also give you a peek inside Segment. :) A bit about us: Peter Reinhardt is the CEO and co-founder of Segment. He’d be happy to discuss how Segment was born out of a growth hack, aerospace engineering, and how APIs are replacing middle management. https://twitter.com/reinpk Jake Peterson is the head of customer success at Segment. He loves learning about all types of analytics tools and building best practices for our customers. He has an alter ego named Dirty Analytics. https://twitter.com/dirtyanalytics. I’m Diana Smith and head up marketing over here. I’d love to chat with you about how we balance numbers and karma at Segment, and what I’ve learned working with developers. Tweet me here: https://twitter.com/dianahsmith You can also hit us up at https://twitter.com/segment. Ask away!

  • MB

    Morgan Brown

    over 4 years ago #

    Thanks everyone for doing this! What is the best way to setup your analytics to track acquisition and activation funnels?

    How do people do that with Segment?

    Thanks!

    • JP

      Jake Peterson

      over 4 years ago #

      We usually recommend people keep it as simple as possible for as long as possible. Basically choose ~5 events that will answer 80% of your questions and worry about the trailing 20% of random events later.

      Usually those ~5 events fall into 3 categories: discovery, engagement, conversion. Depending on your business model those vary a lot, but here are a few examples...

      E-COMMERCE

      Discovery = Viewed Product
      Engagement = Added Product [to cart]
      Conversion = Completed Order

      SAAS

      Discovery = Viewed Blog/Docs
      Engagement = Signed Up, Used X Feature
      Conversion = Started Subscription

      For Segment specifically...

      We have a SaaS quick-start guide here: https://segment.com/help/getting-started/saas-quickstart/

      We have a few quickstarts for common e-commerce platforms: https://segment.com/docs/platforms/

      And our generic e-commerce guide here: https://segment.com/docs/api/tracking/ecommerce/

  • GW

    Gordon Wintrob

    over 4 years ago #

    Hey Segment team!

    Question for Jake here. Does Segment categorize different customer success requests (e.g. "how do I increase conversion rates?", "how should I approach paid acquisition?", etc.)? If so, does this help drive product or partnership decisions?

    Also, any thoughts on how the Segment platform can help surface the best "SaaS stacks" for combinations of tools/trackers that fit different business needs?

    • JP

      Jake Peterson

      over 4 years ago #

      Hey Gordon,

      We get a decent number of people emailing us asking for general advice via: https://segment.com/contact/advice and by replying to our drip emails. Customers on our business plan also get a dedicated success manager so we work really closely with those companies to strategize and execute on a customer data plan across teams, products, platforms, and goals.

      To be honest we don't have a fancy system for categorizing things. Our success engineering (technical support) team is really great at flagging common questions, issues, and suggestions from our users and the awesome people who work with our business customers do the same from that angle. Those channels feed into help articles and docs improvements that we (the success team) usually write in big chunks of time that we call "Docs Crushing".

      Our integrations team is also constantly working to add enhancements to our existing integrations and add new commonly requested integrations (or tools that will solve commonly asked questions). Right now we're tracking those requests in Trello, each card with a list of requester emails so we can update people with any movement on their request.

      For product development the spark of a new project usually comes when a question or issue becomes so prevalent that it needs to be solved in a bigger way than just a reply or link to a help article. Once the project is kicked off we ALWAYS include a success team member in the product development, planning, and building so that we keep that process as close to our customers as possible :) and of course plenty of healthy alpha/beta versions with a small subset of customers to get things rolling.

  • RS

    Rob Sobers

    over 4 years ago #

    For Peter: what's the one thing in your product roadmap that you're most excited about?

    For Diana: have you guys experimented with paid channels much (AdWords, LinkedIn) and, if so, have you seen positive ROI?

    • DS

      Diana Smith

      over 4 years ago #

      Rob! First off, your post on the $9 marketing stack is baller. (http://robsobers.com/9-dollar-marketing-stack-step-by-step-setup-guide/)

      Yep, we have done some paid acquisition experiments! In a nutshell, we’ve learned that retargeting definitely works and search does not.

