Growth Marketing with CXL - Week 2

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Continuing the Journey with CXL

In our second week with CXL in the Growth Marketing minidegree, we’re back with John McBride as he shares his insights into building a successful growth process. If you want to read about my first week, you can check it out here.

As I went through this week, I took multiple breaks to brainstorm how to apply the learnings and lessons to my own business and upcoming tasks. Several of the lessons found this week are still very basic, but it is refreshing to review them.

Define a Growth Model

Unless you were a manager or managing your own business, I doubt that many of the lessons from this week would be applicable to your day-to-day. However, there are still several takeaways that I felt were useful in shaping the way you think about growth.

First and foremost, in order to develop a growth process, you’d need to define a growth model. Several factors would impact the type of model you develop, but starting at a high level and breaking it down into several themes, milestones, etc definitely helps.

As you’re building out your growth model, you should construct it around your user’s journey to and with your product. Of course, users come in all shapes and sizes, so it’d be difficult to create the hundreds of thousands of possibilities that could occur with a user’s lifecycle. However, focusing on buckets of users who share similar patterns will help you design programs and mechanics that better address those types of users. Then, you can move onto another persona and build out their ideal path to your product.

Once you’ve created the possible user journeys with your product, you can then set milestones and goals for your users in order to design the proper experiments and campaigns for those users. Doing this also helps you define the potential growth channels that you should focus on as well as the skills and/or resources you need.

Goals for Success

Goals will help you as a growth marketer to see continued success as it provides direction for you and your resources. Obviously, different goals will push you in different directions. Used correctly, goals can help you pinpoint where users could potentially fall off within their user journeys.

Several factors impact how you should prioritize your goals, but as an overarching guide, you should prioritize impactful things and find impactful ways to grow your business. Gathering data will help strengthen your goals and provide direction for future goals and experiments. As much as you can, you should seek out quantitative data. However, qualitative data is just as useful if sought out correctly. You can always seek out direct feedback from users through user surveys or gather customer data through third party tools.

Goal setting, however, can be a pretty ambitious task. It’s easy to set a goal such as “be successful”, but getting there would be almost impossible as there’s no direct measure of success. Instead, goals should be motivating, push the team’s limits, be ambitious and aggressive, but still be achievable.

From my experience, most managers and companies tend to set varying degrees of goals. These are usually a set of simple and achievable goals to ensure continued progress, a set of medium-hard goals that would require more effort from the team, and lastly, a set of stretch goals that are fun to shoot for but usually out of reach, unless the company has a stellar year.

Identifying good goals is in and of itself a goal that many people are always working on. Companies tend to set yearly goals, which help define and direct teams as well as departmental goals. Ideally, these goals are quarterly to give the teams enough time to focus but not lose traction on the yearly goal.

It’s generally beneficial to have a handful of goals focused on different metrics. Additionally, it’s also useful to have different teams focusing on different goals. If you have the available resources, you could split up the teams to focus on acquisition and engagement at the same time.

However, small teams can still focus on the same metrics in the same year; just in different quarters. For example, some teams will focus on on set of metrics in one quarter, then move onto a different set of metrics in the next quarter. This allows the team to narrow their focus and constantly learn about their customers rather than having to shift gears between an elder user and a new or unacquired user.

Ongoing Growth

Optimizing what you currently have and growing as much as you can, then moving onto the next big growth potential can become lost in transition as you’re constantly working towards your business’ yearly goal. To help combat this, it’s important to maintain a healthy schedule of brainstorming within your team.

During these brainstorms, you should focus your conversations on specific goals, ie, we need to increase retention or we need to increase MAU over the next quarter. Meetings without goals will lead to endless conversations with topics all over the place. As part of the team or the driver of the meeting, you should target specific metrics and go deep during each conversation.

It may help to also walk through the user journey(s) during each conversation. This would help your team pinpoint potential drop off points. It’s also beneficial for any other teams that may be taking part in your brainstorms.

Focus on maximizing the amount of ideas your team can generate during brainstorms. If you’ve allocated enough time, you can work on prioritization. Of course, you can always do this after the fact as well or with a smaller group. Out of these conversations, you’ll start noticing themes and be able to bucket ideas into them. From there, you can start hypothesizing and designing experiments in order to help you create a roadmap. If it helps, you should formulate ideas during the meeting in the form of a hypothesis, ie, we should send out another email during the sign-up stage because I think it will help remind users of their incomplete sign-up process.

Prioritizing

So you’ve come out of your quarterly brainstorm meetings with a whole list of ideas, strong hypotheses, and a seemingly endless list of tasks. It can become overwhelming to try to accomplish all of the goals, much less enter them into your project management database and plan out.

It would help you to prioritize the list of ideas based on the return on investment. Several growth marketers will implement various frameworks to help prioritization. One such framework, mentioned by John, is the ICE framework. This stands for Impact, Confidence, and Effort. Super easy to remember, right?

In terms of impact, you should estimate the potential audience size of this experiment. It’s probably easiest to set these up as columns with a scale of 1 to 5. This is generally a pretty easy column to categorize.

Regarding confidence, you’ll have to think about how sure you are that the project will have an impact at all. This column may prove more difficult, especially for new experiments where you cannot use previous experiments or learnings as a base. You could help improve confidence rating by looking at past or current experiments from other companies or by running further experiments.

With effort, you’d have to look inward at your own team and resources. With the help of other stakeholders, you can measure this column in terms of headcount or days needed to implement the experiment. Without this column, it’s easy to quickly prioritize high impact experiments. However, if a high impact experiment is also high effort, it may not be worth it. In fact, a medium-high impact experiment with a low effort rating may be a better experiment to run.

Maximize Growth Potential

So, now you’ve set your growth goals, pinpointed potential areas to improve, gathered a list of experiments, and prioritized them all. What then? As much as I’d like to say your job’s over, it’s not. Alas, a growth marketer’s job is never over, right? There’s always room to grow.

As you design your experiments, you’re continuously testing and improving upon your hypotheses. You can create a solid hypothesis by starting with your goal and working around it. What assumptions do you have that can lead you to your goal?

Once you’ve designed your goal, the next step would be to implement it. Ship it out there and start pulling in results. It would be helpful to launch your experiments as A/B tests in order to gather confidence that the results you’re seeing are reliable. As you complete each A/B test, you can continue to iterate upon them and keep improving them.

A successful experiment isn’t only one that gave you the results you were looking for. A successful experiment is also one that you were able to gather learnings from. That means, even a failed experiment can be deemed successful so long as you are able to gather new learnings to apply forward. This will help you build a foundation of learning that continues to help you grow your own business.

After you’ve implemented and analyzed a successful experiment, the next step would be to automate it. Automating successful experiments will help you to permanently add those positive results to your business but also free up the resources you previously used to implement the experiment. Automated experiments free up resources and allows you to continue to iterate off that experiment or test new, more creative experiments in the future. From there, you can push your business further and continue scaling!

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