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3X Your Outbound Response Rate: How GrowthHackers.com Created a Sustainable & Automated Growth Machine

In this episode, Pedro, Head of Growth at Growth Hackers, explains how GrowthHackers.com built an automated outbound growth machine that tripled their leads by leveraging the right timing and highly personalized emails.Tune into this podcast to learn this strategy!

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JS: What’s one unconventional growth tactic that worked surprisingly well?

Pedro Clivati: Well, one of the best outcomes that we weren’t actually expecting to have such a good outcome was an automated outbound machine that we created. So when companies are doing outbound, they usually segment a specific industry, a specific job title, a specific business size. So we have been testing those different audiences all along, but we were never really able to move the needle as we would like to. But something that actually moved the needle closer to where we were going to be and got us the expected result, was instead of focused on a specific industry or business size or a job title, we actually created something.

What changed for us was focusing on the right timing. So what we did was, I signed up for a tool that was tracking different technologies on the web. So when companies were signing up for one of our competitors’, or for one of our complimentary tools, I would get a notification about it. So, I was receiving weekly reports of domains on the web that were either adding or deleting the script of our competitors from their code.
So this tool was able to track that on the web. And I was able to know if a domain was maybe trying it out or a signing up, or they were a long time customer of either a competitor or a complimentary tool. And whenever I received those reports, we first started to do that manually, right? So I would get the report or I would reach that domain. I would get the contacts that we want. And I would manually reach out to them to offer our solution.

Later on, we actually automated the whole process. So  it actually reaches out to people as we would like it to be without any human behind the wheel. So, basically I got a one tool to track the domains that we’re either adding or deleting the script of my competitors and our complimentary tools. I got that report. I sent it to another tool, so I could reach that domain and get the names of the job title that I wanted.

And once I got to that, I put that data into another tool that had all of that cadence of emails being sent automatically. So, that pretty much was like a self-sustainable outbound machine that got us really really good and expected results.

JS: Awesome. Do you have any data that you can share in terms of what kind of growth or results you got?

Pedro Clivati: Okay. So pretty much like in terms of results. We were actually able to increase our response rate from our outbound campaigns from 5%, which was already pretty good to 15%. So, we were actually able to maintain that level, even as we scaled up the number of leads that we were getting. 

JS: Awesome. That’s fantastic. Now are there any bottlenecks as people think about implementing this type of strategy or challenges that you saw?

Pedro Clivati: Yeah, we have gotten through this bottleneck on our own for a long time, which was pretty much instead of focusing on the right time to get in touch with those leads, we’re actually focusing on their job titles or their business size, but for an outbound campaign to work, it must be super personalized. Right. So when we use some keywords, I’m guessing at this point in time that you were probably looking for something that does this and that.

And I already had this information, right. So instead of focusing on other aspects, I would try to focus on the outbound campaigns on getting the leads on the right time. And the second tip I would give is, all emails need to be highly personalized. So, there’s another company that does that, I don’t know why I can’t recall their name right now, but I can research that later on. But you can also do that manually, right. But the point is, we used to send like, I made our email cadence, I added a link to a landing page that was customized upon three different variables.

So one, was the company name, the second, was the person’s name. And the third, was the business industry, right. So, whenever one of our leads clicked on that link, they would go to a landing page that was personalized for them. So, we would look like at least from their perspective, it would look like it was made for them. So that made a huge difference. So my tip is focusing on the right timing to get in touch with those leads. And secondly, try to be as  human and as close to the lead as possible. So you do that by personalizing the message. So it seems like you actually wrote it down and prepared it for them specifically.

JS: Awesome. And if I’m just thinking about starting this strategy or pursuing the strategy, what are some of the initial steps that you recommend me follow to get it off the ground?

Pedro Clivati: Great question. So don’t focus on automation, focus on doing it manually to start. I think that’s where a lot of people get it wrong. Like I need to automate, and I need to scale that up, but you only need to scale that up if it’s working. If it’s not working, then don’t do it. Do it manually, because then you can keep a close tab of what was going on in each of those emails, in each step, with each lead and each interaction of those users with your campaign. And then once you’ve got the right model, like I’m getting constant positive results over my manual outbound campaign then you start to automate that up. 

But before that, just do it as manually as possible. Like, if you can do it one by one, I know it’s a lot of work, but if you can do it one by one, that really makes a lot of difference. Cause you can zoom into the details, and know precisely what you should be automating or not, or what you should be testing and changing before you scale it up or before you automate it.

JS: Awesome. Any specific tools that you recommend, folks you use, anything that you can call out?

Pedro Clivati: I have used basically four tools to do all of that. As the Head of Growth, I’m actually responsible for running experiments, and one of the objectives of our team was to increase the numbers. So, we got a whole bunch of ideas. One of those ideas was an outbound campaign, or an outbound channel, a channel of acquisition. We use a GrowthHackers experiments to manage our growth process, so that it wasn’t like we got to that outbound campaign method after testing a whole bunch of different things.

But that really cleared the path to get where we landed. So, experiments to manage the process. I used a similar attack to track domains that were either adding or deleting our competitors or  complimentary tools to each of their websites. I used Clearbit to enrich those domains and get to the right contacts. And I was using Outreach.io to automate the cadence and send the emails in the campaign.

JS: Awesome. Well, Pedro, thank you so much for joining us today for this episode. If people want to follow you on social media or learn more about you, what are some good social handles, websites or urls that you would love to share?

Pedro Clivati: Okay, cool. Yeah. Thanks for having me again. It’s a pleasure to join you guys’ and share a little bit of what we have been doing. I would recommend people to check out the largest online community of growth professionals on the web. Everything that I had just told you guys, is available in there as well as tons of other growth tips that you can find for free. And you can reach out to me on Twitter at Pedro Clivati or simply pedro@growthhackers.com as well.

JS: Awesome. Well, Pedro, thank you so much and have a wonderful day.

Pedro Clivati: Okay. Thank you for having me. Have a great day as well.

AO: Boom. That’s it. Another great episode of The One Growth Show , the official podcast of growth marketing conference to learn more about upcoming events, visit www.growthmarketingconf.com and subscribe to the newsletter. If you enjoy this episode, let us know. We’d really appreciate it if you’d give us a five star rating, super easy, just click the last star on iTunes, and also share this episode on social media. After all you want your network to know you’re the person they can always turn to for the best growth and marketing content, don’t you?

Follow GMC everywhere: https://linktr.ee/GrowthMarketingConference

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Data Can Be Deceiving: Why You May Be Solving the Wrong Problem

By all accounts MadKudu had an incredible product, but they suffered very low day-2 retention rates after registration. Though the data pointed to a retention problem, it was actually a conversion one; most of their sign-ups were low quality leads that would never convert anyway. Join Francis Brero, co-founder & CRO, as he walks you how he solved this mystery by targeting the (right) metric everybody else overlooked.

Listen on Apple Podcasts

JS: What’s one unconventional growth tactic that works surprisingly well?

Francis Brero: Yeah, I think for us it was something about going against, not just conventional wisdom, but going against the opinion of the CEO. So, this was in a case where we’re looking at like a high volume, really high volume of inbound sign ups for a freemium product. And we had really, really low day-2 retention rates. So, there was a really big drop-off on day-2. And so the whole team was focused on how we could increase that day-2 retention.

Because the idea was that, the leading indicator to revenue and conversions was going to be fixing that day-2 retention. And every chart seemed to be indicating that was the problem. And what happens is that when we actually started diving into the data, in a straightforward way where we said, okay, let’s stop looking at everything at a macro level and actually pick examples, one by one, and look at the journey. we actually found that the problem was not the day-2 retention. It was actually conversion. And so we ended up running a test of saying, okay, let’s run a campaign that tries to increase day two retention versus a campaign that increases conversion for the right people.

And we saw a huge difference in results. So, I guess what was unconventional here was even though all of the indicators seemed to push towards optimizing for activation day-2 retention and leadership was pushing towards that, I was brought into this conversation to solve that problem. We decided to tackle a completely different problem. And that was a much better solution.

JS: Awesome, how did you deal with leadership pushing back? I know that’s a challenge. What tips would you give folks around doing that?

Francis Brero: Yeah, I think that’s where it’s important to have every hypothesis typically backed with some kind of data. And I think what’s important is to be able to bring enough data to justify the possibility that there’s something else happening. So, maybe like very concretely, what we saw in this example was that out of 30K sign-ups that were coming in every month. Probably around 80% of those were either prosumers or spam emails. And so, there was no chance that those would ever convert or they might activate the product.

But again, you’re selling a B2B product. Like, if you get all those signups, you shouldn’t expect them to convert. And so what really helped was when we said, hey, here’s a random sample of a hundred signups that came in yesterday out of those, how many do you think should be able to convert? And we found that it was like maybe three or four something like that. And so that helped us agree that there is a problem, that if we look at the overall cohort, it’s going to be skewed towards the behavior of these poorly qualified or low value leads.

And so, therefore, what we want to do is look at our onboarding funnel through the lens of the high quality leads and actually start thinking about the journey for these high potential leads, rather than just everyone who’s signing up. And therefore breaking down what the funnel actually looks like for these different categories. Then what we found was, the ones that were companies that have the potential to use the product day-2 retention was really good. And what we had really had was a conversion problem.

So what was happening was that the sales team would end up talking to these folks, but wouldn’t know how to get them to pay. So there was actually a product issue where it was not clear what the value was to move from the free plan to the paid plan for these people that were a great fit. And one of the reasons there was because all the effort was put into making the free plan really awesome to try and boost that day-2 retention, say, Hey, look, our product is so cool. And we’re offering all of this value for free. You should keep on using it after the sign up.

And so that actually generated a pretty big problem when it came to conversion, because there was a very minimal differentiation between the paid product and the free product. And so that, I think, is a really interesting example of where the overall data and the averages tell an incorrect story that could lead you to actually damage your top-line in the long run, if you don’t address it soon enough.

JS: Awesome. Are there any sort of quantitative or qualitative results that you can share from making this decision?

Francis Brero: Yeah, absolutely. So, this was the initial analysis of saying, okay, like we have a conversion problem and now we need to figure out how we actually solve it. And then we can talk a bit about the tools we use there and what we did. But essentially we said, okay, let’s stop focusing on this top of funnel within the trial funnel, and focus on the bottom of the funnel. And we started running campaigns specific to that. And we started seeing very quickly a 5x uptick in meetings booked with the sales team. And after that, we started seeing that translate into revenue.

So that was huge, right! We went from a little under 10 meetings booked by month by one SDR. To over 40, by focusing on targeting the right people and changing the way that the sequences were built, and being less about a time drip saying, hey, you’re three days’ into your trial and this is what you should be doing. Your five days into your trial. This is what you should be doing, let’s try and book a meeting. And sending that to everyone and really focusing on the right people. We also started to think about how the role of sales is less about helping people swipe their credit card and more about being folks that are the right kind of quality, but are blocked in the funnel and how we actually help them overcome that.

So, it was like multiple shifts, but really it was all about, how do we make sure we maximize the value of our reps within this kind of PLG, a product led growth in motion and how sales could really have a huge, incremental impact. And that was not just having sales touch everyone through these automated campaigns, but rather focusing on the right people, so that every conversation they would have had a chance of yielding revenue and that the sales team was able to spend a little bit more time researching who they were contacting. Especially connecting on LinkedIn and things like that, where we saw that people actually respond more on LinkedIn than they do to email.

JS: Awesome. Any bottlenecks or challenges that if folks are wanting to implement this kind of strategy, you can give them a heads up around?

