Speaker 1 00:00:08 Welcome to the breakout growth podcast, where Sean Ellis and Ethan Gar interview leaders from the world's fastest growing companies to get to the heart of what's really driving their growth. And now here are your hosts, Sean Ellis and Ethan Gar.
Speaker 2 00:00:26 And this week's episode of the breakout growth podcast, Ethan Gar and I chat with Lynn Gerado heaps, chief marketing officer. So he provides an analytics platform designed with product managers in mind and their unique approach to collecting data and automatically uncovering friction points really sets them apart from other players in the space. So Ethan, what stood out for you from this conversation?
Speaker 3 00:00:48 For me, it was that really specific focus on impact. Lynn use that word many times and in a lot of different contexts, and it was really clear that she and heap as a company are really intentional in how they approach driving very specific outcomes for her team. That that was all about driving curiosity and inspiration, but for the company it's really about helping customers use data to drive their own successes, that focus on creating impact seemed to me to be one of the secrets of heaps, breakout growth success.
Speaker 2 00:01:16 Absolutely. It's, it's hard to narrow it down, but, um, the, the, the conversation on impact probably led us to a longer debrief after this interview than, than any of the other ones that we've had. We both got really excited about it. Um, we, we definitely see data as such an important component and finding that big opportunity for growth. And so that's why I think it really resonated with us, um, when, when teams can leverage tools like heat to get that visibility and access democratize data, it inspires the type of curiosity that makes it possible to drive the impact that Lynn described.
Speaker 3 00:01:51 Yeah, for sure. It feels like when you can use data to visualize really the entire growth engine and understand behaviors, that's when it becomes a bit of a superpower for growth, you know, and I think for both of us in our careers, we've had those moments when a trend line or a graph triggers an idea that you just instinctively know has that potential to really move the needle for a business. Those are the moments where you and I just really feel like we can make an impact.
Speaker 2 00:02:14 Yeah, for sure. I mean, those, those are my favorite moments by far. Uh, you know, sometimes it's, it's exciting to get the results back, but when you really start to understand what's happening and then that triggers the ideas. I don't think there's anything that matches that. And so, um, speaking of which you and I are working with a team right now that uses heap. And so it's the first time that, uh, I think either of us have worked with heap. So it's been interesting to see how he compares to other analytics solutions in, in helping to capture that magic moment.
Speaker 3 00:02:45 Yeah. It's, it's really been super interesting, you know, there's so much here in the chat with Lynn that I'm excited for our audience to hear about.
Speaker 2 00:02:53 Yeah, it definitely. And so, um, lots of good stuff for anyone with a product led approach, um, heaps free product is, is probably a huge part of their growth. Um, so we talked about that and a ton of other interesting topics. So should we get to it?
Speaker 3 00:03:07 We should, but before we do, we should also just mention to our listeners that Lynn and the heat team are hiring their jobs page looks awesome. They've got a lot of interesting roles. So if you're in growth and you're looking for a new role with a fast growing company, check it out.
Speaker 2 00:03:20 Yeah. And in fact, that's a good point in general, all of the companies we bring onto the breakout growth podcasts are fast-growing companies. We've got external data to really verify that. And any fast-growing company has to be hiring, has to be looking for really talented people to join the team. So when you're listening to any of these conversations, if the company sounds interesting, we really encourage you to reach out to them and it could be that next great opportunity that, uh, makes your career go to the next level. So, um, let's, let's go ahead and jump into this
Speaker 3 00:03:51 The way I was really excited. One of our, our audience members reached out to me, he, uh, just got a job with a company that we interviewed and he heard about it through us, uh, and this ends podcast. So pretty cool stuff. Let's get to it. Absolutely.
Speaker 2 00:04:12 Hey Lynn, welcome to the breakout growth podcast.
Speaker 4 00:04:14 Thank you. Thanks for having me. I'm excited to be here.
Speaker 2 00:04:17 Yeah. We're really excited to have you on and I'm joined by my cohost. You think our welcome
Speaker 3 00:04:22 Ethan. Thanks, John. And welcome Lynne.
Speaker 4 00:04:24 Thank you.
Speaker 2 00:04:25 Um, cool. So before we kind of jump into how you're growing, maybe you can give us a little bit of background on, on heap, um, for people who might not be familiar with it. Um, how do you generally describe it? And then it looks like you just joined about a year ago. So what attracted you to join the team as CML?
Speaker 4 00:04:44 Yeah, I joined, uh, in the middle of the pandemic have not met anyone at the company in person. Um, I will be shortly, so it's a, it's a crazy onboarding experience for me. Um, when I died, I, I always look for companies solving kind of a key problem or a pain point and using new technology or capabilities to leverage that. So now I was, I came out of the BI and analytics industry that I spent several years on and, and there's great tools out there for analysts. The problem is always getting the right data, trusting the data. Is it accurate? Is it complete? How quickly can you get it? How much do you have to rely on experts to get it? And so, um, you know, at Heath, we think that the, the speed that the digital acceleration is happening in the marketplace, things are changing too quickly to predict what you need to track and what you need to capture in data to respond to all the unexpected signals in the market.
Speaker 4 00:05:47 If you think about just like this last year, what happened? Like things changed overnight and there was no way, like no one has a crystal ball. You need tools that will give you the capabilities to manage through that. So he was a digital insights platform that provides digital product owners. The complete data set did that automatically surfaces insights in your customer experience and evaluates every path that every user is taking in your digital journey and identifies the most important friction points to focus on. So if you're thinking about like, how do I find it basically tells product managers where to look, no experts needed faster, more confident decisions.
Speaker 3 00:06:33 Yeah. And I know you have that auto capture feature, which has built in, I think that's so, so interesting because all of the data's always captured. So you have the ability to kind of go back and look at things it's really neat. Um, I'm just curious, you know, I was looking at your LinkedIn profile. You've had, as you mentioned, it pretty, really interesting background you have been at, I think Pepsi, Starbucks, Microsoft, and then more recently Tableau and, and parody, I think is how it's outset. What's how different have those marketing leadership positions been and what have you learned across, across those opportunities?
