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How Mention Me researches users without sacrificing their privacy

Oct 18, 2021

Mention Me is a marketing platform which powers referral campaigns for more than 450 of the world’s biggest brands, including FarFetch, Nutmeg, Zipcar and Charlotte Tilbury. Since launching in 2013 the platform has driven over £1bn in additional revenue for its clients. However, as Mention Me has grown more successful, the product has also needed to become more complex.

“Our B2B platform used to be very manual and was mainly used by our Customer Success team,” said Anca Filip, Head of Product at Mention Me. “Now we’re investing in redesigning the platform so clients can take actions for themselves, such as creating their own referral experiments and AB tests.”

As a result of this shift, Mention Me needed to track product data which could reveal which changes were for the better. The Product team had previously used Google Analytics, but felt it was built more for the needs of Marketing teams and wouldn’t offer the insights they needed without support from analysts. In 2020, they began searching for a better solution.

“We looked at Amplitude, Mixpanel and Pendo and not only were they far too expensive but it was also very unclear how they worked in terms of data privacy.”
Joe SaundersonSoftware Engineer, Mention Me

Self-hosting PostHog

With a variety of product analytics platforms to choose from, Mention Me hoped to bring in a new tool quickly and start gathering data. However, data security was a concern and the Engineering team knew it could be risky to share any data with third parties.

“We looked at Amplitude, Mixpanel and Pendo and not only were they far too expensive but it was also very unclear how they worked in terms of data privacy,” said Joe Saunderson, Software Engineer at Mention Me. “We knew we needed to keep everything on our infrastructure because our clients’ privacy is very important to us and we have obligations to store their data safely.”

Unwilling to compromise on security, Mention Me continued searching until they found PostHog.

“The fact that PostHog is open source was really helpful,” said Lleo Harress, Software Engineer at Mention Me. “The cloud formation templates made deployment easy and we were up and running within a day, and because it’s open source we can also open the codebase and figure things out if needed. We’ve iterated and built out an entire stack for ourselves since launching PostHog.”

Changing the ways of working

PostHog has dramatically enhanced the way the Product, UX and Engineering teams work together, enabling them to make data-driven decisions about their B2B platform for the first time. Teams have begun reporting on metrics such as session length, number of logins and feature adoption, using individual and shared dashboards to align and hasten the way they work.

“Retrospective data and event autocapture have been especially useful,” said Lleo Harress. “We’ve had a few occasions where we’ve speculated something but haven’t been capturing the data to prove it, so we define an event and then see the retroactive data for it immediately. Previously we’d have to wait months to get usable data like that in Google Analytics or other tools.”

PostHog’s all-in-one nature has also enabled Mention Me to reduce the number of different platforms they use, dropping tools such as HotJar. Session replay and heatmaps are now both achieved with PostHog, so teams can see the qualitative and quantitative impact of changes they make all in one intertwined platform.

"PostHog has helped us improve our product and get a much better understanding of our users than we've ever been able to before."
Anca FilipHead of Product, Mention Me

“We’re creating a rich culture of experimentation,” said Joe Saunderson. “We use things like feature flags to issue changes to 50% of users and then compare the effect. Experiment, find results, decide where to focus and then iterate — it’s a big change in the way our team works and PostHog is at the core of it.”

“The first thing I did was create a dashboard and it took just ten minutes to get the information I needed,” said Anca Filip. “I hadn’t ever been able to get those insights from Google Analytics...seeing that features like that and session replays and cohort reports were available in PostHog out of the box was amazing. I’m really enjoying the product.”