We treat Marketing as the newsroom of PostHog. What this means in practice:
A small, talented team of in-house content creators with strong editorial capability - our default is to keep writing in-house, not farm it out to a network of freelancers.
Building a reputation for high quality, trustworthy content that is a go-to resource for our users and wider reading audience.
Extreme responsiveness to opportunities, both internal and external (e.g. cool Hackathon projects, GDPR rulings).
Proactively reporting and amplifying company and product news, rather than artificially creating news or buzz by telling people what to build.
PostHog's vision is to IPO in 2026 with $100m ARR. This is what we think marketing at PostHog will look like at that point.
Things we want to be brilliant at
Acting as the newsroom of PostHog: We actively engage with engineering teams (like a journalist would engage with subjects), find out what they’re working on and partner with them to amplify what they are doing.
Word of mouth mindset: By IPO, we want to have built a hugely successful company driven primarily by word of mouth, rather than paid ads or PR.
Speed: We want to be highly reactive, low process, and reliant on other teams as little as possible to ship things. We want to get stuff wrong quickly, then iterate.
Content for our ideal customer: We deliver genuinely useful insights about things those customers care about (can be purely product-related, but also general advice). We're pitching our content at ‘self-servers’. Ahrefs and HubSpot are examples of companies who do this brilliantly for their audience.
Things we want to be good at
Paid ads: An agency should keep handling this for us, but we shouldn’t get better at it internally. This includes out of home, should we ever decide to do this. We see paid ads as a hygiene factor.
Incentivised campaigns - e.g. GitHub stars campaign. It's not clear how these can be repeatable sources of successful word of mouth growth for us, but they will occasionally be useful.
- Social media: This is different from 'being cool and interesting people in online communities'. We don't get high quality traction (yet) on places like LinkedIn/Twitter, and we're not spending any time at all on Facebook/Instagram/TikTok. We are currently trying out Twitter.
Things we might want to be good at but haven't tested yet
- Highly visible at industry events: We could become known for giving good talks at events, because this enhances word of mouth and is a natural extension of being good at creating good content.
- Being really cool and interesting people in online communities: We could do a lot more of this in relevant communities in Slack/Discord/StackOverflow etc, and it's more engaging than one-way social media. We also increase awareness in relevant communities by sponsoring them. Overall we want to be a net contributor to those communities.
Things we don't want to spend time on
Big, highly coordinated marketing campaigns: We can do them, but our reactive, short turnaround campaigns have been far more successful.
PR: If we do word of mouth well, our community will be far more valuable/credible than an appearance in TechCrunch.
Developer influencers: A small but growing trend in the industry, most of these are very expensive and overwhelmingly focused on teaching people how to code (ie. not our target audience).
How marketing works
These are our main values:
- 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 focus on word of mouth by default. 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.
Tackling 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 users can see them
- Spending enough time and/or money in those places so that our messages get through
No sneaky shit
Our target users 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 them and the marketing people creating the content.
For these reasons, we:
Don't use any analytics except PostHog. 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 beyond what's already in GitHub.
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 unfairly criticize or make false claims about our competitors. We will however compare ourselves to them to help customers make a decision, and occasionally they will be a better solution for what a customer needs. And it's ok to have a sense of humor about this.
Don't bombard customers with 'deals', pop-ups, and other dark patterns. These devalue our product in the long term.
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. If you wouldn't like it, assume our customers wouldn't either.
Marketing channels and tactics today
The Marketing team's main focus is acquisition of high quality signups. We have established that word of mouth is the most effective way to do this - virtually all of our high quality signups have come organically. Here are the channels we use, in rough order of priority:
- SEO content is high value and genuinely useful content that targets the 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! Our aim is to increase our organic reach on Google, basically. We put a small percentage of our monthly paid ads budget behind this type of content on LinkedIn and Twitter to increase awareness.
- Shareable content is stuff we think users and audiences outside PostHog 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 directly into signups, but they help us to build our unique and distinctive brand in the open source community. We may post this content on sites like Hacker News and Reddit, but only when we think it will be of genuine interest to those communities (and sometimes people outside PostHog beat us to it, which is great).
- Email content: We send out Product for Engineers every 2-3 weeks. We run this on Substack.
We advertise on Google Search for conversion, and Twitter, LinkedIn, Reddit, and Quora for awareness. 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 ('branded keywords'). However, paids ads are expensive so our focus is always on organic growth first unless we find a paid channel that's wildly profitable. Generally, we split our spend 2/3 awareness vs. 1/3 conversion.
We run two startup plans:
We create the ad copy and run the office hours, while the CS team handle billing and onboarding.
We periodically run sponsorship campaigns:
- Commercial sponsorship: Sponsoring newsletters, podcasts, and events that are likely to reach our target audience. We try to keep a relatively narrow focus here. Newsletters have worked best for us so far.
- Open source sponsorship: Sponsoring open source projects and developers that have helped us build PostHog. Sometimes we do cross-promotion with them, but it's not necessary – this is more about giving back to the community.
We're investing more effort in Twitter in Q1 2023 to figure out if this is a channel we want to consistently invest a lot of time in. If the answer is yes, we'll add more to the Handbook about how we use Twitter effectively. Our hypothesis is that it is the best social media platform for us to reach our target user with frequently shared pieces of engaging, transparent content about PostHog.
While we don't actively do PR, we occasionally put out press releases ourselves for funding announcements.
Marketing quarterly goals
The latest goals for marketing can be found on the Marketing Small Team page.
Target customer and messaging
We have written up 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.
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 we are
The Marketing Small Team page is maintained here. By 2026, we still want to be a very small but highly effective and responsive team (15-20 people), rather than a very large marketing team with all the traditional functions and hierarchy. In addition to people who share PostHog's culture, we also value:
- Strong opinions
- People who like to choose their own objectives
- T-shaped people (wide breadth with a spike), rather than specialists
- Hands-on people not motivated by managing a team
- We're agnostic as to experience