4 Fast Acting Tactics To Meet Your Growth Goals Every Month

4 Fast Acting Tactics To Meet Your Growth Goals Every Month

Want to make sure you never miss a monthly growth goal? Perhaps you need a boost right now to get the month moving in the right direction?

Then you’ve come to the right place. Big companies like Facebook and HubSpot have lofty growth goals and continue to meet them every month.

But how do they do it exactly?

Planning of course!

That is, consistently planning ahead to meet their goals and then planning for the occasional situation when they need to scrape together their resources and make ends meet.

5 Growth Roadblocks Preventing You From Hitting Goals

5 Growth Roadblocks Preventing You From Hitting Goals

There are so many factors that contribute to the confusion around choosing a strategy for growth.

After working with multiple startups, I’ve noticed 5 issues that specifically prevent companies from meeting their goals. Here, I’ll explain what each roadblock is, how it affects results, and how it can be remedied.

1) Your Biggest Roadblock Is a Lack of Planning & Strategy

You don’t just select a goal and expect you’ll make it happen. It won’t. Like anything else in life, it needs to be planned out, you need a strategy and a framework to ensure you meet your goal every month.

This planning, should include experimenting, and keeping easy access to tactics to help you meet goals.

The major indication of needing to plan is when you get close to goal deadlines and are still lacking in results.

Many startups use HubSpot for their website and the reporting is awesome. The ability to set goals is very useful because it lets you see when you are off track to meet your goal, Chart Mogul is another company with this feature in their toolset.

Examples of Needing A Growth Plan:

  • For instance, if you are in the middle of the month and your goal is for 3,000 visitors (very small number) but you’ve only gotten 1,000 visits, you’ll see that you are off by 500 visits which means you have a bit to make up for.
  • On the other hand, the goal tool in HubSpot also tells you if you are ahead, say it is the 20th and you have 2,800 visits. You are over by 800 visits and might not need all of the tactics you’ve planned for the month.


The Many Benefits of Having a Growth Plan

Having a dashboard for goals is immensely helpful. When you are falling short, it’s time to plan an additional activity to make up the difference by the end of the month. You’ll want to do it quickly to get back on track and leave yourself time in case it doesn’t work to plan another tactic.

In the case of being on track to meet goals early, you should hold off on planned tactics/events until the next goal period (if possible) so that the results aren’t wasted on a month where you are already meeting goals.

More Opportunities to Experiment

Being ahead of goals gives another opportunity, one to experiment with things that might work. Say you normally get 25% of your monthly conversions from Social Media but you want to try to improve those conversions by setting up 2 landing pages specifically for organic social traffic.

Since you are already ahead with your goals, you can take the time to try this and see if it moves the needle.

Keep Track of Experiments & Successes

I suggest making lists, perhaps in Trello, of what you do regularly to meet your goals, where you’d like to experiment, and what you’ve tried in the past that will contribute to your goals in a pinch.

My Trello Board:

 

I’ve been asked, “If you keep these goals for when you are in a pinch why not just always use them?” One of the reasons is it would get tiresome for the market to constantly use these as a way to get people to convert. It would stop being effective. Instead you keep these activities as aces in the hole that you can pull out to make sure you succeed in meeting goals.

Fix This Roadblock- Get The 7 Step Growth Plan

Each month write up your marketing calendar, compare the results you expect with your goal and plan enough that you will hit the goal. You can do this by using the 7 Step Growth Plan I’ve written for you, it’s free to download.

Now, use a goal dashboard and if you see you are falling behind brainstorm on how to fix it immediately, schedule more activities to make up the difference, and pull in an ace in the hole to hit your goal.

This might take some time to perfect, and growth is a process so it requires regular configuring and strategizing, but when you take the time to plan you’ll be far less likely to miss your goal.

2) You Aren’t Focused on Sustainable, Long-Term Growth ie: Stop Chasing The Silver Bullet

Brian Balfour wrote in one of his blog posts about how the lack of focus and the search for the silver bullet were two ways that growth could be stunted. I’ve seen this myself, w n you are trying to handle 30 different activities, it’s a lot harder than handling 3-4 of them well.

