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Does this resonate with you?
What has gotten you to where you are now, won’t necessarily get you to where you want to be.
You’ve built a team, a product, secured some funding, and have initial traction. You’ve built a base of initial users or customers through hustle, experimenting with viral loops, content marketing, or maybe paid acquisition.
And it seems like some things are working – but, a pit still arises in your stomach when you ask yourself – “how do I scale?”
I’ve been there. When our team launched Leap, through some luck, hustle, and marketing instincts, we were able to grow our user base to 50,000 users in a few short weeks. But we didn’t have a core framework that we could use to measure the impact of our marketing activities and we weren’t entirely sure how we got there.
Further, when we were asked the tough questions from investors around how we were going to grow from 50,000 to 150,000 to 1,000,000 users, I felt like I was grasping for ideas. What led us to our initial success wasn’t necessarily going to take us to the next level.
We needed a system.
After working with over 20 different companies during the past year, ranging from bootstrapped SaaS products to consumer web companies that have raised over $50 million in venture capital, to Fortune 1000 companies, and managing multiple six figure per month online advertising budgets, I’ve seen that many of our clients have experienced the problems that Leap did.
Maybe you’ve experienced some of these problems in your company:
Who are my best customers and how do I find more of them?
What channels do we need to focus on for customer acquisition?
How do we measure success?
What do we need to do, specifically, to increase the results of our campaigns?
How can we scale our marketing team and keep everything on track?
It feels like there’s too much going on and I don’t know where to focus or even start!
Now, there are many individual tactics companies can use to solve these problems, but today, I want to focus on treating the disease – not the symptoms. And the disease is a lack of focus and process.
Below is the system that will help you improve any metric you apply it to.
Realize there is no magic bullet
The first thing that you have to realize is that there isn’t one set of tactics that will work for every marketing challenge – just like there isn’t a magical feature that will suddenly propel your app to product market fit.
Frameworks, measurement, and incremental progress will be what drives your success. The philosophy that will lead any marketing team to success is one of constant improvement and iteration.
Small failed experiments are better than no experiments or wheel spinning. You can’t be afraid to test your hypotheses with the hope of improving a key business metric. No paralysis by analysis here.
Step One: Define a goal
So, what’s the process?
Simple: define a goal, come up with small focused experiments, document everything, and review the results. Then repeat it.
The first step is obviously figuring out what marketing metric that you want to improve. After that’s decided on, you need to work on getting the entire squad on board. This is now the number one priority for the next 1 to 4 weeks for your marketing team.
If there isn’t clarity around a specific goal – the team is going to be running around like a bunch of chickens with their heads cut off.
So, take a step back and look at your customer acquisition funnel – your acquisition costs, your conversion rates, customer lifetime value, and decide what the lowest hanging project is to start on. What’s your ONE thing? Eventually we’ll want to boil the project down into chunks to keep it small and hyper focused – more on that in a moment.
For the purposes of this post, let’s say at Crush Campaigns we want to lower our cost per lead. Significantly lowering our cost per lead could obviously have a huge effect on our business.
Let’s define a lead as an email list subscriber on our website, with whom we can follow up with through lead nurturing email sequences, with the goal of getting them to book a free consultation. Let’s say that we want to acquire a lead for less than $5.
Step Two: Build a Brief
Now that we’ve defined our goal, let’s build a Brief.
A Brief is basically a document that will streamline communication throughout the organization, get the team on the same page, and allow us to gain approval from any stakeholders. This is a living, breathing document. Google Docs works well to keep everything organized.
An effective Brief should include the following:
Date of the project: what’s the timeline?
Name: come up with a naming convention that allows clear communication and the ability to have multiple Briefs live without getting them lost in the shuffle.
Stage: what’s the status of the project? Is it live? Built out? Complete?
Goal / KPI: what’s the metric we are trying to improve?
Hypothesis: based on the opportunity we discovered by looking at the conversion funnel, what are 3 ways we believe we can positively impact it?
Strategy: now that we have our hypotheses, how are we going to organize the tasks and measure success?
Targeting: if this is a campaign, who is our target audience?
Key messaging: what’s our overall benefit to this audience and how are we delivering it?
Hypothesis briefs: link to the individual documentation for each experiment we’re running under this project.
Weekly reports: link to a document where we’re tracking numbers and overall success.
Now that we have some documentation to get the marketing team on the same page and we’ve outlined the overall process, let’s go into each of the core hypotheses or experiments.
