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Growth is flatlining. Ads are dipping. Your growth team isn’t getting results. Are you asking yourself how to structure your growth team?
It’s a bad spot to be in. I know, because I’ve been there.
I’m currently leading growth at an ecommerce startup. As our marketing team grew, the results started to stall.
It’s not that we weren’t working hard, it’s because we weren’t focused.
That’s when I dove into these resources — Hacking Growth, Lean Analytics and Rob Sobers’ blog for help. If I was going to scale a startup the right way then I needed to apply the framework used by companies like Dropbox and Airbnb.
Here’s a look at the structure I used to run my growth team and scale a startup to over half a million dollars per month.
What is your business objective? For our ecommerce company, it’s pretty simple – we care about revenue growth. To unpack that further, we want a conversion rate over 4% and a 7% week-over-week user growth, with a customer acquisition cost (CAC) that’s under $30.
But, what should we focus on right now? The key word here is focus. We can work on our conversion rate and our user acquisition strategy at the same time. But, can we do both of them extremely well at the same time? For smaller growth teams, the answer is no. That’s why focus is so important.
Brian Balfour, former Head of Growth at Hubspot, makes a strong case for focus in the following illustration.
One Metric Should Drive Your Actions
The goal is growth, but what is the one metric we should be focused on? With the ecommerce company, it’s about conversion rate. Before we increased our ad spend or invested in content marketing to get people to our site, we wanted to hit our conversion rate goal of above 4%. This way, we would be prepared for an increase in traffic volume.
We picked our metric, and, most importantly, set our goal. This is the number the entire team has written down as the number we want to hit. The best part about this decision is that it helps us determine the actions of everyone on the team. From the developer to the designer, we’re all focused on moving this single metric.
Another example of how one metric drives a team’s actions is Moz, a SEO toolkit. They determined that their one metric was net adds. Below is a graph from Lean Analytics on how this metric drove the actions at Moz:
How can you determine your one key metric or your north star? Lean Analytics explains how you can figure it out based on two things: your industry and your stage of businesses. Here is a graph that shows you the one KPI you should focus on based on your business vertical and stage:
Your one key metric might not be on this graph, but it could directly impact one of the metrics on the above graph. It could be a micro-conversion of one of these metrics. Here is an example of how Airbnb used one micro-conversion metric to scale their growth to a $24 billion valuation.
In the first three years, Airbnb really struggled to get any traction with their product. They had a small group of users that loved their product but they couldn’t break through to a big audience. They built up the supply side with listings and started to get potential renters to the site but they struggled to convert them. Their conversion rate was below average and they couldn’t figure out why. After going through the user flow, the CEO didn’t like the feel of the product. That’s when he decided to test professional photography on the site instead of user generated photos of listings. They tested this idea in the NYC market by sending out a professional photographer to the listings and the results were staggering. The NYC conversion rate outperformed every other market they were in. That’s when they decided to launch professional photography in every market. Their metric ended up being the percentage of listings with professional photography. Their founders still credit this move with the main catalyst for their success. Here is a breakdown of how they ran the process:
STEP 1: Use Your Gut Instinct to Create an Experiment
Professional Photography = More Bookings
STEP 2: Test with a Clear Goal (Increase # of nights booked)
Sent 20 Photographers to Photograph NYC Listings
STEP 3: Measure Results
Professionally Photographed Listings > Other Listings
STEP 4: Data-Driven Decision
Launched Photography as a New Feature (Percentage of listings with professional photos)
You’ve determined your main business objective and the one metric to focus on. Now, what do you do to impact that number? How do you maximize your resources to have the biggest impact. How do you run your growth team?
First, lets look at your options. Below are two charts that show almost everything you can do as a marketer to grow. The first chart is from the book Hacking Growth and shows 27 growth experiments to run. The second chart is from the book Traction and it lays out the 19 channels you can use to get traction. Think of this as your Denny’s menu for growth.
27 Growth Experiments
(Source is the book Hacking Growth by Sean Ellis and Morgan Brown)
|VIRAL / WORD OFMOUTH||ORGANIC||PAID|
|Social Media||Search Engine Optimization||Online Ads|
|Embeddable Widget||PR & Speaking||Affiliate Advertising|
|Friend Referral Program||Content Marketing||Influencer Campaigns|
|Online Video||App Store Optimization||Retargeting|
|Community Engagement||Free Tools||Ad Networks|
|Giveaways & Contests||Email Marketing||Sponsorships (Blogs, Podcast)|
|Platform Integrations||Community Building||Native Content Ads|
|Crowdfunding||Strategic Partnerships||Content Syndication|
|Games, Quizzes||Contributed Articles|
19 Traction Channels
(Source is the book Traction by Gabriel Weinberg)
5.Social & Display Ads
10.Engineering as Marketing
You might be thinking these are great resources but where the heck do I start? How do I know the main thing to focus on right now? Instead of trying to guess which ones will impact your one key metric, you can use a quantitative process to decide for you. List the top 10 experiments you’re excited to run to impact your key metric. Next, give those experiments a score (1 to 5) based on the level of impact, and then another score (1 to 5) based on ease of implementation. For impact, 1 means low impact and 5 means high impact. For ease of implementation, 1 means hard to implement and 5 means easy to implement. Finally, add up those numbers to determine what to focus on right now. Below is a template to use when scoring your experiments.
It’s not easy to introduce a new process. Here are some resources to help you do it with confidence. Below are guides on how to implement this at your company. I’ve broken it down into four deliverables to guide you. Also, you can reference them in this Google Sheet for your own use.
The growth process for your team:
Identify Business Objectives: Why do we exist and what are we trying to accomplish? EX: Increase customers.
How to structure your growth team:
How to structure your meetings:
15 Minutes: Metrics Review & Update Focus Area
10 Minutes: Review Last Week’s Tests
15 Minutes: Key Lessons Learned for Experiments
15 Minutes: What to Focus on in this Cycle
5 Minutes: Growth Check of Idea Pipeline
How to structure your week thanks to the growth team at Ladder.io:
MONDAYS = Analysis
Track your OMTM, Measure Experiment, Spot trends, Performance vs. goals
TUESDAYS = Planning
What experiments can you run to hit your business objectives? Manage experiments pipeline
WEDNESDAYS = Approval
CEO/Management Approval on executing experiments and update
THURSDAYS = Execution
Implement experiments and based on data driven ideas
FRIDAYS = Learn
Continued learning of customers, industry, and competitors
To manage the meetings, I am a big fan of Trello. Rob Sobers, Head of Growth at Varonis, created a Trello template for running growth that I use for all of my clients.
Did you find this post helpful? Want to learn more?
We wrote a book that shares everything our agency knows about scaling and growth online businesses. For $10 OFF The Growth Marketer’s Playbook, use the promocode “10bucksoff” for a limited time discount if you pre-order here. As a bonus, we’ll send you the Master Growth Marketing Spreadsheet we use to manage our clients that has over 100 growth tactics. We really hope you enjoy it.
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