Let’s start with the main question – what is Piwik PRO Core, and who does it target?
Szymon Grzesiak, Performance Marketing Manager at Piwik PRO: Piwik PRO Core is a free version of the Piwik PRO Analytics Suite platform. It allows those looking for comprehensive web and app analytics to use our product without time limits and completely free of charge. What makes Piwik PRO Core different from the paid version of our platform is its limit of measured actions. However, it’s definitely enough to understand the benefits of the platform.
This plan is targeted at a wide range of users – marketers, analysts, freelance website developers, or even bloggers who run their own, often small, projects. Piwik PRO Core allows everyone, even those with small website traffic, to easily collect data under GDPR thanks to the included Consent Manager. I think the best recommendation is that I use this plan privately – on my automotive hobby pages.
Piwik PRO Core is one of the many concepts that have evolved into fully-functional solutions. How did the whole idea start?
Kuba Bomba, Chief Product Officer at Piwik PRO: After several years of intensive work, we were convinced we had created a very good product. The problem, however, was our visibility on the market. What’s the point of having a great product if nobody knows about it?
Dominika Gruszkiewicz, B2B Marketing Manager at Piwik PRO: This topic also appeared in our marketing brainstorming sessions – how can we make the product available to a broader audience? Previously, it was not technically possible. Even test versions were handled by contact with sales, which did not allow us to achieve the necessary scale effects.
Kuba: Finally, someone uploaded an interesting report on Slack, which focused on trends in purchasing digital products. It showed that many users wanted to avoid talking to sales. They preferred to test the product themselves and only interact with a human if necessary. The cherry on top of the decision-making process was our strategy at that time. We were aiming to become the best Google Analytics alternative. And if we wanted to be competitive in that space, we needed a freemium product.
Dominika: We reached the point where we were ready to open up to the world, both in our platform development and within the company. As marketing specialists, we saw this as more than an opportunity to promote the company. We were also glad that other people in the industry would finally have the chance to use our product in their daily work or while pursuing their marketing passions after hours.
But we were still a few steps away from implementing the idea. What were the beginnings of this process like?
Maciej Zawadziński, Founder and Member of the Supervisory Board of Piwik PRO: Before starting the project, we created a group representing a broad perspective – marketing, sales, customer support, product, design, and management. In this structure, we conducted a market analysis, focusing on our direct competition and other companies offering B2B products in the freemium model.
We know you wanted the project to be co-created by every Piwik PRO employee. That sounds like a noble idea, but what about the actual approach? How did you bring this vision to life?
Maciej: Based on what we discussed in the smaller group, we presented our project during an internal webinar to collect feedback from our colleagues. The idea resonated immediately – questions, comments and suggestions appeared at this very first meeting. We also launched surveys for the entire company and a Slack channel for people interested in the initiative. Some ideas, such as the demo data page or the bug bounty program, were implemented during the next stages of product development.
We also continued our regular meetings and intensive cross-team work on implementing Piwik PRO Core. It took us several months to prepare for the product release. During one of our regular company meetings two months before the official launch, we presented the final shape of the project to the entire company. Since launching the product, we have continued to meet less frequently to fine-tune it.
Finally, it was time to start. What did the implementation of Piwik PRO Core look like from a behind-the-scenes perspective?
Szymon: The beginnings of the Core plan looked much different from what they look like now. We didn’t know if the project would be a success. There was no full automation. We decided to approach the whole process carefully, limiting the number of new accounts.
From February to September 2021, we gathered users for the waiting list through a simple form. All applications were sent to a spreadsheet, and we successively sent codes to create accounts. In the meantime, our marketing team participated in the design and automation implementation between the CRM system and the product.
In October 2021, when it turned out that our assumptions were on target, we decided to switch to automatic sign-ups. We also introduced full automation in creating instances. Since then, we have been optimizing the entire process, introducing changes that improve registration conversion and increase instance usage.
Dominika: This ‘soft’ start allowed us to test the processes and improve them based on feedback from the first users – in setting up accounts, taking the first steps in the product, and the way we communicated the plan in our marketing materials. All these insights from our users contributed to the later success of the official start of the Core plan.
Has adopting the freemium model led to any changes in the product?
Kuba: Yes, definitely. At first, we were terrified because, from the technical side, the product was not designed to support thousands of accounts. This required significant architectural changes. The soft launch, when we gave access to the product to early adopters, allowed us to collect a lot of feedback and test the platform on a slightly larger scale. However, it was still a comfortable and safe environment because we kept certain limits on the number of simultaneous accounts. Thanks to this approach, we gained some time to implement architectural changes. We redesigned the database model and created a special API that allows users to create instances from outside the organization.
During the initial discussions stage, you have considered building a community around Piwik PRO Core. How did you approach it?
Kuba: During the brainstorming, there was a reasonably obvious fear that the freemium model would bring many more support requests, which we could not handle, or the quality of support for paid plan users would worsen. We knew the best solution to this problem was creating a community around the product. We knew it would take years to see the effects of such a move, so initially the forum was attended mainly by people from inside the company. Over time, however, this began to change, and now our users help each other more and more.
The start of our community forum also had an interesting side effect – we gained another source of invaluable feedback, which we meticulously record every time it appears.
Personally, I contribute quite a lot to our forum. I treat it as an exciting escape from everyday duties. Also, I can keep an eye on problems that inevitably arise with the product.
After over a year and a half, we have almost 5,000 tracking accounts and 3,700 users who log in to the Piwik PRO Core interface at least once a month. These numbers are still growing. We can say without a doubt that the project has been a success. What would you say if you had to point to the three most important factors contributing to it?
Kuba: First of all, we have had an advanced product developed by our employees for many years. Also, we focus on inter-team cooperation in our daily work. This success results from the entire company’s efforts, and it’s not possible to point to one person who contributed the most. Openness to changes, both on the business and technology side, was also very important.
And as a bonus – beyond the scope of our influence – we were also favored by changes in our competition, especially the termination of Google’s Universal Analytics.
Let’s go back to the beginning of this conversation. We mentioned that entering the freemium segment was a bottom-up initiative, which, with the support of the organization’s decision-makers, became an important component of our business activity. Implementation of such initiatives requires a specific organizational climate. What is this climate at Piwik PRO?
Kuba: It works because we precisely outline the business environment and strategy at the board level. However, when it comes to how we implement it, we give a lot of freedom to people. As it turns out, they pay us back with great ideas that we can proudly write about after they’re adopted. 🙂