2.5 Iterating on Previous Growth Experiments

Iterative Experimentation is Key to Growth

This post is a part of the Growthzilla Book series, which is an online draft of the print edition that will be available in 2018.

A key part of the growth science methodology is iteration. It’s not enough to form one hypothesis, test it, and implement a change. If you stop short, you’ll be missing out on substantial optimizations that can add up to incredible gains to customer or revenue growth. The key is to keep experimenting in areas where previous changes have led to strategically significant gains.

You can either iterate on past experiments and try small variations or try the same kinds of experiments in other contexts. For example, let’s say that you try an experiment to get more people to click on the registration button on your website. In trying to increase the conversion rate on new customer registration on your web app, you don’t want to stop with just changing the color of the “Register” button to bright green. You also should double down on this line of thinking and test changing the button color to orange and red. Not only that, you might try very related experiments such as testing the label text. Perhaps you can try “Sign up” and “Get Started” instead of “Register.” And these iterations are only for one button. Not only that we haven’t even started talking about marketing and operations.

A great example of iterative experimentation leading to markedly higher increases in growth comes from a leading language learning platform, Duolingo. Gina Gotthilf, VP of Growth, recounted the story of how her team made huge strides in Duolingo’s customer engagement through iterative experimentation with their registration process.

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2.3 Strategizing and Prioritizing Experiments

Growth Strategy Cycle

This post is part of the Growthzilla Book series, which is an online draft of the print edition that will be available in 2018.

When you model your business, you will likely find that there are many ways that you can potentially improve growth. On one hand, this is great news because you have many opportunities to grow your business. On the other hand, this is very challenging because you have two factors working against you: limited resources and a finite market size. Moreover, every change that you try will not work. This is why following a more scientific approach that includes forming hypotheses and measuring results is fundamental to growth science. Each experiment requires capital and human resources investment, and creating a well thought-out strategy and continually prioritizing experiments will be pivotal to your growth development efforts.

 

2.3.1 Brainstorm Growth Optimization Opportunities

As you begin to engineer your company’s growth, you will iteratively brainstorm new optimizations to try, create a strategy to guide your efforts, and constantly prioritize your growth experiments based on that strategy. Luckily, you have already created a framework that will help you to brainstorm and evaluate experiments. The customer journey map and growth model that you created will help guide your brainstorming. The journey map will highlight key actions in the customer interactions with your product and company, and can be juxtaposed with your growth model to understand how these actions affect overall customer and revenue growth.

Growth Strategy Cycle

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2.1.2 Modeling Your Business for Growth

Example of a more complex growth model

This post is part of the Growthzilla Book series, which is an online draft of the print edition that will be available in 2018.

If there is one concept that we hope to convey, it is that fostering growth for your product should be systematic and strategic rather than guesswork. Therefore, the next topic that we’ll cover is how to model and understand the engines of growth for your product and in your company. It is tempting to rush right into experimenting with changes to your marketing or product implementation, but that often leads to less impactful initiates or wasted effort.

I learned this lesson the hard way in one of my former startups, AtmaGo, which was a social network for poor urban communities allowing members to share information, buy and sell, and to organize around local initiatives such as community neighborhood watch. We made the rookie mistake of focusing primarily on acquiring new users, which seemed like a no-brainer. We focused on testing various marketing initiatives ranging from grassroots outreach to partnerships with community organizations as well as on product improvements to make the signup process as easy as possible, but user growth only increased marginally.

Without really understanding our growth model, we reasoned that users were not able to find the content that was interesting to them, so we started experimenting with the homepage to make the search more prominent. But growth still didn’t really budge. Next we tried making the search less prominent and replaced it with a filter that would display the most popular posts. Again, this change led to little discernible progress, so we hypothesized that maybe the posts themselves were not engaging enough to get readers to sign up. We tried changing the posts by making the pictures bigger and re-arranging post titles and buttons. This went on for a while, but it was not really making a huge impact on our user growth. Acquiring new users felt like pushing a boulder up the hill, and we felt like we were spinning our wheels.

We decided to take a step back and really determine the true sources of growth for our social network. We broke down how AtmaGo worked as though we were trying to explain it to our grandparents.