Speaker 4 00:07:05 Yeah, very, very different. Um, so I, I do not have a typical path as a, as a marketing leader. I started out in, you know, as a consumer brand manager at PepsiCo. And what I like to say there is that that's where I learned about marketing's the, the science behind sales. It's really understanding what the levers are, that influence purchase behavior. And so if you, if you look at like, I've been in a couple of iconic consumer brands, PepsiCo and Starbucks, and the thing that, and I, and I had those opportunities at different points in my career. And so the thing that I always, that always reminds me of there's the importance of brand and connection to customers, um, people don't make, I always say to them, there are no rational decisions. There's no such thing as we are humans, we're emotional, we're driven by our emotional, as we F intuitively make irrational decisions.
Speaker 4 00:08:02 And so I think having lived in consumer businesses, they, and really focusing on that brand aspect is very important. And then I think that I've had the opportunity to work at like very scale enterprise. So it's really about like, how do you impact business? How do you impact and change how people interact with technology, how they, how they communicate, how they function in their day-to-day lives, which is the fun part of that. And then startups is really about working on innovation and building. So the skill set to build something from scratch that doesn't exist. And like working in ambiguity is very different than like scaling something globally to, you know, millions and millions and billions, a billion dollar businesses. So that's kind of a, a lens of how I brought a bring all those together. Yeah. It's
Speaker 2 00:08:55 Interesting. I had a conversation with, uh, a guy who's a marketing consultant, uh, for, for a lot of tech companies is actually like in his late seventies. So he's been doing it for a long time, but just just a week ago we were talking. And, um, one of the things that he said that has really been an advantage as he's worked with companies like Microsoft and other tech companies, is that, um, because he's not such a techie, it actually, he's not enamored by the technology. He's, he's able to kind of hone in on what are the real benefits and how do I make it relevant and accessible to people. How, how much do you think about that as, as you got to evaluate different types of opportunities?
Speaker 4 00:09:37 I think it's huge. I think at the end of the day, it's, it's, it's the age old grandma test is your grandma understand while you do. I mean, at the end of the day, and that I think is the biggest challenge is with the B2B industry and with SAS in general, we love to talk about new features. We love to talk about technology and innovation. The only thing customers really care about is, is it making my life better? Is it making my job easier? Am I making better decisions? And so I, I come from a, uh, you know, as I said, I get attracted to organizations that really, really can, can operate that way. And then the job as a marketer is like really figuring out how to communicate that better. Um, it just making sure that that comes across, like, let's start with like what your problem is and can I help you?
Speaker 2 00:10:25 Yeah. So when I look at the analytics space in particular, I, I was an advisor pretty early on to, uh, Kissmetrics who was, I think, one of the kind of pioneers in, in funnel analytics. And unfortunately they, they didn't really get as far as I hope they would get. And, you know, and then you saw like Mixpanel come in and do, I think really kind of take a lot of same thing you say we're doing, but somehow have a lot more success with it. And over time others have, have come into that space. And, and heap is one that, um, has, has really emerged in recent years as, as, as a standout in that space that, that I come across more and more. I'm curious, like how, when, when you look at it, you're still relatively new there as we talked about, maybe about a year. Um, were there some things that you saw that, that were really driving that success and helping us stand out among, uh, a lot of different competitors in the analytics space and what were those things?
Speaker 4 00:11:25 Yeah, the thing that attracted me or that I saw was very unique and different was a couple of, well, first of all, you mentioned auto capture, but like he just approached the problem from a different way. It sort of turn the problem upside down. So if you, if you look at some of the traditional approaches in analytics, it's, um, you know, build a tracking plan, go to engineering, track, all these things, get all the data. I recently did an interview with the product manager. They were like, yes, I got my tracking plan. And then like, you know, two months later I got the data back and I missed something. Like I just crawled under my desk and like curled up in the corner. So, but like, just like understanding that that process doesn't work. So if you think about, if you go back to like software, like you used to, it's like the waterfall approach to building software, like you have to have a more agile approach.
Speaker 4 00:12:19 And so the, the, what, what he was doing differently, and what I think is stood out to customers was great. I don't, I don't have to like, know everything upfront and because I'm capturing anything, everything, I don't have any blind spots in what I can look at because we're we're, now I can go back and just go, oh, I forgot to track that thing. Now I can go back historically and look at everything that happened. Um, we recently did some analysis with our data science team across our customer base, 38% of funnels that, um, companies track are missing a critical step in the funnel of understanding what's happening in your customer experience. So like you're missing a big purse, think of like that's material. And so, and like, that's part of what he's doing. This is a great, like now as a product manager, I'm like, let's just use a simple one.
Speaker 4 00:13:15 Like I want to know who got from a homepage to a checkout page or a, you know, download a trial page. Now, all I have to do is say, I want to understand those two end points and heaps, basically looking at all the data, using the power of data science and, and, um, AI and surfacing, like here's the critical step. Oh. And let's group it by these different segments. So let's group it by new users or, you know, heavy repeat users and look at their behavior differently and understand the relevance of it. Um, so like great now as a product manager, not waiting weeks or months to get my data, I'm in front of a tool, that's telling me real time where the problems are in my customer experience. And I can proactively deploy the right recommendations. If you think about pro like SAS companies in particular engineer, well, it's not even just SAS companies.
Speaker 4 00:14:16 Everybody's a digital company right now. Everyone has a digital experience, engineering resources, or like a little droplets of goals. If you think about changing a digital product, you're basically you're deploying engineering. Reese's, you're, you're deploying some of the most precious scarce resources in your organization on a decision you're making, you want to have confidence that like you're, you're putting it on the most important problems and that, um, that, you know, you know, you have a better perspective of, of how you're gonna impact. So I think that that to me is the, the reason products like keep, are making progress because it's, it's like you wouldn't, you wouldn't make a phone call with a rotary phone tethered to a wall in 2020, you know, it would work. I can still call you, but it's not, it's, you know, you need a more modern tool and a better way to approach and move faster and sort of keep up with the pace of, of how you need to manage your resources and your digital experience.
Speaker 2 00:15:20 Yeah. So it's more, if I'm hearing you right, then it's more about a product differentiation and maybe product market fit, uh, than it is necessarily about just a product that's pretty similar to the other ones, but you're just out executing people in, in how you explain it and get into people's hands.