      We’ve done some neat things with retargeting, like customizing the ad based on what page a visitor has viewed. Ex: `Viewed Docs` gets more API related messaging. `Viewed Pricing` gets more free trial messaging. This has upped our conversions. We currently retarget across the web, Facebook, and Twitter, and all are profitable based on this model (https://segment.com/blog/calculating-customer-acquisition-costs/). Twitter is currently the highest ROI. We haven’t tried LinkedIn yet.

      Our early experiments with non-retargeting paid campaigns (like Twitter Keyword, etc) have shown that if our goals are signups, this is going to be way more expensive. We need to do some more optimization of landing pages before we get back into the game. We’re also going ot look into Facebook Custom Audiences.

      Very few people are searching for what Segment does, since it’s a fairly new concept, so we’ve found it’s going to be very hard to make search work for us. We’ve had some success with `KISSmetrics vs. Mixpanel` type keywords, and of course branded search, but the volume is pretty low. We’ve decided not to put much focus here as a result.

      From Peter: I’m really excited about the new "Tracking Plan" workflow we’re building to help teams manage what they're tracking, and coordinate a perfect implementation across marketing/product/engineering teams. Right now, this process involves a lot of back and forth and confusion, usually with spreadsheets. People want to know “is this event working?”, “what did I name that event?”, “why is there so much clutter in my dashboard” – we want to help here.

      • BE

        ben eddy

        over 4 years ago #

        There may be a play for SEO/content marketing by engaging SAAS companies to market themselves to your users by writing content/doing interviews on a SAAS discovery/info section of your site. As Peter points out below, SAAS companies are already looking for a way to differentiate themselves among your users. This would allow them the ability to do so while providing value and not hurting the credibility of your product. With your access to both sides of the market, there is a good opportunity to build a community for the niche.

  • DL

    Dylan La Com

    over 4 years ago #

    You all are awesome for doing this :)

    What's one tool you integrate with that you're particularly excited about? Perhaps a new one on the market.

    • DS

      Diana Smith

      over 4 years ago #

      Hey Dylan! Based on feedback from our customers, these are the up and comers we expect to grow quickly. :)

      Kahuna - Kahuna is a tool for sending push notifications based on user's specific actions, how engaged they are with your app, and the individual times they use it. You can A/B test messages, automate campaigns, and analyze if your notifications hit their goals. https://www.kahuna.com
      FullStory - Particularly helpful for product managers and UX designers, FullStory captures every action a user does on your site in a list of events coupled with a playback video. You can also segment users by a particular action, if for example, you wanted to watch all the videos for users that signed up. https://www.fullstory.com/
      Indicative - We’ve seen a crazy amount of growth with folks on our platform using Indicative. They are a comprehensive analytics tool that’s trying to compete with the likes of Mixpanel. http://www.indicative.com/
      Mode Analytics - Mode is a great tool for data analysts that want to get their hands dirty in SQL. They just redesigned the interface, and make it really easy to write queries and collaborate on projects. They are working on a number of cool “recipes” for SQL. This one is beautiful: https://modeanalytics.com/modeanalytics/reports/43dfbec3efe1

      • JS

        Jordan Skole

        over 4 years ago #

        Full Story is the greatest thing to come out of 2014 (Segment was the best thing from 2013)

        • DL

          Dylan La Com

          over 4 years ago #

          I need to check it out :D I use the KISSmetrics live feed for 'play-by-play' session analysis but Full Story looks great.

          • JS

            Jordan Skole

            over 4 years ago #

            You watch one user _actually_ struggle with a feature or product, (like not in a user-test, or with you standing over their shoulder and them being polite)...

            Changed my life :P

  • JN

    Jackson Noel

    over 4 years ago #

    Hey guys - thanks for doing this! Two questions for you:

    1. What have you learned by building/marketing a product that needs to orient for both technical and non-technical folks who sometimes have very different motivations/anxieties?

    2. Have you ever considered charging the other side of your marketplace instead of or in addition to charging end customers? It seems SaaS tools have a lot to gain by having a segment integration.