You can throw each of the hypothesis tables into one doc and update them on an ongoing basis. We like to keep everything in Google Drive folders. You could have a Brief folder and within that Hypotheses / Weekly Sprint folders.
Step Three: Break Out Your Hypotheses
Each experiment or hypothesis that you want to test should also have a brief! This sounds like a lot of documentation – and it is at first, especially if you’ve never organized your business growth efforts like this…but, the more documentation, the better.
In the long run, you’ll have a lot of learnings down on paper and the winning processes written out for optimization projects across a wide range of marketing activities.
So, what’s a Hypothesis Brief look like?
Pretty similar to our project brief, with a little more detail specific to the individual tests.
Date: when will this experiment run?
Name: keep it organized with the name of the specific experiment we’re documenting
Stage: building? live? complete?
Goal / KPI: this is a little different than above. Let’s keep it tailored to the specific experiment. For example, if I believe that lowering my cost per click is an effective experiment to reach sub $5 leads, then let’s say the goal is to lower my Facebook CPC on my ad campaigns from $1 to $.50.
Strategy: what are 3 ways we can lower the Facebook Cost Per Click? Make sure to include the details specific to the strategy – do we have new ad copy? Type it out. New images? Link them here. New audiences we’re marketing to? what are they.
Optimizations: here is one of the most important parts. We want to have a section in these hypothesis briefs to highlight what we’ve done each week, what the result was, and what’s next based on what we’ve learned. Continual improvement with documentation in one place!
For each hypothesis, when you’re documenting the Experiment, Result, Key Learnings, and Next Steps – you’ll end up with a large amount of very valuable data over time.
What we like to do is synthesize that information into a high level weekly report where we bring everything together. You’ll be amazed at how much easier it is to come up with new tests when you’re analyzing the learnings week over week.
Step Four: Bring It Together With Concise Weekly Reports
If you download the templates, you’ll see a section in the Cost Per Lead Brief for Weekly Reports. Here, you can include any of the data from the individual hypothesis docs or more detailed campaign level information from whatever platforms you’re using.
It’s a great way to keep the entire team informed and it also cuts way back time spent in meetings that don’t really go anywhere. If there is a team meeting to review, you have a very succinct game plan and the data to back everything up.
Step Five: Repeat
Once everything is organized, you’re off to a great start.
By now, you have a clear goal, a way to keep everyone on the same page, and a process for chunking down big projects and analyzing the results.
It doesn’t stop there. The key is in repeating the process week after week until your team meets the goal. As long as you are generating a couple key learnings from your experiments and can come up with 3 new tests to run each week, you’ll be there in no time.
Sprints, Less Meetings, Better Communication and More
This is all you have to do in your meetings:
- Review what was done.
- Talk about the results and the key learnings.
- Come up with a maximum of 3 next steps for each of the hypotheses that you can execute following the same process in the next weekly sprint.
It shouldn’t take any longer than 10-15 minutes. For the individuals working on the projects, a quick daily standup is a great way to keep everyone accountable and on the same page. With everything documented as you go, there’s no scrambling around trying to prep. Plus, if you’re using Dropbox or Google Drive for the system, meetings may not even be necessary with VP’s, CMO’s, and CEO’s. They can log in and see what’s going on during the sprints at any given time.
The Power Is In The System
In my experience, I’ve seen that the majority of marketing teams are not organizing around a growth oriented process like the one highlighted above. Instead, marketing teams can exist in silos – social, PR, content, paid, growth engineers, etc. If there is a lack of process across the board, it’s really difficult to identify what the key drivers of your marketing efforts actually are – let alone, communicate them when you need to.
This system can be applied across the entire marketing organization. Each department can operate in weekly sprints, with defined goals, and with a structure for incremental improvement. If each department is improving week over week with at least one key learning you’ll begin to discover how to boil your marketing down to the 20% of activities that drive 80% of your results – and scale them. Further, the granularity of detail around each of the activities will allow your team to easily discover and implement new tactics that haven’t yet been explored.
The results for our clients when we’ve implemented this system have been night and day. We’ve not only been able to cut client meetings that have lasted an hour in the past to 15 minutes once per week, but we’ve been able to deliver insights and strategies that have dramatically improved their customer acquisition results.
So, what’s your system? Does your team have a process that focuses and leads to measurable, incremental improvement across the board?
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Founder of CrushCampaigns
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