Growth – if you’re working in tech, you would have at least heard of the term, but understanding why, when and how to implement a successful growth hack is a whole different kettle of fish.
Interview with Michael Kranner, MeisterLabs’ Growth Marketer
At MeisterLabs we recently started a new round of growth experiments. To find out more about the ins and outs of growth, and understand how to undertake your own experiments and then evaluate what works, we sat down with our very own growth guy, Michael Kranner, to talk us through how he’s implementing experiments with MeisterTask.
So, growth hacking – what’s it all about?
In one sentence, growth hacking, also known as growth engineering, growth marketing or just growth – as the name suggests – is about growing your business, company or start-up. This could be in terms of your monthly active users, monthly recurring revenue (MRR), or whatever metric you decide you want to focus growth on.
Like most SaaS companies, at MeisterLabs we focus on monthly recurring revenue. Whatsapp for example used to focus on the number of messages sent daily and Airbnb would monitor the number of nights booked.
Once you have a product-market-fit, i.e. when your product works for at least a certain niche of the market, you know it’s time to start thinking about growth.
Sounds good. So for a tech company looking into growth, where would you start?
At MeisterLabs our growth team is the link between product development and marketing.
For us, like lots of tech start-ups and companies, growth is about two main points:
Firstly, making your user experience as great as possible.
Once you’ve nurtured your product into something you love, of course you want your users to love it too. In fact, you want your users to come back every day to use it. This is a golden rule of growth marketing – retention.
We want to offer an experience that our users enjoy coming back to. If they come back that means we’re offering a solution to a problem they have. If our product value is high enough, our users will start referring friends, colleagues, etc.
A happy customer is a good customer.
Secondly, analyzing user behaviour.
We might have a hunch about why X is happening. We then dig into our analytics tool to look at user behaviour and patterns. Once we find data that confirms our hunch, we take a look at our product and see how we can improve it.
We’ll come up with a potential solution, and then we go out and test that growth hack. We draft an experiment, A/B test it for a relevant length of time (this could be a number of days or weeks), then evaluate the outcome.
Hopefully, our assumption was proven correct and the growth hack is a success. We then implement the changes for all users, improving their experience with our product. However, often our assumptions can be completely wrong. In this case, we a) try to first figure out if our experiment design was crappy and then b) run a follow-on experiment. In either scenario, we would’ve learned something.
Take us through how you’d implement a growth hack.
We run a lot of experiments and these often involve every department of the MeisterLabs team: product development, marketing, design. Our MeisterTask growth hack project board is where we keep everything centrally organized.
User onboarding, for example, is a key issue we look at in growth. You’ve gone to all that effort to get users signed up but then see the majority of users are gone again after a couple of days, never to be seen again. You need to create a positive first impression for users, orientating them to the tool quickly.
If you’re struggling to keep users for longer than a couple of days, it might be that there’s something missing. Is the setting up process too complicated, perhaps too long or does it fail to focus on the most valuable features?
We have five steps for working through an issue like this:
- The growth team will evaluate the current process, come up with a growth hack to fix it, design the experiment and establish what we’re testing for
- The design team will then take it over, make the new or amended process look pretty and most importantly, user-friendly
- Engineering will then implement these changes and run the experiment
- It then comes back round to the growth team as we evaluate the outcome and decide whether to implement the changes permanently
- If we decide to implement permanently, the changes need to be sent on to the marketing team to edit training materials and promote.
That’s a lot of stages and people to manage. How do you keep things moving?
Well, yes. That 5 step process means that one experiment can move around four different company departments before being completed.
To keep everyone on the same page and keep the projects in motion, we have one central “Growth Experiments” project board in MeisterTask. We share this with all relevant team members.
This allows us to work across different departments with limited hiccups, because at every stage the experiment task is assigned to one specific person. Once each stage is completed, such as the engineering implementation stage, the task is re-assigned to a colleague in the next team. In this example, the task would return to someone in the growth team. This process continues until the growth hack is completed.
Other team members can “watch” the task’s progression, keeping everyone in the loop with how the experiment is developing. What’s more, the fact that one person is responsible for the task at every given stage means there’s accountability, ensuring that the experiment will get seen through.
What’s covered on your Growth Experiment project board and how can readers replicate it?
We have an experiment backlog in the form of a Google sheet where we store all of our experiments. From there, experiments get automatically synced to our MeisterTask “Growth Experiments” project board, using the Zapier integration.
Our Growth Experiments project board consists of 6 sections:
- Backlog (Open) – experiments we have in the pipeline
- Backlog (Postponed) – experiments which were in the pipeline but we’ve either decided against or can’t proceed with at this point, but may return to
- In Progress – an experiment we’re currently setting up and ready to launch
- Running – as the name suggests, an experiment which is already running
- Evaluating – experiments which have been running and now need analyzing
- Done and Live – experiments which have been found to be successful, so have been implemented permanently by the developers
As experiments develop we move the tasks between the sections and all team members “watching” the experiment are notified about the move. Equally, when a new experiment is added to the backlog, Slack sends an automated message to our Slack growth channel via the integration, letting the rest of the team know.
Of course what you’re testing for and how you’re testing for it will vary depending on what your data has been telling you. Once you’ve established what you’d like to test, in line with your product and goals, try applying our formula.
First, set up a growth hack project board in MeisterTask. Invite the appropriate team members from across the growth, development, design and marketing teams, replicate the sections we’ve included and then go through the five steps.
What’s your one parting tip for readers embarking on their voyage of growth discovery?
I would say always try to be analytical in your decisions. The aim is to develop a great product which your users love using as much as you do, but your growth strategy can’t be based on personal biases and hunches alone. Be data-driven and keep your experiments in check to truly evaluate experiment progression. That way you know and are honest about what’s actually not working and what’s helping you to grow. Some of your assumptions will be false and those experiments will inevitably fail but that’s all part of the process. In any case, your growth team will have learned something.
So there’s some insight from Michael Kranner, MeisterLabs’ growth marketer, on how we’re implementing growth experiments here at MeisterLabs, and how you can too, using a MeisterTask project board. As always, share your questions in the comments below and let us know how you get on!