AtmaGo was an information hub for urban communities where users created posts about topics in their neighborhoods such as crime reports, events, and tips. Other users read that content, voted on it, commented, and shared it. AtmaGo was essentially a marketplace where the product was content and the consumers were readers. We assumed that interesting, substantive posts are more likely to get views, votes, and comments. Furthermore, we hypothesized that post authors are more likely to post again if readers voted up or commented on the posts that they wrote previously. This was the full cycle of how AtmaGo worked as a kind of marketplace for content about one’s neighborhood.

Example of a simple growth model

In modeling our business, we realized that our growth didn’t just depend on acquiring new users. More fundamentally, AtmaGo only worked if the site had engaging posts, since that was driving the network effects: when readers engaged with the content, it encouraged authors to write more. In addition to this, after reviewing our website analytics, we found that the majority of new users were finding AtmaGo through search engines like Google, which was sending them directly to specific posts. Content was not only driving user engagement and the entire cycle but also our main marketing channel.

Example of a more complex growth model

After finally modeling our growth, it dawned on us that we were focusing on the wrong areas. It’s not that optimizing the registration process was a complete waste of time, but we should have directed most of our effort on making it easier and more rewarding for authors to post new content. We should have spent more time on improving the design to encourage readers to vote and comment on posts, which would have provided authors with greater incentives to post. We also should have focused on making the writing process easier and asked ourselves, “How else do we give affirmation to the content creators, so that they will create more posts?” On the marketing front, we should have focused our efforts on trying to reach leaders that would write engaging content. Taking some time to really think about our business and to model it, would have made our growth efforts much more efficient and effective. Creating a growth model for your business will not only help you strategize, but it will also help you uncover new areas of potential optimization that you may not have thought about previously.

Every business is slightly different, and every business leader has a different way of thinking about not only how the business functions but also about improving growth. This means that there is no “correct” model. Rather, the right model is the one that makes sense to you and your colleagues and helps you all effectively develop growth. There are, however, some best practices to help you get started.

Start with the Customer Journey Map

This chapter started with how to create a customer journey map because it is an extraordinarily useful tool for uncovering the details your entire business as well as understanding how each of the stages in the customer journey affects growth and profitability. In reviewing the customer journey map, pay special attention to the following factors:

  • At what point do your customers experience substantial value from your product or service? For some things such as news sites, the value is almost immediate when readers navigate to it and read an article. For other products such as cloud-based project management software, a user might not experience real value until far down their journey. The user might have to register, join a team, post tasks, assign tasks, and see those tasks completed before they finally appreciate how useful the software is.
  • What elements of the product or the overall experience generate value for your customers? Let’s consider Facebook as an example. I would say that the most valuable part of the experience is seeing my friends’ updates about important events in their lives such as finishing a degree, getting married, or having a baby. However, I also find other features very useful such as being able to plan events and invite my friends to them, and there are many other ways that Facebook is valuable to me. A related questions to ask is, “How does one customer’s actions improve the experience for others?”
  • What elements of the product or overall experience detract from the value you are providing? Focus on areas in the customer’s journey where they might run into roadblocks such as signup, checkout and payment, reordering, content creation, sharing, and searching. Often times, improving these areas will result in greater value for the customer and strong growth for your business.
  • How does your business make money? This might seem like a ridiculously simple question, but the trick is to delve one level deeper within the context of the customer journey map. Let’s say that you are running a user-generated content website such as Twitter and you earn revenue from pay-per-click advertising. On the surface, the answer is obvious: the more users click on the ads, the more revenue your business generates. But how do you increase the number of clicks? Perhaps you need more content, better content, or more readers.

Seeking answers to the above questions from your model will help you isolate the key engines of growth for your company.

Abstract Your Model

A helpful next step is taking parts of the customer journey map that most directly drive value and creating a simplified diagram. This will allow you to focus on the key parts of the overall customer experience as well as how they relate to each other. For example, let’s imagine that you are tasked with developing a growth model at Facebook. An abstracted diagram representing growth at Facebook might look like the following.