Speaker 4 00:15:39 Yeah. I would say definitely more product market fit. The other piece that he did really well out of the gates was we always, we've always had a free product. We've always had a free offering. So we've had the flywheel effect of sort of the, the growth engine. Um, some of our largest enterprise accounts started as free users, just someone in the product team playing around with it, getting a sense and now, and then growing into a large manage, um, opportunity. So, uh, you know, I came from Tableau, we had a free product experience, um, as well. And so I think it's really about how do you create an easy way for people to use your experience. If you think about irrational decisions that customers make, they want to try, they want to kick the tires. They want to play around with what you're doing. And so I think that was, you know, because we don't have the traditional approach of having to set up a lot for the product. We make it really easy for anyone just to come and integrate, and you can just drop some code on your site and you're good to go. And so that really changes the game in terms of adoption.
Speaker 2 00:16:51 Yeah. It's an interesting cause I have found that, yeah, even some of the other products when I've gone in and worked in a company, sort of have the off the shelf implementation and I've, I've often found that there, it's not very useful when it's the off the shelf implementation because that's, it's sort of a bunch of generic events that, um, maybe, maybe don't tell me very much. And that's, that's kind of the default of how, of how they get implemented until someone goes through what you talked about, the kind of tracking document of these are the things I really want to know. And yeah, of course, there's going to be some holes in that you need to fill it in. So it's interesting to me that you guys have been able to been able to build the product in a way that, um, that sort of doesn't take either approach.
Speaker 2 00:17:39 It's not the overly generic and not the, not the overly customized, but it's, it's something that captures, captures everything out of the gate. And then, and then it's, I'd like to dig maybe more as we, as we get along. So I like how it doesn't become how it doesn't become sort of, um, noise creep of just checking so much stuff that how do you, and it sounds like there's some, some, uh, insights where, where, where you're able to with the product surface, some, some, some insights beyond just, uh, just, just the, you know, the, every piece of data you could possibly want to track. And you've got to sort through that, but maybe, maybe fill that in a little bit and then I'll let Ethan in with some questions.
Speaker 4 00:18:22 That's a great question. It is, it is the slippery slope. It's the, we basically give product managers a visualization layer to define what events they want to track and like, yeah, you can go to town because all the data's there it's all accessible to, to track. Um, I think what's important is when you're would we, would we structure in it? First of all, we, we do do a lot of work to guide people on best practices and tracking. And then we give them really good governance tools to manage and look at events and history and what actually has relevant data and recommendation. So we actually create good recommendations on how to, how to, how to focus on the right events in our governance layer. And then the second part of that is then yeah, basically automating some of the analysis for you so that you can see these are the events you should actually care about.
Speaker 4 00:19:17 So then it allows you, like, I've personally done this. Like my team uses it all the time. We look at, um, uh, trial, um, usage and, um, customer adoption are sort of the two key pieces of the, of the customer experience that we're always looking at. And yeah, and we, we just dropped a bunch of events out of one of our analysis cause they weren't useful. And so it also it's so it's as easy to clean up as it is to add. And so I think at that, it's just the power of having that governance layer on there to get rid of, get rid of the noise.
Speaker 2 00:19:52 Yeah. And I, I think a little bit, sorry, one more. It was just a little bit of, it's kind of the difference between dashboards, which are, which are where you don't want so much noise that you, that you kind of get a good understanding of the health of the business and then kind of question driven exploration of data, where you're asking the right questions to make the right decisions. And there's almost not, it's not possible to be too noisy as you go through the question driven if you're, if the data's there and you have a good way of getting to the answers that you're seeking, then more is better. But I think at where, where it particularly gets messy is on the dashboarding side of things. Yeah.
Speaker 4 00:20:34 Yeah. I could see that. And I think w so our tool is definitely, I would say really designed with the product manager in mind of, of to your point. Like, I you're constantly iterating on your, your customer experience and your journey and making that a really easy way to interrogate and kind of look at what are the, what are the right decisions I need to change. Um, and as a product manager, and like, like as a, as an end user of our own product, we use that data to build the right dashboards because we know because we're in the data all the time. So I do think that is the payoff of the power of understanding what experiences matter and putting those into the right dashboards. And I don't know, I always joke that like, you know, we call them dead-end dashboards because a dashboard is tells you what's wrong. It doesn't actually help you interrogate and answer any questions of what to do about it.
Speaker 3 00:21:36 So just to follow up on that, I'm curious with a product that you have a free product, and obviously that's going to be more on the self-service side. And then as customers, uh, grow up with the product, uh, where is the balance in terms of how hands-on you want to be as a, as a team in terms of helping customers along versus giving customers tools so that their self service experiences is valuable and effective?
Speaker 4 00:22:00 I it's, it's like the million dollar question. Really good question. I think it's, it's always the balance of at the end of the day, making people successful in using the product is the critical thing, whether they're free. And I think the thing that we're doing constantly looking at is like, there is value in our free customer base. So how do we like, and that's different for every type of organization, but what's the value of a free customer. And so making them successful creates value. It creates halo effect in our community. There's growth in those customers that eventually moved to paid. Um, so then understanding that. So, so, so just because they're free now, doesn't mean they don't have value. So I think that's the important part is just understanding. And then that allows you to be, to, to be smart about how you're applying resources and support of getting them through.
Speaker 4 00:22:55 And then there are, you know, the other thing which is, is on the other end of the extreme, which is large complex enterprises are large complex enterprises, just need more hands on support and like planning in terms of, of scaling their, their implementation and frankly, educating their customer, their, their, their users. And so I think we're, we, we work across the entire spectrum. The other end, the other thing I think about is I think it's an overly simplistic view to think pure self-service versus pure. I think people, people think in terms of two paths, it's either sales or self-service. And I actually believe that they, they, um, intertwined back and forth often. So we see it in our own customer journey where people come in, they want to self-serve, they want to kick the tires and then they get stuck or they, oh, now I have a curiosity question and like that sort of just contact sales buttons on the site, it's really easy to find.
