Keep an eye 👀 on Heap
Heap's rise to a $960M valuation, 8k customers, and becoming the James Webb Space Telescope of digital insights.
In 1608, the States General (the Dutch national government) in The Hague received a patent application from a spectacle maker from Middelburg named Hans Lipperhey for a device that can help "see faraway things as though nearby."
The patent was rejected on the grounds of the device being “too easy to copy.”
In 1609, a polymath from Italy named Galileo improved the patent's concept and popularized it across Europe.
In the next four centuries, Kepler would add two convex lenses to the thing; Newton strapped on mirrors and Bell Labs, a radio receiver until the space shuttle Discovery took the Hubble Telescope into outer space. In December 2021, NASA put the James Webb Space Telescope in orbit, and at this point, it’s safe to say that the telescope is no longer “too easy to copy.”
But somewhere along the way, the search for the unknown became no longer about just the physical universe.
Edward Hubble posited that the physical world is ever-expanding. Gordon Moore posited that soon our digital might be too.
In 1995, Lou Montulli patented the cookie (approved this time); Google acquired Urchin Software Corp in 2005 and redesigned it into Google Analytics.
And in 2012, two friends from Stanford put the most powerful telescope built for digital experiences into orbit.
This is the story of the James Webb Space Telescope of digital insights: Heap.
🚗 Taking the wheel in a Heap of chaos
Matin goes down a different route – as a Product Manager at Facebook.
Imagine having access to the best analytics infrastructure in the world… and it all being useless to you. All because the process of capturing and organizing the correct data takes forever.
Matin struggled with this firsthand. Any time he needed to leverage a different data point for an analytics question, he had to:
Get an engineer to write tracking code
Wait for the code to go live – which could sometimes take up to a month
Wait for the data to accumulate gradually
Get a data scientist to make sense of the data with a report
And this was a real bottleneck – how do you use data to manage your product's performance if you jump through hurdles to capture the data in the first place?
"I started wondering: if Facebook couldn't even get this right at their level of sophistication, what hope did any other online business have? We knew this wasn't the future of analytics." – Matin Movassate, Co-Founder of Heap.
Matin left Facebook in a year - with a purpose.
He wanted to create an analytics infrastructure to help the world to use data meaningfully.
And so he got together with his friend Ravi to hack on stuff together – starting with fun things like making meme generators (we dig), they finally landed on the idea for Heap: a 'Capture Everything' analytics tool.
The year is 2013 – and the efforts to build Heap are in full swing! 🏃🏽♂️
Matin and Ravi were part of Y Combinator's Winter 2013 cohort – and secured their first $120K seed funding in March.
They launched the product in April of that year, and by August, they had raised $2M more in seed funding.
Since effective tracking is difficult for companies to do in-house, Heap became a 'capture everything' insights software that companies could outsource.
The first version of Heap looked something like this:
Now, nearly a decade later, Heap has:
Raised $205M in funding, the most recent being a $110M Series D in Dec 2021 led by Sixth Street Partners
Reached a valuation of $960M
Grown from 3 employees to a team of 400+
Helped 8000+ companies deliver 'unparalleled digital experiences' – including big brands like HelloSign, DISH, Crunchbase, Amway, and The Atlantic
Appointed Ken Fine as the new CEO, with co-founder Matin Movassate moving into the Chairman role
The path 🛣️ to better, faster, and more accessible insights were paved by Heap.
So what did they do to make digital insights accessible to everyone?
Let's walk through Heap's data analytics revolution.
PMF + PLG: The need of the hour ⏳
The original idea at Heap was to accelerate developers with data. The market, however, demanded something else: Low-code analytics for product managers, marketers, and those who didn't necessarily have the CSS/DOM knowledge to use an analytics tool seamlessly.
In line with this high demand for low-code analytics, Heap built and launched the Event Visualizer in 2014: a what-you-see-is-what-you-get point-and-click way to find events.
And boom! They had found their sweet spot.