    • PR

      Peter Reinhardt

      over 4 years ago #

      Yeah serving multiple audiences is super difficult. It's something we're thinking hard about. I do think a marketing website has to choose a primary audience. For us, that's engineers. But then the sales process and supporting aspects of the website can address the desires of marketing, product, analytics and executives. Engineers are the people who generally bring us in to companies. That's why we're cool with having code on the front page: https://cloudup.com/co2QXq_lmlY But then in deeper pages we explain the benefits for other constituencies: https://cloudup.com/cX_8N1ijbJN I really don't think we do this well right now, but the next iteration will keep or extend the same core focus on engineering teams. In real life, our sales team obviously knows how to explain Segment to all different types of teams.

      We looked into an affiliate revenue model early on, but it's vanishingly small compared to the value we provide (and receive) with the end customer. Charging our partners would also dilute one of the biggest benefits we provide to customers: we're a Switzerland, unbiased and therefore able to provide a balanced perspective. If we let partners pay us, we'd be changing our core constituency in a way that would subvert some of our core value in the ecosystem. Some partners have offered to pay us for placement on the integrations page, etc. but it conflicts with our core value so it's not something we'd consider.

      Some of our partners have definitely told us that Segment is a major source of leads... you can see Gordon's analysis here: http://gwintrob.com/articles/how-segment-is-changing-the-saas-marketplace/ At this point we're overwhelmed with new partner applications (~1/day), but charging partners isn't on the roadmap.

  • SE

    Sean Ellis

    over 4 years ago #

    Thanks for doing this. What is your highest volume customer acquisition channel and how did you figure out that it was worth trying?

    • PR

      Peter Reinhardt

      over 4 years ago #

      Great question! Our highest volume acquisition channel is word of mouth, but in terms of channels we can control, it's our open source work. We've found that building open source libraries like myth.io, metalsmith.io, nightmarejs.org and github.com/segmentio/deku is an authentic way to help our core engineering audience. These projects also expose developers to Segment and some of them decide to actually use us at work.

      There's no real magic here: we put a lot of effort into developing a few ideas into great libraries, and then we can see on Google Analytics referrers that lots of people discover us through Github and the library launch pages. We don't build these libraries for marketing, but when we've already built something cool internally, we make sure to get it out into the world.

      • JS

        Jordan Skole

        over 4 years ago #

        Oops came here to ask this! This is interesting to hear, I recently discovered Metalsmith and was pleased to learn you guys were behind it. Instant trust.

        Do you find these open-source channels to be a good source of talent inquiries as well?

        • DS

          Diana Smith

          over 4 years ago #

          Collaborating with awesome engineers on open source projects definitely helps with recruiting. But that's not why we do it. It's a rollover benefit. :)

        • JP

          Jake Peterson

          over 4 years ago #

          Also I think Segment has amazing diversity in talent due to one of our core values being Karma. Everyone at Segment values giving back, whether that be open-source code, whole-hearted answers in support for free and paid users alike, promoting our partners all we can, or helping out awesome causes like Watsi :)

  • BR

    Brad Ruderman

    over 4 years ago #

    When can we expect the UI dashboard that will let you control what events get sent where, like a mapping of sorts?

    • PR

      Peter Reinhardt

      over 4 years ago #

      Quite soon actually. We're working on a new part of the interface that lets you plan out your tracking plan. Helps you manage all your events, and keep aligned across Marketing, Product Management and Engineering about what data needs to be recorded vs. what is being recorded. Plus it'll let you control the flow in more detail. Email friends@segment.com if you want access to the current alpha ;)

      • BR

        Brad Ruderman

        over 4 years ago #

        From a growth perspective this was deal breaker for us, since we need to control which events go where. Any recommendations for how to port over to segment without fear of changing event names in 3rd party tools like Kiss?

        • JP

          Jake Peterson

          over 4 years ago #

          Hey Brad I'm curious what your use case is for controlling events in that way? Typically the companies we see that need to control which events go to each integration are due to huge volume and needing to limit costs.