Speaker 4 00:23:56 So like, it's like phone a friend. And so then when you get up and then, then you engage them deeper and take them on their journey. And then sometimes you push them back to a self-service, whether it's a payment option or, you know, just continuing on a free path. So just knowing when to pull someone out of that journey and once I got them back, um, the other, uh, so anyway, I think, I think just being fluid and understanding how to use, how to think through what's the right experience for your customer, um, because, and this is true of any growth company that's growing through kind of expansion. You, you always start with your, your sweet spot of your core audience. And as you grow, you reach new use cases, you reach different types of customers. Um, you know, you may have been a more technical user now there's more business users using. And so you have to address different needs. And so as you grow, you're constantly has to tune how that experience changes.
Speaker 3 00:24:59 So that probably dovetail dovetails well into my next question, as CMO, what are some of the key challenges that you and your team had to overcome
Speaker 4 00:25:08 As a CMO there? I think there's a macro view that I always think of is, are you creating impact? And I think as you look about growing a zero is trying to grow your business and drive revenue growth, if you will, and build long-term customer relationships and drive retention and engagement. And so marketing plays across all of those pieces, especially in a, in a role like ours, where we have, um, sort of a freemium product growth model and a sales model. So we're always looking at like, what is the product experience? What is our sales engagement path and our customer, um, success path. And so looking holistically at the business and understanding that customer journey is, is always the challenge and the it's the sort of AGL challenge that probably every function has is it's the, where do I, where's the most important place to put the resources and particularly in a, in a, you know, a growth growth company that that's always the, the, the piece that is the hardest thing to, to balance out.
Speaker 4 00:26:21 Um, and I think marketing functions are, I think the thing that I love about marketing is it's always changing. I always say what I, what I used, what I knew yesterday is probably not relevant today. So it's part of, what's fun about the job, but it's also the challenge, which is it's constantly moving. If you think about the makeup of a marketing team, these days, you have operations roles, you have analytics roles. I have, you know, web developers. I have creatives, I have designers, I have product marketing and sort of more strategic thinkers, like the mix of, of capabilities that you have to bring together, um, from the gamut of technical to create a skills is, is pretty massive. So it's really balancing that skillset with what are the most problems, important problems to solve on the customer journey.
Speaker 2 00:27:07 And so one of the things that I want to latch on to that you talked about is that the, the COO is really, it's really about driving impact. And, um, obviously impact's a fairly like big word and, and considering you're in the measurement business to some degree, how do you actually measure impact? How do you, how do you, how do you kind of day to day, week to week, month to month know you're making progress in your ability to drive impact?
Speaker 4 00:27:36 Yeah. I look at impact on sort of three customer key areas. So one is I look at brand impact and a lot of people think about brand as a marketing thing, or almost a, an ad thing. I think about brands the same way designers think about design, where it's, it's, it reflects every perception and touch point people have of your organization. And so I think I'm always looking at that from a do people understand what we do and why they care about it. And, um, is that, is that, you know, is that positive? And so it's just measuring sort of share of voice, um, and brand brand sentiment. So that, uh, that's, that's my sort of tactical KPI, as I think about like that part of the problem, the go to market engine is I think very straightforward. Are you, are you driving pipeline on?
Speaker 4 00:28:36 And then just tactically, it's the, it's the top of the goals of like, what are the, what are the KPIs that influence revenue? So for us it's pipeline, and then it's the day-to-day pieces of that, which are growth on leads, um, you know, funnel performance, um, conversion performance, and, and targeting and, and those pieces. And then on the customer side that I think is, you know, we do traditional measures like NPS and things like that, but because we are lovers of our own product, we, we actually spend a lot more time looking at usage data of customers. So, um, you know, what our monthly active users, um, how do we identify through usage patterns and behavior who's who the champions should be based on, who's doing the most interesting, um, uh, use cases with our product as an example. So we look at, you know, that as a sort of metric of customer health, and then as a marketing organization, we're constantly using that to think about, do we build, um, a healthy community, that's amplifying our whole story. So I think about those things in a flywheel effect. So does
Speaker 2 00:29:49 Heap have a north star metric?
Speaker 4 00:29:52 Our north star metric is his net renewal and retention. And then, you know, at a, at a company level, and then in the growth team, we're looking at monthly active users.
Speaker 2 00:30:01 Um, and so when you, when you talk about monthly active user, is it, um, is it kind of on a, on an account level or on a, on an actual people within that account level?
Speaker 4 00:30:13 It's um, both. Yeah, so certainly active accounts, but we're looking at like people in accounts and how has that, how has that growing and how is that? How, how active are they?
Speaker 2 00:30:25 Cool. So kind of changing, changing directions a little bit, um, when, when you think about, yeah, obviously in the, in the year that you've been there, you've probably thought a lot about kind of like built building the organization and the team and not just the team directly that you're, uh, leading, but probably just what you've been broadly, company culture in any C-level position. You're, you're, you're interacting on, on that level as well. Um, how do you think about creating an environment where, where people can thrive particularly? Yeah, I think a lot of times, as, as marketing becomes more technical and, and growth becomes more technical on the data side, creativity is still really important and, you know, creative problem solving and identifying opportunities and capitalizing on those opportunities. Uh, it seems to me that the best organizations are able to create an environment that fosters that creativity and supports it, encourages it and drives more and more of it. Do you agree that that's important and, and if so, what are you doing to, to make it so that there's more of an environment that supports that?
Speaker 4 00:31:33 Yeah, I think it's becoming more and more important, especially as we're all living in a very virtual world. As I, I said at the beginning, I haven't like physically met anyone on my team. And so, um, you know, if I, if I would look, you know, in my past life, creative is, you know, brainstorming, it's creating, engaging experiences with a team and bringing that out. It's much harder in my humble opinion in a, in a virtual world. And so, um, so the things that I think about and the key key areas that I've been focusing on is one, I think there's just constant inspiration, sharing ideas, articles, um, interesting experiences. Um, so just kind of generating that almost organic, um, drum beat of just interesting stuff to spur, spur engagement across the team. Um, the other thing that we do in our team is we have, uh, what we call Friday working sessions.
Speaker 4 00:32:31 So just it's time blocked off for the team. Anyone can basically bring a topic or a and idea to, to the, to the team. They can invite anyone else in the company that they want to get input on. And it's really just to have a brainstorm session and get feedback and share ideas about the problem, like really just open forum. So it, it kind of, so I just actively encourage that it's scheduled and like, so we just make space for it. Um, I think the other thing is just like encouraging new ideas and letting teams take risk and sometimes doing quirky and fun ideas. Like we had, uh, like, uh, we always share like really funny customer email responses in our slack challenges since there. And we got one, a few weeks back where a customer was asking for a shower head. We were pretty sure that he'd sent it to us in air, but we thought it was really funny.
