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A highly detailed, step-by-step guide on how to create a tracking plan and implement a full stack of powerful marketing tools for just $9/mo.

Includes setup for Segment.io, Google Analytics, FreshMail, Mixpanel, and Zapier.

When you're done, you'll have analytics, lead capture, marketing automation, behavioral emails, A/B testing and more.

  • LT

    Luke Thomas

    over 2 years ago #

    Great post! It's rare people go into so much depth, so thanks for doing that.

    Perhaps I'm getting confused, but are you using the Segment .alias method (https://segment.com/docs/api/tracking/alias/) to associate anonymous behavior to post-signup behavior? I don't think the identify call handles that.

    It *seems* this is how your current setup is working:

    1. Anon user visits website, is assigned an anon id by Segment.
    2. User completes signup process and .identify call is fired as they are now logged-in. This new id overwrites the old one, as these are now "two" distinct users.

    I've seen Mixpanel funnels break because the alias call wasn't being fired. More here: (https://segment.com/docs/integrations/mixpanel/#alias)

    Also, perhaps for people getting started (and following along) keeping everything on the client side may be helpful (as I would imagine some readers will have trouble following along with Rails).

    • JP

      Jake Peterson

      over 2 years ago #

      Hey Luke!

      You're totally right if anyone plans on enabling Mixpanel through Segment you'll want to call analytics.alias before analytics.identify. Since Mixpanel is the only tool that requires that we try not to put too much emphasis on it, but the link you shared is great. Also a shorter note in one of our best practice guides here: https://segment.com/help/best-practices/how-to-identify-users/#anonymous-history-is-lost

      And that's a good point on keeping everything in client-side javascript to get started! We recommend that too :)

    • RS

      Rob Sobers

      over 2 years ago #

      Thanks @lukethomas! I always used KISSmetrics for projects with an actual budget and identify is good enough for them. This is my first time using Mixpanel, so thank you for pointing out that they need alias as well! I'll make that update straight away.

      Regarding keeping things client-side, I'd prefer to do that as well since there other benefits beyond simplicity, but I couldn't figure out how to do it elegantly for in-app actions. After Rails successfully completes an action on the server-side, I'd have to pass all the details of that action BACK to the browser for Segment to log it. It seems like a very odd practice, but I would love to see some examples of this (@jpetey).

      • JP

        Jake Peterson

        over 2 years ago #

        Hey Rob I'm curious do you have an example of some data you're generating server-side that isn't available on the client? I'm sure there's plenty I'm just having a tough time thinking of something specific.

        • RS

          Rob Sobers

          over 2 years ago #

          Hey Jake, the data isn't generated server-side. It's more easily available server-side. Sorry for the confusion.

          Here's a simple example.

          You have a web form for a support ticket. The user fills out fields like name, company, issue type. They click submit and the data POSTs to the server. The server validates the action and says, "yup, success!" and writes the record to the database. Only now does it makes sense to call .track to tell all our tracking apps that a support ticket was filed.

          It makes sense (to me) to do this server-side because I have all the data handy when the action succeeds. If I wanted to do it client-side, I have to send all the info (name, company, etc.) BACK to the client in the response so the JS on the page can send it as properties in the .track call.

          Does that make sense?

  • DS

    Diana Smith

    over 2 years ago #

    This is the most detailed guide for how to use Segment and start using the most popular tools on the platform that I've seen. Thanks, Rob!

    Question for you: what prompted you to create Munchkin Report?

    • RS

      Rob Sobers

      over 2 years ago #

      Hey @dianahsmith, I have 2 small kids, one in preschool and an infant home with a nanny, and things get super hectic during the day.

      Munchkin Report keeps me updated on things that happen during the day, like which activities my daughter did at school and how long my son napped for, so when I get home from work I can switch into parent-mode seamlessly without having to text my nanny or pry information from my 3-year old who often times will tell me she did "nothing" at school. :)

  • MB

    Morgan Brown

    over 2 years ago #

    I am giddy to read and implement this. Thanks @rsobers!

  • AA

    Anuj Adhiya

    over 2 years ago #

    This is super helpful - thanks @rsobers!

  • ET

    Erik Trautman

    over 2 years ago #

    I love the idea of marketing stacks from the start but this is a particularly helpful post because it goes beyond the simple list-of-links and into the practical implementation -- thank you @rsobers.

    There's a followup post I'd love to see (from anyone) so I'll just throw it into the ether.

    Analytics sites charge based on events. Obviously every site is different, but I'd love to see some sort of common sense breakdown of events used vs total stack cost and how those numbers might relate to easily guesstimated measures like page views.

    This is really two sub-problems. First, simply tracking pageviews alone generates a lot of events but at least it's easy to do the math on those. But as soon as you start throwing in custom events it's much harder to figure out "for what baseline traffic level will I probably go into the next pricing tier due to all the extra events?" I'd be curious to see rules of thumb for how adding different standard event tracking (e.g. scroll depth? modal popup clicks? other interactions?) to a page would affect overall total of events. Obviously highly site dependent, but I'm really looking for the sneaky ones which generate 10x-100x more events than expected and can put a wrench in this $9/m pricing level.

    The second part is: when each "next tier" is hit, what is the cost? Meaning, if you're using a handful of integrations and tools in a stack which price based on events, is the jump from 900k events to 1mm events $50/m or $500/m as they all pile on at the same level? Would be nice to see a chart or something of events vs pricing for a given stack. Hell, why not go all out and build a quickie chart which lets you build your own stack via checkboxes and shows your price increases as a function of events?

    Anyway, these are things I wonder but not quite enough to prioritize them over the business :)

    • RS

      Rob Sobers

      over 2 years ago #

      Thanks @eriktrautman - I come from developer world where there's no shortage of details in blog posts, so expect more of this from me. :)

      This would be interesting to see. The $9 stack is really designed for pre-revenue businesses that can't afford to spend much more on tools and are likely getting less than 1,000 unique visitors per month.

      But, to avoid overages, the simplest strategy is to NOT send pageviews to your event-tracking apps save for key pages in a conversion funnel. Send them all to Google Analytics. Segment makes this really easy to control.

  • PM

    Paul M Boyce

    over 2 years ago #

    @rsobers - just wanted to say - awesome post man, and I completely agree with the need for default marketing stacks.

  • HQ

    Hila Qu

    almost 2 years ago #

    This is a must read!

  • AA

    Anuj Adhiya

    over 2 years ago #

    Hey @rsobers
    I'm finally at that point where I was going to follow this playbook.

    Had a question about the behavioural emails piece.
    Is there a reason why you chose ActiveCampaign over say Customer.io or any other similar tool which has a free plan?

    Cheers!

    • RS

      Rob Sobers

      over 2 years ago #

      Hey @anujadhiya - I like ActiveCampaign because it very closely resembles the marketing automation software I'm familiar with (HubSpot, Marketo, etc.).

      Customer.io always seemed like a different animal to me, though it might be a suitable replacement in the stack. I think swapping in and out different pieces of the stack is a good thing!

      • AA

        Anuj Adhiya

        over 2 years ago #

        Thanks for that clarification @rsobers.
        I'm just trying to keep things as simple as I can to start because I'm not a developer or have any coding expertise (some folks I know will help implement the playbook from your post).

        And who knows - the $9 stack might become a $0 stack to start with something like customer.io!

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