We use Google Analytics for BI and analytics. The main pros are that it’s free, and there’s a lot of data in there. The main con is that it’s very easy to go around and around, going in circles, in Google Analytics. I’ll find myself going into the data (with people that know how to look at data), and we’ll slice it one way and come to one conclusion, then we’ll slice it another way, and find conflicting data. I’m a data guy, and I find myself often saying that I trust my conversations with customers, my instincts, and my domain expertise more than I trust the data.
We use BuzzSumo for quickly getting the lay of the land, seeing the content terms that we want to be part of, and see what people are writing about.
If we want to see influencers, we use one of our own products, BuzzStream Discovery. For managing communications with influencers, we use another one of our own products, BuzzStream Outreach.
We use Authorize.Net because it was around when we first started out. Overall, we’re happy, but they’re missing some things that other companies do a better job of, like dealing with expired credit cards. If we were starting today, we’d definitely use something like Stripe that could tie our product plans into the system. We had to build all of our billing logic ourselves, and the tools available today don’t require that.
We use MailChimp for email marketing, and we also tie it into Unbounce for landing pages. We don’t do a ton of email marketing (only bi-monthly newsletters at this point), but for our needs, it’s been great.
We have a Dropbox Business account, and everyone loves Dropbox. We use Dropbox at crazy levels. A few months ago, we finished some design sprints where we would design a new product all on a prototype with no functionality. We’d spend 3 days designing it, and 3 days showing it to customers to get their feedback. We recorded videos for each of those customer feedback sessions, and we ended up having 30 different 1-hour videos. We put them all in one Dropbox folder that had a Confluence page tied to it. Then we could go watch each customer walking through the prototypes. We also got the video transcripts translated, and we stored everything in Dropbox. We use Dropbox all the time, and love it!
We use Insperity for all of our HR needs. The cons with using them are that they’re expensive, and they offer a lot of services that you’re paying for, but know you will never use. And you can’t unbundle any of it and say you only want to pay for some features and not others. But, on the flipside, the huge pro of using them is that we never have to even think about HR. I hire people and that’s about all I have to do with them HR-wise; I never have to think about HR, payroll, taxes, etc. At one point, we switched to a locally-focused competitor, and it was a total disaster. They would make mistakes like filing quarterly IRS reports incorrectly and then I’d have to deal with the blowback from that. My goal is to be thinking about nothing but the product and the customer, and if I can take something completely off my plate, it’s worth the added expense.
For collaboration, we use Slack. Overall, we’re happy with Slack, and it has a better UI and is more fun to use than HipChat, which we used in the past. For us, there isn’t a huge difference between HipChat and Slack, but there is a major feature missing in Slack. In HipChat, you can paste a JIRA issue in, and HipChat will show you the full issue. No one has to leave HipChat to go see the full issue. We miss that capability, and it may be the reason we move back to HipChat, if we do decide to switch back. But for right now, people are enjoying using Slack more than HipChat, so that’s outweighing missing the JIRA feature.
We use Confluence for planning, and it’s fine. As a wiki, it’s pretty good, but there are times when it’d be a lot faster to just make a Google Doc or Google Sheet and use that as the primary database for collaboration. What I really want is to be able to create a Google Doc or Google Sheet and have that tie in with Confluence. The Google Docs integration is not terrible, but it’s far from great. What I really liked in Confluence in the past was the ability to create a table in Confluence with a list of issues. You could go into a Confluence table and type in your 10 issues, for example, and then push a button and that would turn into 10 issues in JIRA. And anytime anything was changed in JIRA, you would see it on the Confluence page. That integration was very powerful, but it’s been broken for at least 2 months at this point, and they don’t seem very motivated to fix it. This might be a single bug that is only important to me, but I do see a lot of people complaining about it online, and it boggles the mind trying to figure out why they’re not focusing on fixing this issue.
We use JIRA for issue tracking, and we love it. We switched to JIRA from FogBugz. We used FogBugz for the first three years of the business and we liked it a lot at first. Over time though, it became clear that it wasn’t moving forward; it was slow and it lacked some very basic things (like a scrum board). JIRA is much more fully-featured. We love the scrum board; it’s fantastic. And we just find JIRA really easy to use. It’s also fast, and gets us what we need. The only downside with JIRA is that setting it up is a pain, and you have to get it right. If you get the setup right, it’s fantastic. But if you don’t, you’ll be annoyed with it.
Others on the team use, and prefer, Hootsuite. We’ll probably have to standardize at some point, and have everyone on Hootsuite, but for now, using Tweetdeck and Hootsuite works for us.
I use Tweetdeck, and I prefer it over Hootsuite, because I’ve used it a lot.