Francis Brero: Yeah, I think there are a couple of the requirements to get something like this up and running. One of the first challenges that I see a lot of people have is how do you do A/B testing in a way that’s easy to monitor afterwards. There’s some tools out there, like the stack was segmented for all the analytics tracking and kind of connection between tools, Customer.io was the email engine and Customer.io was really awesome because of their liquid templating feature. So, you can build these programmatically dynamic emails, and insert things dynamically, have if then conditions, which helps make fairly personalized emails and Clearbit was used for some enrichment to make sure that you talk about what the use cases are based on what job title they have. MadKudu is a core part of it and then Salesforce for tracking the opportunities.

But yeah, so on the A/B testing side, one of the things that we did was very basic, but essentially, if you take the lens of the email, a modulo too,  if it’s like an event or an odd number that would go into group A versus B. We did a quick analysis to make sure that was a fair split. But I know that, that’s one thing that I’ve struggled with in the past. Like how do you build an A/B split that is going to be consistent across all your execution tools, right? Because if you do an A/B test, if you think of an optimizely where it drops a cookie, I mean, that works well.

But then if that same email comes through a different browser, you might not get the same allocation. You can do cross-device, all those kinds of things. But what we found was doing it based on the lens of the email is actually pretty straight forward. And because we were doing this kind of A/B test post email capture. It was really easy to know which segments someone fell into and it made it really simple to look at that segmentation in Salesforce and say, okay, if we look at these two cohorts, which one created more revenue, because it’s like a very easy computation to generate.

So, that was a big learning of how easy it was to create that split. Even though, again, it’s not perfect, but it really gets the job done. And it’s easy to implement. I think in terms of the other roadblock, which would probably be ahead of this, was focusing on the wrong thing. I think that one was the biggest problem for the company where every resource was focused on optimizing this day two retention when the problem was actually conversion. And that one, I think the learning and the way to avoid that roadblock is, for some reason we have shifted into a world where statistics rule everything, and everyone wants to look at charts and things like that.

I find that there is an incredible amount of value in going very granular and looking at specific examples and taking 10 random users and looking at their behaviors step-by-step and combing through that data, just to see if there’s any kind of a pattern that you can identify that is not being caught by the dashboard that you have, because the dashboard might have major blind spots. And that’s where looking at the data manually can help you identify some potential hidden patterns. I think that is incredibly valuable. And this is a good example of that.

I’ve seen countless cases where people are looking at these high-level numbers and it becomes a huge roadblock because there’s an analysis paralysis where we were trying to figure out, Oh, how do we change this little metric? And how do we change that? But there was a huge, unknown that people are not realizing. There is something they haven’t seen. And once they see it, they realize that essentially the experiment is completely bogus and you’ll have to go back to the drawing. Right.

JS: Francis, this was awesome. Thank you. So, so much for bestowing your wisdom today. If folks want to follow you on social media or get in contact with you, what’s the best way to do that? 

Francis Brero: Yeah. So I would say for anything MadKudu related, so, we actually just launched some big new features. So there’s, the announcement has been held out. So, I would say either come to madkudu.com or subscribe to our newsletter. We’re constantly sharing some more insights around different data analysis that have been relevant. And then I’m fairly active on Twitter. My handle is Francis Brero, I share a lot of insights around data and marketing and data science. So feel free to hit me up there.

JS: Awesome, have a wonderful day.

Francis Brero: You too. Thanks for having me.

AO: Boom. That’s it. Another great episode of The One Growth Show , the official podcast of growth marketing conference to learn more about upcoming events, visit www.growthmarketingconf.com and subscribe to the newsletter. If you enjoy this episode, let us know. We’d really appreciate it if you’d give us a five star rating, super easy, just click the last star on iTunes, and also share this episode on social media. After all you want your network to know you’re the person they can always turn to for the best growth and marketing content, don’t you?

Follow GMC everywhere: https://linktr.ee/GrowthMarketingConference

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Reaching Top 1% at One Channel: How Product School Founder Built One of the Fastest Growing Communities

In this episode, Carlos Gonzalez, CEO & Founder of Product School, shares how he leveraged quora.com and his expertise in product management to find his first students, build community and develop relationships with influencers that help build his school to a community of over a million members.

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Adam ODonnell: What is one unconventional growth strategy that you have run that has worked surprisingly well?

Carlos Gonzalez de Villaumbrosia: I became the top product management writer on Quora while starting Product School.

Adam ODonnell: Mic drop. Wow, how did you do that? You gotta break it down.

Carlos Gonzalez de Villaumbrosia: Absolutely. It’s a lot of hustle, first of all. It wasn’t easy. So it was the summer of 2014. I had this idea of starting a school to teach product management, and I’m fully bootstrapped. So, I couldn’t take the VC route. I was trying to do something different than everyone else. I think at that time everyone was trying to set up a medium blog, Twitter account or whatever, but that’s too generic. I decided to focus on one channel and try to be the best at it. So in that case it was Quora. And this is because there was a lot of content around marketing startups, VC, and not so much about product.

So, even though it would look like niche content, it was also not for me. Because my focus at that time was to run a class with 10 students. So, I literally focused on getting those first 10 students. And my strategy was to literally spend two to three hours per day answering questions related to product management, such as how do I get a job in product? Why do engineers make good product managers? Hey, I’m a designer, can I become a product manager? And try to give high quality answers. So, instead of just putting a link to a forum or anything like that, it was really breaking down the process based on my own experience and other people who I know who worked in product.

And it’s interesting because you think about blogs or Twitter, which is basically about putting content out there and hoping that someone will read it. On Quora, you know who’s asking that question. So when you answer, you know for sure that there’s at least one person who cares and you also have the ability to follow up with this person via direct message. So, that’s exactly what I did at the beginning.

Adam ODonnell: This is amazing. So take us to that moment. So, say it was fall of 2014 and you just said, I’m going to do this. Help us with the very first step, did you block off your calendar to make sure that you were committed to that two hour per day of responding?

Carlos Gonzalez de Villaumbrosia: Two hour per day minimum, sometimes more. Yes, and I blocked my calendar. My job at that time was to get 10 students for my class, 10 clients. My channel here is Quora. So, I dedicated a lot of time to it. And still to this day, I write a lot and I’m still at the top writer in product management. I have over 800 answers and almost 2 million views, because obviously we use many other channels to this day, but I think it is also very important to continue building brand and also adding value for free to people who are thinking about something along those lines.

So, I started very focused and I also decided to only answer questions related to product management. There are a lot of other influencers who also like to share stories about their babies, or funny photos of cats. I was like, no, I’m only going to talk about product, I’m going to be remembered for this. And that’s how it started.

Adam ODonnell: It’s so simple and yet I see why it would work. So, help us with how you filtered for the questions. How did you make sure you hit the right question?

Carlos Gonzalez de Villaumbrosia: Well, there is a whole science behind this, because at the very beginning I would just go there and search product management. But then you realize this is a whole universe. It’s almost like SEO within Quora. I call it a Quora SEO, because my goal wasn’t to rank high on Google. It was to rank higher within the Quora. So, first I would identify what are the questions that have the most traction, like most viewers in terms of upvotes. And another key here was the time to answer those questions, because if you are able to answer a new question within, let’s say10 hours, the chances of getting that top answer, most upvotes, is 10x greater than if you take two days to answer.

So, I figured that out. I was literally living on quarter trying to answer every single new question to get that type of positioning, but also answering some of the most popular questions to get some traction that way. And then there’s more tricks such as link building within answers. So, a lot of those questions can be repetitive and they kind of penalize you if you copy paste your answers. So, I would just use links to previous answers to also position my answers in other questions better. And I also have a user kind of navigating through the spiral of the different questions.

And be like, Oh my God, this person is not only answering my question. He also has a list of relevant questions that are good for me. And then I would make sure that I would follow up with every single person who asked a question, via direct message on Quora. I would connect with them on LinkedIn. And I would be there to say, Hey, let me know this was helpful or if there is anything else I can do for you?

Adam ODonnell: Wow, this is so cool, to help us with the kinds of ways that you structured your answers. Because you just mentioned that you can’t copy and paste. So, you’re not going to write crap up there, you’re throwing high quality answers and you’re taking the time to do that. How did you think through that?

Carlos Gonzalez de Villaumbrosia: I think it’s similar to a blog article with a difference that instead of reading this article for thousands of people, I’m going to read this for the person who just asked this question. So, I’m really going to go deep. It’s not just a link to another page. I’m going to give you my reasoning. I’m going to make sure that this is valuable to you. And then, if it’s something that I wrote in another question that might supplement what I just said. I’m going to do internal link building because Quora likes that. Because you are not taking the user outside of Quora and you are taking the user to another Quora question. And the thing that worked really well for me was to tag other influencers.

So, if I’m recommending a book on product management, like Cracking the PM Interview, I would make sure to tag the author of that book. And at some point, some of those influencers were like, Oh, who is this guy tagging me in a lot of questions, who seems to know what he is saying? And then I would also develop relationships with them. So, when I was ready to do something else beyond Quora, such as hosting events. I would also have them as my guest speakers.

Adam ODonnell: This is amazing. Is there anything else you can tell us about the uptick of the progress that you made? How many months did it take for you to start seeing the payoff?

Carlos Gonzalez de Villaumbrosia: So, I started Product School in July 2014. And my first class was on October 12th, 2014. So, I had literally three months maximum to do my thing. It worked out. So, my first cohort of students literally came from Quora. And I continued doing that. For at least for six months, it was two to three hours per day on Quora. And then I was able to start diversifying into other channels. So, I soon started hosting a lot of meetups, free in-person events when that was a thing before COVID and I was the speaker.

I also didn’t have the money to afford guest speakers nor the network. So, what I would do is take some of the most popular questions on Quora, that I knew that resonated with the audience and make them into in-person events.

Adam ODonnell: Man, that is incredible. So, in this COVID world, how has this strategy changed, if at all?

Carlos Gonzalez de Villaumbrosia: Well, that was six years ago, we are much different now. We are a community with over 1 million members. We have so many different events, content and courses, that obviously, Quora is a very small part of the entire marketing puzzle. But to your point about events or in general about building community, it’s all about really adding value. And now we are able to add value at scale through multiple channels, but I am a big believer in building our community first before the business and really making sure that people find value and for free. It’s just about getting a relationship going.

And then, I assume that a percentage of that community will want to take the next step. And it’s totally okay to offer paid options that you can also use to reinvest in the community. But taking that approach of adding value first, before trying to figure out how to monetize in the short term, is what we keep doing and we’ll continue to do in the future.

Adam ODonnell: And that is probably the most valuable thing you said, it’s leading with that. You’re not expecting a result from that person. You’re not expecting money from them. You’re just sincerely adding value. And you know in the end, it will take care of itself.

Carlos Gonzalez de Villaumbrosia: A lot of those tactics change. Because first of all, what I just shared about Quora, probably made a lot of sense when nobody knew about it. But six years forward, I’m sure there are many other people also trying to play the same game. So, it’s our responsibility to always try to find these types of little growth pockets and capitalize of them before they become mainstream.

Adam ODonnell: That’s great. I’m about to start doing this. What’s the biggest roadblock that I’m going to hit in month one with Quora using this strategy? 

Carlos Gonzalez de Villaumbrosia: Yeah, it gets to a point that there’s only so many top questions that really have traction and there’s only so many new questions that the audience is asking. And you’re getting diminishing returns. It’s a lot of long tail questions that not many people read. So, that’s when you start thinking about what else you can do. And for me it was about getting more upvotes in my previous questions, than really getting so many new questions. Because let’s say you’re looking at a question that has 15,000 followers.

If you’re able to position your answer at number one, two or three, that’s much better than a hundred answers on questions that only two or three people care about. So, the engagement piece of it was critical. That’s why I was trying to combine two. One is identifying what’s new to try to get that type of a first mover advantage. But you also don’t know the traction of that question. And then at the same time, I was just trying to hyper optimize really, really good answers in highly popular questions, even though I was in the first or second or third, by sharing it with high-quality, tagging the right people that could upvote me, in some cases I was able to make it to the top three.

