How to guide

Take the guesswork out of shipping product.

Send contextual user metadata into your Slack to guide your product development process.

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Start with your users.

Every project starts with the same fear of whether anyone will like and use what you’re about to build. You’re not alone! Even at Segment, we went through much of the same thought process.


Overcoming this fear and ultimately building a great app requires deeply understanding your users. In this guide, we’ll show you how to learn about your users and iterate quickly on their feedback by employing tools like Slack and Clearbit.

The Rad Helmets, Inc. Slack channel blowing up.


Track key behaviors.

If an app launches without analytics or tracking, will it even have launched at all?


Tracking your users is critical to understanding how they interact with your product. Shipping a product without proper tracking is like driving a car at night without headlights — you might get somewhere, but it won’t be the right place.

But it’s not as simple as tracking every single behavior on your site or app. Collecting wrong or partial data can easily complicate both downstream analysis and how you make strategic decisions. Being intentional about what to track and building a thoughtful tracking plan will help you make decisions confidently later.

A lucky customer purchasing a Rad helmet.

We recommend starting with three key events in your app. These key events should represent moments where value is transferred between the user and your product (like creating a new account, subscribing to a newsletter, or making a rad purchase). Doing so forces you to be intentional about each event and understand the business reason for its inclusion. Additionally, fewer events will limit the noise in your Slack channels.

Learn about complex tracking plans.

Learn more about more complex tracking plans and their function in product development.

Read now

Create a feedback loop.

Implementing tracking is the first step, but that data is worthless if you don’t use it correctly.


It’s the decisions you make with data that make it valuable and worth collecting. Routing that data stream to the right places or surfacing it to your team conveniently will help you make those decisions.

We like to send key events like
Product Viewed
and
Order Completed
into our team Slack, but it depends on what you’re most interested in for your business. For example, you may want to be alerted when someone signs up for your service, or if they upgrade to a paid subscription.
Here is sample code for a
Product Viewed
event:

To enable these notifications in your Slack, go to your Segment source project, click on Integrations, then the Slack integration. Here, all you need is to paste in your Slack webhook URL:

Adding an incoming Slack webhook to Segment.

Then, sit back and watch the notifications roll in!

A typical day’s activity in our Slack channel.

It’s best to limit notifications for only the highest-value actions to minimize noise in your Slack channel. Actions such as signing up or completing an order are good places to start, or even errors, like seeing a 404 page or when payment is declined. That way, your team can react to an issue in real time and make sure to help your user out.


Learn about your users.

There’s more to users than just their email addresses.


Getting a notification in your Slack when someone signs up is cool, but how do we make it more impactful than just another email address? Easy. There are tools out there that can take that email address, enrich it with relevant company and firmographic data, and return a data object filled with important details that paints a full profile of the user.

Clearbit offers exactly such an enrichment API (among other awesome services for understanding your leads). With it enabled, you’ll know immediately whether the new signup is from a large company or a small startup, what kind of vertical the company is in, what the signup individual’s role is, and more. All this information provides the necessary context for figuring out how to approach, engage, and retain her.

The enriched user data from Clearbit sent into Slack.

You can enable enriched user data easily by first going to your Segment source project, selecting Integrations, then selecting the Clearbit integration sheet.

Activating the Clearbit integration in Segment.

Next, in your Slack settings, add email as a whitelisted trait, so that identify calls – like the ones returned by Clearbit – get sent to your Slack. Learn more about the Slack integration.

Whitelisting the
email
trait in Segment’s Slack integration settings.
The next time an
identify
call is sent with a
userId
and an
email
trait, you’ll see this in Slack:

Boom! Contextual information to help us understand your customers.

Clearbit provides you flexibility in including or excluding certain
traits
in the enrichment.
To get a better idea of how you can use this enriched Clearbit data, let’s review all the possible
traits
that are sent:

Individual traits

  • twitter
  • github
  • github_followers
  • gender
  • googleplus
  • twitter_followers
  • linkedin
  • role
  • seniority
  • title

This is useful to understand the user on a personal level, as well as the user’s social media presence and influence. Additionally, we can understand the user’s professional profile, including whether this role is one that fits well with your product.

