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Interviews 2013 - 2016

How Marketers Stay Productive: Jake Stein of Stitch Data

November 3, 2016

This week we feature, Jake Stein Founder and CEO at Stitch Data. Stitch evolved out of RJMetrics, a widely used business intelligence platform.

In this interview, you can read more about his work at Stitch Data, favorite marketing tools, productivity tips as well as his advice for budding marketers.

Your location: Philadelphia, PA.

Your favorite gadget: iPhone.

You start your day with: Exercise, breakfast, walk to work.

Your favorite time-saving trick: Not having a TV.

Your top blogs you read daily: Hacker news (not a blog, but points me to lots of interesting stuff), Daringfireball.

“The most important thing for improving my productivity is removing distractions and time drains.”

Describe an average day at Stitch?

The first thing I do when I get to work is process the messages I’ve received over email and Slack since the day before. I also check on our basic operational statistics, like signups, active users, upgrades and downgrades. Then I browse through the list of new signups and open support threads to see if there’s anything that I should take action on.

After that, I look at my calendar to see what kind of day I have ahead of myself. I compare that to my to-do list that I make each evening for the next day before I leave work, and I make any additions that I might need to do to prep for anything coming up.

Then I’ll stack rank my to-do list and start working through the tasks one by one. I’m fortunate to have a lot of variety in my day to day. For example, looking at the past two weeks, some of the biggest categories were:

A weekly 5 hour front-line support shiftBusiness development calls with partners1-on-1 meetings with members of our teamWorking with the product team to prioritize new projectsWriting

As a startup founder, what are some of your favorite productivity hacks?

The most important thing for improving my productivity is removing distractions and time drains. I have a tendency to waste time on social media and reading news, so I use an app called Self Control to temporarily block these things from my computer.

I also turn off all push notifications on my phone and close my email inbox and Slack when I’m working on something. If I’m writing, I’ll use a full screen writing app called WriteRoom (which I’m using to answer these questions right now). If there is anything distracting going on nearby, I’ll put on headphones with static playing. I am always trying to put as much of my focus on one task at a time as is possible.

Beyond focus, I really love keyboard shortcuts. Gmail shortcuts are huge because I let an email backlog accumulate before processing through it. I also use a text expander called Typinator which allows me to automatically expand commonly typed words and phrases with just a few keystrokes.

As a person who is well-versed with online marketing/ inbound, I’m sure you rely on a few marketing tools to automate your efforts. What are the top 3–5 tools you use?

Boomerang is a huge part of my communication with anyone over email. Whenever we’re waiting on an answer or the next step of a project, I set the email to come back to me at the right time to make sure that it gets followed up on. I’m still searching for the same sort of functionality for Slack.

We just launched our blog on Medium, and I was blown away by how great they make the experience for writers and editors. There are a lot of nice little touches, like automatically adding a thank you note to anyone who provided feedback to the bottom of the post.

We are really big users of Trello across our organization, and we use it for managing everything from bug fixes to marketing projects. Another great Trello bonus: data. We use the Trello to Redshift integration in Stitch to get our Trello data into Amazon Redshift. Then we use Mode to analyze Trello data and report on our team’s velocity in completing projects and whether or not we are improving.

Your company has a growing community of users. How do you use this treasure trove of customer insight to power your marketing efforts?

We collect feedback from a lot of different channels, from customer support to sales conversations to interviews we conduct with people in our target customer profile. There are different channels for each, but we forward everything substantial to a single internal email alias. That automatically logs data into Evernote and Trello to be reviewed by the appropriate team.

We also use a lot of quantitative data about where in the funnel people are getting stuck. We generate data in the product as well as with several analytics tools, and we use Stitch to consolidate all of it into our Redshift data warehouse.

What is your strategy for getting people to your site and then converting them to a customer?

Stitch is a new brand (we launched a few weeks ago). So we’re in the heart of figuring this stuff out. At RJMetrics, we were really successful with strategies like SEO and content marketing. Some examples of this are our SQL Join microsite, data scientist benchmark report, and data strategy guide. We’ll be borrowing heavily from what we learned acquiring and converting customers for that product, but Stitch is targeting a slightly different persona (developers and engineers), so we’ll be adjusting our approach accordingly.

Is there any advice you’d like to give to budding startup marketers to help them work smart and stay productive?

Think deliberately about the stage you’re at, and try to make the stages discrete. It’s easy to get into a routine of trying to do what you did yesterday a little better, which is useful most of the time. But I find it more useful to try to chunk things ups. Like I mentioned above, right now we’re in experimentation mode, so we’re trying out a bunch of different channels that we think might work. Our goal is filter that list down as quickly as possible. Next, we’ll want to focus on scaling the the most promising handful. After that, we’ll be trying to spot the limits of scaling each channel. There can be long stretches of time between each phase, and the transition isn’t often black and white, but it’s important to know when to transit.

A big thanks to Jake for taking the time out to answer these questions! If you haven’t already, we highly recommend that you check out Stitch Data.

Managing marketing projects shouldn’t be chaotic — Try Brightpod for free and start focusing on what matters.

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