Adam ODonnell: Got it. This has been incredible. Do you have anything else that we could be thinking about? Let us know, where we can follow you? What’s the best platform now? 

Carlos Gonzalez de Villaumbrosia: I mean, you have to follow me on Quora after what you just said. But beyond that, I am very active on LinkedIn. We’re doing a lot of stuff there. I would say LinkedIn has a very big opportunity these days. They just released LinkedIn live, similar to Facebook live or Twitter live. Every time there is a new feature created by a big platform. They are very interested in pushing it hard. So, you will see that they are sending more notifications than usual and making sure that people get it.

We were able to get an early enough to now live stream all of our events. We do around a thousand events per year and they’re actually free. We livestream them on LinkedIn. And that was really powerful because there are so many people that don’t know about us and by using certain hashtags. So yes, by offering these for free, having speakers re-share, and in general creating that type of word of mouth affect. We are able to attract a lot of people in a very, very light way. I would say, because they see our commitment here. And then, it’s true that the value that you are getting is good enough, then maybe you’ll consider consuming more content.

Adam ODonnell: This has been an incredible Carlos. Thank you so much for you.

Carlos Gonzalez de Villaumbrosia: Thank you. I was very excited to share this because this is not my typical interview, but I appreciate it. And I hope this is helpful too. So many other founders and marketers out there who are thinking about how to grow.

Adam ODonnell: It definitely is! Thank you.

Boom. That’s it. Another great episode of The One Growth Show , the official podcast of growth marketing conference to learn more about upcoming events, visit www.growthmarketingconf.com and subscribe to the newsletter. If you enjoy this episode, let us know. We’d really appreciate it if you’d give us a five star rating, super easy, just click the last star on iTunes, and also share this episode on social media. After all you want your network to know you’re the person they can always turn to for the best growth and marketing content, don’t you?

Follow GMC everywhere: https://linktr.ee/GrowthMarketingConference

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Leadership as a Growth Strategy: Speed X Thoughtfulness

In this episode, we’re in conversation with Jay Bowden, Managing Director of Growth, Home and Consumer Services, Google. We examine how to genuinely nurture a culture of trust, navigate leadership through uncertain times, and build capacity for a team to perform better. And most importantly, every leader needs to focus on creating an impact within the company that ultimately generates revenue growth.

Listen on Apple Podcasts

JS: What’s one unconventional growth tactic that works surprisingly well?

Jay Bowden: So Jorge, you know, for me, I think it’s an unconventional answer to your unconventional growth strategy and I’d say Leadership, in the sense that typically in a growth strategy is going to imply products or strategy or a dynamic in the market, those types of things. But I think of leadership first, often great leaders can get a lot done. If a great leader doesn’t have a great team, I just think they don’t have the propensity to do as much.

Right. So when I think about that, I think hiring great people is first and foremost to being a great leader, I think you can do more with more. And a few things come to mind. One is setting a north star for the team. And I like for it to be aggregated from the group, not top down from me. And I go out and I write a north star, I write a mission statement and I say, what do you think? And people have to agree and that kinda thing. We like the whiteboard with it. We like to get everyone involved. We like to feel like it came from everyone. And then for me as a leader, kind of getting buy into that, and having people want to follow that mission, and want to accomplish our goals. I feel like that’s the way to go about it. 

JS: What other sort of actionable tactics or strategies would allow you to implement this leadership approach that really drives growth?

Jay Bowden: Well, first of all, I think about impact first, right? First and foremost in the line I use, I do prefer it and we’re a sales organization. And just to be candid a couple of things come to mind. One is that the ultimate sign of customer success is revenue growth on our side, right? Client’s that, in our business, clients of Google’s, don’t tend to spend more money if they’re not seeing the ROI on their side. So, I like for my team’s to be focused on impact and by impact. We have a quota, we have a sales number to attain. We have a growth rate.

I love the title of this. One of the questions was, what do you have in common with GMC? Well, my title is Director of Growth right now. We’ve started up a lab in the group that I’m in called the partner growth lab. So the word growth is really what we’re focused on. So year over year percentage is great, but net dollars to the company, net dollars to the business, ultimately I think is the ultimate way to see if we’re being successful against our plan. If our people are performing well, if those numbers are not healthy. Then, you know, typically I wanna have a conversation. I just want to see what might be missing.

Is there a way that I can help remove obstacles is something I get to do, hopefully for my teams not become an obstacle, which I think is an interesting one for leaders. If you’re spending all your time making your leader happy or trying to find answers to random questions that you get a text on it sometimes at night, that’s way too distracting. I like to keep people focused on the goals at hand, again impact first, and we can see impact in a number of ways Jorge. So I think that’s an easy one actually, based on the systems that we put in place.

JS: Are there any sort of soft skills or qualitative attributes that this type of leader possesses?

Jay Bowden: So yeah, I think yes. And I also have to watch out, right, and not have biases as a leader, right? Traditionally in a sales organization, you could argue there is a stereotype or a stereotypical salesperson or successful leader or a sales leader. And I’ve actually found that that’s not the case. There’s not one pattern here. And so I have a very open mind these days. I think great ideas come from everywhere in an organization. They certainly don’t come from me. And so I try to be as inclusive as possible. 

And again, the wisdom of the crowds, I think about all of us being smarter than one of us. And so the more people that are involved, the more room we give them to do great things. I think that’s how they can be successful. So to your question, is it an EQ? Is it IQ?, Is it that they look and act a certain way? I don’t think there’s denotable quality in a soft skill, but I think first and foremost, they do have to care about people. They have to care about their people and you can’t fake that. Especially with good people, if you’re running a team of great people and I’m fortunate to work at Google, I think we hire really, really good people.

They’ll know when you’re fake. They’ll know when you don’t really care about them. They’ll know when you just want what you want from them. So I think to be a great leader, the soft skills become authenticity. And I bring my whole self to work. You don’t meet Jay at the grocery store and you don’t meet Jay at another event. And then you meet Jay as the leader and think, wow, that’s a totally different guy, right? Like, no, I bring myself, I bring my stories that bring my life to work. And I’m myself, every single day. To my point on being inclusive. That’s a really important piece as well. I think when teams feel included, when people that are helping you achieve your goals, feel included in the program and a part of the team, they just do so much more.

And when I say that, it even sounds like I’m doing it for that reason. I’m actually not, I’m doing it for them because in my career when I felt included, I performed at the highest level. Which by the way means when I came home, I was in the best mood, which means as a dad I was the best dad, as a husband I was the best husband. So being inclusive, it just makes everybody feel better about what they’re doing. And these days giving that to people is something that’s super important.

JS: That’s awesome. How do you sort of create a culture of trust?

Jay Bowden: So trust is a two way street, right? And I mean, that sounds pretty simple and pretty basic, but again, to my point a minute ago, great people won’t work for someone they don’t trust. So in the end I establish it by leading by example. And that’s so cliche, right? I mean, but it’s so true. Look at our world, right. If I’m transparent and I share what’s going on with my team, I share up, I just got this note, there’s this thing that we gotta watch out for in the business, or we are a little concerned about this. I shoot them straight.

And I think they trust me because they see a lot of times the comms that I’ve pushed through Jorge or direct from above or around. So there’s no copying pasting and I’m just showing them the part I want them to see. I wanted them to see the whole note and know that I trust them with that information. It may be confidential. I say, please do not forward. But I think showing that I’m willing to share everything, builds trust with the team. And then when I need something in return, when we are missing something, if there’s a metric that’s off, if we’re missing a number, we’re down on some areas that we think we should be better at.

I think I get more from the team when they trust me. And by the way, I love that I can trust the people that I hire because I sleep better at night. I don’t worry about double checking their work. They don’t see me making changes because  I think something was wrong. I might add or subtract something. But in general, I see us as partners and I think with partnership should, and hopefully does come trust.

JS: I’ve been a type of individual who’s generally really kind to everybody. And I’d be very kind to my coworkers, to the folks who have worked for and have worked on my team or reported to me, those sorts of things. But I have struggled in the past with just in general, even just in life, with the distinction between kindness and then being weak.

How would you say that you find that balance within the role of a leader?

Jay Bowden: Well, first of all, I think it’s a fine line. I’ve had leaders that were not kind, that kind of wanted what they wanted from me. It was a transactional relationship, right. I was more like that in my earlier days in my career because I was insecure myself. I worried too much about what my teams thought about me. I tried to always say something that was smart or that would, Oh, you know, I’m the boss. I should have something great to say here. Well, over time, Jorge, I’ve learned, first of all, don’t expect that much from me.

And I don’t expect that I’m going to have the right answer every time. To my earlier point on the wisdom of the crowds to my earlier point on hiring great people and the expression, don’t mistake kindness for softness. I think it comes through. Because I want to be inspirational. I want to motivate our teams and my people to do the best that they can. And I’m going to be kind, and I think about taking vacation time. To your earlier point when you and I were chatting earlier, we talked about meditation and your doing things. I highly recommend those things to the team.

So I think that’s me being kind, as a human being. I’m saying that I want you to take care of yourself. I want you to be healthy. I want you to enjoy what we’re doing. But when we started this relationship, we did set some standards. We did set a bar and we are going to maintain that if we fall off, if you fall off, I’m going to have a conversation with you and say, Hey, we all see the numbers there, or a couple of numbers that are missing. How can I help you? And then I think it’s the respect piece and that trust piece. Jorge, where I don’t get taken advantage of for being a kind leader, because they also know I have a very healthy respect for high performance.

And I know most likely because I don’t tend to hire people that don’t have high expectations of themselves. The good news is they want to do as much or more than I do. And being kind is a great way to express humanity, in my view.

JS: We were living in interesting times, as we know, and there’s a lot of impact on people’s mental health, which impacts physical health in general. What tips would you give leaders who have to deal with this? You might have a high performer who now is really having some struggles? And this has been happening all over the place. My father is an industrial psychologist and the stuff that he tells me makes my stomach turn. What’s happening with his client’s and the way that people are being affected.

What kind of tips would you give a leader that might be dealing with this? That might be dealing with his or her team dealing with some very tough emotional psychological challenges?

Jay Bowden: Yeah. What a life growing up with a father that’s an industrial psychologist, right? I think you’ve probably learned a lot from your father. And I think for the rest of us, candidly, we don’t know. I mean, we are operating in times that no one that’s alive today, no one has ever seen before. So, first of all, don’t expect yourself to be perfect and don’t sacrifice good for great. Second of all, treat people as you want to be treated. Most of the leaders that I manage, most of them have kids.

Most of them at least have partners. Some of them are taking care of their parents. Some were living in multi-generational homes. And so you need to understand that, by the way by knowing, by asking questions and being curious. If I meet someone, I say, Hey, how’s your husband, you Jim or whatever. And that’s not the right name and how are the kids? And they don’t have any kids. Then you know how the dogs, they have cats. I’m not paying attention. Right. I don’t care. I’m not empathetic to them. So to answer your question, be empathetic first, if there’s that whole expression put the oxygen mask on you first, right, like the directions in a plane.

If you’re not taking care of yourself, you can’t take care of others. So for me, the same applies. I need a break. I need time. I build capacity over the years through a number of techniques, be it meditation, like keeping a gratitude journal on a daily basis, just to remind myself of the things that I’m grateful for. And so that I don’t take them for granted or wish I was at some different places in my life. So I share those stories, Jorge, with the team. And I would say the general answer is to listen, if someone’s struggling and you can see it, or even better yet someone shares with you that they know someone’s struggling.

And I might not know about that. Just to take that with all due respect, right? I call it most respectful interpretation, MRI. So it’s not snarky. It’s not critical, it’s just saying, Hey, I know you’re going through some tough times. I wanted to make sure you take time off. We got this. And I found this, especially in Google, but I would imagine at all kinds of top performing organizations, people worry that if they take time off their job, their performance, their career trajectory is going to be hurt. And so my first thing is to make sure they know that it will not, this will have no effect on your trajectory and your performance.