Are you distracted by silver objects?

  • Trying to make too many activities work at one time, without the team to handle it
  • Trying growth hacks that seem easy and doable just because you have the budget
  • Aren’t fully vetting an idea by testing it out on a small segment of their users
  • Implementing, hoping it works, and moving to the next experiment
  • A hurried team, lack of focus and scaling on activities that could work better

There should be a balance between experimenting and focus.

There should be time available and planned for where you can actively work on the things that contribute well to your growth, and then time to play/experiment with ideas and ways to improve growth even more. In my plan for growth, I call this the core to experiment ratio.

The average startup will grow slowly and incrementally over time.

They don’t go to bed one night and wake up a month later to find success. They keep pushing for it, every day, and once in awhile they strike gold that makes a major impact, then it’s back to the slow improvements until it happens again.

Stories about using 500 t-shirts to catapult a startup to success are outliers that break rather than prove the rule.

A Ratio of Incremental to Experimental Growth That Works

Try to focus on incremental growth 80% of the time and experimental hacks 20% of the time. What you can do will be based on your resources, the team size you have, the budget you have, and the goals you are trying to prove. This ratio works for me for 10%-25% MoM growth.

3) You Need To Investigate Your Analytics

There are now mountains of data available for SaaS companies specifically and no one should overlook the possibilities of understanding the information they are privy to, but many do.

Metrics like MRR, WAU, and CLV are some of the most common to track, but they are far from the only metrics that matter. In fact, other metrics will impact the above numbers quite heavily, and you’ll notice that an increase in Search Traffic might increase MRR, or a higher number of emails leads to higher CLV.

This is why you need to spend abundant amount of times understanding and analyzing your analytics regularly. A tool like Chart Mogul is perfect for this as they know exactly what SaaS and startup companies need to see.

Here is a screenshot of their custom dashboard: (you’d make your own)

Are You Spending Enough Time in Analytics?:

  1. Do you have analytics and activity tracking installed?
  2. Do you check the data daily?
  3. Do you understand the data AND implement changes based on the information?
  4. Does your team understand the data they have or how to access it?
  5. Does the team struggle to understand what the data means?

It’s easy to identify if your company isn’t making proper use of your data. And the only way to fix this issue is to get educated about possibilities in data, understanding data, and making decisions with data.

This is one area where I can help, I’m offering monthly growth mentorship that includes data and decision making. Please email me to learn more, [email protected]

Additionally, here are several resources to help you understand and improve your approach to data:

4) Your Marketing Lacks Motivation

Photo by Gonzalo Arnaiz on Unsplash

Marketers of all types run into poor conversions and it can be difficult to diagnose the problem because there can be so many factors at play.

Lack of Motivation = Lack of Conversions

Simply put, you aren’t connecting with your audience. Prospects can’t see the value in your product from the words you are using, the copy lacks motivating evidence to drive a conversion, you are missing certain elements from your site, or you don’t present a trusting business.

You Aren’t Speaking Your Market’s Language & Acknowledging Their Pains

For starters, not knowing, understanding, and using what you know about your target market (potential buyers) is one of the biggest issues I see in all marketing today. Companies don’t always take the time to investigate their market well enough to understand what they need and how to convince them they can deliver.

This lack of understanding the target market is a major cause of low conversions. If you can’t speak to your market in a way that helps them solve a problem, you can’t convert them to buyers.

To solve this, start thinking about what the visitor needs to see to convert.

What buyers need to know to convert:

  • What makes your product better than competitors
  • What it costs
  • How they’ll benefit from using your product
  • How long it takes to get started and become successful
  • How easy it is to integrate into their lives
  • What the dashboard looks like

This information should be on your site instead of content that simply explains what you want to say.

You Are Missing Site Elements That Encourage Conversions

When the content on your site doesn’t encourage the visitor to take action, you are losing conversions due to poor copy. You might be sharing the information the buyer needs but you aren’t convincing them to do something NOW to fix their problem.

