We take a principled approach to marketing
- Be opinionated
- Pull, don’t push
- No sneaky shit
PostHog was created because we believed that product analytics was broken and we had a vision of how it could be much better.
We need to reflect this vision in our marketing, and not dilute it with boring corporate-speak. When we write content, we take a firm stance on what we believe is right. We would rather have 50% of people love us and 50% hate us, than 80% mildly agree with us.
We communicate clearly, directly, and honestly.
It's ok to have a sense of humor. We are more likely to die because we are forgettable, not because we made a lame joke once. We have a very distinctive and weird company culture, and we should share that with customers instead of putting on a fake corporate persona when we talk to them.
(Sometimes we use terminology like 'value propositions' because that is the standard marketing term for a well-understood concept. That's allowed.)
Pull, don't push
We believe customers will judge us first and foremost on our product (ie. our app, our website, and our docs). We won’t set ourselves up for long-term success if we push customers into using us.
If a customer doesn't choose PostHog, that means either:
a) The product isn't good enough b) The product isn't the right solution for them c) We didn't communicate the benefits of the product well enough
We don't believe companies will be long term customers of a competitor because they did a better job of spamming them with generic content. We know this because we frequently have customers switching from a competitor to us - they are not afraid to do this.
Addressing a) is the responsibility of everyone at PostHog. The marketing team's specific job is to avoid spending time advertising to people in group b), and making sure we do a great job avoiding c). This means:
- Making sure our comms are extremely high quality
- Sharing our messages in the right places, where relevant customers can see them
- Spending enough time and/or money in those places so that our messages get through
No sneaky shit
Our focus customers are technical and acutely aware of the tedious clickbaity marketing tactics that software companies use to try and entice them. Stop. It's patronizing to both the customer and the marketing people creating the content.
We will never try to trick someone into using PostHog through spammy marketing tactics. That's a great way to boost vanity signup metrics in the short term before the customer quickly churns out.
For these reasons, we:
- Don't use any analytics except our own. No Google Analytics, Facebook Pixel etc. Customer trust is more important than making our marketing team's lives easier.
- Don't make claims about our product that are not 100% genuine and verifiable. And we don't make promises for future functionality either. People can see our entire codebase, after all!
- Don't do cold email marketing to acquire new customers. When was the last time you read the 8th email a company sent you and thought 'ok yes, I now want to use this product.'?
- Don't badmouth or make false claims about our competitors. We will compare ourselves to them to help customers make a decision, and occasionally they are a better solution for what a customer needs. That's ok.
- Don't bombard customers with 'deals', pop-ups and other dark patterns. If you don't like them, why do you think our customers will feel differently?
- Don't pretend our customers are different from us - more gullible, more susceptible to marketing. We are an engineering-led team building products for other engineers.
So how do these values become an actual strategy?
We start by assuming that there are no shortcuts, quick wins or secrets to a successful long-term marketing strategy. It's vanishingly unlikely that a small startup is suddenly going to crack the code of marketing in some revolutionary way.
The marketing playbook already exists - much bigger and more successful companies than us have already written it. We're just going to execute the playbook really really well, using our unfair advantages:
- We are open source - most companies in our space are closed source, both in product and marketing. We are up front and direct about what we do and why we do it, and we believe this will build much greater trust and a more engaged community in the long term. This manifesto is just one example of our commitment to transparency.
- Everybody codes - we know how to write high-quality content for our audience that they’ll actually want to read, and we know the keywords they are using to search for solutions like PostHog. Our more established competitors are ahead of us today, but we know we can overtake them with better content and by targeting low-competition keywords that we’ve identified.
- Bias for action - we use our team’s extreme autonomy to ship things fast without going through layers of approvals. If we need a week to sign off a social media post, we will probably die. Our paid ads agency doesn’t wait for our approval either if we haven’t responded in 24 hours.
Doesn't sound very exciting on the surface, does it? ('Where are my billboards and flash mobs? Why don't we open a zoo exclusively for hedgehogs? Can we go all in on the metaverse??')
But we think that the opportunity to build a strong brand off the back of these values is genuinely valuable and worthwhile, and leads to far more delightful moments for us and our customers than scrabbling around for magic one-click solutions that invariably don't work.
What do we actually do then?
The Marketing team's main focus is acquisition. Our specific objective is to get as many relevant developers and technical product managers as possible to visit posthog.com.
We have identified the following acquisition channels as most important to our strategy. You can find out more details on their relevant pages:
- SEO content. We write high value and genuinely useful content that targets the types of keywords we think are most relevant to our customers. We do 'clean' SEO, ie. no buying backlinks or writing clickbait. 'No clickbait' doesn't mean content has to be boring though! Our aim is to increase our organic reach on Google, basically.
- Brand-building content. We also write content that we think our customers will just find interesting. These may be technical deep dives or articles that give an insight into how PostHog works. We don't expect these to turn into signups, but they help us to build our unique and distinctive brand in the open source community. And frankly, it's just nice to share knowledge with our community about the cool stuff our team is doing. We share this content on 'super node' sites like Hacker News, Product Hunt and Reddit.
- Paid ads. We advertise on Google Search, Twitter, LinkedIn, DuckDuckGo (via Bing) and Reddit. We use paid ads as a cheat code to accelerate learning, e.g. which SEO keywords work, testing out product positioning, as well as to ensure we are easily discoverable when people search for PostHog specifically. However, paids ads are expensive so our focus is always on organic growth first unless we find a paid channel that's wildly profitable.
- Open-source sponsorship. PostHog is an open-source product analytics platform built on top of many other amazing open-source projects. We believe in open-source and the open-core model. However, many open-source projects go underfunded. Sponsoring them is in our self-interest, but we also fundamentally believe that supporting them is the right thing to do.
Developer relations and community is also super important to us, but covered elsewhere as we don't strictly define it as part of marketing at PostHog.
We track marketing activity on this (internally public only) marketing calendar.
Who is our target customer and what do we want to say to them?
We have articulated a series of value propositions ('value props'). These communicate PostHog's benefits in a clear and specific way to our target user, and help us ensure that we are communicating consistently across all of our different channels.
See our customer personas page for more information about what is important to our target users and how we ensuring they have the best possible experience with PostHog across all product and marketing touchpoints.
Depending on the significance of the change to our product, may do an announcement.
Who are our competitors and where can I find out about them?
We closely follow other companies which are active in the product analytics space. Sometimes we summarise our findings into internal reports to help us stay informed and understand how other products are developing. Our collection of summaries isn't exhaustive and cannot be shared publicly as it often includes details of the experiences of individual user experiences whose privacy we don't want to sacrifice. However, PostHog team members can find our competitor summaries in the relevant folder of the Marketing shared drive.
Who are the marketing team?
The Marketing Small Team page is maintained here.