Speaker 4 00:33:28 So we sent the customer a shower head, and so someone was joking about it and slack and my team. And I said, just do it. And so just kind of creating that like odd the box thinking and the customer thought it was hysterical. So we had a great engagement in social, but I think there's little things like that, that you have to sort of dispar the, uh, permission to take risks and to do sort of the, the unconventional things, um, and really just trying to make it fun. So I think that's the other part about like, creative comes from like a fun place and it does for me anyway, and I think it does for most people.
Speaker 2 00:34:06 I agree. I think, I think just that, that loose environment when people take themselves too seriously, it, it, it creates almost kind of a lockdown lockdown, like, oh, I can't can't admit weakness. I don't wanna bring up an idea. Cause if it doesn't work, I'll have egg on my face. And it just, it's kind of a negative spiral as opposed to the flywheel of like people have that permission to know, are you familiar with the concept of psychological safety or the phrase of psychological safety?
Speaker 4 00:34:36 We actually measure it in our, in our, um, company culture, whatever health index, um, employee it's an, our employee engagement, I guess, is the right words. But, um, yeah, so where I look at it all the time and, um, it's, it's important just to make sure people feel like they can do their best work and be their authentic selves. And I think a big part of that is, is, um, yeah, being able to show up how you want to show up and, and having the team embrace that. And that's fun. And, and it, it just kind of creates that a more fun work environment.
Speaker 3 00:35:12 Are there any mistakes that you've seen leaders make that you think are kind of like typical errors that stunt, that creative growth and hurt hurt teams?
Speaker 4 00:35:21 I think it is exactly what you were saying, which is you, uh, like a common, a common problem, and I'm sure I've done this myself as marketing leaders start with solving a specific outcome. We need to do a campaign for this audience to drive, you know, pipeline, or we need to, you know, like just my perspective, is it just when you start out with a very specific outcome, which sounds like you're being strategic, but it actually boxes your thinking in. And so it stifles creativity because it, what happens is teams go to very, I'm going to call it tried and true path of like, well, I know if I have to drive, drive leads or pipeline, like this is the best way to do it. And so they, they get into very traditional ways where if you just start out with more expansive thinking, um, just brainstorm like what our ideas are, everybody has, what are cool things.
Speaker 4 00:36:19 And just like, I start out my quarterly planning just by kind of taking a step back and like, just hearing, like what, where's the team at? What are interesting ideas? Just no, no goals set to them. No outcomes. The other thing we do is we as tapping, um, other other teams. So we get input from sales. People like engineers are very creative thinkers because they're problem solvers. So they always have crazy ideas. And so it's great to talk to engineers, customer facing teams are always in front of like, what are the problems that they're hearing? And so it's just good to solicit that feedback. So just sort of like, I always think about like, how do you do the expansive thinking? And then it's, then you refine and connect to specific goals. But if you don't do, if you don't take that step of being expansive, you lose the creative creative opportunities.
Speaker 3 00:37:10 Yeah. I really agree, actually, uh, Sean and I had the unique opportunity in the last, uh, two weeks to actually be together in the same state. Uh, I was out visiting California and, uh, it was, it was, We actually had planned to meet, I think, uh, probably sometime like last March or April and, uh, just never happened. So, uh, it was kind of Excel why,
Speaker 3 00:37:34 But, um, it was, it was fun as we kind of sat down and we started thinking like, you know, let's strategize about the podcast and think about, I think one of, just to your point, we really focused on not starting with sort of that, that outcome, but really stepping back and really looking through this lens of concentric circles. And I think good leaders really focus on that. They try to start by asking the right questions and understanding not the specific, you know, solving for the specific X, but thinking about where does that X come from? Why are we, why, why are we thinking about that? So, uh, yeah, it's a, it's a, it's a great point.
Speaker 2 00:38:10 Are there just real quick before we move on? I think there's one thing I want to latch onto it. What Lynn talked about is I do think that there's a healthy balance to that. Like zoom out, zoom in, zoom out, zoom in because sometimes if you're, if you're not too specific, it's hard to kind of put that creative problem solving. So if you can, if you can figure out we're losing a lot of people here, anyone have ideas, why let's dig in, let's understand the problem more, let's come up with solutions. And then, but at the same time, by more broadly being able to do idea generation you, I think you start to spot the opportunities that maybe you wouldn't spot if it was just a top-down, you know, let's, I need your ideas against this opportunity, but if you suddenly start to have ideas that are in an area where you think you don't need help, maybe that signaling that, that there's actually some problems in that area that you need to dig more into. And so I think you can find the problems via the ideas, and you can find the ideas via the problems, but it's, it's again about identifying, identifying ultimately where, where you should be focusing that creative energy and then having an environment where you can generate lots of creative solutions, have a good way of prioritizing which ones you're gonna test and, and, and aim them against things. But, but yeah, so I, I really liked that, like zoom out, zoom in that, that you were talking about Lynn.
Speaker 4 00:39:35 Yeah, no, I love that. I think you're, you're, you're dead on, which is, is, um, yeah, you, you have to create space for it to like, that's the only thing I would add to it is like, I think we get, it's so easy to get caught up in working fast and getting stuff done that, um, doesn't give, um, doesn't allow enough space for, for creativity. So that's the, that's the other thing
Speaker 3 00:40:04 I, I, my, my, my next question was, is there anything else that you can share about creating an effective marketing organization, but I'm thinking that's probably, that's probably really good advice. I, I would add, you know, it helps if you do it, if you have these conversations on a sailboat, but that's a,
Speaker 2 00:40:21 That was, that was part of what we were doing.