Example of what a growth model for Facebook might look like

It starts with one Facebook user. That user invites his friends. The group of friends post updates about their lives and share pictures, videos, and even news articles from online publications. The friends enjoy seeing updates from each other and invite more friends to their network, which means that they will be having even more interactions on the site, and the cycle starts over. Furthermore, Facebook makes money through pay-per-click advertising and the more users it has, the more content they create, the more those users visit Facebook, and the more ads they click. (By the way, there are countless other ways that you could model growth at Facebook.)

The guiding principle in creating a good growth model is to abstract enough to focus on the key drivers of growth and revenue without including too many details such that the model is difficult for others to understand. Your model should be simple enough for your CEO or board to understand, and you should always test your growth strategy with it to ensure that your tactics are driving the key variables.

It’s important to keep in mind that you can always delve deeper into what underlies the variables as you are developing your growth strategy. Also, in what format you capture the growth model for your business does not matter much. I always prefer to have both a diagram that shows how the variables are related to each other as well as a simple equation that can be used for creating more rigorous models in spreadsheets allowing your to gauge how changing the variables will affect the overall growth metrics. You should use the model that suits the context. You might use the simpler equation for a board meeting and the rigorous spreadsheet model with your team. Whatever the format, your model will help to inform and ground your growth strategy.

Be sure to check back tomorrow to learn about different kinds of growth models that you might use. New sections of Growthzilla are published every weekday.

2.1.1 Understanding Your Customers’ Journey

This post is part of the Growthzilla Book series, which is an online draft of the print edition that will be available in 2018.

To identify the opportunities for growth along the customer lifecycle, it is first important to understand the customer’s experience engaging with the company and its product or service. A customer journey map is an illustration of exactly these experiences. The map can tell the full story covering the entire customer lifecycle from initial contact to activation, engagement, and beyond or focus on only a part of the story that lays out interactions or touchpoints critical to a subset of the customer’s experience.

There are actually several forms of journey maps, all defined by the scope of the investigation. The different types are:

  • User Experience Journey Maps: to chart the digital experience
  • Sales Journey Maps: to chart the path through the sales funnel (awareness to purchase)
  • Customer Journey Maps: to holistically examine the full experience

We will focus on the last of these as it is the most expansive, most used, and often the most efficient in identifying big impact areas, and understanding your consumer’s full experience.

Customer journey maps can be further broken down by the stage of the product or the customer perspective. They can be either:

  • Retrospective Maps: in the case of existing products with actual users. These map observed behaviors, or
  • Prospective Maps: in the case of new products where we map expected ways that the consumer will behave

For our purposes, we will be focusing on retrospective maps that are built upon more concrete data.

What makes customer journey maps unique to traditional funnels is that they focus on the customer’s points of view, questions, feelings, and motivations. These all blend together to explain and provide insights on the customer’s behavior. Customer journey mapping is a critical step in understanding your customers’ needs, desires and pain points. They allow you to stay focused on the consumer, and to identify the ways that you can better serve them.

Before we get into the specific steps to building out the customer journey, remember that a customer journey map does not have to be a work of art, but it does need to communicate the critical things that illuminate the customers’ behaviors, thoughts and frustrations, and where the opportunities lie. Although adding pictures and making these more visual are nice, it is more important to be substantive.

Assemble a Cross-Functional Team to Build the Map

The journey mapping process should involve stakeholders that represent a key cross-section of functions. If selected carefully, these team members will be able to offer unique perspectives in understanding the customer. For instance, product marketing and business representatives can bring key behavior metrics and market factors, while customer support can best illuminate customer pain points with both qualitative and quantitative evidence. Having a diverse team as part of the process throughout can speed the ability to identify both organizational gaps in knowledge to drive the research phase, and opportunities for improvement throughout the lifecycle.

Define the Goals and Scope of the Customer Journey Map

With a cross-functional team in place, the next step is to create focus and alignment within the group. As such, the mapping process must start by clearly articulating the goals and identifying the scope of what will be mapped. The scope is defined by two dimensions: who the primary target is and what key experiences need to be traced.

