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Getting stacked for success
Growth Hacker, Entrepreneur, Marketing Exec
You need quantitative insight, qualitative insight, and optimization.
Your marketing stack depends on what you need to know and what your audience looks like.
As you mature and your audience scales, you will replace your early systems with more robust ones.
Lesson: Growth from User 0 with Morgan Brown
Step #5 Marketing Stack: Getting stacked for success
The marketing stack that I use when I'm setting up a brand-new company is a few key tools. I think about it in terms of quantitative analytics and measurement, qualitative feedback, and optimization and testing. In those three buckets is really what I think about for my marketing stack. There's also a fourth one which is kind of customer communication and automation and that type of thing.
But from a metrics and analytics I look at three key technologies. One is Google Analytics, because it's free, and it does a decent enough job.
Second is Segment, and Segment is great. It's basically a layer that tracks all of the events that happen within your product and on your website, and then you can easily send those events to different systems as you need it. You can record user sign up, user login, page visits, down to the customer level, and then record those, either in an analytics package like Mixpanel or KISSmetrics, or something like that, or send them to other services like MailChimp or Customer.io.
The third piece that I use is usually a more robust analytics package, so depending on company size I'll use KISSmetrics, a Mixpanel, or, for example, if it's an e-commerce business, maybe like a RJMetrics or, as you get bigger, like a Looker or something along those lines. That's really kind of the analytics stack.
On the qualitative side, and I think qualitative is so underrated for early stage companies. I'd definitely use Qualaroo for getting product feedback and website visitor feedback. User testing is a great way to get feedback about your product, uncovering confusion. Inspectlet and a couple other tools like that will let you record user sessions and that type of thing, can be really powerful.
On the optimization side I use tools like Optimizely for A/B testing, Crazy Egg for heatmaps and that type of thing, but that's really my marketing stack in terms of measuring what's going on.
The stack will last, depending on the size of your business. But I think, for example, Google Analytics will be great for web metrics. You can scale as large as you like. But that's not going to answer key questions for your growth about things like retention and activation, monthly active users, really hard, unless you're using Universal Analytics, to map. For example, if you have mobile users who are also web based users and some of those types of things.
I think as you mature and your audience scales you'll look to replace early stage systems with bigger and more robust ones. For example, you might go from say, like a KISSmetrics to a Looker, or as you add business intelligence groups and that type of thing you might add Tableau and Redshift and those types of things.
I think it depends on just basically what your business needs to know and how many people you're dealing with. As you get bigger you can get more sophisticated and that's when investing in those tools tends to make more sense.
I know a lot of companies choose to build in-house rather than use these third party tools, and I actually think that, to a point, in-house makes a lot of sense because third party tools won't always fit exactly what you need, especially early on. If you need to do user level tracking or referral programs or you want to get really granular and be sure that you're very canonical about, say, traffic source, or user type, or that type of thing, writing your own tracking and recording it into your own database and tools is something that I've seen work really, really well.
I think it really depends on the make up of your team. Some teams are very engineering heavy, which is great and you can make that investment and build it in-house. Some teams are very business heavy and are very resource constrained on the engineering side and so therefore third party tools make more sense.
I've worked in both environments and I will say that when you're able to just query your database and get a definitive answers, it makes life a lot easier. Although, on the flip side, being able to just plug in one of these big tools and have autonomy on the business side is also really refreshing. So I think there's no perfect answer, but I think it really depends on the make up of your team and your individual strengths.