          Segment does map pretty directly into KISSmetrics, so for your main events and people properties it shouldn't be too difficult to make sure things are mapping correctly. For example if you have a "Signed Up" event now in KISSmetrics, as long as you sent analytics.track('Signed Up'); in Segment that'd map to the same event inside of KISSmetrics.

          Do you have any specific concerns with KISSmetrics that I could address?

          • BR

            Brad Ruderman

            over 4 years ago #

            Jake - We have 100s of event types, and 2 questions brought up:

            # Why do we want to control where stuff gets sent?
            - For the exact reason you mentioned above, rate limits, spending. Also we simply don't want to some tools to know certain things. I don't need to send every conversion to Quantcast, only the conversions which I attribute to quant cast (new customer for example).

            # Why am I concerned about mapping names to tools?
            - Well we never standardized the way we send event names, and customer.io for example doesn't want spaces in their names, but kiss allows is. Therefore if we turn on segment to push the same event, it might convert the event name to something we aren't using in customer.io. I just want to make sure when we make our conversion no events are pushed in any system with the incorrect name.

  • JC

    Janet Choi

    over 4 years ago #

    Really cool that you're doing this AMA! I'd love to hear about how y'all decide what growth strategies to prioritize at Segment — or whether you see customers making common mistakes in that respect.

    • PR

      Peter Reinhardt

      over 4 years ago #

      We find that data is hugely helpful for refining our strategies, but picking the strategies is actually a decision guided by gut. We were discussing user acquisition strategies a few months ago, and Vas (our investor at Accel) said point blank: "Guys. You know what your best marketing channels are going to be. They're the channels that are authentically Segment: developer evangelism and co-marketing with partners."

      Once you let that sink in, it *is* pretty obvious :) I think a bit of external perspective can sometimes help clarify what your core strengths are, and how you can leverage those to grow faster.

      And of course this strategy is already apparent in our numbers: after word of mouth, our major acquisition channels are our open source work and co-marketing with partners!

      • RS

        Rob Sobers

        over 4 years ago #

        I also wouldn't overlook marketer evangelism, either. As you can tell from this site, there are a plenty of dev/marketers and analytics junkies that love Segment. In fact, I think they're more likely to spread the word than developers who install the events to in codebase and walk away.

        • DS

          Diana Smith

          over 4 years ago #

          You make a very good point. Technical marketers, analytics junkies & growth hackers are a great community for Segment (hence why we're here right now!). We (as a group) are very interested in using the right tool for the job and comparing new ones that come on the market. Often, we also work on resource-constrained teams, so there isn't a lot of tech help to go around, and having "one integration to rule them all" is super awesome. I turn on new tools all the time in Segment.

          That said, what we've found in the sales process is that when we're selling to large companies, it's hard to go in through the marketing side because the marketing team doesn't feel the integration pain as intensely as the engineering team. They get benefits from Segment, like turning on any tool they want, flexibility, agility, all that jazz, but in large organizations, marketing leads often they pick their preferred tool and tell someone else to get it done. They are also used to a slow release cycle. This is just what we've seen from trying this route on the sales side. As a result, we've had a much easier time selling into engineering.

          That said, there is still a huge community of dev-marketers & analytics junkies that are just right for Segment in the startup world and beyond. We need to do more to reach out to them. :)

  • ET

    Everette Taylor

    over 4 years ago #

    Hey guys,

    Thanks for participating in this AMA with us. My first question is, Can you share one growth win that you've had as a team and what that process looked like?

    • DS

      Diana Smith

      over 4 years ago #

      Sure thing Everette! This sounds really basic, but we recently restructured how we're measuring activation at Segment.