Armed with a clear sense of PMF, Heap experienced rapid growth – they saw more conversions and less churn post their free trial, and their support ticket volume grew from 3-5 interactions a day to over 50 a day – all within a few months.
And the rest, as they say, is history.
🔓 Unlock Heaps of data with a single snippet of code
Whether you're in product management, marketing, sales, customer success, or pretty much anything else, Heap believes that digital insights are a superpower – whose benefits should be accessible to everyone.
Heap removes the tedium of manual coding and tracking and lets you focus on what really matters: your product's performance.
Taking a different turn from other analytics tools in the market, Heap offers an efficient, low-code way to get the complete picture of your users' digital journeys and accelerate your product insights.
All you have to do is install Heap's code snippet on any framework or device. Whatever you want to track – web, iOS, Android, third-party applications – Heap automatically captures it all for you and lets you organize the data the way you need.
Here's how they do it:
📷 Capture: Capture all your customer data automatically without needing manual coding and engineers.
💡 Heap Illuminate: A powerful suite of tools, including customer journey maps, effort analysis, path comparison, group suggestions, and more for the best user-behavior insights.
🔁 Session Replay: Watch endless replays cued to precisely the customer's moments of interest - for faster, better insights to diagnose critical problems quickly and fix them.
🖥️ Dashboards: Providing instant insights on critical metrics, Heap's dashboards help teams align on metrics and coordinate data-driven action across the organization.
📊 Charts: Tailor-made for every customer, Heap's charts let you graph conversion events, build funnels, track retention, and more.
👮🏻 Data Governance: Built-in governance tools that help keep your data organized and accurate, let you assign naming conventions across your data set, and protect your raw data by separating it from their virtual layer where you can manage your data as you like.
Heap's slick interface isn't all bells and whistles – Heap's auto-capture, session replay, and customer journey map tools help customers understand bottlenecks in their optimization efforts, product rollouts, marketing strategy, and more.
Their customer success across SaaS, eCommerce, and Financial Services is proof:
Freshworks uses Heap to increase adoption by 20%
eCommerce sleep products company Casper uses Heap to increase conversions by 20%
Finserv giant Northwestern Mutual increases adoption from 3% to 99% using Heap
🏁 First Stop: Free Trial
Heap gives you two weeks to fall in love – and they wine and dine you through it too.
Their 14-day full-feature trial requires no credit card and has a super-fast installation process: all you need to do is enter your work email id and add a single snippet of code to your website. That's it! 😌
Within these two weeks, Heap helps you turn your obstacles into opportunities.
Are you buying horrible traffic? Are you having trouble tracking users across channels? Not sure why there's a sudden drop-off in your funnel?
With data auto-capture, session replay, effort analysis, and more, Heap lets you learn about these friction points and growth opportunities within your brand - so that you can fix them.
A pure self-serve acquisition and expansion model worked perfectly in Heap's early days. Heap had nailed their product-market fit and pricing so well that activation and upgrade involved nearly zero touches from sales.
That's when Ravi and his team realized they had a lot of revenue potential in their user base – a potential they had yet to make full use of.
And they made one change.
📞 Next Stop: Call me maybe (definitely)
Heap does the opposite of transparent pricing, which works wonders for them. Its hybrid model of product-led self-serve and sales assistance helped ensure they're able to capture value with every sale.
"If we keep changing the prices, and nothing changes, we're definitely leaving a lot of money on the table. And so we shifted more towards a model where we removed some of the prices from the page and made it more random, and that's how we closed our first couple of six-figure contracts." – Ravi Parikh, Co-founder of Heap.
Ex-CMO Lynn Girotto has described it as a 'phone-a-friend' situation – where you can self-serve to some extent but need to reach out to sales after you've reached a certain level of scale. The CTAs on Heap's pricing page reflect this:
For Heap, adding sales assistance to their pricing strategy has helped the company tailor each pricing tier based on the customer's requirements and willingness to pay.
Without these sales consultation calls, $10,000 deals would have remained $500!