First, the assembled group of people in your business must agree on whose experiences are being mapped. Like a protagonist in a story, these subjects will be the ones whose perspectives, behaviors and experiences are being captured. The chosen persons should map one-to-one to a target customer segment or persona. (Personas are fictional characters who represent a specific target segment, that is, a group of customers that share key attitudes and behaviors.) Be sure that your groups are well-defined by being truly distinct and homogenous. For instance, if you are a company such as Uber offering a ride-sharing service, your personas may be a typical rider and a typical driver. These could be even further narrowed down based on usage of the application (possibly influenced by spending patterns, propensity to travel, geographic density, employment, etc.). To keep the exercise targeted, personas should likely be limited to no more than three.

Second, the cross-functional team must decide on what experiences should be included in the map. The customer journey map should include paths that may be critical to the success of the business and its growth potential. Again, if your offer a ride-sharing service, critical paths for a rider could include first ride or usage, paying for a ride, various repeat ride scenarios, rating a driver, requesting a refund, sharing a location, referring a friend, deleting the app, etc. The chosen set may be influenced by the businesses priorities, however it is important to remember that some of the internal biases are meant to be challenged in this process, so a more expansive view is always better. Undoubtedly, insights can be uncovered in unlikely places.

Create an Initial Map Based on Current Knowledge

Once the scope has been clearly defined, the process usually starts by going through the steps of mapping using existing knowledge. This allows us to understand the internal ways we think about our customers before seeking out external information.

The cross-functional team should bring together their own knowledge and data gathered to date in their area of focus. For example customer support could bring analysis reports of support calls and emails. Marketing could bring prior satisfaction surveys, brand perception, and analytics. Sales could provide data from the field from partners and direct customer contact. All of this can be supplemented with stakeholder interviews to capture as much institutional knowledge as possible. The information that we should be collecting at this point includes:

Empathy Maps:

The empathy map (see below) further elaborates on the personas by capturing the feelings gleaned from all the surveys and customer observations. It serves as a good tool for helping to put oneself into the frame of mind of the customer and understand their challenges.

 

The elements included in the empathy map are, what the personas are:

  • Thinking and Feeling: How do they feel about the experience? What anxieties, joys, and hopes do they have? For example, for shopping online: “I hope I don’t have to wait to get this order” or “I’m confused and can’t find what I’m looking for.”
  • Seeing: What do they look at while using the product, in what order and why? For example, for online banking, they may look at their account summary first to see their balances before doing any task.
  • Hearing: What do they hear from friends, family, and the masses that influence their thoughts
  • Saying and Doing: How do they behave? What are the words that they use to describe the experience?
  • Pains: What obstacles and frustrations stand in the way of accomplishing their goals?
  • Gains: What are they hoping to accomplish?

Touchpoints and Channels:

What touchpoints does the user have with the company? Direct sales, email, support, in-person events, social media etc.? The team can start considering additional touchpoints that could be used to enhance the experience.

With this internal knowledge captured, the team can now lay out an initial draft of the map. This first pass will expose gaps in the knowledge of the journey, for example, what drives repeat behavior or how the customer overcomes problems with using the product. The team can now articulate theories regarding how to improve the experience or turn pains into opportunities. For example, at the end they may determine that there are not enough touchpoints or that the onboarding is failing to drive users to use the product (i.e. to activation). The goal of the next steps will be to validate, adjust and fill gaps in the journey. Additionally, we will test these theories based on research.

Gather and Analyze Research

Now that we’ve collected some internal insights, we need to conduct research to fill gaps and to test any of the theories from the internal mapping exercise. This should be done with a combination of qualitative and quantitative measures: talking to and surveying customers, prospects, former customers etc. Key tools at this point are research methods that allow us to see how the user behaves in their natural environment and while using the product in the real world. These include, contextual inquiry and ethnographic research.

Both contextual inquiry and ethnographic research rely on observation and building and in-depth the story directly from the customer. For the latter, the person conducting the research will observe users in their day-to-day or arrange for participants to create detailed diaries over a set amount of time. Often these two approaches are used together.

For contextual inquiry, the researcher observes participants individually, while using the product or service in their regular context, i.e. in their home, office or other environment. There is an additional component of unstructured interviews that can happen throughout the observation period to aid in understanding what the user is thinking and why they perform certain actions.

