1.4 What Kinds of Growth Can You Engineer?

You can engineer growth for digital and physical products and even services.

The most obvious application of growth science is in software, which includes popular categories for innovation such as mobile apps and cloud-based software. Growth science is particularly enabled in this space by excellent tools for conducting quantitative experimentation on the design of these interactive products. Product owners can test variations of design (e.g. which button color gets more clicks) as well as functionality (e.g. does adding a particular function increase key engagement metrics such as total time spent using the app).

Similarly to product development, a lot of marketing for physical products and services is done online where a great ecosystem of experimentation tools also make it possible to optimize marketing channels and messages. For example, it is now very easy to test variations on messaging in email marketing or to compare the effectiveness of channels such as pay-per-click advertising to email marketing.

Beyond tools, there is rich community of growth hackers, marketers, and product designers that share ideas and best practices. In our opinion, all these factors have led to the advancement of a holistic approach to growth in the software space, which other industries can certainly emulate.

The growth science methodology can just as effectively be applied to physical products and services. As mentioned above, the big advantage with interactive products is that it’s easier to make changes to the product on the fly, and while this might not be as feasible with physical products, we can certainly experiment with marketing, customer support, sales, and other aspects of operations.

Even though it’s more challenging, we absolutely conduct experiments on physical products as well as services. With physical products, you don’t necessarily have to test variations of the actual product to see which version is most likely to resonate with customers. For example, let’s say that you are going to be selling sunglasses and you are not sure with which styles and colors you should launch. You could simply create variations product pages for various combinations of styles and color in your online store and measure which ones register the most number of clicks on the “Buy” button. Voila, you just tested product design of a physical product!

We could also try variations to how a service is delivered to test what works best. For example, let’s say that you are an executive at Goliath Bank. What if I told you that you could grow your business by optimizing how your employees deliver banking services to customers at bank branches? Let’s say that my hypothesis is that customers would be happier if they performed more straight-forward tasks such as depositing checks on Goliath Bank’s mobile app rather than going through the trouble to travel to a branch and standing in line. We could test various ways to encourage late adopters to try making check deposits via the online app. For example, we could try showing tutorial videos on monitors at some bank branches while patrons wait in line. By randomly assigning which bank branches show the video tutorial, we could see if it gets customers to make more check deposits via the mobile app. Along with usage, we could measure customer satisfaction and really see if these changes are making customers happier with your service.

While this book focuses on businesses that build software products, the growth science methodology can be applied to practically any other kind of product or service offering.
With physical products and services the main challenge is finding ways in which one can try variations of product or service implementations.

Be sure to check back next Monday to learn what we’ll be covering in the remaining chapters of the book. New sections of Growthzilla are published every weekday.