A Review of GrowthHackers.com New Tool for Growth Marketers Called “Projects.”

“Growth Hacking is a system, not a trick…”

If you’re a diehard GrowthHackers.com fan…

Then you’ve heard Sean Ellis and many others talk about the process of growth hacking.

As GrowthHackers.com struggled to grow back in January of 2015, they used their own knowledge of this system to start high-tempo testing, which led to a massive increase in traffic to their website. This is all presented the results in a well documented case study.

In the process of organizing and implementing so many ideas, they developed their own internal tool for the tracking and reporting of all these growth tests.

This tool, now called “Growth Hacker Projects,” has officially been released. And I have been lucky enough to get a demo from the legendary growth hacker himself, and take Projects for a test spin.

Who Should be Drooling Over This New Tool?

Growth Hackers Projects

Projects

The broadest answer is: anyone that considers themselves a growth marketer. A real growth marketer… You know, a data-driven marketer that runs tests and reports on results on a weekly basis.

More specifically, this tool is perfect for growth teams of 3 or more people, who are running 5 tests a week or more.

If you are doing less than that, you may be fine just using a spreadsheet and some Google Docs. But any larger and this tool quickly solves a bunch of organizational issues, and will save your head of growth a few hours a week.

Do You Have a Clearly Defined Growth Model?

When I demoed the product with Sean, it became clear that many early stage companies are not ready to start testing.

Before beginning, you need to fully understand your growth model:

All slides were lifted from this GrowthHackers Slideshare: Using Your Growth Model to Drive Smarter High Tempo Testing

How to Build Your Growth Model

And you need to have your team agree upon your North Star Metric (also known as The One Metric That Matter):

Your North Star Metric

Once you’ve got that part taken care of it’s time to bring in as many team members as possible…

Preparing Your Team For The Brain Dump

Now, I’m assuming you haven’t already done a brain dump…

If you’ve already got all of your ideas organized in your spreadsheet, then I have great news, you can import it to projects with just the click of a button, and you can skip this brief section.

If this is your first brain dump, clear the schedule for the entire team (maybe even company) for about 2 hours some day about a week from now.

Have people prepare ahead of time by having them answer these question and bringing their answers into the meeting (bonus points if you can get them to input the ideas into Projects all on their own):

What can we improve in our product or business?

What problems are our customers currently facing and how can we solve them?

What opportunities might we have to expand or improve any stages of our funnel (acquisition, activation, referral, retention, revenue)?

The entire purpose of this meeting is to unleash every obvious, non-obvious, and hidden idea inside every team member, employee, or heck, even customer. Try to avoid saying “no” to any idea, no matter how bad. We want creativity, and “no” will slow that down.

But it does have to meet these two criterion to make it on the board:

  1. It has to be measurable – We need to make sure we can conclusively learn something from it.
  2. It has to have a set end date – We need to finalize and report findings at some point. If it works, it will be moves out of testing and becomes a feature, or an ongoing campaign, or the like.

How to Brain Dump All of Your Ideas Inside Projects

Now, you’re going to use the ideas dashboard to collect and organize the brain dump:

Growth Hackers Projects Tool Idea Dashboard

My current idea dashboard

This dashboard allows you to quickly input your idea and add it to the board. Then you can come back later and:

  1. Add more about the specific strategy
  2. Choose the stage of the funnel it effects
  3. Do your ICE (Impact, Confidence, Ease) rating

Creating an Idea Inside Growth Hackers Projects

You can also add tags, favorite the one’s you like, nominate them (handy for large teams, useless for small teams), share it with others, and activate the test when ready.

Running Your Tests

Once you’ve got your tests into the dashboard, and set each ICE, you can have everyone vote on the biggest opportunities facing the company, and take your lowest hanging fruit and move them into the testing phase.

Before moving an idea into the testing phase, you are required to write a hypothesis (I love this step). This is essentially the assumed goal or outcome, like “2 signups/week” or “5% increase in user retention.”

Test an idea with a hypothesis

Add your hypothesis

Without a hypothesis we don’t really know what we are hoping to find. And even if it seems obvious, we need to set specific values to measure our own estimation abilities (and hopefully refine those as well). And don’t worry, if you only achieve 4% retention, and not 5%, you can still label it a success (I won’t tell anyone).

Growth_Hackers_Projects_Tests_Dashboard

We’ve now got approved tests, active tests, and concluded tests – which are ready for analysis and reporting.

The best thing to do when running a growth test is to assign a lead, or project manager. This is most often the person who created the idea. They will be responsible for organizing a team around the test, executing on the test, and reporting the findings back to the team.

(Oh yeah, and did I mention this can integrate with Trello, Slack, Optimizely, and a few other sources? And I’m sure they will be adding more integrations soon.)

Concluding Your Tests and Adding Them to The Knowledge Base

Once you’ve ran a test, you move it into the ready to analyze board and click add test results:

Add Test Results

Add Test Results

And start ranting on the results of the test, including whether it worked, didn’t work, or was inconclusive:

Bottom Line of Our Test

What’s the Bottom Line?

Growth Hackers Projects Knowledge Base Dashbaord

Within a few months of high-tempo testing, you should have made significant progress in your knowledge base. The findings will help shape future tests, prevent massive mistakes, and improve the employee onboarding process. Next time anyone has an idea, they can search the entire project to see if anyone’s put it up on the idea board or already ran it.

Gamifying Your High-Tempo Testing Process With Leaderboards

Over time your team members will start to conclude tests and you can track their successes and failures (both can and should be embraced equally) on the leaderboards:

Growth Hackers Projects Leaderboard Dashboard - I win

As you can see, I am crushing it. 😀

This feature is kinda cool, but I’m not sure how beneficial it will actually be to the long term value of Projects. The leaderboard tends to favor the head of growth and data analyst, as those are the two people on the pulse of the tests and will naturally come up with the most ideas. (That is the job, after all).

What’s the Power of Projects

As I’m going through the demo with Sean, I stopped him at some point and said, “What makes this better than Google Sheets?”

The answer was simple: this saves growth teams time by organizing tests better than Sheets, it encourages a growth mindset (which has been proven over and over again to be a major indicator of success) by setting up a simple leaderboard system, and it saves the company in wasted cost by organizing all of the findings in an easy to access knowledge base.

The value proposition of this tool increases as you:

  1. Increase the size of your team
  2. Increase the frequency of the tests you run

There’s also one secret ninja benefit I discovered…

All projects are public, so anyone can see what you’re up to, unless you pay to make your project private. With public projects you will eventually be able to create a test that other people can copy over to their board and run, and vice versa.

You getting what I’m saying?

Sean Ellis just smashed together growth testing and “the sharing economy” to give growth marketers a massive database of proven strategies to grow their business from. Essentially commoditizing ideas, which we can all agree are generally worthless… But sometimes a well structured idea might be worth $10 to save setting up yourself.

Pretty genius move if you ask me. Can’t wait to see how that plays out.

How Much Does Projects Cost?

Their prices have changed. You’ll have to ask them at success@growthhackers.com

Final Thoughts

I’m personally a huge fan of transparency in business. But, with my history as a high stakes poker player for 10 years and one of the first online poker coaches, I can tell you that sometimes giving away all your secrets away now does actually cost you money in the long run. There’s a fine line to walk somewhere in here.

This tool is likely to make growth marketers better, which actually means that marketing will become tougher, and competition will be fiercer than ever before.

Ready to sign up? Here’s the link.

So, what do you think? Are you going to start using Projects? Or do you still need help setting up your growth model and team? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.