These are unusual times, you need to take care of yourself and your family and the rest will come. And again, as I say that, I find, you know, repetition, doesn’t spoil the prayer, right? I do say that a number of times, I still see people not taking the time they need. So, reinforcing that that’s the way I feel. And Jorge, leading by example, I’ve taken some time off. I say I’m going to go do this, I’m going to do that over the weekend. I did this because it’s something I enjoy, it’s something that makes me feel good, and it’s something that builds capacity. So, I can give to work when I come in on Monday. I share it all. 

JS: That’s fantastic. If I’m a leader who wants to be better and wants to be more empathetic, then develop more trusts. What are some short term tips that I can implement right now?

Jay Bowden: So I’ll never forget the first one on one I had with the new boss. I was in a new role,  I had much more scope. I had moved. We lived in Atlanta, we moved out to California. I am sitting in this room with this person who is the vice president. In my first one on one, I swear to you the whole hour, all he did was ask about me. All he did. Where did I grow up? What music instruments did I play? Kids? Dogs? Hobbies? And he was writing some of this stuff down. And I’ll never forget, because I do believe that you go to a cocktail party or you meet someone and they ask a bunch of questions about you.

And then later you’re talking to your friend or your spouse, where you say, man, I really liked that guy, Jorge. Well, what I really liked was that I got to talk about myself and Jorge asked questions about me. So, I would say the first step to being that leader is to ask questions, be curious and get to know your people on a people level. The performance will come. You hired them for all the right reasons. Right. But to know them on a personal level. And if there’s something in common there, great. If there’s nothing in common there, that’s fine too. So, I think establishing that people basis, the other piece Jorge is be confident in yourself.

It took me a long time to gain my confidence. I’ve struggled with imposter syndrome over the course of my career, because I was always in rooms where I thought I wasn’t the smartest person in the room and I’d be thinking oh wow, these people are so smart. So I would say have that internal confidence, know yourself and feel good about yourself. Cause again, like the oxygen mask thing, if you don’t feel good about yourself, you’re really not going to be able to help others. And the final line that I love, but it sounds counterintuitive is to care less. So, what I mean by that is care a ton, but don’t care so much that it consumes you.

You can’t have work life balance and those things. So as a leader prepare enough, certainly you want your teams to see that you care, but you want your teams to also see that you have balance. And you know that ultimately we were playing a game, we’re in sales, we’re not saving lives. We’re not doing those types of critical jobs. So, we’re trying to make numbers. We’re trying to hit attainments, if you will. But in the end, it is a game that we’re playing, we’re going to continue to play it. To use a bad sports analogy, you have a bad inning, the next inning can be better. You have a bad golf shot and the next one could be better.

So, just know that we are playing the game here. Don’t take it and don’t take yourself too seriously. 

JS: Thank you so much for your time today. This was awesome. If folks want to learn more about you and maybe some of your best practices or follow you on social, what are the best URLs or handles to go to? 

Jay Bowden: Well, I spend most of my time on LinkedIn, so it’s Jay Bowden. Please find me there, candidly trying to do a better job sharing and being out there on LinkedIn specifically.

So, you will see more and more content from me over the next few months. Like I said earlier, I do not know it at all. I’d love to learn from others as well. 

JS: Awesome will have a wonderful day. Thank you so much. 

Jay Bowden: You too. Thank you for including me, Jorge. Have a great one.

AO: Boom. That’s it. Another great episode of The One Growth Show , the official podcast of growth marketing conference to learn more about upcoming events, visit www.growthmarketingconf.com and subscribe to the newsletter. If you enjoy this episode, let us know. We’d really appreciate it if you’d give us a five star rating, super easy, just click the last star on iTunes, and also share this episode on social media. After all you want your network to know you’re the person they can always turn to for the best growth and marketing content, don’t you?

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Customer Data Platforms as a B2B Growth Engine: 3x Highly Targeted Leads & Close Enterprise Deals

Eric Siu, Founder of ClickFlow, shares how to leverage customer data platforms as a B2B growth engine to triple your highly target leads.

Listen on Apple Podcasts

JS: What’s one unconventional growth tactic or strategy that worked surprisingly well?

Eric Siu: The one that’s kind of a highlight for me is being able to use customer data platforms and use them in an offensive manner. So, what I mean by that is we get a decent amount of traffic coming to our site per month, approaching about 300,000 visits a month. So there’s a lot of different IP addresses hitting our site. This is all anonymous.

So we use Hull.io, it allows us to uncover these IP addresses. So for example, I can set a filter saying if two people from the same company visit our site in the last 30 days, I want to uncover four people from their marketing team and automatically put them into a sales enablement tool. And so we use Outreach. So the beauty of this is Coca-Cola for example, they visit our page on SEO or whatever. We know two people from their company who have visited our SEO page. So we might send them a sequence that’s tailored to SEO.

So it’s a little more complex set up, but I encourage you to try it. I think if you even have more than 50,000 visits a month, you should be leveraging something like this. If your Annual Contract Value (ACV) is probably getting five or six figures above because what we were able to do was we got our, and this is public information now. So for the marketing school podcast that I do with Neil, we got a $800,000 deal, a podcast deal, just from this being automated. So we had someone from DreamHosts visit, VP of marketing and visited. And then from there we automatically sent them an email and he responded to the email and then we set up a call there. 

But usually we wouldn’t have picked that up. Right. Because we, people were just busy doing other stuff. So you almost have like an inside sales person automatically sending an outreach to certain people and that picks up deals that normally, otherwise you wouldn’t have gotten.

AO: Amazing. Eric can you give us some details on any other metrics in terms of performance? Just to really tease listener’s to encourage them to go do this. 

Eric Siu: Yeah. I’m trying to think of how many more leads does it drive for us? Right. So I think it does drive, and by the way that you like for us typically just on the marketing agency side, so there’s a couple of other businesses that we have, but just on the marketing agency side, typically from organic traffic, we might drive like anywhere from six to ten qualified leads, really qualified cause were very picky about who we work with per month.

Now when we added this and it added about eight more per month, right. So you can see that’s triple the amount of what we usually would get. And now we have a bunch of other stuff, educational stuff, but I’m just thinking about the super high tier stuff that we sell. It’s triple the leads. 

JS: How do you actually deploy this technology? I know you mentioned, you know, Outreach.io. What is the actual stack involved in? And how do you get started with this? 

Eric Siu: Yeah, I think this is probably more intermediate to advanced type of thing you want to deploy in terms of our stack.

We have a lot of data that comes in, you know, sales people filling out HubSpot, right? So we have our CRM, that’s connected to the HubSpot sales enablement tool. We use Outreach. And then what we do is we hook it in with Facebook ads as well. So we can take Pixel and then we can automatically re-target those people from want. It could automatically update the audience with it as well. So it’s super powerful, but ultimately I think it’s whatever you have in your stack, just from a CRM and sales enablement perspective. And if you’re running ads great. And then you can be off and running. What I would say though, is it did take us about a couple of weeks to set it up using the developer’s to help.

So, there’s going to be a little bit of tweaking. You got to figure out the right filters, figure out the right pages people are hitting and then kind of go from there. 

AO: So, if I were to try to get started right now, is the first thing Hull.io? 

Eric Siu: So, the first piece of the puzzle is you gotta make sure you have a site with traffic, otherwise, I’d say don’t do this. Okay. So at least 50K and then ideally you’re using some type of CRM. There’s a lot of different web hooks that you can connect into the hook and with Zapier as well.

So think about your CRM. Think about whatever sales enablement tool you have. And by the way, you don’t need to pay for something like, I love Outreach. I love SalesLoft, but you can easily hook in with your email service provider, then you can hook it up with Zapier and then just whatever stack that you have. It probably will plugin. So, Hull to your question, Adam and Jorge, that’s the first part of it. And then you hook it in with all the other stuff that you have and you’re just testing to see what works and you’re testing different sequences. 

AO: Got it. Have you had any problems with Hull when people aren’t at the office as much? Because I would imagine that would really be affected. 

Eric Siu: Yeah. I mean you can, obviously you can tailor it back, and tell it to be less aggressive on the sales enablement side. And I think this is just like marketing one on one. You don’t want to be tone deaf, obviously right now where all at home, you don’t wanna hit them as aggressively as you would otherwise, people are just going to keep hitting the spam button. 

AO: So yeah, man, and this is amazing. Any roadblocks that you would tell somebody about to go execute on this? 

Eric Siu: I think I want to caveat, I think I said it three times already. So the fourth time, I would say just to double, triple, quadruple check to make sure you have some semblance of traction, and you’re getting leads from your website.

You probably have at least 50,000 visits a month or so, your ACVs or probably north of five figures to make something like this work, because it is an expensive endeavor to set up and it’s not cheap to use tools like this. Oh, and I forgot to include, you got to have Clearbit too. That’s another caveat, so Clearbit does help us enrich the leads that we have coming in. 

AO: That’s amazing. Well, I mean you just destroy. Thank you. Do you have any other questions, Jorge?

JS: Yeah I guess one of my biggest questions is in terms of the hand off from the automation to a human to close the deal or to bring it further in the sales cycle?

Eric Siu: That’s a great question. So what basically happens is we have a catch all sales email, and then we use Front. You don’t need to use Front by the way. But Front is our shared inbox tool that we use and that allows all our sales people to jump in and then kind of round-robin from there. So you can do that. That’s a little more manual or you can dump them into like a, you know, say, Hey, if you want to book a call with us, just click on the schedule once link that you can round robin it, if you want to do something like that or Calendly whatever you wanna use. So many different ways to skin a cat. I don’t want to overwhelm people with tools here. 

AO: We got the key part, which is huge. And I mean, we don’t want to overwhelm people with content either. So I think you’ve nailed it in the short amount of time here. So that’s all I got. Thank you so much. 

Eric Siu: Yeah. Thanks for having me. 

JS: Absolutely. Thank you.

AO: Boom. That’s it. Another great episode of The One Growth Show , the official podcast of growth marketing conference to learn more about upcoming events, visit www.growthmarketingconf.com and subscribe to the newsletter. If you enjoy this episode, let us know. We’d really appreciate it if you’d give us a five star rating, super easy, just click the last star on iTunes, and also share this episode on social media. After all you want your network to know you’re the person they can always turn to for the best growth and marketing content, don’t you?

Follow GMC everywhere: https://linktr.ee/GrowthMarketingConference

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Competing with Giants: Leveraging Affiliate Marketing to Skyrocket Growth & Get Acquired

Sean Sheppard, Founder of GrowthX, shares how a company you know as Match.com (previously known as oneandonly.com) leveraged affiliate marketing to skyrocket growth by 30% a month for five years until it was acquired.

Listen on Apple Podcasts

AO: What is one unconventional growth tactic you ran or have seen someone run that did surprisingly well?

Sean Sheppard: Affiliate Marketing in the early days as a way to help people who had websites that couldn’t be monetized, otherwise make money. It was an incredible channel. And I think it still is. Any time that you can help somebody else make money or monetize their property or asset. I think you have a distinct advantage or potential unique value proposition. 

AO: Awesome. So, can you share the impact that you saw it have initially?

Sean Sheppard: Sure. I always point to one of my business partners at GrowthX, Will Bunker, who founded a little website called oneandonly.com for dating back in the mid nineties. He raised only $90,000 from his boss, worked during the day with his partner in an entirely different business while they built the website at night and tried to grow it. Meanwhile, Match.com had gone out and raised $10 million and had had a very high profile launch. Over the next five years however, oneandonly beat Match in terms of traction in growth in revenue, so much that match and one and only we’re both acquired separately, strategically by IAC.