And without Heap's pricing experiments and user data, they wouldn't have enacted this change at all…
🧘🏽♀️ All the answers are within
The team at Heap has been using its own data capture software since 2014 – to get insights into Heap's performance and optimize it for users.
Over the years, they've used Heap to close more sales, remove redundant features, plan their annual roadmap, and improve self-serve conversions.
After running behavior-based onboarding experiments and leveraging Heap’s integration with Marketo, they launched a new process that helped increase conversions via email by around 10%!
Hear it from the horse’s mouth: Here’s the process they developed, outlined in their blog post:
In 2021 and 2022, Heap has hosted company-wide activities like an Extreme Makeover Sprint and Ship Weeks – all efforts to use Heap to fast-track the process of fixing bugs, improving design and product experience, and brainstorming new features that users may love!
🚂 Customers, you're in for a smooth ride
🎢 Intelligent and seamless onboarding
Heap's sign-up process follows an underrated rule of creating SaaS sign-ups: make the sign up process engaging!
A 'How Heap works' live demo is next to the sign-up page with a Free Trial CTA at the bottom. See for yourself:
👨👩👧👦 Heaps of support for users
Heap has always prioritized their self-serve PLG strategy, and it's worked well for customer success so far! Just because a lot of it is self-serve doesn't mean that it's leaving customers to their own devices. The Customer Education team has put much effort into creating engaging, interactive, and informative onboarding processes for new and old users alike:
🕹️ Heap Help Center: Over 300 FAQs about every aspect of using the app, Developer Guides, API References, Product Updates, and more.
⏯️ Heap Plays: Tactical 'how-to' guides tailored to every user's role or industry
🍽️ Professional Services: For larger companies who need more custom services and personalized support from Heap, Professional Services allow for Onboarding, Managed, and Project Based Services. Each of these also has pricing tiers based on differences in time commitment and value offerings.
🎓 Heap University Heap University was born around 2020 – when the world switched to everything virtual-first – for customer onboarding and education with use-case-based courses designed to get users up and running with Heap.
Christy Hollingshead (VP of Customer Education and Engagement) says that just two years in, HeapU has about 4-5K students going through HeapU each year.
🏢 A Brand New Customer Community
March 15th, 2022: Heap launched its in-site Customer Community.
It's your quintessential online community – there are a few Q&A forums, News & Announcements, Events, and even a Leaderboard!
But that's not all! Heap's online community also has:
Job Board: Where community members can share job postings - including for Heap itself, driving acquisition for the company as Heap champions move across orgs.
User Groups – a specialized structure within the Heap Community to drive engagement, loyalty, and retention to help users connect with other experts at monthly meetings. There are user groups for financial services, product management, new users, and more!
Heap Champions: An 'elite group of Heap users who have demonstrated outstanding leadership’. The 21 Champions chosen for 2022 will connect with fellow Heap users to share best practices and partner with Heap to drive product adoption and customer expansion.
🌐 PLC: Product-Led Content
Heap's content engine was set into motion by Heap's first Chief Marketing Officer, Lynn Girotto. She parted ways with Heap in July 2022, after which Heap's digital marketing efforts have been led by Scott Grove (VP of Marketing Operations).
Today, Heap is beloved on and off-line: From July 2022 to September 2022, they've seen over 500K website visits – with 40.15% of the traffic being direct and another 41.42% coming from organic search.
How do they do it?
Lots of enriching, no-nonsense content in many different forms – blogs, e-books, whitepapers, a podcast, webinars – you name it.
Let's dive deeper:
🔎 As you SEO, SEO shall you reap
Heap's articles are well-researched, comprehensive, and highly educational. They've got over 1500 website pages and see about 64K visitors monthly in organic search traffic.
Heap's excellent content strategy has them ranking for over 12K top organic keywords and in the 1st position for over 300 branded and non-branded keywords.
With real estate that spans across:
📚 Heap's Blog
🧑💻 Virtual Events
In line with the company's priorities, Heap's content is about offering value. Some of their best content is on topics like PLG strategy, conversion rates, product analytics, a/b testing, and product management.