At the end of the research step, we should be able to articulate the key elements of the journey map: who, what, where, how, and why?

Who

Who is the customer is for whom you are mapping the experience? There may be a couple that may warrant more than one map, but personas should not be ambiguous or a large number.

What

What are your personas goals are and what they are doing throughout their engagement with your company?

Where

Where are they in the journey and where all the touchpoints in each of these steps?

How

How they achieve (or don’t achieve) their goals, and how important each of the steps may be along the way? Their feelings should also be drawn out here

Why

Why they behave they do and use your product/service? This is the crux of what motivates them and the things they do!

Illustrate the Customer’s Journey

Based on all the data you have gathered, you should now be able to map out the stages by which you can define the customer experience and the facets of what they entail for the customer. The key touch-points within each of these stages should be catalogued although they may not all be detailed in the final distilled map. As with the empathy map, for each step we want to immerse ourselves in the persona’s experience. Therefore, for each step you will catalogue:

  • Stage: What stage of the journey does this represent?
  • Key Activities: What is the persona doing? What is the online and offline behavior?
  • Touchpoints: What touchpoints are employed to try to accomplish the steps?
  • Thinking: What questions do they have? What opinions?
  • Feeling: Are they happy? Sad? Frustrated? Confused?
  • Opportunities: What areas for improvement have we identified?

A simple example map is shown below:

Distill Areas of Opportunity

Once the journey is mapped out, and areas of opportunities identified, it’s time to act. The ideal way to focus on the most critical areas is to prioritize within the context of the business model. This will be the focus of the next section.

1.2 Growth Science Pillar 2: Optimization Across Disciplines

Growth is multidisciplinary

While corporate structure continues to silo departments, growth has quickly become an interdisciplinary practice requiring functions such as marketing, product development, customer support, sales, and even logistics. The third pillar of growth science is employing all of these different functions to spur customer and revenue growth. It is important to recognize that growth isn’t just driven by marketing but rather by multiple functions that are interrelated and must work together to have a positive impact on the business.

Sean Ellis, who coined the term “growth hacking,” was hired at Dropbox right as the company had decided to open the product to the general public. The biggest driver of growth at Dropbox at that time was when the company created a referral program giving existing customers additional storage space if they got their friends to try the product. While the strategy and vision for this kind of initiative might be driven by marketing, implementation often relies on the product, such as a website or app, that makes it possible to send and track invites and to reward users. That means that this tactic relies on both marketing and product development functions, and the two teams must work closely together to successfully implement it.

Uber’s customer support is another example of how different functions within a company work together to affect growth. One of the first times that I used Uber, I requested a ride, and the driver never showed up to pick me up. What made things worse was that I cancelled my ride after waiting for a long time and was charged a cancellation fee. Needless to say, I was furious contemplated deleting the app. Uber could have easily lost me as a customer then, or at least I might have been more likely to use a competitor such as Lyft. However, Uber made it extremely easy to request that the cancellation charge be reversed. It took only a few taps of my finger, and the refund request was submitted. Not only that, I was granted the refund that same day. Uber was able to retain me as a customer through great product design and lightning fast customer service.

In many regards, job boards hint at the interdisciplinary nature of growth science, and you can often see postings for “growth hacker,” “growth manager,” “growth engineer,” and “head of growth.” These titles did not exist a decade ago, but now the demand for these kinds of roles is ballooning. Business leaders created roles such as  “growth manager” and “head of growth” because those responsible for these efforts needed to oversee across departments and traditional roles that focused on a narrow domain didn’t fit. What is critical to understand is businesses are better able to identify new strategies when they understand how all functions impact growth.

Be sure to check back tomorrow for the next section: Growth Science Pillar 3: Optimization Across the Entire Customer Lifecycle! New sections of Growthzilla are published every weekday.

1.1 Growth Science Pillar 1: Iterative Experimentation

Meme: Never stop testing, and your growth will never stop improving.