      When we redid our tracking plan (https://segment.com/blog/segment-tracking-plan) we decided that the ultimate funnel event to signify activation is `Sent Project Data`. Measuring this event accurately is a pretty complicated process because we have to scrape all of our users each day, and associate them with their higher level accounts, then calculate a number of traits like if a user is currently in a trial, how much data they are sending, and if they are over their quota. This decision was made using best practices from our success team, and working with our growth team (a combination of engineers, designers and writers focused on growth product projects) to implement. Now that this is working we’ve been able to do a few things:

      Redo our billing emails to ask people to actually pay us :) This was broken for a bit, and measuring our customers usage confidently helped this process along. We’ve seen a large uptick in revenue by tightening up the entire billing process, a step in our funnel that was the most dysfunctional.
      Redo our activation emails. Now that we know exactly how many folks activate after they sign up, we have a basis to run experiments to improve this number – the first of which is redoing our activation emails, and the second which will be redesigning our setup flow. :)

  • LS

    Logan Stoneman

    over 4 years ago #

    Based on Alexa site data on Segment.com, y'all had massive growth in terms of visitors back around September/October of this past year! Congrats! Can you share any strategies that your team did to pull more visitors to your site?

    • DS

      Diana Smith

      over 4 years ago #

      Hey Logan!

      Yep we did have a pretty big bump in October mostly around the announcement of our Series A funding: https://segment.com/blog/segment-raises-15M-accel-kleiner-perkins/

      We did a combination of press, community outreach (Hacker News, etc), and customer outreach around this launch.

      At that point we also switched over from Segment.io to Segment.com, so that may have messed with Alexa's numbers a bit. We did take a slight hit in organic traffic following that domain switch, but that channel has already more than recovered so that's good :)

      In addition to more visitors we were able to spike our conversion rate with a site redesign around that same time! The goal of the redesign was make us easier to understand (a constant struggle) and give more information about what we do. Any feedback is welcome!

      Last thing that was happening was the launch fo Segment SQL, which was big for us in terms of new visitors and customers, which helped sustain momentum after our series A: https://segment.com/blog/segment-sql-amazon-redshift/

  • LT

    Luke Thomas

    over 4 years ago #

    Hey Peter,

    Since you guys have access to customer data, have you ever thought about storing it instead of piping it through to Redshift/a companies internal DB?

    Many platforms (email, customer support, etc) are reliant on Salesforce as the customer data hub. I really like the approach you guys are taking with third-party data viz software (Mode, Chartio, etc) and think there's a ton of opportunity to work with other SaaS vendors in other industries.

    I also really like how these companies can create "playbooks/recipes" as the schema is consistent across the board. That's the X factor and I hope to see more of it.

    • PR

      Peter Reinhardt

      over 4 years ago #

      Great point! And you're totally right, we do store the data for our business customers. We store the data on S3 as raw logs, and can optionally transform and load it into Segment SQL (https://segment.com/redshift) as well. The raw logs let us "replay" the data into new tools if your ever want to switch to a new tool. It's pretty powerful for preventing vendor lock-in, building in-house tools like recommendation engines, or powering a company-wide hadoop cluster.

      Mode, Chartio and Looker have built some pretty cool out of the box reports based on our common schema. I think we will see more tools start to benefit and build on top of the standardized schema.

  • GC

    Guillaume Cabane

    over 4 years ago #

    Hi guys,

    Thanks a lot for this AMA, and thanks even more for your tool. Couldn't live without it !

    Question : how far do you think data unification will go ? Right now when I plug Adroll through Segment, they only accept a very small portion of what I send. And this is true for many other integrations.
    If the same data was exactly replicated in all integrations, growthhackers like us could do marvelous things... and create interactive campaigns across all channels.

    • JP

      Jake Peterson

      over 4 years ago #

      Thanks Guillaume. We couldn't live without awesome customers like you!

      This is a great question, and hits on one of the biggest advantages of using Segment: a single, simple data schema - we call it our "spec".

      For existing tools on the market like Adroll it's really up to them to start building out new fields before we can map things from our "spec" to their schema.

      One cool thing we're seeing with new emerging tools is them using the Segment standard spec as the starting point for planning their data schema.

      Or if they do choose to create their own data schema we have a new integration process for partners that gives our partners the power to build a system that accepts our standardized data stream and grabs the pieces that are useful to them. Hopefully those vendors expand the set of data their are making available to end users are their service grows so all your data is in all your tools someday :) this method also takes a lot of maintenance work off the plates of those vendors so they can build an even better tool for you guys to work with!