Speaker 4 00:40:25 That is, it is true breaking out. Uh, it's funny. Cause we were, uh, it's interesting that you say that the, the, the most engaging connections that I've had with teams in the past have been in non traditional environments. So it is kind of this getting in a conference room with whiteboards is a good brainstorm activity, but then is it really, it's an interesting sort of question, which is like, do we actually now needed to step away from screens and computers and yeah,
Speaker 2 00:40:55 That could be almost like too forced. It's like, give me an idea That, that kind of relaxed mind. And I think it is kind of weird that, that like with, with data becoming so important in everything that we do. And so everything's so much more trackable. It really is easy to get away from the importance of creativity and the importance of seeing the big picture and, and, and, and ultimately ultimately creative problem solving as a, is a huge part of, of what drives success and, uh, and fostering that environment stuff.
Speaker 4 00:41:29 Yeah. It's very true. It's very true. Well, the other thing that I was going to is kind of, you made me think about something else when you ask that question is, Hey, I think about marketing and kind of a flywheel effect as we talked before. And, and I, I, we managed my team in a very integrated fashion because I think about like, it's creating the expansive thinking, but it's also connecting everything together. So, you know, if you have random acts of content that aren't connected to your demand strategy, then you really kind of have like two, one legged stool versus like, so it's really kind of bringing the team together in a way where they're all working in cohesion and having not only the leadership team, but individuals in the organization understand how they fit in the I'll call it the marketing, you know, effectiveness for the company. And I think that's where you get real impact is when, when one piece of content or one idea can, can go across everything. Like how does that help customers? How does that engage prospects? How does that, you know, in support our thought leadership storytelling and, and really kind of sit across all pieces of it?
Speaker 2 00:42:45 Yeah. I think, I think that's part of the, the big picture thinking. So we were talking about in terms of ideation, but I also think just in terms of zooming out to bring context to everything that you're doing and, and understanding the interconnectedness of it, and then back to what you guys actually do as a business, the, yeah, having that data feedback loop, because you're, you're going to miss the mark sometimes and being able to use the data and the things you try to get smarter. So that, that, that, that picture gains clarity over time. And, and, and, and hopefully it is some kind of a cohesive, a cohesive machine that, that is really effective at driving impact
Speaker 4 00:43:26 Life. You know, it's interesting, um, talking about data, creating clarity, but like how does data drive creativity? Because data allows you to, if you're, if you're using data to help eliminate where your, where your blind spots are, where your problems are, then it actually kind of, to the point you were making earlier helps solve for where's the surface area of, of creates creative problem solving that we need to, to apply. So I do, I do think thinking, trying to get the teams to think about the why under the data, not just, it's like everybody can see what's happening. Like this is growing from X to Y that's that's, that's not the thing to talking about. Why is it doing that as a thing to talk about and sort of really encouraging that type of discussion. Um, when you're looking at data, I think then gives the team, it just kind of engages people in a different way when they're looking at whether it's dashboards or any type of analytics.
Speaker 2 00:44:31 So, so one of the things that you, you talked about earlier, um, when, when we talked about kind of, how did, how do you measure impact, um, you, you talked about brand and brand being not just the awareness for heap, but also an understanding of what he does and what makes it unique and different. Um, so maybe it kind of like digging back in and bring, bring in our conversation more focused back, back to heap a bit. Um, what's how, how do you drive that awareness specifically with heap and, and ultimately, what is it that leads most people to, to discover heap and, and, and give it a try?
Speaker 4 00:45:11 I, I think I just, this is probably a very obvious answer, but like the most important thing is, is just being, uh, you know, digital channels. So just understanding how to engage with customers and digital channels. So being, uh, discoverable, um, out there, sharing stories, things like that. So that's, that's one, the other, the other way is obviously having a free product helps because then it allows people to try and use it and it kind of, we have a large community of, for users. So that builds connection of, Hey, when I, when I go to other organizations I'm sharing, I'm recommending. So I think it's the combination of, I'm gonna call it traditional digital marketing tactics with, with, um, you know, free users and community engagement and kind of building that storytelling. And then I think the other thing is, you know, we have a really strong sales organization that is constantly telling that story to customers as well. So like, I, that is an important part of connecting. So when I think about a brand experience, it is like, great. How is that engagement with, with the person who called me? What did I see in Google? What is the, the perspective of someone who's used the product, or how do they think about it? So it's really kind of putting all of those pieces together is what creates
Speaker 2 00:46:39 Yeah. When you, when you talked about, um, product led growth as part of the mix as well, and, and the role that free plays, I, I, I just, I never really intended to focus on freemium businesses, but from pretty early on in my career, I logged me in, I think it was one of the first free SAS businesses. And, um, it doesn't happen to be that like 20 companies I worked on were all freemium and pretty like early days of freemium. And that was one of the biggest things that I, I learned about free is that it's, it's really for it to work. It needs to be feeding that customer advocacy machine. And, and so when you talked about success as being like driving customer success as being important, whether you're talking about the free user base or paying users, I think that's, that's, what's so critical. You create those advocates when they, when they love a free product. And it's just easier to recommend a free product than it is a paid product, a lot of times for people. And so if you can get that machine working as it is really powerful in building awareness for ultimately what becomes like I'm free by itself, doesn't create a very viable long-term business model, but as a component of, of a clear upgrade path and clear reasons to upgrade, it's super powerful.
Speaker 4 00:48:00 I agree. And it's, I've been attracted to businesses that have that as part of their go to market engine one, because as a marketer, you're basically driving that connection with a product. And so, yeah, it becomes interesting where as you think about how that blends into, is it marketing? Is it the product, or is it sales? That's actually building that. And the truth is it's all of those, right. And so understanding how to connect to those is what's really driving that engagement with customers.
Speaker 3 00:48:34 So how do you take a perspective customer from consideration of heat to really experiencing its unique benefits and becoming like a white hot fan?
Speaker 4 00:48:44 Um, I think, well, a couple things. One is, yeah, like I, like we've been talking about, I'm a big believer, just getting people into the product. And so trying to, um, enable that experience and making sure they come into it, the challenge, and this is really common. We talked about earlier in growth organizations is that journey is different for different profiles of customers. So I may be a less technical user. I may not be, feel comfortable with analytics. And so it's really about knowing what experience to take them down. And so obviously we use a lot of data. So we, we capture as much data as we can through that journey to try to understand, is this, uh, someone who is successful at likely to be successful at self-serving or showing propensity to want to go down that journey. And then the reality is you want to get out of their way, get them into the product to give them the resources they want and let them let them go.