The origins of growth science could be traced back to David Ogilvy, one of the most well known ad men of the twentieth century, who proclaimed back in 1963, “Never stop testing, and your advertising will never stop improving.” Ogilvy’s statement embodies two important concepts–continually test and improve–that have paved the way to modern growth science.

The idea that advertising is not a static creation is critically important because challenges one to continuously improve tactics. Although this philosophy was popularized in advertising it is just as relevant in product development, operations, and even sales. Since the 1960’s some marketers have embraced this ethos by iteratively trying variations of tactics, channels and messaging. Moreover, the practice of iteratively implementing improvements has become more commonplace in other business functions such as product development, customer support, and sales. However, It’s not enough to keep trying different tactics and implementations.

The second key concept that Ogilvy proposed is actually testing new variations and improvements by carefully measuring associated outcomes. Once again, this practice is not just limited to marketing activities, and one can test variations of product implementation, operations, and sales. It’s not surprising that many business leaders have adopted both iterative experimentation and rigorous testing across business functions, and it’s now just as common to test variations of product design (particularly in the digital realm) as it is to test different advertising messages.

This paradigm shift has been supported by an ever burgeoning ecosystem of data collection and analysis tools that have allowed companies to track key performance indicators for new customer acquisition, such as click-through rates on online and email marketing, as well as for engagement and retention of existing customers. Now, one can easily test variations to marketing emails or to webpage designs to see which ones lead to the greatest gains in key metrics such as the total number of new sign ups or daily active users.

What was once driven entirely by intuition can now be informed by experimentation and testing. Leaders across marketing, product development, and operations are forming hypotheses and conducting experiments to see which tactics yield the most positive results. This rigorous methodology is the first pillar of growth science and underlies the entire field allowing us to call it a “science.”

What is shocking is that after more than half a century, most marketers still do not make data-driven decisions according to a survey conducted by Google in 2017.  I can empathize with those that do not put this philosophy into practice. While the field has burgeoned, it has also become a lot more difficult to navigate. There are now countless tools that allow people to experiment with marketing and product design. The scope of growth science has also greatly expanded across disciplines–the second pillar of growth science– from marketing to product implementation and operations. The application of this methodology has also expanded to include not only new customer acquisition but also to engagement and adoption. The optimization of the entire customer lifecycle is the third pillar of growth science.

We will cover the other two pillars of growth science in subsequent sections. Hopefully by explaining the three elements of growth science and providing a comprehensive guide, we can empower you to successfully employ growth science to supercharge your business.

 

Be sure to check back tomorrow for the next section: Growth Science Pillar 2: Optimization Across Disciplines! New sections of Growthzilla are published every weekday. 

Chapter 1: An Introduction to Growth Science

I remember looking at a picture with colorful tiles overlaid over a mock webpage. In the upper left there was a red-orange tile and another one right below. Across the top and down the left-hand-side of the page there were more orange and bright green tiles. As my eye gazed across to the right and down the mock page, the tiles got blue and finally purple. I was at Google in 2005 where my job was helping website owners figure out how to implement Google AdWords ads on their site. The picture that I was inspecting was a heatmap, which was derived from aggregate statistical data showing which ad placements resulted in the highest number of clicks.

I was astonished. I realized that design on the web was a big statistical game. Users had tendencies such as where they tended to look first on a screen and what colors tended to catch their eye. It was just a matter of using experimentation to figure out what those tendencies were and designing products that played to those preferences rather than worked against them.

This idea that we can test the effectiveness of product design resonated with me. Having studied physics and economics in college, I had a strong preference for proof and hard numbers over subjective intuition. My academic background led me to adopting a data and research-driven approach to designing user experiences for interactive products like websites.

I soon discovered testing tools such as eye-tracking, which allows one to track what a user is looking at on the screen, as well as A/B testing, which allows one to compare how effective two versions of a page are in relation to each other. I also read results of experiments that others were performing with headlines such as “Placing the security logo on the upper left between the search box and the navigation bar increased conversions 8.83%.” 

Later, during my tenure as director of user experience in a Silicon Valley startup in 2007, I decided to use experimentation to drive product design. The startup was a document sharing site that was one of the most visited web properties in the world. I suggested to Senior Director of Product that we should try experimenting with the registration button on the home page. He laughed and told me not to waste my time, but luckily the founders were supportive of the idea, and we did it anyways.