And they took the Match.com name and they gave it to one and only, and used one and only platforms, customer base, business model and team to grow because they figured out something that match had not, which was the ability to leverage affiliate marketing as a way to grow. And by that, I mean, at the time many websites, most websites, in fact, didn’t have a way to monetize. There was no real business model behind them.

So Will and his team figured out a way to pay people a commission for placing one and only dating ads on their sites. And that became so popular that these websites started to really make decent money. So they actually started to build a business model around essentially being an affiliate of one and only, and I think there’s a really important lesson there. You don’t have necessarily just to have to have a unique product or service, but if you can help in a business to business or Affiliate environment, if you can help somebody make money with their asset in a way that they otherwise couldn’t, you might have a unique value proposition as a result one and only grew 30% a month, month over month for five consecutive years before being acquired.

AO: What an amazing success story. I love to see the lesson of the story and the real reason that they ultimately grew. So could you give us some more around the strategies that they used for this affiliate? We know that this was a while ago. So we have to apply that now, but I think we can learn a lot in just the strategy and their approach.

Sean Sheppard: Yeah, of course it doesn’t. I don’t think it’s any different today, guys. I think at the end of the day, you have to come up with a unique value proposition, understand why people buy from you and demonstrate to them that you can deliver on that. So in a business to business environment, people only buy for one of four reasons to make more money, save more money, create or maintain a competitive advantage. So a strategic reason, or my favorite stay out of prison, risk liability, things like that.

That’s what I mean when I make the jokes stay out of prison. So if you’re trying to grow through channels where there’s an opportunity you have to leverage additional businesses. So say, you’re going B2B to C, you need to show a value proposition that’s quantifiably tied to one or more of those four reasons. So it gives somebody a strategic reason for wanting to do business with you. Maybe it’s driving more traffic. I don’t know. But the point is that you have to understand that and have that conversation with those people. So your offering needs to be very clear. You need to be able to get on the phone or get in person and have a live interaction with someone.

So the way that Will and his team did it, is that’s literally what they did. They started calling up the busiest websites that were tied to a live chat in and around that, because what they realized very early on was the problem they we’re solving for wasn’t trying to get people connected to a date, they were trying to solve for loneliness. And so they focused on websites and communities  and traffic that was being driven by the basic human need to connect with other people.

And their value proposition was, look, you throw this little box in the corner, your page, and  I’ll pay you 10% on every conversion. By then they’d already figured out what their conversion metrics were. They knew that they could make $28 on somebody’s for about $1.80 with a customer lifetime, average lifetime of three months. And they went to work on that and they began to scale that. And they did that, like I said, in a very analog way, this is before outbound email and outreach.

I, and those sorts of things existed. So it was a call center environment where you contacted the host and owners of certain domains. And it wasn’t difficult to get those lists because most of that stuff is publicly registered and they built and grew that way. It was really that straight forward. I think that the real lesson here though, Adam, is that whatever channel you find works, you need to master that channel. Don’t just throw water on it or throw, excuse me, throw gas on the fire to put the pedal down and throw more resources to it.

But you truly need to understand it. What’s that channel about, where’s your value in that channel? How do you deliver that value? How do you build clear relationships and partnerships and calls to action around a given channel? I’ve got another really good example, a company that mastered SEO and SEM in the online auto parts industry before anybody else did. They didn’t own inventory.

They were like everybody else. It was a virtual inventory play, but they figured out that search engine marketing and search engine optimization was really the only way they were going to be able to compete because they didn’t have deep pockets. And therefore they didn’t have the ability to outspend on the paid side, the bigger players. And so they decided they were going to focus on the long game of SEO and SEM. And today in my portfolio, as well as with so many companies, I help and advise.

My friend, who works for Wasserstoff Aktien kaufen, agreed with me in that I see so much fear and reticence around investing in long-term strategies because people don’t have big runways or they might just generally be shortsighted. And they’re focused on quick feedback loops and transactional strategies and tactics towards growing. But I’ll tell you what, you know, life is a marathon, not a sprint. And if you can find a channel that yields high value inbound based on making long-term investments in expertise, not just in the money that you put out towards a particular channel or invest in a channel, you can see incredible results because as buyers in the market, we just want authenticity.

We want certainty, we want reliability. We want transparency. And most importantly, we want to be able to trust the resource and the source of whatever it is we buy because if I’m buying something from a website and it doesn’t work, I can’t call the website and choke out the website. I need a human, right. I need a human throat to choke. And so I need recourse. Yep. And I don’t get that recourse through quick flashy, kitschy, clever s**t.

I get that recourse from seeing long form. Not just a long form but over time seeing consistent value being created.

AO: Yeah. Sean, thank you so much. And for just helping us with this and I think with your example, I want to dive into one thing that you said about going back to the dating site example, they were saying that they realized that they were not solving for getting someone a date. They were solving for loneliness. And as a result of that realization, they picked the right channels. So could you talk about that process? Cause I think conceptually it’s easy to go to a different channel then the real underlying problem. But the first thing they did was pick the right channel.

Sean Sheppard: But once they understood what the real problem was, they went where that traffic was. And then they tried to deeply understand how that traffic behaved, why it went, where it went, what it did, it, why it did what it did and where the gaps were for a product or a service like theirs. And then try to identify those gaps with the powers that be who control that traffic or control those locations and use the value proposition that said, Hey, I can help you make more money in this way.

And that took some time but I think what’s really important for anybody, especially growth marketers who are very data-driven, very tech-oriented, which is important and wonderful is that at the end of the day, it’s not the tech that wins in this marketing, it’s the insights that you glean from trying to understand your market. And those insights are what’s going to carry you into the right channel at the right time. Hopefully with the right message. 

AO: That’s awesome, Sean. Thank you. Thank you so much, man. So we got to pick the right channel and then it seems like getting this affiliate relationship is less Aha. I mean, it seems like that’ll kind of be a fruit of just understanding that channel. Like you’ll know how to have that right messaging, but is there anything else you could say around that the second part of the affiliate process?

Sean Sheppard: Oh sure. I mean, you need to know who that affiliate partner is, what they care about, what business model they have, if any, what market in the industry they serve in, in other words, who is your customer’s customer and how do they measure their own success against that? And then how can you contribute to it and then build your value proposition and articulate around that?

AO: Yeah. Is there anything you can say around the next stage, which is just the actual transaction of money with the affiliate partners? Is there anything special that happened that we need to learn from? 

Sean Sheppard: Yeah, just a general rule for anybody, when you’re asking anybody to do anything, you’re asking them to change behavior to a certain degree. And so that the number one objective of anybody trying to do something new or create a new behavior should be to make it as easy as possible for people to do that. So be prepared, be ready and have a plan, a strategy and a program, if you will. A programmatic way to make it really easy for somebody to do business with you. It’s easy for us to get really focused on our own thing and, stop asking the question, how easy or hard do we make it for other people to work with us?

And I can tell you that the number one catalyst for change is making it stupid, easy for people to make that change.

AO: That is so good. Thank you so much, Sean. Last question, are there any roadblocks you can see someone having, besides the things that you already mentioned as you were going out to create the right affiliate marketing channel?

Sean Sheppard: Well, I think the only roadblock is the shoe on the other foot test, right? I mean, have they walked a mile in the shoes of the people that they’re trying to work with, to either partner with or convert. How deeply do they understand those people, their motives, their agendas, their wants, needs, and desires and the things that get them to move? And then from there it’s reverse engineering your way back to you through their methods, means, formats and channels that they most utilize when their mind share is in a place that’s adjacent to yours, so that you can get that mind share and get them to move.

AO: Boom. Sean, thank you so much. This has been incredible pleasure. 

Sean Sheppard: Adam any time man.

AO: Boom. That’s it. Another great episode of The One Growth Show , the official podcast of growth marketing conference to learn more about upcoming events, visit www.growthmarketingconf.com and subscribe to the newsletter. If you enjoy this episode, let us know. We’d really appreciate it if you’d give us a five star rating, super easy, just click the last star on iTunes, and also share this episode on social media. After all you want your network to know you’re the person they can always turn to for the best growth and marketing content, don’t you?

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Growth Experiments: How to Reach Powerful ROI With Unconventional Ideas

Chris shares how an unconventional yet simple idea outperformed the best algorithm tested and optimized idea by more than 70%. Tune into this podcast to learn how to implement this simple strategy to maximize your ROI.

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Adam O’Donnell: What’s one unconventional growth tactic you’ve run or seen someone that has worked surprisingly well? 

Chris Yeh: Well, this is actually very much on my mind. It happened recently with one of my portfolio companies and I’ve been working with them on their growth tactics, because like everyone who’s got an online service so much is focused on building out the perfect funnel, creating the best ads, building the best landing page, looking through the onboarding flow, making sure you’re remove friction at every turn. And as a company, they spent so much time trying to optimize things and they got a lot of smart people and that’s all great.

But the unconventional lesson for today that has just been rammed home over the past week is sometimes you have to test the stupid Ideas too. So, when you have all these brilliant people, they’ve read all the blog posts, they’re tuning into the podcasts, they’re picking up different tactics and different ways to go about it. And they took all that knowledge and they used it to build out a set of different landing pages and they created different versions of the landing page. There were versions with animations, versions without animations, versions with different language, more aggressive, less aggressive, so on and so forth.

There are so many different versions they’ve been tuning in for a long time. And they’d gotten to the point where they were getting maybe just minor incremental improvements and even many of the experiments were failing, which is okay because experiments are meant to fail. They’re meant to determine, if you knew in advance it was going to work, you’d just do it. But the sense had arisen that really there wasn’t that much more optimization to be done. And it was at this point and I can’t claim credit for this. I’m not sure if I suggested this or someone else suggested it, but somebody said, you know, people really seem to like our homepage. Why don’t we just use a version of our homepage as the landing page? 

Now this seems like a pretty stupid idea because the homepage again, while it conveys what the company and the service is about, is  not optimized for conversion. It’s fair. It’s got this giant 90 second video on it. It doesn’t have aggressive language. It has  places for you to click above. So you can click away from the page that doesn’t focus everything just on one call to action. So for all these reasons, it seems like it would be a terrible landing page, but we said, Hey, you know what, why not test it?

It doesn’t take much time. We can just throw it into the rotation. Let’s see what happens. Well, we’ve been running this experiment for a couple of weeks now and we’ve kept running it because we couldn’t believe the results. But as of today, when we went through it and there are enough data points now to make the numbers statistically significant, that simple thing using the homepage, the non-optimized, never designed to be a landing page. Something that people thought was a dumb idea, was out performing the next best one by over 70%.

Adam O’Donnell: Wow. 

Chris Yeh: Yeah. And again, these are really smart people, growth hacking going through the numbers, running the equations, doing all these different things. And sometimes just doing the dumbest thing works and we have these intuitions, but no matter how good our intuitions are, no matter how much they line up with the stories we’ve heard. The one thing that you gotta do is test, see what the numbers say. And if the numbers tell you, that dumb thing works better, sometimes it’s genius to be stupid too. 

JS: So, Chris what are some attributes that this page had that you think as you were testing it. I’m sure you were testing certain CTAs or areas of the page. Well, what do you think was so unique or drove all this engagement? 

Chris Yeh: So I think there’s something counterintuitive about trying to sell a new service that people aren’t familiar with. And I think the counterintuitive thing is we’ve all been taught, get people through to the next stage as quickly as possible, reduce the friction, reduced the friction, but what the homepage did because it wasn’t designed according to traditional landing page principles, was it actually had this embedded 90 second video, that went over at a very high level, what it was that the product did.

And it might be that when you’re explaining a new concept that people aren’t as familiar with going longer is actually the better way to generate valuable actions, because this worked throughout, it worked both in the sense of clicking through from the landing page to the start of the onboarding funnel. And it also worked in the sense that the percentage that got through the onboarding funnel was actually higher as well. So it may be that by making sure that they felt more fully educated by the time they began the onboarding process, that they were more dedicated, more motivated to actually make it all the way through.

