20+ SaaS Products We Use to Grow Our Web Hosting Company
By Brian Jackson, Updated: July 18, 2017
When it comes to running a successful company, sometimes you are only as good as your tools! Of course, you need talented people behind those tools, but choosing the right SaaS products can help boost productivity for your team, generate more leads, and overall, put you on the fast track to success. We thought it would be interesting to share with you all the different SaaS products we use here at Kinsta to grow our managed WordPress hosting company.
SaaS Products We Use
First off, what exactly do we mean by SaaS? SaaS is short for software as a service. This is a software distribution method which typically involves paying on a subscription model for a product, tool, or service. In most cases, SaaS products are now hosted in the cloud and are accessible from anywhere via your web browser or even mobile device.
If you are a brand new startup, we don’t recommend simply going out and subscribing to all these tools below. A lot of companies have had great success bootstrapping their companies from the ground up and adding additional tools as they grow their revenue. This is exactly what we did here at Kinsta. Tools and services like these can add up fast, so do your research, be smart, and determine which ones you might need first to help you accomplish your priority goals faster.
The very first thing most companies have to decide is what payment processor they are going to use to accept payments from their customers. There a lot out there to choose from such as PayPal, Stripe, Flint, Authorize.net, Braintree and Adyen.
Here at Kinsta we decided to go with Stripe because it is very developer friendly, has low credit card processing transaction fees, and was easy to integrate into our back-end dashboard. For those of you who have been following us for a while know that our Stripe relationship had a rocky start back in 2014. But all companies make mistakes at some point, and Stripe did everything in their power to resolve the situation we encountered. Fast forward two years and we can say we still love Stripe! We really think it is the best thing that has happened to online payments since PayPal, and are happy to call them a business partner. Takeaway is that customer support is more important than ever!
Baremetrics is just like their brand name says, it is all about the metrics! They offer analytics and insights for payment processors such as Braintree, Stripe, and Recurly. When it comes to choosing some SaaS products for your business, this is a must have.
Why do you need Baremetrics? Well, basically they simplify the process of understanding your business’s revenue income stream and help make data-driven decisions on where you could improve. You can instantly see juicy bits of information such as monthly recurring revenue, average revenue per user, refunds, upgrades, lifetime customer values, user churn, and probably the two most important ones, your net revenue and revenue growth rate. You could calculate all this information yourself in a spreadsheet, but then immediately you should be weighing the cost of your time for doing this.
Check out their dashboard demo (seen below). We love using Baremetrics at Kinsta, along with the Stripe integration, as this allows us to instantly see how our company is performing.
Intercom is a customer platform with a suite of products for live chat, marketing, feedback, and support. Remember, support is key to any successful company. So if you want our advice, make sure you have a good support system in place, whether this is chat, tickets, etc.
We have used Intercom since day one here at Kinsta and it has worked very well for us. We pride ourselves on providing support from team members who are actually professional developers and work with WordPress every day, contribute to WordPress Core and other open source projects. As a result, the expertise of our support department is second to none. Nothing is worse than launching a chat session and feeling like you know more than the person on the other end. This will never happen at Kinsta!
Intercom has provided an easy way for us to integrate chat and support tickets (seen below) it into our dashboard so customers know we are always one click away, 24×7. Our average response time in Q1 2016 was 8 minutes! This is one of our favorite SaaS products.
You have probably heard of Slack by now! If not, you should immediately go give it a try. Slack is a messaging app for teams which is designed to make communicating with your colleagues fast and easy, no matter what platform they are on.
Every member on the team at Kinsta uses Slack on a daily, or probably hourly basis. It helps us do everything from chat about industry news, collaborate on team projects, and of course, share an occasional Giphy. We actually use the paid version but the free version works great as well if the few limitations do not bother you. Slack is great for any company just starting out, especially for remote teams. Kinsta’s team is spread across multiple continents and so we depend on Slack for communication across time-zones and platforms. When it comes to SaaS products, this is a must have.
Keeping up with monitoring your brand on social media is a never ending process and can sometimes be overwhelming and time-consuming. Mention has the ability to monitor billions of sources in over 40 languages so you won’t miss anything being said about your brand.
We use Mention to keep track of social mentions of Kinsta around the web. One great thing too is that they have an integration with Slack (seen below). This allows us to easily see Tweets and mentions from right within a private slack Channel, along with an influencer score. This way we never have to waste time logging into a separate dashboard or get yet another email.
Close.io’s slogan on their homepage pretty much says it all, “Close More Details, Make More Sales.” The software was created by sales people for sales people. Nobody likes manual entry and so Close.io tries to automate as much as possible, from calls, emails, and activity so you can spend more time closing deals instead of entering data.
Our sales team at Kinsta uses Close.io for lead management, along with the powerful Zapier integrations to automate it even more. And of course, some of these automation’s include Slack integrations. You can probably see a trend starting here. Take advantage of Slack channels to simply your workflows.