💆🏽♀️ Use Cases: I'll be there for you… ALL of you!
Heap's goal has been simple from day one: Make product analytics accessible to all.
And they've been doing exactly that to this day.
Heap advocates for simplicity, and that reflects in their use cases too. To keep its customer journey simple and tailor the product to be precisely what the customer is looking for, Heap has divided their product benefits into a list of easy-to-find use cases.
These use cases are solutions-based (like Product Adoption or PLG), industry-based (like SaaS, eCommerce, or Financial Services), and team-based (like Product or Marketing teams).
A tailor-made product also involves considering how your product fits into the dynamics of a larger organization. Heap focuses more on the 'organization' they're working with: they think about how teams are using their product, too, not just individuals.
This idea of Product-Organization Fit also played a crucial part in how they shifted their product thinking to optimize it for use cases at every size, stage, and scale.
👭 Partnerships FTW!
The team at Heap knew they needed to partner with other organizations to create seamless and end-to-end solutions to provide the best product experience to customers.
Enter Heap's Partner Network (HPN).
Introduced in October 2018 by then-VP of Partnerships David Saxon, the HPN is a community of some of the best solutions providers working with Heap to drive value for clients through advanced product insights.
I'm proud that the Heap Partner Network embodies a connected mentality — we are more than the sum of our parts. – David Saxon, Ex-VP of Partnerships
Today, Heap has around 54 Technology Partners and 6 Solutions Partners.
Heap's extensive partner network 🌐 ensures that its customers receive exceptional product analytics and end-to-end solutions for their product development, management, sales, and marketing efforts.
🤝🏿 PLG, meet Customer Success-Led Sales
Though Heap started as almost entirely self-serve PLG, they eventually adopted a sales-assist motion with 'Contact Sales' options for all their pricing tiers. Heap's co-founder Matin believes that the best sales process is a customer success process.
The idea was that Heap's sales conversations should resemble consultative conversations 💬 that ensure Heap solves a business problem for the customer on the first sales call.
The team usually has these sales calls with prospects after they've already installed and used Heap. Sales reps can then share insights they've uncovered and suggest changes that will be important for the customer's business - like taking a different marketing approach, segmenting a group of users, investing in developing a new feature, and more.
Adding this kind of value in the first few calls and showing customers the full potential of Heap has been the team's most effective way to close deals. And so, embracing a bottom-to-top-of-the-funnel approach, Heap focused first on hiring for customer success and only later on sales.
Heap's exceptional Sales Directors, AEs, and Customer Success Managers qualify prospects, nurture and close customers, and add value to ensure they continue to love and use Heap.
Including major clients like Dish, The Atlantic, Northwestern Mutual, and Freshworks, Heap now has 8000 customers and counting – they've clearly found success through this hybrid and novel approach! 💰
⏩ What's next?
Though many product analytics tools exist in the market (Google Analytics, Mixpanel, Amplitude), none have revolutionized the low-code analytics space as Heap has.
They've stayed true to their vision since day one, and it's been paying off.
Heap's tagline is a self-fulfilling prophecy 🔮: they are the future of digital insights, and that future is looking very bright.
With a Ken Fine, as their new CEO, their latest Series D funding, and their recent acquisition of Auryc, Heap is ready to scale global operations and accelerate their platform to heights never seen before.
For Heap, the sky is the limit. They're looking to roll out an expanded suite of data-driven analysis tools and grow their partner ecosystem to improve business outcomes for digital teams worldwide.
With so much talk of the future, Heap is ready to walk🚶🏽♂️ the talk, too – by laying the foundation for eventually being able to deliver a complete suite for agile product development with CDP functionality, experimentation tools, in-app messaging, and more. The possibilities are endless.
By bringing in the future of digital analytics, Movassate, Fine, and their team is helping you 'Heap' an eye on your data to find exceptional customer success for your product.
And we can't wait for what they have in store for us all!
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