Speaker 4 00:49:49 And so, like, I think about it in a really simple perspective of like, what does a customer need to, to go through that experience? And then knowing what is the right experience they need to have to be sticky with, with your product. So like we have, like, there's like three clear steps that once a customer has done that, like they've got it. They've, they've really like gotten the value. They start to see it and they engage and we see the engagement going up. So that's really what we focus on when we're taking them through the consideration path and bringing them through the experience. Now, if it's someone who isn't as savvy, uh, maybe less technical, maybe as intimidated just by like, you know, or maybe it doesn't have access to, to drop a piece of code in the product, then it really is trying to take them on the same journey, but in a guided way. So great. Let's, let's have a seller work with you or partner with you, um, take you through that experience and then, um, go on that. So it's really just blending the, the journey based on, you know, getting all the data you can about what profile of, of buyer you are, if you will, and then allowing them to go down the path that's, that's best fit for them.
Speaker 2 00:51:07 We have one of the, one of the things that you mentioned, I, I like to just ask about, particularly with a product like this, but you've really given the answer, but just to kind of remind it in context of this journey, is, is it, uh, w where I had asked you if it's, if it's really like the analyst profile that you're, that you're keeping in there, or you're trying to push for more broad usage within, within a customer? Um, if I recall, right. I think you said that you're, that you want more people in the company actually kind of being able to, to pull their own data using heap. Is that right?
Speaker 4 00:51:40 Absolutely. I mean, if we look at the champions in our, in our sort of customer base, um, most of them are product managers. So a lot of even like non-technical is kind of our primary. The second, most is marketers and then analysts and engineers, um, frankly are a distant third and fourth. And so if you think about that profile, it's really serving a combination of very tech savvy, technical consumers with frankly, the other extreme of, of less so. And so we, we, and internally it heap, you know, so you think, if you think about heap is the brain of your customer journey. And so even if you just take a step back and say, like, who in a company would needs to understand what, what that experience is throughout every aspect of a journey with a product, whether they're, you know, being acquired or they're using it.
Speaker 4 00:52:42 Yes. It's product it's customer success, it's marketers, it's growth teams it's, um, support. And so the, the more accessible that data is, the better you can serve a customer because, and so what, you know, the, the way we think about it is we have all the data. We know what the most important touch points are, and, you know, the, we, we are aggressively like just making sure that customer, that companies can integrate it and use it in the tools that they're in. So as a, as a, um, you know, as a sales person, I might be in like me, I live in Salesforce or my CRM tool. Um, so making sure that data is available as I'm trying, as I'm selling a customer, what features have they tried during their trial phase and having a much more thoughtful conversation about where do they need help? How do I, you know, kind of to your earlier question, how do I take them to the next step in consideration? Because I know more about what they're trying to do, and I can bring them more relevant, relevant content or support for their experience.
Speaker 2 00:53:51 So when you mentioned that it's mostly product managers and then marketing is second and analyst and kind of engineers are further down in terms of, of kind of the people that are most engaged with heap. Uh, is it that, I mean, I got to seem like analysts, for example, um, they need data somewhere or, or they kind of don't have a job anymore. So is it that they're, are they using like a different system and then like marketers obviously use data a lot, or are they, are they using a disparate different system? And then how, how do you ultimately help create, uh, an integrated view of the full company, if, if people are sort of in different data systems?
Speaker 4 00:54:34 Yeah, no, that's a great question. Um, so I think one is we, um, we integrate with pretty much any system that you're using. And so, um, and we all allow you to pull in data into the system. So like, if I'm an analyst and I have a data science model and snowflake or whatever platform I'm working in, um, we, one, we allow you to pull in the heap data to inform that, but we also allow you to pull any customer data into heaps, so that data is available. So basically it's thinking about how do we, how do we make it really easy for data in and data out so that it becomes part of feeding all those pieces. Um, and so some of it is just like, there's, there's tools that I'll call it, uh, there's preferences for tools where, where you're living, because there's different workflows in there.
Speaker 4 00:55:30 And some of the thing that we think about is like, going back to my brain is really just, we want, we want to make sure that the right information's in the tool that you, that you're using for your day to day workflow. So we're not trying to solve for every workflow across the organization. We're just trying to make sure that the important data for the customers in there, the reason that we have product, you know, growth marketers is because they're actually usually managing that digital experience. So they're making the decisions around that. Um, yeah. What new features am I creating? Where are you dropping off in the journey? So they're looking primarily at that, and then we're making it really easy for anyone who's, that's not their primary role to access it where wherever they're at or, or add that data into that experience.
Speaker 2 00:56:20 Yeah. I mean, interestingly, as someone who started in a more of a marketing path has got, I was, I was a VP marketing for a lot of years with companies. Um, I think probably one of my biggest realization over the years is that so much of the growth success in a business is really more in the product metrics. And, you know, in the, earlier in my career, almost all of the kind of tracking was, was around the edges with, with kind of more marketing systems. And so I think the, that the products that, you know, when you have a conversion rate that 10 Xs, which is what I saw at one of the companies I was, I was working in, you know, by getting that onboarding, right. Suddenly the scalability of my profitable ROI marketing campaign shot through the roof. If I can retain people at a much higher rate, I can monetize them in a higher rate. My allowable acquisition cost shoots way up. So there's this interdependency that goes through. But I think a lot of the just really critical levers. And then on the last one, really being referral, if I get, if I can in the product drive referral, um, that, that makes a huge area. You've talked about NPS, but, uh, Ethan, did you want to kind of dig into that a little bit more with her?
Speaker 3 00:57:30 Yeah. I mean, you had mentioned that earlier on you, you talked about how free is actually a really good driver. I think of riff of referrals because people are excited to talk about good products that are free. Um, I'm curious, is that something you and your team actively work on in terms of trying to drive X drive and accelerate referrals? Or is it, so is that more passive for a company like heap?
Speaker 4 00:57:51 No, it's actually very, it was a, it was one of the first things I tackled when I joined is, um, yeah, like, great. How are people talking about us? So how are we building that engagement with customers? How are we enabling them to share and communicate? So I would say that we're not all the way there, but you know, there's sort of forums like, uh, product review sites and things like that. So we're actively, you know, sort of connecting with customers and, and, and sort of making sure that they're sharing and posting their experiences and that type of thing. And then we have a community that we're, we're curating and building around one understanding, but also connecting the more connected customers that use a product are the more, it also amplifies how they're using it. So not only gives word of mouth to only call it prospects, but it also just grows the connection to the brand.
