ShipEngine accelerates developer adoption with Moesif's API Analytics Platform
“All I need you to do is run this report for us”, James Messinger, Director of Developer Experience at ShipEngine asked his data team. "And then all hell broke loose". "It's so difficult to identify simple pain points with generic logging tools," said Messinger. "Product people, developer relations and our customer success team, aren't able to get the answers they need out of existing tools, because they're so difficult to use, not having been built for API-centric companies."
Simple product questions, like how many customers did X in the past month, were actually really hard for ShipEngine to answer. They were having to constantly bug their engineering and business intelligence teams to get those answers for them. Those teams had other work to do, so it was with dread that Messinger asked the fateful question “all I need you to do is run this report for us”.
The ultimate goal of the Developer Relations group within ShipEngine is to drive platform adoption. To do that they needed to track important funnel metrics like: marketing attribution, conversion rate for time to first working app and time to revenue. With those metrics they could identify where growth happened, and hence where to invest more resources.
Their existing workflow was based on a widely used Elasticsearch/Logstash/Kibana (ELK stack) product. To stand it up took their dev team more than a week, whilst to run even the most rudimentary analysis, took a developer a day plus the BI team a number of hours to extract the CSV. Developer Relations had no shortage of business reports that had to be built, but the company only had the bandwidth to produce a single report a month.
ShipEngine was looking for a flexible analytics solution with the following criteria:
- Built for API-first companies
- Multiple metrics could be tracked and tied back to the customer
- Non-technical teams could drive it
- Pre-built reports were supported
At around the same time that ShipEngine integrated a new API Gateway, they were on the lookout for a way to scale their analytics solution to track more detailed metrics.
With a simple Kong plugin, trialing Moesif presented a super low-friction opportunity. “So for backward compatibility we still needed to send our data to ELK, but it didn’t hurt to also send data to Moesif,” said Messinger.
Once they had turned on Moesif, they were quickly able to ask new questions from both the developer relations and marketing teams:
Developer Experience From the perspective of DevEx, they observed that certain pages in the docs were frequently visited after customers had used certain parts of the API. By re-focusing on those specific pages, ShipEngine was able to make the docs more relevant, shortening platform adoption.
Marketing Similarly, the marketing group was able to see in real time whether or not campaign changes would have the desired effect. ShipEngine was moving away from static drip campaigns for new trial sign ups, to customized automated emails. They were examining sending different messages around certain actions and user types, such as shipment volume used, or shipment volume per month. Moesif gave them a way to tap into the black box of their product and understand how people were using it. They were able to create much more intelligent marketing campaigns.
Self-Service Analytics Since Moesif is designed to be self-service, it can be driven by non-technical stakeholders. “Another huge value add is that the engineers love, if nothing else, the fact that we’re not going to come pester them as much,” said Messinger. “Moreover, a lot of the built in reports that you have are exactly the kind of product questions that an API product company is going to want”, he continued. “Whereas of course Kibana doesn’t have any of that stuff built in, because Kibana wasn’t built for API product companies”.
Moesif offered ShipEngine an easy way to track multiple API metrics, help pinpoint places in onboarding that hindered platform adoption and gauge the success of new marketing initiatives.
ShipEngine had exhausted the capabilities of their Elasticsearch/Logstash/Kibana (ELK stack) analytics solution. Engineers were using ELK to track infrastructure health, but product and business teams had a hard time getting the data they needed. They were looking to replace it with something that could track more metrics and offer deeper insights into developer onboarding and marketing campaigns.
ShipEngine solves shipping logistics problems for retailers, e-commerce platforms, and third-party logistics companies. They’ve helped ship more than 1 billion packages worldwide through their collection of API services including order, inventory & carrier integrations and branded tracking.
James Messinger, Director of Developer Experience, ShipEngine