Adam O’Donnell: Wow. I mean, this is interesting. What is it telling us about the B2B buyer that we’re working on right now? Every time we think we figured it out, it’s something like this that wins.

Chris Yeh: It is always about the numbers. I mean, we have to have this experimental hypothesis driven approach, but you also have to understand that sometimes you’re testing around and you’re getting incremental improvements, there may be a local maximum that you’ve hit, but there may be a global maximum somewhere else. So I often tell people, Hey, if we’re going to try something different, let’s try something very different. And in this case, what we did was to try something we all thought was stupid.

Adam O’Donnell: Amazing. So, I mean, Chris, can you give us some of the tactics on how you are testing? This is more familiar knowledge, but any efficiencies that you’ve been able to do, like the systems that you’re using step by step kind of stuff.

Chris Yeh: No, no, it’s pretty run of the mill stuff, but it’s classic using Google ad words as a source of traffic, making sure that we’re very careful around the negative ad words, because if there’s anything that Google wants to do is to give you more clicks and charge it for them, even if they’re no good. So I would say that part of what has made this successful is we have a search engine marketing manager who has been very diligent about surveying all the keywords, and constantly filtering out the negative keywords. So I think that that’s been a big part of keeping the traffic relatively high quality.

And then beyond that, it really boils down to just being willing to put in the work, to try all the different variations, right? Having that A/B testing infrastructure so that you don’t hesitate to try something different. And now it’s very tempting sometimes to go hog wild in testing. So we try not to draw conclusions for at least a week or two. We want to have a decent amount of data to draw those conclusions. We want to make sure it’s not just something where it happened to be for a couple of days something went wrong. And let me tell you we were recording this while this Coronavirus crisis is going on. And I’ve been warning people, Hey, by the way, people’s behavior may be different right now, if your behavior is different, other people’s behavior may be different. So let’s be extra cautious.

Adam O’Donnell: That’s a great point. I was talking to Gillum, also known as G. He was one of the hands of the head of growth at Drift and Segment, and all that. I was talking to him yesterday, and he was just saying right now, during the coronavirus, we have no intent data in terms of IP lookup.

Chris Yeh: No, absolutely true. Everything is up in the air right now. The good news is we haven’t seen significant drops in traffic or anything like that. Again, we’re not a restaurant app or anything like that. So it seems like people are still obviously using the internet quite a bit. In some ways they may be using it even more than they did before. So as long as you’re not in the direct line of fire, this is still a decent time to stay out there. But you’ve just got to recognize the behavior patterns may change again when hopefully we exit this crisis. 

Adam O’Donnell: Yeah. That makes it a lot of sense. So, Chris tell us about the way that you ideate, in terms of these landing pages? Is it just someone on the team does it, and they present, Hey, your, here’s the three things we are doing, can you kind of bring us into that room? 

Chris Yeh: Absolutely. So when it comes to brainstorming and again, I’m not the one doing most of this, other people are. I’m just participating. I would say that what I recommend is to split up the brainstorming into two pieces. So, people are often very familiar with brainstorming and they think everyone gets in a room and throws out ideas and we withhold judgment. And that’s how we get more ideas than we filter through the Ideas and find the ones that we want to try. So that’s pretty standard, but there is a twist that I think really helps, which is before you begin that process, I ask everyone to individually, come up with a set of ideas and it doesn’t have to take long, can even just be two or three minutes, but having people come up with ideas individually allows you to get so many more ideas.

The reason is that in a normal brainstorming circumstance, you have these people sitting around a table or maybe they’re on a zoom call now, because obviously we can’t sit around the table these days. And what happens is whoever is the first off the mark to speak or who speaks the loudest and most authoritatively tends to dominate the discussion and we end up doing whatever the CEO wants to do, or the VP of marketing wants to do. In contrast, when you have everyone write down their own Ideas first, and then get all of them out on the table, before you begin mixing the Ideas and iterating on them together, you get a broader range of Ideas and it’s not dominated by the same people every time.

Adam O’Donnell: All right. Very good. Well, I mean, this is good. We always try to be efficient with our podcast. So keep that in mind. The last question that I have is just any roadblocks in that ideation process that someone is going to have? Because I think what we’ve really hinted on here is that things are changing. People are different. And sometimes someones stupid idea is what works. So any other roadblocks that you can think of in terms of being able to be okay with trying these new crazy ideas?

Chris Yeh: And so I think a big part of it is having that testing infrastructure and the willingness to put out variations as quickly as possible. And that also involves having a large enough supply of traffic, whether it’s organic or paid in order to actually get some results. So I’ll give you an example, in this most recent company, the CEO was of the opinion, you know what these landing pages, our messaging just isn’t aggressive enough. We need to be much more aggressive, much more in your face about the benefits that we have. And you could have this long debate as people say, well, I heard here at work and I heard here, it didn’t work and go back and forth.

Debating is if that were the dead sea scrolls or something. But my message then was just, okay, let’s try it out. Let’s create a landing page. Let’s create the message. Let’s run the numbers for a week or two and see what happens. And the first couple of days, the numbers didn’t look good. And we said, okay, all right, let’s, let’s keep running it. We ran it a few more days. The numbers look worse. And in the end, there was a situation where the CEO’s preferred messaging was in fact about 30 to 40% worse than everything that had come before it.

Now, if you’re a CEO, somebody argues you into not trying your idea in the back of your mind, you’re always going to be like, but I have that idea, what if it was going to work. You know what, make sure there isn’t that doubt, test the ideas, especially test the ideas of a CEO or whoever is in charge and make sure that they understand that numbers don’t lie. Our intuitions lie, but numbers don’t lie. 

Adam O’Donnell: Chris this has been amazing.

JS: Chris, awesome. Thank you.

Chris Yeh: My pleasure.

Adam O’Donnell: Boom. That’s it. Another great episode of The One Growth Show , the official podcast of growth marketing conference to learn more about upcoming events, visit www.growthmarketingconf.com and subscribe to the newsletter. If you enjoy this episode, let us know. We’d really appreciate it if you’d give us a five star rating, super easy, just click the last star on iTunes, and also share this episode on social media. After all you want your network to know you’re the person they can always turn to for the best growth and marketing content, don’t you?

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Minority Report Isn’t Just a Movie; It’s Your Next (and Best!) Growth Plan

Meet Darius Contractor, currently serving as Head of Growth at Airtable. But not so long ago, he was the Growth Engineering Leader at Dropbox, where he noticed that a large percentage of users upgraded to the business plan and shared all their files. He couldn't automate making everyone's files public - it would really upset those didn't want that - but he created a localization optimization strategy for those who did ("Minority Report"). And in doing so, he spoke to those users needs - retaining them at scale. Your new customer service hack is right here.

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AO: So what’s one unconventional growth tactic you’ve run that worked surprisingly well?

Darius Contractor: So when I was working at Dropbox, one thing we were trying to do is activate Dropbox business users and get them up and going with Dropbox. And so for us activation meant having them upload files to share with their other team members in Dropbox and then also install the Dropbox client and also invite other team members to Dropbox and have them join in and, shared files themselves. So, this is kind of our goal and the hack is in that context. So, what we did is actually looked at the users who were upgrading and realized that many of them were actually normal Dropbox users.

When I say normal kind of like individual, like maybe free or a pro account Dropbox users that were then upgrading to Dropbox business, which is now a team platform. And one thing we did is when they did that upgrade, we actually just kept all their files in a private directory, because we didn’t know which they wanted to share with the larger group. So one realization I have is that there’s probably a lot of people who are upgrading, planning to share all the files or most of them that they have in their current Dropbox with their team. they might expect that that’s the behavior. Now we were hesitant about defaulting that behavior because of the people that were expecting the opposite behavior of their files to be private, they would be very unhappy if all their files suddenly went public.


But what we realized when we took a look at those users, it wasn’t super obvious that you actually needed to share those files out. People had different expectations for what the default behavior was. So what we did is something that I call a minority report, where we looked for large but not majority cases that are worthy of localized optimization. And so often it is people like this, where you have this very high intent user group that’s coming from another service or coming from another part in your service that could be super served by either migration flow or something that speaks directly to their needs.

However, it isn’t the majority of cases. It isn’t every case. And because it’s not every case, oftentimes teams don’t focus on optimizing it. Plenty of people just signed up brand new for Dropbox business, from the web or they just put in their company email and made a brand new account. And so it wasn’t something that we immediately thought about as far as optimizing this kind of migration flow from a Dropbox personal account to a Dropbox business account. But as we dug in, we found a lot of people who we’re doing this, upgrading from one to the other, and then many of those people had files and many of them weren’t sharing those files.

So what that led us to do is put as part of the upgrade flow, for the people who had files in their personal account and were upgrading them, a simple chooser of which folders in their personal account do they want to share with everyone in their new business account.  And so if this was a business account already, and it had invoices, customer information, designs and mocks, they might just check everything off and hit next. And then boom everything they previously were using Dropbox for in a work context, probably on their personal, would just be shared with work or by default they would be unchecked.

And you could say, no, I don’t wanna share this. And they could hit Next. And what we found was that a very high percentage, maybe somewhere around half of people would actually check one or more boxes. So that was a lot of files that were going from private to shared within the team context. Of course, all these are private to the world, they’re only shared within the team. And so what that gave us is a double digit increase in the percentage of activated users based on this activation metric we had of shared files, etc. So, it was surprisingly a big win even though it was localized to this one set of users.

AO: Very interesting. What is the strategy behind this that you could share in terms of how you got there? Because I imagine this would be easy to overlook.

Darius Contractor: Yeah. And as I was bringing up earlier a little bit, I think we tend to, in growth, optimize that every man case. Optimize pretty much a blank start that someone just coming to this thing for the first time, and they’re kind of clicking through the obvious flow and they may be inviting people from scratch, et cetera, et cetera. But I think what we overlook sometimes is the very high intent, maybe subset of those users, that we could give a particular experience that would then massively accelerate them in such a way that the effect would actually be seen globally in the numbers.

Because obviously you don’t want to micro-optimize a small segment and have a quarter percent increase. It doesn’t make sense. Another example of this is Gmail users. If someone comes in and says, I have a Gmail email address, you might say, okay, great. Do you want to import your contacts? That’ll make it easier to share. Whereas here they come in with some other services you can import contacts from or some arbitrary email, you might not give them that example. You might not give them that prompt because you don’t have an easy way of importing their contacts. So there’s a number of these where you can find this kind of large, but not every user and kind of super charge them and get wins that are big enough you see them for the whole site. Cause if you can take half  the users and increase them by 20%, you’ve increased the whole site by 10.

AO: Very neat. How are you prioritizing these groups? Is there any framework that we can apply? Because the big one everyone’s focusing on, but sometimes we have these other segments. Is there any prioritization that you could share?

Darius Contractor: One way to look at it for a number of different cuts you can do on the data. You can cut it by a browser type. You can cut up by email type. You can cut up the size of the company. Then look at those first, maybe the four biggest batches in your pie chart, so to speak, because it’s not going to be like 5% sliced for the most part, it’s going to be a relatively large batch usually. And then maybe layer on top of that a multiplier of how high intent or activatable are these people. For instance, if you run some service that does catering or something, maybe you have some of your customers come in brand new.

They’d never gotten catering before and other of your customers are transferring from a very popular catering service. So they might already have menus. They might already have expectations. They might already have a schedule with that existing catering service. So could it be that if that’s 30% or 40% of your customers, you can super serve them by saying, Hey, just upload your menu or your approach from this other service. And we’ll take care of everything. And that can increase activations for that subgroup by like 30%, if that’s 30% of your users, that’s a 10% macro win and that’s worth it.