  • RP

    Ryan Poznikoff

    over 4 years ago #

    Thanks for the AMA, Segment.

    Can you share how your team is structured to tackle growth initiatives, and what KPIs and metrics are most important to Segment?

    • DS

      Diana Smith

      over 4 years ago #

      A few months ago we realized we were having trouble prioritizing growth projects that needed design and engineering work. When we’re evaluating whether to build the new “Tracking Plan” feature against redesigning the blog, it’s pretty hard to prioritize the growth projects.

      To fix this problem, we split up our product teams into distinct cross-functional groups. Each unit has engineers, designers, and marketer(s), and are focused on different metrics. The core team works on features “core” to the app. The integrations team works on building new integrations, evaluating and promoting new partners on the platform. The growth team is concerned with our activation funnel and revenue.

      For the growth team our KPIs boil down to active users and active paying users. This is the funnel we look at.

      Visited Sited

      Signed Up

      Sent Project Data

      Should Be Paying

      Actually Paying

      With limited resources, we choose to focus on one leaky part of the funnel at a time – the most egregious leak. The same people who run technical support are heavily involved in growth projects, which helps us make sure we’re addressing customer needs with each initiative (and gives them opportunities to put their technical skills to work). Right now we’re focused on the “Should be Paying” to “Actually Paying” conversion rate by fixing our billing process and reviewing our pricing model. Next, we’ll be working on getting people to the site and activating with content and communities.

      • DT

        Dimitris Tzortzis

        about 4 years ago #

        Hi, that is most helpful.
        So, how do you figure out who are those who "Should Be Paying" and how do you measure that?

        • DS

          Diana Smith

          about 4 years ago #

          Hi Dimitri! We use an `identify` trait (https://segment.com/docs/spec/identify/) to calculate if a user's API calls and integration usage puts her on a paying plan.

          To find "Actually Paying," we check the suggested plan calculated in "Should Be Paying" against a user's actual plan.

  • BR

    Brad Ruderman

    over 4 years ago #

    Do you have leverage outbound sales emails, if so who are you targeting? Do you target execs, or do you target engineers in hopes that they well sell to their execs? The majority of your customers are probably startups so there probably isn't much different. Also since you are a developer tool have you done any testing on the effectiveness of a new relic style t-shirt campaign marketing strategy?

    • DS

      Diana Smith

      over 4 years ago #

      That’s a great question. We are in the VERY EARLY stages of trying outbound sales emails. The sweet spot for a potential business customer is a director of analytics or VP of engineering, but these folks are usually pretty sour on receiving cold emails. We always think carefully about approaching people in ways they don't like, so this is an early experiment that we're keeping a close eye on. We take a very soft sell approach, and time will tell whether or not this will work. Community events that build word of mouth may be a better approach for us.

      Haven’t tried the New Relic t-shirt approach. We have some other things on the roadmap before we try that out. :) That said, coining the term `data nerd` was genius. I love it.

      • BR

        Brad Ruderman

        over 4 years ago #

        We are as well, what stack are you using? We are using a combination of Outreach.IO to send the emails/manage the campaigns, Salesforce to track the leads, and the reporting is all custom via replicating salesforce into a postgres database using Skyvia - BTW that is an AMAZING tool for all people forced into using SFDC.

        • DS

          Diana Smith

          over 4 years ago #

          We haven't locked down our stack yet. We're still trying out a variety of outbound email tools and lead gen tools. We're looking for reliability and a simple workflow. Thanks for sharing your stack! We'll check them out. :)

          • BR

            Brad Ruderman

            over 4 years ago #

            @dianahsmith Just got an email from you regarding the Watsi event, it appears sent via customer.io. Are you using customer.io exclusively for existing customer engagement emails? Have you looked at intercom as well?

            • DS

              Diana Smith

              over 4 years ago #

              Hope to see you there! It should be fun. Yep, we use Customer.io for a lot of our email campaigns but we also love Intercom. Intercom is great for easily finding a segment of your most active users, creating in-app notifications, and starting 1-on-1 conversations with your customers.