7. New Relic
New Relic offers all sorts of services, from application performance monitoring, server monitoring, mobile monitoring, and real-time user insights.
We use two of New Relic’s products here at Kinsta, and that is application monitoring and synthetics. We use New Relic on all WordPress sites hosted with Kinsta to monitor uptime and also performance (btw. with your own license key you can set up monitoring as well). If your website starts to slow down, we can easily see this on our end and then take action to see what might be causing the issue. New Relic has been a great tool for us to ensure we provide the best support for our WordPress customers.
CloudFlare is a free global CDN (or rather fully proxy service), DNS, DDoS protection & web security provider that can speed up and protect your website.
Kinsta uses CloudFlare for customers who are looking for a free and or premium solution to speed up their websites around the globe, while also offering DDoS protection. Another advantage our customers get is that they can save a lot on bandwidth. Typically a CDN will handle the delivery of 60-70% of a website’s traffic load. So by offloading assets to a CDN, this can ensure you don’t go over your bandwidth limit with Kinsta. Make sure to check out our CloudFlare integration guide, as well as our KeyCDN integration guide.
9. Crazy Egg
Crazy Egg is a heatmap and website data analysis tool which helps you dive into how people are interacting with your website.
One of the main features we use at Kinsta from Crazy Egg is the awesome heatmap feature! You can just setup an experiment, let it run, and come back to see exactly where people are clicking on your website. See how many people scroll down the page, where they stop, and even what sources of traffic are clicking on what. Crazy Egg is great for improving your CRO and testing out new landing pages.
As many of you probably know, Github is a free open source repository that is used by people, companies, and developers to help build software. GitHub allows teams to contribute and fork to over 38 million projects, including WordPress itself.
We don’t do anything that is publicly available to people on GitHub, but the team at Kinsta uses GitHub to manage our internal development for our website and other projects. If you work in a team with any type of code, then GitHub is awesome because it offers a version control system which easily allows multiple developers to contribute and commit updates.
MailChimp is used by over 12 million businesses and individuals to send emails to and newsletters. As they say, “The money is in the list.” Building and maintaining a high-quality email list can be a great way for a company to generate more sales and keep their current customers informed. MailChimp makes this process silly easy and has been perfecting their software for many years.
We use MailChimp here at Kinsta and we are on a paid plan, but they have a free plan which allows you up to 2,000 subscribers. We are creating a lot of content that we know you will love and so MailChimp is a great way to allow us to share it with you each week. For startups, MailChimp’s free plan get be a great solution to get up and going while you start to build your email list.
12. Google Apps (Email)
In 2016, nobody likes getting emails and it seems that everyone is constantly striving and failing to reach that inbox zero goal. But every company needs a way to communicate through email. When it comes to email hosting there are a lot to choose from, such as Zoho, Office 365, Rack Space, and Google Apps.
Kinsta’s managed WordPress hosting is powered by the Google Cloud Platform, so obviously we are big fans of their infrastructure and apps. We use Google Apps for email hosting, which allows every employee to have their own @kinsta.com email address and access it via Gmail or their favorite email client. According to Email Market Share, as of August 2016, Gmail accounts for 16% of email clients usage based on the number of opens. When it comes to Gmail, you can’t really go wrong and it is priced reasonably at $5 per user per month. This also gives employees 30GB of online storage for their Google drive.
If you do any kind of inbound marketing or SEO on your website, you should really be keeping track of your keyword rankings. SEO is still alive and well in 2016 and keywords are still important. Even though things have shifted focus more to “topic” writing, keywords will always exist as Google’s algorithm is after all, a computer algorithm.
We use AccuRanker at Kinsta to keep track of our important keywords that we are focusing on ranking. This helps us know whether or not we need to give an article a little more love. There are a lot of on-page SEO tricks you can do to rank an article higher in SERPs. We will share these with you in a future post. AccuRanker allows us to track the keywords around a post, add a note of what we optimized, and then later return to see how our rankings were affected by the changes. After you learn what works, it is basically a game of rinse and repeat.
500 million people around the globe, along with over 200,000 businesses, use Dropbox on a regular basis to access and share documents and files on the go.
We use Dropbox at Kinsta to share large files and enable them to be more easily accessible by remote team members from anywhere, no matter what platform they are working on.
Wistia is a high-end video hosting and analytic platform. We like to think of Wistia as the Roll’s Royce of video hosting, and are used by companies such as Moz, MailChimp, and Hubspot.
We use Wistia at Kinsta to showcase our customer testimonial videos. While there are other similar platforms we could use such as YouTube and Vimeo, we chose Wistia because of the seamless integration they provide with our website. If you want an elegant looking HTML5 video player integration, than Wistia is definitely one you should check out. And if you are OK with their branding on your player, they even offer up to 5 videos hosted for free. This can be a great alternative to YouTube for companies just starting out.