So I cut it by these different companies or slices and think to yourself more or less, how accelerated is this group or how high intent they are? How much does their background, especially technologically accelerate them? Like the Gmail user case, where you can actually do an integration with email contacts, as you can do this one off technical acceleration, that actually has macro ongoing gains.

AO: Very neat. So it sounds like you’re really doing a lot to understand what’s happening before. You’re understanding the before, so that you can know the velocity of what they’re going to be doing. Are there any research techniques that you’ve employed, qualitative interviews, surveys to help learn about this segment that you’ve mentioned at Dropbox?

Darius Contractor: Yeah, you can do that as well. I always recommend qualitative just to see how people are using the site. Definitely emailing 100 users, and talking to like 10 to 20 of them. One good way to do it, is to do a diff of your expectations versus their reality. If you expect them to take these 10 actions, you can put together an interview asking if they took each one of those 10 actions and it’s probably one or two of those actions that very few people took because they missed it or they didn’t think it was important. And that can make it easier to reassess how you do onboarding or like anything it can be onboarding, it could be upgraded, it could be churn, just kind of deep diving on how the customer thinks about it. 

AO: Oh, that’s a great idea. Could you give me a little bit more on the diff, if I wanted to go do it right now?

Darius Contractor: Yeah. For instance, say with Airtable you might have a simplistic level expect people to come in and then first want to learn how your table works.  And then secondarily want to learn what parts of their business to apply it for. Next, try to find the best template as a starting place. Then find a way to put in their data, so they can start to onboard and use our table for their particular use case. But then as you talk to people, you might find that no, they actually show up with a very specific use case and they’re just like, how do I do this one thing? And they’re not actually in that exploratory mode, I’m giving a very specific example.

The reality of it is that you have a range of users who are in different modes and some are exploratory and some are very high intent and specific. But as you talk to 10 or 20 of them, you find that, okay, maybe there’s a segment of these users that I haven’t been thinking about as much that you could super-serve. So that’s the kind of it, I also find a lot of value in looking through the data. It does take time, but oftentimes like the kind of questions I was talking about, you can validate with data. You know, if you think that, Oh, yeah users are going to explore, you can look at how many users actually clicked around and looked at the different parts of the site before making a purchase decision.

And you might find it’s fewer than you think.  This is a conception you have as a product owner about what people do, but it’s not reflected in the data at scale. So I find the data is very good at kind of invalidating my assumptions. One of my mottos for growth is that the team is always doing one of two things, they’re learning or succeeding. And there was a lot of learning.

AO: Man it’s humbling, isn’t it?

Darius Contractor:  It is.

AO: I appreciate that. So what are some roadblocks that you think that someone’s going to run into as they’re applying this approach of looking at other segments and not just the obvious one to improve?

Darius Contractor: The biggest challenge often is getting enough data that you can meaningfully talk about segments or cut it up in ways that make sense. And it’s not just getting that first cut of data. It’s additionally getting the cuts of data related to actions they took or downstream results, and conversion or what have you. And it does take a lot of time. You really have to sift through the data and really organize it in a format where you can run queries on it for some data engineering first. So, I think that’s the biggest blocker really doing growth at a lot of companies. There is  also a question of scale, you do need enough people that you have a growth scale data set.

So you at least thousands, or preferably tens of thousands of people before you even start to make any conclusions with date.  Ideally you have a social scale dataset in the millions. But it depends on company stage. If you are a very early company, you’re better off simply talking to your customers directly and not over-indexing on a very small end of data. 

AO: This has been amazing, thank you so much for your time. That’s all I got. 

Darius Contractor: Yeah. It was a lot of fun. I am glad to share this moment with you and excited for any questions or feedback from your listeners.

AO: Boom. That’s it. Another great episode of The One Growth Show , the official podcast of growth marketing conference to learn more about upcoming events, visit www.growthmarketingconf.com and subscribe to the newsletter. If you enjoy this episode, let us know. We’d really appreciate it if you’d give us a five star rating, super easy, just click the last star on iTunes, and also share this episode on social media. After all you want your network to know you’re the person they can always turn to for the best growth and marketing content, don’t you?

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How to Convert 85% of Your Trial Users: Why Humanistic Automation Is Your Secret to Success

It's not easy to convert trial users to paid users - we all know that - but it is possible. Even at scale. Even to the tune of 85% (sounds unbelievable, I know, but it's been done before)! Tune into this podcast for a masterclass in conversion from Haseeb Tariq himself, currently leading marketing at Universal Music Group (with successful stints at Fox and Disney behind him). His 3-pronged strategy - from intelligently onboarding to cleverly segmenting - will revolutionize your bottom line.

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JS: What was one unconventional growth tactic that works surprisingly well?

Haseeb Tariq: Okay. So there is something which I call humanistic automation. I came up with this thing a few years ago, and I talked about it in detail and wrote about it on Forbes. You just Google Humanistic Automation, you will find the article and the top of the search results. 

AO: I’m sorry to interrupt, but I just want to make sure we get the spelling right, so we can find that on Forbes.

Haseeb Tariq: Sure. Humanistic, H U M A N I S T I C and then Automation. So, the whole idea behind Humanistic Automation is that you have to understand your customers and make sure that whatever you are sending them, whatever messaging, wherever you’re collecting them, which channel you have for trying to connect with your customers you’re being human.  I know that Automation is something all the growth marketers out there, they’re using growth someway or another. And for me, I have been a huge fan of marketing automation.

And so when I started working, especially at Guess, I saw that they were sending an email every single day to their whole list, without understanding who is interested in what kind of product. And then over there, I heard something where I tried to understand the customer by asking them first priority data. If they are signing up for the mobile app, we ask them who you are buying for. So out of those two options, there was like a man or a woman, rather than asking who you are. You’re asking who you are buying for, because I remember my wife’s you buy this stuff from Guess all the time. And she, you know, or by anything for herself, but I love Guess jeans.

So she goes out there, and then buys a new pair of jeans for me. She’s doing the same thing on the mobile app. So by asking that, we segment our customers into different big buckets and now we understand better and use that data. And then when we send something after that, they will understand that they have provided their own information. So we are not using any third party data to send them automated messages.

JS: (3m 12s): Got it. So it’s learning a little bit more about them and being able to customize the messaging around that. I love that. What were some of the other approaches that you had as well? 

Haseeb Tariq: (3m 20s): So for subscription businesses, because I started working at Fox and then later on moved from to Disney, after the 71.3 billion dollars acquisition. I have seen all of the different subscriptions. Obviously I worked in Silicon Valley, I worked with a lot of SaaS businesses also. So, the problem is always how you can retain those subscribers, a lot of people are focused on growth and they bring in a lot of customers. But then after that, when they started using their products, there is no way to retain them. And then when they start thinking about it, it’s too late. So, for that reason I have created something where I focus on three major things.

One is onboarding, onboarding for the trial customers. So,most of the SaaS or subscription businesses are focusing and bringing in new trial customers all the time. So, how you can understand this better is use activation data. So, try to figure out where they’re coming in from, which channel they’re coming in from, so you understand the different channels. And then when they are already signed up for their trial, you provide them an onboarding journey based on where they’re coming in from. So, you’re personalizing it over time.

AO:(4m 20s): Got it. Real quick. How many different options are you doing for onboarding? Like how many different variations according to where they’re coming from? Are we talking like three or are we talking like a three hundred?

Haseeb Tariq: (4m 30s):It is completely based on what kind of product you have. So, if you have three different plans, then obviously you have to focus on those three to start with, and then if it’s more than that, it’s what kind of brand you are focused on. So, if you’re focused on small businesses versus enterprise and you have different plans for them, the onboarding journey should be personalized based on that. And when they sign up and they’re part of the trial, the focus should be to convert those trials to paying customers. At Fox like I mentioned, 85% of them converted. 

I’m not sharing it from my own dashboards when I was working there, this is being shared by Fox News CEO and shared with a variety of writers who wrote a complete article about it. If you want to read more on how Fox First Nation achieved that, you can go read that too.

AO: (5m 12s): No, this is good. Could you give us more about how many different options you had for the onboarding experience at Fox?

Haseeb Tariq: (5m 18s): Yes. I think it’s important, like when someone is coming inside, like I mentioned the first priority, data is the second most important thing. And third one is to make sure you segment those customers, in a way that you put them in different buckets. The way I do it is, if someone is coming to sign up for our trial account or they’re already paying customers and they’re using your product, but versus you have enough data for people who have already churn and left your product. You compare those and then try to figure out what are the similarities and what are the differences between those. The reason behind using all those different data points is that you are not focusing on creating one or two segments, you can create a 150. Based on how much data you have, you can create multiple segments, using those different segments you can personalize their experience over time.

And obviously the major one is which of your segments are more likely to churn. You can create churn based on what kind of features and product they’re using inside the product and use it to upsell too. So it’s not only to minimize churn, it can also increase your revenue.

JS:(6m 14s): What kind of tools do you use to be able to understand these different points and understand attribution? People talk about attributional all the time, but it’s really like something that a lot of people struggle with and they don’t really know how to cobble these things together and unify the data and understand it. Do you have any tips around, and how many tools and what tools and then how do we actually make sense of it and understand what is moving the needle and what is not?

Haseeb Tariq: (6m 48s): I think to start with, the tools you already have, there enough to do some of the basic parts of what is here. And if they’re not, then I heard a product called the Retention app, which empowers success teams with actionable insights and humanistic automation obviously to increase trial conversion and customer retention. But going back to the tools you’re using already, you must be using, if you’re a mobile app you were using our fstar, if you’re a web app you’re using segment, all those different roles, they have some kind of segmentation built in which you can use. But if you’re planning to do something with much more and using the data and a way that you automate most of those journeys, then you can use a tool like Retention app.

AO: (7m 25s): Got it. So tell me what were some of the attributes that you’re looking at when you’re comparing someone who does churn to someone who it is succeeding? I’m just curious if you could dive into that.

Haseeb Tariq: (7m 35s): So you have to be super specific. I think it’s so important that you understand and find reasons that your customers are coming back for. So, at Fox we are focused on watch time, people who are spending the most time inside the app. At Guess, we were focused on trying to figure out okay, if someone is purchasing a product they will not be coming back for the next three, four months. So understanding different behavior and overtime understanding which customers are staying with you. What are the sticky features of your product? So you can push those. 

Another one I can share is that we edited a few features inside our Fox Sports app, where you can favorite the team that you are interested in, and whenever the game is on send them a push notification to bring the customers back. So, focus on making sure that you understand your customer better and then providing them value so they can come back. And understand what are those sticky parts of your product, which is making the lifetime of your customer longer.

AO: (8m 28s): Yeah, no, that’s good. Well, thank you for that. Are there any other parts that if someone was trying to get this 85% trial to paid conversion increase, what other things can consider that you found that work?

Haseeb Tariq: (8m 40s): I think for big brands, like this number is never heard of before. So, when I talk about it and share, everyone is like, Oh, how’s it possible? I don’t think it’s possible. But I think for like a big, big companies out there Fox and Disney and all the others. I think they have enough product users of their own. Disney for example, Disney Plus launched their product, and now they have 27 million subscribers. Obviously, they invested a lot of money on the growth side, but they already had loyal fans and people who have been part of the brand for a long, long time. That if you’d launch something, you will get all of those people coming in using your products. 

So, focus on those first. Focus on your loyal customers first. Focus on people you already know. If you’re a subscription business, a software subscription business, a SaaS, then you can go talk to the people who you have already worked with, individuals you have worked with in your previous companies and then use them. And those people are the ones who will stay with you longer. And that’s how you, for example, for Fox we do the exact same thing.  We’ve worked on Fox News super fans and tried to target them. We knew that they’re already committed to the brand. They will be more likely to stay with us for a long time.

AO: (9m 43s): I love it. What kind of questions were you asking them? I would love to be able to start doing these right away with our company. I’m curious. Any suggestions, like question one, two, three in those interviews?