              It's really amazing to me just how many marketing automation options there are out there. We currently have 30 on the platform, and at least 15 in the queue that have been requested by both potential partners and customers: https://segment.com/integrations#marketing

              The trick is finding the one (or in our case a few) that work for you.

  • TP

    trendwhizo Patil

    over 4 years ago #

    Hey Segment team!
    How do you suggest doing specific Enterprise segmentation esp for SaaS model in Public Sector?
    Thanks,

    • DS

      Diana Smith

      over 4 years ago #

      Hey there! Do you mean segmenting by industry verticals (ecommerce, publishing, etc), or customer persona segmenting? With a little more info, we can be more helpful. :)

      • TP

        trendwhizo Patil

        over 4 years ago #

        Let us say, my product's use cases are specifically focused towards Accounting dept of public sector enterprises. How can I use your tool to get an added advantage?

  • AA

    Anuj Adhiya

    over 4 years ago #

    Hey guys

    What would you say is the right time for a startup to consider implementing a tool like Segment?

    • JP

      Jake Peterson

      over 4 years ago #

      Hey Anuj, that's a really good question.

      If you're using our motto of "start simple" I think the sooner the better!

      Our standard recommendation is to start by tracking 3-5 key events. For early-stage companies those events might change, but it's a pretty small loss if you only added tracking for a few of your most important events. Also since most of your early analysis will be based on qualitative feedback we recommend tools like Intercom, Uservoice, Olark, Livechat, or Qualaroo to gather that feedback right on your site. And also Fullstory, Inspectlet, Navilytics, etc. to watch screen "recordings" of your users inside your site.

      We work with accelerators like 500 startups, Y Combinator, and are happy to provide free guidance to anyone in the early stages of building their business whether or not they are in a startup accelerator. We also offer hyper-extended "trial" periods of Segment to give new businesses time to get used to things - email friends@segment.com for details if you're just getting started!

    • BR

      Brad Ruderman

      over 4 years ago #

      As soon as you have an application or website.

  • JS

    Jordan Skole

    over 4 years ago #

    I just wanted to say thanks for Metalsmith!

    Are you able to measure the effect this type of "content" marketing has had on customer acquisition?

  • SR

    Stewart Rogers

    over 4 years ago #

    Hi Team Segment - good to see you doing an AMA. Diana dragged me in here over from Twitter... :)

    If a time machine sent you back to the start of the Segment journey, but you were able to take all the experience and knowledge you've built up with you, what would be the first three things you'd do to build your customer base?

    • DS

      Diana Smith

      over 4 years ago #

      Thanks for participating Stewart! That’s an awesome question.

      1. Start a single stream of content around analytics and data engineering. Some combination of what we were trying to do with segment.com/academy and what’s currently at segment.com/blog

      2. Build a community around developers. This would include working on open source projects the way we did early on at Segment, but would have more focus on planning and attending events, and participating in existing developer communities.

      3. Focus more on qualitative feedback from our customers. Use tools like Qualaroo, Intercom & Olark to learn more about use cases, incorporate feedback into the product roadmap, and engage power users for the first two initiatives - writing about Segment and advocating for us at events.

      • SR

        Stewart Rogers

        over 4 years ago #

        Thanks @dianahsmith - great answers to my favourite stock question... :)

        I particularly like that you included qualitative feedback as one of your three tactics.

  • KT

    Karen Thurston

    over 4 years ago #

    I'm wondering how some of the functionality in your tools differ from other ETL tool sets.

    • DS

      Diana Smith

      over 4 years ago #

      Hey Karen. Thanks for asking!

      Our SQL product (https://segment.com/sql) transforms and loads behavioral data from your websites and mobile apps into an Amazon Redshift instance. You install Segment like you would other web / mobile analytics tools, and we do the rest. You'll get a table for your users, and more discrete tables for each event you're tracking, like "Signed Up" and "Completed Order". Traits appear as columns. We've found this is the optimal schema for analyzing behavioral data.

      Most other ETL products out there help you get your data from one database to another, which is slightly different.

      And, with the same Segment installation, you can turn on lots (https://segment.com/integrations) of tools for marketing and user testing.