Now this could be related to not knowing your buyer well enough and therefore not writing content they find motivating, but it could also mean you didn’t hire the right person to ‘sell’ your product (a copywriter).

What your site needs to convert buyers:

  • A benefit driven headline
  • Supporting sub headline that explains what you do and how
  • Call to action buttons that tell the reader to take action
  • Social proof that shows how others feel about having purchased
  • A look at the product dashboard or other screenshots

Both ‘lack of understanding’ and ‘lack of copy’ can be easily fixed. You can survey colleagues to get their opinions, or survey others in your industry. You could also ask me, you can call me on Clarity and I’ll help you figure it out.

Here are a few links to help you fix both of these problems:


5) People Don’t Love Your Product 

It’s easy to ignore churn, if you aren’t careful. The startup world rewards high growth and blames churn when things go bad. But, experts agree that churn should be prioritized above growth, one of the reasons being that growth will only feed a leaky bucket leaving nothing solid behind.

Chances are you know your churn rate, and you know if it is problematic. If not, you should know that something as ‘low’ as 10% is still quite high depending on the time period. But the biggest indicators of churn are poor reviews and high unsubscribes by paid users.

Unlike the other items on this list churn has a different affect on growth. It doesn’t seem to hurt it the same way because it happens after growth has happened, people simply stop using the product after they’ve converted. But it affects word of mouth, PR, partnerships, and other aspects you might not consider.

No matter how you slice churn, it is a company killer and needs to be contained and fixed immediately, before you focus on growing more.

To do that, you need identify the reason for high churn via extensive user surveys.

Churn can be caused by several factors such as:

  • Marketing that over promises
  • A product that doesn’t deliver
  • Difficult user interface
  • Poor customer support experience
  • Better options with competitors

The only way to know for sure is post churn surveys. There are many tools out there that can help you with this. But, if you struggle with understanding the answers you get, or fashioning the survey at all, give me a call through Clarity and I will help. You can find the link at www.mary-green.com/contact I also offer a free 20 minute consultation to help diagnose your problem.

How We Grew Inbound.org to 154k Members

How We Grew Inbound.org to 154k Members

What does it take to build a thriving community?
How do you get people to come back on a regular basis?
And what mishaps are there you can learn from?
Perhaps my time as a community manager with Inbound.org will give you some insight.

50+ Growth Resources for Startups (Updated)

50+ Growth Resources for Startups (Updated)

There are dozens of guides for startups to reference when they are researching different aspects of growth. But, it isn’t always easy to find them.

I searched with multiple tools to find as many as I could, for this post. As I find more I’ll add them in.

I’ve found calculators, tools, spreadsheets, and more, with the following topics covered; onboarding, bootstrapping, customer success, churn, retention, pricing, business model, user experience, blog, growth, marketing, sales, and various. I hope you find this useful.

For starters let’s talk about the Growth specific guides:

Growth

Rational Growth by Andrew Chen – Free, No signup- Here, Andrew Chen talks about the frameworks, questions, and thought processes you need to build a product with millions of users. The visuals are helpful, the focus on using spreadsheets is refreshing, and you walk away with a real feel of what is needed to make growth happen.

The Scientific Method: How to Design & Track Viral Growth Experiments by Brian Balfour– Slideshare- Why would you care if you are designing and tracking growth experiments correctly? Well, because the human brain has a limit to how much it can remember accurately. So, follow Brian’s suggestions and always have a resource to refer to with future teams and employees.

The Data-Driven Guide to Growing Your SaaS Company by HubSpot– This guide is about establishing sustainable and measurable growth. It includes the initial information a new SaaS founder or marketer would need, and talks about finding growth and scaling it for success.

Ultimate Guide to Growth Stage Pricing By Open View Partners– These guys know pricing and will help you understand the nuances of a pricing strategy in the growth stage. This is powerful information that will help you optimize your MRR while figuring out what your users will pay and how to get them to pay the highest prices.