Haseeb Tariq: (9m 54s): I think it’s completely based on the product you’re using. I’m not sure if I can share exactly what the questions were, but I think a good example is Guess. I think we did a complete onboarding journey where we were asking them what kind of style they are interested in, what kind of clothes they wear. Also, I think the big thing is don’t ask them to write a long paragraph and just give them options, four different options. Then after that, using those four different options, you have three different questions, which are digging much deeper into that specific answer they have already given. So creating those onboarding journeys where you are making it super quick and then also giving them power to provide you the right data. And that is super powerful. Okay.

JS (10m 33s): So, not asking them super open-ended questions, but really being able to provide them with values that are just easy to select and dig deeper into unfolding the insights based off of their answers. So, that makes total sense,  it makes it a lot easier for them to provide data.

Haseeb Tariq: (10m 53s): Yeah. I think that’s the whole idea behind it, gather as much data as you can from the customer. And obviously, there are a lot of tools out there which will provide you a lot of third party data, but problem with now like GDPR and all of those privacy issues, I think a lot of people get completely spooked when they see something that they haven’t given you that data themselves, and then you are targeting them based on that. So, I think it’s kind of a balance. Obviously you have to understand that gen Z and the newer generation, they are more focused and they are more aware of all those tactics, which you are using as a Growth marketer.

So be aware of that and then mix, obviously we have all those different tactics and strategies in our pocket, but be more aware of where to use them and where not to use them.

AO: (11m 34s): Got it. Are there any roadblocks that you would share with someone who’s looking to do this?

Haseeb Tariq: (11m 39s): I think that it takes time, and obviously when you put something like this together to start with, I think you may not have enough data to work with. But if you’re working with any of the big brands out there, I think it’s much easier for you to do a simple task. A good example is at Guess, I was using Mixpanel as a tool, super simple tool. We were using Airship for a push notification and I created a simple campaign, which took me literally 30 minutes to figure out and another 30 minutes to implement. And that one single campaign generated Guess 1.8 million. And the campaign was to anyone who was adding products to a cart and not checking out.

We were sending out a push notification within 30 minutes and then bringing them back and just doing that brought in an increment of revenue. So that was huge. And for big organizations and individuals are out there and listeners who are listening right now. I think they can do these small little tests and have a huge impact with the tools they are already using. They don’t have to bring in any external vendors to do all of that.

AO: (12m 36s): I love it! Because there’s a lot of options in that, you can already go for it, but the point is take what you already have and just work with that. I love it. That’s all I got. Thank you so much, man. I learned so much from this in terms of just how we can help move in this direction. And a lot of it, you just have to apply to your own business, but just understanding the onboarding piece, really understanding your customers and in comparing the customers. And this is huge. So thank you so much.

Haseeb Tariq: (13m 0s): Thank you very much. Thank you for having me and any of the listeners they wanted no more and learn more. Go to retention.app/training, and I have a much deeper training over there, which gives you much more ideas.

AO: Awesome. Thank you so much. Have a great day. 

Haseeb Tariq: Thank you very much.

JS: Awesome. Have a great one.

AO: That’s it. Another great episode of The One Growth Show , the official podcast of growth marketing conference to learn more about upcoming events, visit www.growthmarketingconf.com and subscribe to the newsletter. If you enjoy this episode, let us know. We’d really appreciate it if you’d give us a five star rating, super easy, just click the last star on iTunes, and also share this episode on social media. After all you want your network to know you’re the person they can always turn to for the best growth and marketing content, don’t you?

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Making the Press Work for You: The Growth Strategy Everybody Forgets

After you’ve been working in the digital world for so long, it's easy to forget about the traditional one. The truth is, the press is still key to driving brand awareness (and success)! Dmitry Dragilev, the founder of JustReachOut.io, knows this all too well. He's leveraged the press to promote his businesses - without hiring a PR firm, too! - to great effect. Tune into this podcast to catch a glimpse of his personal playbook - from scouring Twitter for relevant hashtags, to what times of the day are best for pitching journalists.

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JS: What was one unconventional growth tactic that works surprisingly well?

Dmitry Dragilev: Well, I’d say fishing journalists and getting featured in the press on your own. This tactic surprisingly worked so well and you don’t need to have any PR firms or anybody else. 

JS: Gotcha. So what exactly should folks do if they want to actually engage in the strategy? What are the steps that you would recommend that they follow to actually get that done?

Dmitry Dragilev: So I would do two things. If you don’t have a story that you want to pitch, I would go and subscribe to help a reporter out or another free newsletter as well as go to Twitter and type in journal requests or hash PR requests. So, whether you’re at helpareporter.net or helpareporter.com or PR requests or journal request hashtag, what you will get is a bunch of journalists submitting inquiries and questions about a very specific thing that they need.

So for example, I need an entrepreneur to interview for my podcast. There are tons of these newsletters out there too. There’s radio guest list and spotaguest and all these other platforms out there. So whether you’re on Twitter, looking for the stuff, or whether you’re on a specific newsletter, we index that stuff on our platform, but you can subscribe for these things for free to find people who need someone to interview for a podcast. Maybe there’s a journalist on New York Times who needs somebody in New York City who is starting a startup or somebody who’s running a restaurant.

You know, you type in your keywords. You will find the people that are journalists, podcasters, bloggers, who are looking for someone to speak with and just connect with them and answer their questions. And that’s all you gotta do. It’s not that tough.

JS: Awesome. Are there any kind of roadblocks or difficulties that you run into or that you would give people a heads up around that they might run into when deploying the strategy?

Dmitry Dragilev: Absolutely , anything that is worthwhile in terms of getting a press mention, a feature, and anything that you’re going to be impressed with as an outcome is going to be hard for you. It’s going to have roadblocks and it’s not going to be one shot and done type of a deal. What I’m saying, what I was mentioning earlier is this is one of the lowest hanging fruits for you. Now, roadblocks are going to be your legitimacy and how relevant you are to that person’s query, that person’s ask.

As well as how fast you are in terms of responding to them. Chances are the person that submitted something a day ago has gotten maybe five responses already, right? Say I’m a reporter. I’m at Forbes. And I’m looking for a restaurant in New York City to talk to me about their business. Now I have submitted this 24 hours ago. This is usually submitted to a Hairo (help a reporter out), or it’s submitted to ProfNet or submitted on Twitter, hashtag PR requests, hashtag journal request, or some other source.

Now, all the people that have seen it in the last 24 hours, I’m sure some of them started responding. So now 24 hours later, you are priority number six, because they already have five submissions from that time onwards. So you want to be on top of it. You want to be looking at these constantly. You want to respond to them fast and to the point. And at the same time, you want to make sure that you’re the best sort of qualified customer for them, because they’re looking for an expert to quote in their writings, or maybe an expert to interview.

So you want to make sure that you deliver the goods and that you’ll have a sample legitimacy on your profile. So you can say, Hey, I’ve been published here. I’d done an interview there. And as you’re starting out, that’s a tough thing to do, right? And this is where you gotta go lower tier first, people that are not requiring that as much. And then you build up your profile and then you kind of move up market, with going after Forbes of the world. Yeah, it’s certainly a challenge to get featured out there.

So during this is not one shot and dont type of thing, but it certainly is easier than pitching journalists specific stories cold.

JS: Gotcha. And what are some of the sources out there that folks can, who are looking to deploy the strategy, start to kind of look through to find these types of requests?

Dmitry Dragilev: So I’m going to mention a few of these. So if you’re listening, just jot these down really quick, and then you can go and look through other ones. So help a reporter out is a very famous one. A lot of people know what it is. It’s a newsletter subscribe. It’s free. ProfNet is a paid one that costs thousands of dollars a year. Sometimes, it depends, but take a look at their pricing. It’s a much more vetted list, a little bit more exclusive ProfNet.

There is journal requests. So like journalists, but journal requests. This is a hashtag on Twitter. And it’s also a, a newsletter that comes out absolutely free. Again, really good quality. There’s a platform called Qwoted, but it’s with a ‘w’. So if you’re listening to this, not whether you quote, but  Qwoted, there’s a company I run out of New York city actually and it’s fantastic Twitter stream.

So on Twitter, you’ll see the actual publications and the reporters you’ll see daily, everything that’s going on, but if you sign up for their service, there’s a free version of it. But the paid version you’ll get through faster as a source, as an expert. And you’ll get the ability to build relationships with journalists. Those are some of them, there’s a ton of them. For example, if you’re looking for a podcast interview, there’s one called radio guest list, which is a decent one.

There are so many out there. We index all of them with JustReachOut, that’s our platform that kind of indexes all of them, but there are a handful of them out there. Those are just some examples.

JS: Awesome. And let’s say you’re getting featured, what are some of the strategies now? Like what do you do now to sort of optimize that content for growth after the fact? So you got in contact with one of these journalists, they ended up mentioning you, what are some of those tactics now that you can use to leverage the fact that it worked?

Dmitry Dragilev: Absolutely. So when you first asked me the question, I said, I would do one of two things. First is go after people who are asking questions, people, podcasters, journalists, and so forth. So the second thing I would do is actually go after journalists themselves, but find journalists who are talking about something that you know about, but they’re not mentioning something that you know about. Right? So as an example, there’s a relevance gap, the idea of being, Hey, you’re an expert in, and I’m going to use a very boring example because I have a customer in this space.

I like to use very boring examples in terms of PR, because if they work, sexier examples will work for sure. So they’re in solar panel installation and they’re experts in installing solar panels. Now they know this one thing about solar panel installation, the way to install them so that squirrels don’t go underneath them and chew the wires up. The major companies out there that do this. They kind of omit this and they forget about this.

And anybody who’s writing about installation of solar panels is forgetting the fact that squirrels are gonna eat up those wires and disconnect them and it’s going to cost you thousands of dollars. And so what they’re doing is, they’re going after every journalist who is writing about installation of solar panels, and they’re mentioning this one little fact, they said, Hey, by the way, we have this study on how squirrels impact all of solar panels across the country. And we know a way to kind of counteract this problem, and this is what you need to do.

And so, because they have a study around this and because they have a weight specific thing that they know how to fix, a lot of people are responding to this because they covered solar panels. They covered solar panels and benefits and installation, but they didn’t cover this one little tiny bit. That sounds very interesting. And so your job when you’re starting to pitch is to think of what that one little bit is. It’s tough. I know, but this is where your job will be as a person pitching journalists.

And so as you’re starting to get mentions and you’re getting these people saying, all right, I love your answer. I’m going to feature you here. I’m going to put a mention here and there. You need to move into a better story idea in terms of outgoing pitch. What’s the thing that you’re going to be actually known for, remembered for. And that’s where you’re going to look for that relevance gap between what’s being covered in your industry and what it is that you know a lot about. That’s not being mentioned.

JS: Awesome. This is totally awesome. Dmitry, thank you so much for your time, if folks want to learn more about you or the content that you share, or your company, what are some good URLs or social handles to reach you?

Dmitry Dragilev: Yeah. So just go to justreachout.io and you’ll be able to find pretty much all the information. There’s a blog. There’s an about page, there’s a contact. And then I have my personal blog called criminallyprolific.com. So prolific that it’s criminal. That’s why it’s called criminallyprolific.com. And I share basically all the PR and SEO material that I talk about publicly on there.

JS: Well, thanks again and have a great day.

Dmitry Dragilev: Awesome. Thanks for having me.

AO: That’s it. Another great episode of The One Growth Show , the official podcast of growth marketing conference to learn more about upcoming events, visit www.growthmarketingconf.com and subscribe to the newsletter. If you enjoy this episode, let us know. We’d really appreciate it if you’d give us a five star rating, super easy, just click the last star on iTunes, and also share this episode on social media. After all you want your network to know you’re the person they can always turn to for the best growth and marketing content, don’t you?

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