Company traits

  • alexa
  • city
  • country
  • company_name
  • company_phone
  • company_size
  • description
  • facebook_company
  • github_company
  • has_android
  • has_ios
  • has_mobileapp
  • linkedin_company
  • twitter_company
  • website
  • industry
  • industry_detail
  • industry_subdetail
  • sector
Company traits are useful in understanding your user’s employer. Information like 
alexa
 and 
company_size
can inform the company’s influence, while 
raised
can give you an idea of the company’s purchasing power. Another useful tidbit: Depending on your product, whether the company has a mobile app can be valuable information.

Here is an example of what that data might look like:

Now that you have this enriched data piping into your Slack, you’ve further tightened the customer feedback loop and ingrained into your team a culture of understanding your users. This means that when a new user is identified, you’ll already be equipped with the necessary intel to engage them with helpful and meaningful interactions that provide true value.


Build your marketing stack.

The tools implemented at an early stage have huge impact on understanding users, which can then kickstart product adoption and growth.


But which ones? There are thousands of different tools, each potentially more valuable as your product and user base grow. It can be overwhelming to even start evaluating which tools might fit best.

Here are our top recs of tools for early-stage products, with some introductory information on what they do:

Google Analytics is the most popular analytics tool for the web. It’s free and provides a wide range of features. It’s especially good at measuring traffic sources and ad campaigns.
LiveChat is a live chat tool that lets you have direct conversations with the visitors browsing around your site right when they need you.
Drift is a customer communication and growth platform.
FullStory lets product and support teams easily understand everything about the customer experience.
Intercom is one place for every team in an internet business to communicate with customers, personally, at scale—on your website, inside web and mobile apps, and by email.
Inspectlet is a user testing tool that lets you record a few of your visitor's browsing sessions so you can understand how they move around your app and fix the confusing parts!
Customer.io is an automated email tool. It lets you set up rules to automatically send emails to your users after they perform actions, making drip email campaigns really easy.
Autopilot is easy-to-use software for multi-channel marketing automation.
Appboy lets you understand, engage, monetize and maximize the lifetime value of your app users.
Outbound makes it easy to send email, iOS/Android push, web notifications and SMS based on user actions in your website and mobile apps.
Kahuna is a mobile marketing automation tool that drives engagement through push notifications, in-app messages, email, and social ads.

The most important takeaway is to be strategic about tools – don’t rush. Being thoughtful and intentional about when to integrate a tool can be just as important as integrating the tool itself. Oftentimes, early product teams adopt tools too early and end up wasting a ton of resources. We recommend adding tools by prioritizing what you want to accomplish:

Bridge gaps in your product.

Live chat tools are great for bridging gaps in the product, onboarding, and sales processes. For example, if your gut tells you there’s a leak in the funnel, a live chat widget on that page might help you uncover the deeper reason by engaging people who come across it. For early products, this high bandwidth communication mechanism will help you identify and solve issues more quickly.

Learn exactly what your users are doing.

Next, consider using session recording tools, since they’re valuable for understanding what’s happening at the individual user level. You can watch how users interact directly with your product to guide the design of onboarding and activation flows, or even just improve the general user experience. Our favorites are FullStory and Inspectlet.

Add your users to a mailing list.

Lastly, introduce drip emails when your analytics and diagnosis tools are revealing where users are dropping off to keep them engaged even if you’re still working product fixes. Email is also an important channel to broadcast product updates and other important notifications.


Learn and iterate.

Well-loved products all have one thing in common: a passionate team dedicated to understanding their users at every stage.


Leaving customer development as an afterthought to developing your product introduces the ultimate risk of building something that nobody needs.

As you scale, different customer development needs will inevitably arise, like figuring out which marketing campaigns generates the best leads or determining which users are most valuable. However, one thing should never change: your focus on knowing your users. This is what will continue to shape your product and ultimately drive growth.

So learn and iterate – but don’t lose focus. Here are some additional resources on using customer data for growth. Good luck!

Intro to growth analytics

Analytics is about learning. Here are a collection of introductory guides on the best way to choose metrics, different ways to use your data, and how to set yourself up for future growth.

Read now

Tracking users across channels and devices

When you begin directing traffic to your site, it’s important to know which sources bring in the highest quality customers.

Read now

When to track on client vs. server?

The browser or mobile device offers many conveniences in collecting metadata, yet prone to the user’s settings. Learn the differences in tracking and which situations work best for both these environments.

Read now
Tweet us @segment with your ideas or feedback.
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