How Mixpanel Grew its User Base to 8,000+ in a Highly Competitive Market

Product analytics SaaS Mixpanel has been growing at a rapid pace since their founding in 2009, with over 8,000 paying customers and five rounds of successful funding.

They’ve successfully penetrated the analytics market in a short period of time, and they don’t look like they’re slowing down any time soon.

How did they grow so quickly and successfully?

We spent the last few weeks digging into their digital marketing and identified a handful of marketing strategies and digital tactics that stood out:

  1. An Unapologetic Focus on Their Core Product
  2. An Effective Freemium Model
  3. ABM Fueled by an Internal LTV Model
  4. Lead Generation Campaigns that Use Truly Valuable Content
  5. Building Strong Community Around Product
  6. Infusing Product Into Educational Content

Let’s break them down.

1. An Unapologetic Focus on Their Core Product

Mixpanel’s path to success showcases the importance of sticking to your core product. 

Starting off, they captivated users with a product-first strategy, using a freemium model and unmatched customer support. This initial strategy relied on the quality and value their product brought to the table. 

But as they scaled, the allure of enterprise deals led Mixpanel to adopt a more sales-centric approach. 

This shift aimed to tap into larger accounts – but they soon realized their product couldn’t fully meet the evolving demands of enterprise clients. The realization that their product had taken a backseat in this sales-driven pursuit led to a strategic pivot back to their product-led roots, with a renewed focus on user experience and engagement.

One really interesting aspect of this shift was the introduction of what they’ve termed as the Learning User Verified (LUV) metric. It emphasized the need to create a product that not only meets users’ needs but is also a joy to use. This metric guided Mixpanel to realign its efforts towards enhancing the user experience and fostering deep connections with their users.

How to Focus on Product-Led Growth Like Mixpanel

If you’re worried you may be getting away from product-led growth, here are a few tips to help you return the focus to your product:

  • Listen to Your Users: Regularly collect and analyze user feedback to ensure product decisions are aligned with user needs and preferences. This keeps the product development process grounded in real-world usage.
  • Focus on Product-Led Growth Metrics: Rather than focusing strictly on sales and revenue, adopt key performance indicators (KPIs) that reflect user engagement, satisfaction, and retention – like Mixpanel’s LUV metric.
  • Maintain a Cross-Functional Product Focus: Ensure that product, marketing, and sales teams work closely together, with a shared understanding that the product experience is central to all business strategies.

2. An Impressive Freemium Product

Mixpanel’s freemium model is a big part of what gets people hooked on their product. 

They offer a generous free plan that lets anyone dive into product analytics without having to pay. This isn’t just about giving away a preview of their product; it’s about building trust and demonstrating value right from the start. 

Once users start using Mixpanel, they often join the active community (more on Mixpanel’s focus on community later) where they can get tips, tricks, and support to really hit the ground running with the product.

Being part of this community does more than just help users figure stuff out; it shows them they’re in good company. 

Seeing other successful companies and users navigating the same journey makes new users feel confident in their decision to use Mixpanel. It’s a really smart way to encourage users to stick around and eventually – for many – transition to the paid plans when they’re ready to scale up. 

Mixpanel’s approach makes it clear: they’re not just selling a product; they’re inviting users into their community.

How to Implement a Successful Freemium Model

  • Clearly Differentiate Between Free and Paid Features: Ensure that the value of upgrading is clear and compelling by offering advanced features, better support, or additional resources as part of paid plans.
  • Use Data to Drive Upsells: Analyze user behavior to understand how and when they derive value from the product, then tailor upgrade prompts and communications based on these insights.
  • Foster a Community: Encourage free users to become product advocates by building a community around your product. This can increase user engagement and create peer-driven momentum towards paid conversions.

3. ABM Fueled By An Internal LTV Model

Mixpanel’s innovative approach to Account-Based Marketing (ABM) has played a big role in their growth. 

A big piece of their ABM strategy revolves around a unique model for calculating the lifetime value (LTV) of a customer. This model, based on firmographic data, predicts the expected 36-month revenue from each account. Using this data, Mixpanel can meticulously score and prioritize accounts, targeting the top 15 – 20% that show the most promise in terms of long-term revenue potential. 

This approach has expanded their target account list (TAL) from around 100 accounts to an impressive range of 1,000 – 2,000 accounts, broadening their market engagement without diluting the focus (and efficiency) of their marketing efforts.

They retarget users who have already shown interest and reach other decision-makers within the same accounts with personalized ads. This ensures Mixpanel remains top of mind for both current users and potential buyers, building familiarity and consideration among key stakeholders in the accounts that matter the most.

Between 2020 and 2021, when they first rolled out this approach in conjunction with their freemium model, they saw:

  • 200% increase in signup volume from 2020 to 2021 
  • 98% increase in LTV sourced from paid channels from 2020 to 2021
  • 13% increase in CTR from new ads 

Their innovative LTV model also helps ensure a seamless collaboration between marketing and sales teams. This is crucial for maintaining a unified front, focusing resources on nurturing and converting high-value accounts that are most likely to contribute to Mixpanel’s growth.

How to Succeed with ABM Like MixPanel

  • Develop Some Kind of Predictive LTV Model: Create an internal model that predicts the long-term value of accounts. This allows for a more strategic allocation of marketing and sales resources, focusing efforts on accounts with the highest potential revenue impact over time.
  • Leverage Technology for Targeting and Retargeting: Don’t be afraid to utilize ABM platforms to precisely target and retarget key decision-makers within high-value accounts. These platforms can be pricey, but are typically worth it.
  • Align Sales and Marketing Around High-Value Accounts: Ensure that marketing and sales teams are closely aligned in their efforts to target high-value accounts identified by the LTV model. Use shared goals, KPIs, and a unified strategy for engaging and converting these key accounts.