16. Amazon Route 53
Amazon Route 53 is a highly available and scalable cloud DNS service. It is designed to give developers and businesses an extremely reliable and cost effective way to route end users to Internet applications.
Here at Kinsta, we don’t settle for mediocre when it comes to web performance and reliability. DNS is just one area that we take very seriously. We include Amazon Route 53 premium DNS services for every customer that hosts their WordPress website with us. Amazon has an enormous infrastructure and a long history of providing additional DNS features such as latency based routing, Geo DNS, traffic flow, and most important, DNS failover. Kinsta customers can even modify their DNS records right from their My Kinsta dashboard.
SendGrid is another email marketing platform and service which focuses on transactional emails. Some of their clients include Uber, Spotify, Airbnb, and Yelp.
While MailChimp works great for our inbound and content marketing, we use SendGrid at Kinsta for the transactional side of things. This includes emails between servers and applications. Like many other companies, we previously used Mandrill (owned by MailChimp) until it was recently shut down. For transactional based emails, SendGrid is a much more cost effective solution. If you send a lot of emails from your software or applications, SendGrid does a good job.
However, we don’t necessarily recommend them for typical marketers. There are little things such as the UTM parameters having to be manually updated for each campaign which can be a little frustrating. Their WYSIWYG builder has improved tremendously over the past couple years though and they are working hard to provide similar functionality as services such as MailChimp. But remember, their focus is on transactional emails, not marketing.
Every good website needs good visuals, and that is where Iconfinder thrives. They currently have a database of over 1.1 million icons, consisting of over 24,000 sets.
We use Iconfinder for icons on both our website and the Kinsta blog. Most of the featured images you see here on the blog and in our knowledge base articles are sourced from Iconfinder. One of the best features of Iconfinder is that they provide you with all 4 formats, SVG, PNG, AI, and CSH. We typically prefer working with SVGs because they are scalable to any resolution without losing any image quality.
Unfortunately, the not so fun part of any business is having to run the books, payroll, and accounting. But it is one of those things that has to be done. ClearBooks is an online accounting software that tries to simplify the process both for startups, small businesses, and even accountants.
We use ClearBooks at Kinsta partially because they are a UK company, but also because they have a lot of experience with simplifying the online accounting process. None of us here at Kinsta are accountants after all. Having launched in 2008, they are not new to the financial market and are accredited by ICB, ICAEW and ACCA. If you are in the UK, ClearBooks might be one you want to check out.
SEMrush is an all-in-one competitive data and analytics tool for digital marketing professionals. Keyword research for one is very important if you are doing inbound marketing for your company, as well as getting a feel for where your competitors stand.
We use SEMrush at Kinsta to research new blog post ideas and strategically make data-driven decisions for our inbound marketing. This tool allows us to easily see things such as search volume for a keyword or topic as well as how competitive that keyword is. As some of you may know, Google recently changed their Keyword Planner Tool and now close variant keywords show up as having the same search volume. SEMrush collects their search volume from a number of different sources, as well as their own database, and so this allows them to still provide you with accurate search volume. When it comes to keyword research, never assume people are searching. Write natural, but write smart.
Trello is an online collaborative tool which allows you to easily create boards, lists, and cards to organize your projects. Trello is used by businesses all over the world, some of which include Adobe, Pixar, Google, PayPal, and National Geographic.
We love Trello here at Kinsta! Trello allows us to easily create tasks and keep track of who is working on what. Even for our blog and inbound marketing calendar, we have a Trello board to keep track of new topics, ideas, and for setting deadlines. Sharing a board is as simple as one click. We use the free plan, which makes this another must have tool for startups! Btw. Asana is another great project management tool worth to take a look. To compare the features make sure you check out this detailed Trello vs. Asana guide.
Push notifications are something that have become very popular recently. The major benefits are that they provide another avenue of communication for your WordPress site. Lots of people skim over emails nowadays, or simply don’t even read them. Push notifications can help bring customers and visitors back to your site by placing your message right in front of them. Some people, such as Jon over on the Fat Stacks Entrepreneur blog, are getting between 18%-25% CTR on their push notifications, which is very high!
We use OneSignal here at Kinsta for our blog. Whenever we publish a new post, we simply check the “Push desktop notification” box and then subscribers to our push notifications instantly get notified! Make sure to also check out our official case study with OneSignal. In less than 3 months of using OneSignal, it is already our 3rd highest organic traffic source.
To get started using push notifications, check out our post on How to Setup Free WordPress Push Notifications.
As you can see, we utilize quite a few different SaaS products here at Kinsta, in all sorts of different areas. Each one of them though serves a specific purpose and they help us to be more productive and focus on what is really important, which of course is providing you with the best possible WordPress hosting experience possible!
Do you have any awesome SaaS products you currently use that you think we might like? If so, feel free to share them below.