      Hope that helps!

  • MC

    Matt Challberg

    over 4 years ago #

    Hi Segment team, thanks for sharing your insights! My question may bring you back a ways:

    When you were just starting out, what was the most effective way you to validated your business model and gained your first initial customers/users.

    Also, if you were to start over again today, what would you change?

    Thanks!

    • PR

      Peter Reinhardt

      over 4 years ago #

      This might be a rare occurrence, but the validation for Segment happened very suddenly. We'd open-sourced analytics.js and it had gotten maybe 30 stars on Github. My co-founder Ian thought there was a big business behind analytics.js, but I was super skeptical and couldn't imagine how a big business could be built there. So we decided to launch analytics.js on Hacker News on December 17, 2012 as a way to validate it (I was anticipating it would be ignored and we could move on). To complete astonishment, it went straight to the top, drew in ~1,000 stars on Github on the first day. You can see the original post here: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4912076

      The reaction was undeniable validation, and after 1.5 years of trying things that got no traction at all, this sudden validation on HN threw us into a frenzy of development. Since that launch we've just kept talking to customers, building and improving to solve their problems.... going from 10 integrations to 140, building server-side and mobile SDKs, adding "replay" and most recently Segment SQL. In the months after launching it became obvious how a big business could be built, starting with something as small and simple as analytics.js.

      If I could change anything in the early days, long before the launch on HN, I'd approach everything with more intellectual honesty about what was and wasn't working. Lack of internal confidence led to external overconfidence in what we were building for the first 1.5 years. The launch of analytics.js was a pretty defining moment for me personally since it was such stark proof that my intuition could be *completely* wrong in the real world. And with analytics.js, being wrong was actually an incredible outcome.

      • DL

        Dylan La Com

        over 4 years ago #

        Great answer @reinpk

      • MC

        Matt Challberg

        over 4 years ago #

        @reinpk Thanks for the detailed answer, this was extremely helpful! I also appreciate you putting in the qualifier statement about your 1.5 years of testing and struggling to find your initial traction. Very motivating to see how continued effort through that early period paid off. Thanks for sharing!

  • MA

    Misbah Ashraf

    over 4 years ago #

    Why do you think mobile apps need your product to grow?

    • PR

      Peter Reinhardt

      over 4 years ago #

      I wouldn't say that mobile apps "need our product to grow", but we can definitely help mobile app developers grow faster. If they use Segment to eliminate all the time they waste on integrations (email, push notifications, analytics, error tracking, attribution) they can focus on what matters: building a great app and getting more users.

  • GD

    Guerric de Ternay

    over 4 years ago #

    Hi guys,

    Thanks a lot for your answers. This is very interesting!

    I have a question regarding your relationship with all the companies, which develop the tools you integrate.

    Your Unique Value Proposition is to 'make it really easy to install tools for growth hacking and analytics'. This means that you also make it really easy to switch from one tool to another. That definitely decreases the switching barriers.

    How do the analytics providers react to Segment, since their users can now switch to their competitor in a click?

    • PR

      Peter Reinhardt

      over 4 years ago #

      Segment definitely eliminates switching costs. But so far the evidence from our partners is that Segment customers are actually better retained than their average customer. It remains to be seen if this is causal, but a simpler API, carefully built SDKs and libraries, and a whole toolchain around debugging and setting up a good tracking plan creates a better experience overall than any incidental churn back and forth.

      For the vast majority of tools on the platform we're market expansive — it's hard to believe but if you look at Mixrank you'll see that only ~20% of the top 1m mobile apps use any kind of third party analytics vendor. Here's one partner talking about Segment as a growth channel: https://growthhackers.com/questions/ask-gh-how-good-are-integrations-like-segment-io-as-a-customer-acquisition-channel/#comment-15984

      The net effect is a leveling of the playing field, where the best products on the platform win.

  • SC

    Smriti Chawla

    over 4 years ago #

    This one is pretty elementary. But here it goes -- I see great SaaS websites all the time. But it's very difficult to track down design teams that made them. How do you find good designers for SaaS websites?

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