One of the senior engineers (a brilliant gentleman that later became a very successful entrepreneur) developed our in-house A/B testing platform. First we figured that maybe moving the registration button to a more prominent place might help our conversions–the proportion of people clicking through to the registration page. So we moved the button from all the way on the right of the menu bar to the center. Lo and behold, our conversion rate increased by more than 70%! I was stunned that simply moving the button to the left of the page by a few hundred pixels (effectively about two inches on a monitor) made such a huge difference. I think we all were.

Given our initial success, we decided to keep going to see what other optimizations we could make through testing variations. We next decided to change the design of the button itself. Originally the button was a bland shade of blue, so we decided to try making it bright green based on the hypothesis that users would more readily notice a brighter color and would, thus, be more likely to click it. Another round of A/B testing revealed that the green version gave us about another 50% increase in conversion rate. This moment in time changed my life. At that moment, I thought that soon everyone would be experimenting and testing product design because it had such unbelievable potential to help businesses grow.

Over the next decade, two important trends occurred. First, leaders figured out ways to experiment with changes to not only product implementation but also to marketing and operations such as customer service. Second, many new tools appeared in the market allowing businesses to experiment with things like marketing messaging and even customer service process. Some companies have taken full advantage of the methods and tools to dominate their competitors. Unfortunately, these exciting advances have not yet reached a mass audience, and many businesses continue to fall behind.

In speaking to friends, clients, and colleagues, we heard the same refrain: the possibilities seem so numerous and the methods so opaque that many folks simply do not know where to start. In addition, many people had heard of terms like “growth hacking,” and incorrectly believed that they should replicate hacks that other businesses have used rather than adopting a broader process that they can contextualize to their business and implement to reliably grow their customer base and revenue. Our aim in writing this book is to give everyone an overview of the three pillars that make up growth science as well as practical tactics for growing your business.

 

Check in tomorrow for the next section of Chapter 1.

What Is Growthzilla About?

Image or trees

Do you want to grow your business? Who doesn’t? We wrote Growthzilla to not only get you started but to give you a comprehensive guide that you can use to make your business thrive in an increasingly competitive landscape.

Growing a product or business is not a “hack,” which is a term that implies a trick or crude way of doing things. Instead, creating growth has become a science over the past decade, enabled by meticulous methodologies as well as technology that allows leaders to test tactics with near-scientific rigor. Companies in various industries ranging from tech to financial services are starting to employ those methodologies to out-maneuver their competitors, while the laggards are falling to the wayside. In the coming decades companies will have two options: either jump on the bandwagon and engineer growth or endure a steady decline as growth science becomes a serious competitive advantage.

Not only have companies such as Google and Amazon been systematically applying growth science to further solidify their market leadership, the scope of what they are doing has dramatically increased. Growth science now includes using marketing, product implementation, and operations to drive growth along the entire customer lifecycle from acquisition to engagement and retention. The modern field of growth science can be characterized by:

  • An iterative approach to testing and refining tactics,
  • Leveraging marketing, product implementation, and operations to drive growth, and
  • Optimizing growth over the entire customer lifecycle from acquisition to engagement and retention.

We felt that we had to write Growthzilla to give both new innovators a chance to compete with sophisticated incumbents such as Google and Amazon as well as to give existing companies a chance to adapt how they do business in this quickly changing landscape. Our hope is that the book offers a great overview of the methodology, the scope, and practical tactics that anyone in a leadership position can immediately apply to grow the product and business.

Moreover, we thought that in creating Growthzilla we should put our money where our mouth is and actually apply the lessons we present to actually making the book. Practice what you preach! That is why we are making the draft of Growthzilla available online on this site to learn from your comments and questions and create a better book for all readers.

We encourage you to read each section as we publish it and tell us what you agree and disagree with as well as what’s confusing. And if you like what you read, help us deepen our impact by telling your friends and colleagues!

We hope you find Growthzilla informative, practical, and truly transformational for you and your business! Most of all, thank you for your interest and support.

Warmly,

Sergio and Kimmy