2015 on Inside Intercom

Continuing a tradition we started last year, we decided we’d head into the holiday period with a look back at some of the highlights of 2015 on Inside Intercom.

It’s been a year of growth on the blog. We published 106 posts, compared to the 89 we published in 2014, although we still pride ourselves on producing quality content rather than just a large quantity of articles. If you want to help us continue to do that in 2016 please take the time to fill out our reader survey – all feedback is taken on board.

During 2015 we also added two new members to the team – Adam and Geoffrey – which allowed us to expand into new content formats.

Intercom on…books

We made our first venture into book publishing and put out three titles, all of which more or less began life as posts on this blog.

Intercom on Product Management is built on three years of sharing our product lessons and experiences on this blog. It pulls together some of the most relevant posts, offering some hard-learned lessons on the tough decisions you need to make as a PM.

Intercom on Customer Engagement distils what we’ve learned about sending the right message to the right customer at the right time, regardless of the tool you use to send them (although we’d prefer it was Intercom).

Everyone wants to provide the best support possible to their customers, but Intercom on Customer Support is designed to give you a framework to think more strategically about the kind of support you offer.

Now with audio

We also launched a companion podcast to this blog, featuring interviews with industry people we respect and admire. Many of the podcasts we hear can be long and rambling, so instead we’ve tried to keep our conversations focused and relatively short. Here’s some of our favourite quotes from the first 7 episodes we recorded.

“People aren’t buying [your product] so they can maintain and update it. They’re buying it to get this functional job done, but they have metrics that they use to judge value around those consumption chain elements as well. If you understand all the metrics people are using to judge the value of your products from a functional perspective, a financial perspective, and a consumption chain perspective, you have all the metrics you need to create a better product.”

Tony Ulwick on Jobs-to-be-Done

“We really have to think from a customer point of view and not a corporate point of view. How can I can create something really useful to the person that I’m trying to reach? The best marketing feels like something that people want or need or will enjoy. It doesn’t feel like marketing.”

Ann Handley on contenting marketing

“There’s this really vicious cycle in our industry, and I call it the wheel of meaningless growth. Early in our life cycles, we do whatever we can to get press, so we pick the biggest number we can out of our business, but that number tends to be a vanity metric. Whether it’s views, or downloads, or registrations, or something else like that. You’re celebrating it externally and you get caught in this trap. Every time you want to do that, you have to come up with a bigger and bigger number, so all of a sudden, you find yourself focusing on this meaningless number. You follow it into a real trap.”

Brian Balfour on meaningful growth

“That’s why our API and third-party development community is so important to us: great ideas come from outside of Facebook. I think the idea of designing with people and not just for people is recognizing that even the consumers that use our products are an active, contributing force in our design process.”

Margaret Gould Stewart on product design at scale

“Marketing can’t by itself be entirely responsible for active usage because it’s closely paired to what’s created in the product and how that needs to be refined. But they play a really important role in understanding, with product teams, how to improve it. Once you understand how to measure active usage, you really should correlate that all the way back to marketing activity. I should be able to measure how a marketing campaign actually drives downstream active usage of a product.”

Jay Simons on SaaS marketing

“…quality is everyone’s job. It’s not just the designer’s job. It’s not just the product designer’s job. It’s everyone’s job. What will shift, I think, is people will start to incorporate parts of design into their job in ways they wouldn’t today. Just like engineers write unit tests today as part of their job, I think people will be spending more time doing things like design sprints or watching customer interviews or doing design critiques. Not everyone needs to know fonts and be good at Photoshop, but there are probably a couple of design activities that everyone will learn to do as part of their job.”

Braden Kowitz on design and startups

“If you believe the product manager is a mini-CEO, you don’t know what CEOs do or what product managers do. The CEO is the person most responsible for the success and health of an entire organization – primarily the financial health – while a product manager’s trying to ship product. Some product managers have business case responsibilities. They’re responsible for some form of P&L that suggests their success, but that is not CEO behavior, and it’s also not true of all product managers.”

Peter Merholz on product design

2015’s greatest hits

Our ten most popular posts this year reflected the broad interests of our readers from product management to raising capital, marketing to visual design.

Why ‘Mobile First’ May Already Be Outdated
Lessons Learned From Scaling a Product Team
Has Visual Design Fallen Flat?
Intercom Raises a $35m Series C
The Low Hanging Fruit of User Onboarding
12 Steps to Creating Landing Pages That Convert
How We Hire Engineers, Part 1: Our Screener
Where Do Product Roadmaps Come From?
SaaS Metrics for Fundraising
Messaging Is Just Getting Started

Enjoy the holidays. Hope to keep you reading in 2016.