4. Lead Generation Campaigns that Use Truly Valuable Content

Gone are the days of generating leads through basic whitepapers and eBooks. 

Mixpanel knows this. Which is why one of their recent campaigns is a masterclass in how to do content-based lead generation in 2024. Here’s what stands out:

Content Quality

They created an incredibly valuable, 48 page benchmark report covering product performance across wide range of industries. It’s full of helpful data, industry-specific insights, and perspectives from industry leaders. 

Content Value

Unlike a lot of lead generation downloads on the internet today, this information can’t be found anywhere else. It’s first-party data Mixpanel compiled themselves – the kind of information people are willing to give up their email for. 

Top Notch Design

The design is nearly as high quality as the content itself. The whole campaign is eye-catching and on-brand.

Segmented Distribution

They produced only one report covering six different industries, but their distribution was clearly segmented by industry. They ran LinkedIn ads targeting each of them with compelling copy and imagery that made their audience want to click. The messaging here is brilliant, “Here’s how others in your industry did last year, how do you measure up?”

How to Roll Out Lead Generation Campaigns Like Mixpanel

  • Invest in Value: Design and distribution are important, but if the content itself isn’t valuable, unique, and insightful – your campaign will fail. Even if you convince someone to give up their contact information, if the content doesn’t meet their expectations, they’re not going to convert.
  • Use Original Data / Research: No one is going to want to download something they can find readily available online elsewhere. Commit to original data and insights.
  • Distribute Wisely: On the other hand, it doesn’t matter how great the content itself is if it doesn’t get in front of the right people. Spend time considering the messaging, your targeting, and whether or not it makes sense to segment.

5. Building Strong Community Around Their Product

MixPanel recognizes the power of community, and they’re committed to building community around their product in a few core ways:

  • Events
  • Community Slack
  • Directory of MixPanel Experts

In the digital age, where users frequently turn to online searches and peer advice for solutions to their challenges, Mixpanel positions itself and its community as a central hub for collaboration, knowledge sharing, and support.

While many other SaaS products rely on help docs and knowledge bases, Mixpanel leverages its community as a vital resource for users seeking answers. This kind of community helps users find solutions quickly while at the same time fosters a sense of belonging and mutual support among members. 

It essentially serves as an extension of MixPanel’s customer service, enhancing usage and satisfaction with the product.

This community-centric approach shows Mixpanel’s commitment to building a vibrant ecosystem around its product. It’s a testament to their understanding that a strong community not only elevates the user experience but also contributes to the product’s continuous improvement through real-world feedback and collaborative problem-solving.

How to Build Community Around Your Product

  • Foster an Open Environment for Sharing: Create platforms such as forums, social media groups, or dedicated community spaces like Slack where users can freely share insights, challenges, and solutions related to your product. Encourage open dialogue and peer-to-peer support to enhance the collective knowledge base of your community.
  • Leverage User-Generated Content: Encourage users to contribute their own content, such as how-to guides, troubleshooting tips, and success stories. User-generated content not only enriches your community’s resources but also empowers users to become advocates and thought leaders within the ecosystem.
  • Provide Direct Support and Engagement: While the community thrives on user interactions, the presence of company representatives is crucial. Engage with the community by answering questions, providing updates, and showcasing how feedback is incorporated into product development.

6. Infusing Product Into Educational Blog Content

Mixpanel does a brilliant job of weaving product promotion into informational content. 

There’s no better place to promote your product than within an environment where you’re adding value and establishing trust with your prospect, which is exactly what they do.

For example, here they take a common challenge their audience faces – like product iteration, write an exceptional piece of content on how to make incremental product improvements, and when it comes time to mention identifying key metrics, they use their own product as an example of how to track those metrics.

It’s not rocket science, but the Mixpanel team does this brilliantly. While some B2B blog posts seem to say, “Want the answer to your problem? Just use our product.”

Mixpanel’s content takes a more user-friendly and valuable approach that looks more like, “Here’s the answer to your problem. And here’s how our product can make the solution even easier for you to access.”

How to Blend Product and Content Like Mixpanel

  • Solve Real Problems in Your Content: Start with topics that your audience cares deeply about, focusing on real challenges they face (driven by customer research, not search volume). This ensures your content is always relevant and engaging. Then, naturally integrate how your product can solve these problems within the content.
  • Show, Don’t Just Tell: Weave examples and case studies that demonstrate your product in action within the context of your blog posts. This helps readers visualize how they can use your product in their own scenarios, making your content not just informative but also a practical demonstration of your product’s value.
  • Keep It Casual and Value-Driven: Don’t force your product down your readers’ throats. If your product truly solves user problems, and your content speaks to the same problems, the promotion should be natural and helpful.

Smart Marketing on Top of a Solid Product

Like many of the companies we cover, a big aspect of Mixpanel’s marketing is their product itself. Many of these strategies and tactics don’t work without the high quality product they are promoting.

If you want to grow like Mixpanel, know that these strategies and tactics by themselves won’t work. Start with a core product and invest heavily in it.

We hope some of these tactics will inspire you and get your marketing rolling. Here’s to your growth!

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