Speaker 4 00:58:50 So they're sharing ideas around their use cases. So there's a, there's a halo effect to doing that both from a, from a retention and usage, but also just overall growth perspective. So, yeah, that was sort of one of the first things we did was get someone on to start building that community customer connection. And, um, I just, I think it's, it's, uh, it's probably one of the hardest things to measure in terms of the, it's really hard to measure word of mouth, cause you don't really know where it's coming from sometimes, but, um, but I think, I think it's critical. Um, and I came from, you know, Tableau had a fantastic, um, community, um, that drove a ton of growth and word of mouth for the business. I think we basically built the brand on the back of the community and I, I'm a big believer. I've seen it work. It's a really powerful, powerful engine and there's nothing. I mean, I mean, even to like every marketer probably intuitively knows this, but getting a recommendation from someone that you respect or that has, uh, a shared, shared point of view, or you, you have some sort of shared experience of like a shared role means so much more than any, any ad that I could write.
Speaker 4 01:00:12 I think it's just, you know, being, being really honest about like the power of that in the marketplace and just, um, not manipulating it, but just enabling it and making it easy for, um, easy for it to grow organically.
Speaker 2 01:00:27 Yeah. Knowing, knowing what drives it in terms of getting people to that white, hot love of the product that Ethan was talking about. But then, but then some of the things you can do to accelerate it are just making it easier for them to spread the word. But if you, if you don't get the first part, right. Too many people jump straight to the second part and get tactical about it. And, um, ultimately they've got to be a fan before they're going to advocate for you.
Speaker 4 01:00:52 Yeah. You have to connect on comment like people join communities or participate in communities because they have, they have some kind of shared, shared connection or shared passion. And so you have to be, you have to, you have to enable that as a foundation.
Speaker 2 01:01:08 Right? Well, Lynn, this has been such a good conversation. I feel like I could, uh, I could keep talking with you about this for a long time, but, uh, we, we gotta probably put an end to it pretty quick here, but, um, one question that we really liked to, to end with and, um, and it even builds earlier, you were talking about that you're, you're constantly on this learning journey yourself. Um, given that you've really just been there for about a year now. Um, is there anything that stands out particularly maybe, maybe during your time there, or maybe within the last couple of years, if you want to go before that, but just that, um, a critical piece of just growth learning that you've, you've gotten in the last year or two.
Speaker 4 01:01:47 Yeah. I think that the things that stick out for me in terms of growth learning this last year is, is the, the word that's coming to my mind is, is convergence. And I think everything is coming together. We've been talking about this indirectly, but if you think about, um, what is the role of a marketer? What is the role of a product manager? What is the role like? It, it's all like your product experience touches all those pieces. And so they have to come together. So I think you think about growth organizations and teams. It's, it's not a person, it's not a team. It's, it's every part of your company that really is going to matter over time. I mean, if you think about your website used to be brochure ware for marketing now, and it used to be the front end for acquisition. Now it's your product experience.
Speaker 4 01:02:39 And so where does that start and stop? And so it's all, I feel like growth is only accelerating how that's coming together and how digital has changed and accelerated in the market this past year is also true. Like if you think about industry, like SAS is talking about growth and product led growth, but if you think about like I was, I was thinking about this the other day, like really the problem, the converge, the problem is converging in the same way. Like e-com, or like e-commerce digitize the retail experience a long time ago. Um, you know, financial services have digitized your banking or your lending experiences. And so now we're just thinking about like digitizing your sales experience, um, from a product perspective. So if you, if you break it down to like its core, there's very common convergence, both across roles and industries. So I feel like it's it, things are coming together and in more of the same than sort of splintering.
Speaker 2 01:03:41 Oh, that's really cool. So, um,
Speaker 4 01:03:45 I think about this way too much data, you get hard.
Speaker 2 01:03:50 I mean, there's so many like layers to the onion that just kind of keep trying to dig down and understand it. Um, that's, that's how you keep getting better is that you, uh, you realize that there's like another, another layer to everything. Um, but when I, when I look at, from the full conversation, some of the key takeaways for me, um, are that it really starts with product and some of where your product differentiation is that you, you are taking a really different approach where, um, it's, it's not about a big delay in having to define all of the events and properties. And there's, there's a big project around there, but it's about making it that, um, people can, can get to that information relatively quickly and making that information accessible and usable. And then, and then just everything that you've, you've talked about from, uh, how you, how you create an environment where people can, can thrive creatively and, and spot opportunities and capitalize on the opportunities to, to accelerate growth.
Speaker 2 01:04:52 And, um, but, but ultimately that it's, it's about driving impact, which is the purpose for that. And, and knowing that success customer success is what drives a lot of that impact and that customer success feeds that flywheel of referrals and everything else. And so, um, it's, uh, I may not have been able to sort of capture everything that you said and bring it together on the fly, but I'm sure I'm going to go back and listen to this a few times because there so many great nuggets in this. So thank you so much for, for sharing with us and taking us through your journey there so far. It will be really interesting to see where you go from here. Thanks
Speaker 4 01:05:27 For having me. This has been a really fun conversation. I've learned a lot just by hearing from you. And I will just say I've, I've, uh, your, your podcasts, a lot of fun. You have a lot of great stories and people on the podcast and definitely appear up here in Seattle. Uh, give me a shout.
Speaker 2 01:05:45 As I mentioned, my daughter goes to college up there, so I'm sure I'll get up there and I'm looking forward to grabbing a coffee when I do.
Speaker 4 01:05:51 And you can do lots of sailing up here too.
Speaker 2 01:05:58 It gets cold a little faster.
Speaker 4 01:06:00 This is what summer is the time of year to sail up here for sure.
Speaker 2 01:06:03 Awesome. Well, thanks again, Lynn, and to everyone tuning in. Thanks. Thanks for tuning in. Thanks so much.
Speaker 1 01:06:16 Thanks for listening to the breakout growth podcast. Please take a moment to leave us a review on your favorite podcast platform and while you're at it subscribe. So you never miss a show until next week.