I grew my startup’s organic conversions by 1330% in 12 months.
Here are 10 fundamentals of how I approach growth:
Growth hacks will only last you so long. Scaleable, manageable growth comes from making systematic improvements over time.
In almost every industry there is a set of proven strategies and tactics which will work for acquiring enough customers to be gaining momentum.
Don't get bogged down in trying interesting tactics before you've done the (sometimes) boring but effective work of creating a solid foundation.
Example: we relied on cold outreach for a long time. Why? You can sell large deals and generate good cashflow to give yourselves runway to experiment.
Example 2: We created simple pain point SEO pages that convert upwards of 20% visitors. I talked about this in depth on the Growth Machine podcast.
Can't emphasise enough how important it is to be obsessed with value creation for customers. Don't buy into the popular startup myth that only founders who follow their noble visions will succeed.
Even visionary leaders focus on value creation. To borrow a way overused example: Steve Jobs presented the iPod as a visionary product. But foremost, it created huge value for customers.
Classic marketing is very focused on awareness and acquisition in the customer journey. Those things are really important.
However, successful SaaS businesses are built on healthy customer retention and referral too. Every new subscriber is great – but added to the retained customers and they're golden.
One area I want to do better in is retention. Our funnel is not quite right yet. But hey, we're all doing our best, right?
It's fun to spend money on ads. Being able to buy people's attention is wonderful. But it's also deceptive.
If your funnel (all the way down to retention and/or referral) isn't right, you're going to burn a lot of cash inefficiently.
Tip: I spend money on broken funnels in order to pump new users through it to find out where the holes are. Then turn the ads off. Then fix the problem. And repeat!
You should absolutely keep good data when working on growth. Create a funnel tracking spreadsheet to keep those well earned conversions in.
Occasionally, you'll have to deviate from the numbers to address pain points you've inferred just through talking to customers.
Example: we shipped a feature that we thought customers would want (results as interactive, filterable charts) even though no-one said it explicitly. Product usage increased 3x in one week.
I wanted so badly to find a scaleable paid channel for our startup. But we're going head to head with so many big companies. And they can afford massive inefficiencies.
However, I doubled down on my skillset and tested content marketing instead. What do you know? It works! People find our product because we aligned our content with their needs and they buy.
And it's great.
The best channel is whichever one works for you right now.
The customer isn't always right. They often come up with ideas that you know just won't work.
On the other hand, the ideas they give you are them trying to solve the problem and be helpful.
So delve into the underlying needs and desires.
There is gold in customer conversations: what language do they use (great for copywriting), what questions do they have (Amazing blog content), what problems are they dealing with (feature planning!).
One common error for people investing in content marketing is to not consider the user's intent. This shows itself in high volumes of traffic with terrible conversion rates.
It also matters way down the funnel too. I can't tell you the number of times that a small change we made after watching users struggle to achieve their goal on a particular view has resulted in added revenue in the following days.
I had a friend who had a growth spurt when he was 13. He went from tiny kid to over 6 foot. It was weird. And his body just didn't cope well with it. He couldn't ride rollercoasters anymore because his blood flow wasn't catching up with his growth.
I'm not doctor but that seems odd.
Rapid growth is rarely sustainable. Build your company for durability and enjoy sustainable growth at every stage of the company.
Recent experience: Earlier this year we went from ~2m all time votes to >16m overnight because of a very high profile customer. It absolutely melted our servers and we had to spend >$20K to get it back to functioning.
Hope this has been interesting. If any of these resonated with you in particular, I threaded them all on Twitter. Give the one you most vibed with an RT/Fav