SaaS Marketing Essentials 3 Chapters by Ryan Battles– If you are at all new to SaaS marketing and growth, Ryan Battles book is a foundational piece that will help you take off running with your newest project. Here you can get the first 3 chapters for free.

The Definitive Guide to SaaS Marketing by New Breed Marketing– This lengthy guide was written to help you get growth moving through your marketing efforts. It includes the basics of metrics, goals, and budgeting while discussing tactics, templates, and techniques for marketing your SaaS company.

Essential Guide to Customer Journey and Lifecycle by GainsightFull Guide On Site- An often overlooked aspect of growth, though not by majorly successful companies, is Customer Success. In this guide by Gainsight, the customer journey and lifecycle is discussed. While it seems this sort of thing is for corporations, these are exactly the types of things that Andrew Chen considers when working on growth, as you’ll see in the guide at the top of this list.

Strategic Marketing Tactics for SaaS Companies by Inturact– This guide by Katy Katz focuses specifically on content marketing for SaaS companies, but it doesn’t stop there, it includes the information you need to target customers and promote content, then follow up by keeping your users happy. Very useful for content marketers.

Scaling Personalization for Behavior-Based Trigger Marketing by BlueShift– In this guide by BlueShift you’ll learn about marketing based on behavior. As technology continues to impact marketing we are able to get minutely specific about who and when we share a message. Learn how to use your trigger marketing opportunities to get the highest number of conversions.

Lifecycle Marketing by Retention Science– Lifecyle marketing might sound like a highly specific, almost boring approach to marketing but it has several implications for growth. One of the things I’ve focused on for years is lifecycle marketing, and you’ll find numerous points of interest in this guide, that will impact your growth.

Growth Marketer’s Guide to Customer Engagement by BlueShift– Another guide by BlueShift, this one helps you focus on your relationship with your clients and using it to engage them, market to them, and increase revenue.

SaaS Grader by New Breed Marketing– This tool helps you figure out some of your more difficult metrics and explains the implications of each KPI. You do have to enter your information, but it’s very helpful if you aren’t already tracking on a tool like Chart Mogul.

Free Trial Conversion Rate & Cohort Analysis Template by New Breed Marketing– A spreadsheet template that analyzes your free trial conversion rate, and provides cohort analysis. Your cohort analysis will reveal what audiences you can provide better marketing experiences for, and help you further understand your personas’ needs.

The Epic Guide to Bootstrapping A SaaS From Scratch– Perhaps one of my favorite topics around growth is bootstrapping. I just have to respect someone who wants to build their startup and product on their own terms. This is a blog post, and the creator is writing a book right now for others who want to do this. I love the sense of traditional entrepreneurship in bootstrapping, I hope you enjoy the post.

SaaS Sales

You can’t talk about growth without also including sales, a major path to growth, though one that can be more difficult to scale. Either way, these guides are a couple of my favorites for advice to startups and SaaS companies looking to optimize their sales processes.

Ultimate Guide SaaS Sales 31 things you need to know about selling SaaS by Steli Efti at Close.io. First of all, Close.io is a top blog for SaaS Sales, and Steli knows what he is talking about. Read through their backlog of blog posts and this guide to find pieces of information that will no doubt help your company grow.

My Favorite Startup & Growth Blogs

ProfitWell Blog– Let’s talk about your churn and MRR optimization. ProfitWell runs experiments, works with clients, and shares what they learn about improving profits at startups and SaaS companies. You’ll love Why Annual Plans Are Crucial for Reducing Churn.

What Users Do & Why Blog– I like this blog because it talks about user experience, something that is still a relatively new topic. Similar to my blog post on Inbound.org 9 Reasons I Won’t Buy Your SaaS Tool, the posts on What Users Do help you understand your market better so you can optimize their experience and revenue.

Tomasz Tunguz– A partner at Redpoint and the co-author of ‘Winning With Data’. Tomasz is a venture capitalist that writes blog posts every day about startups and does a great job of using data.

Brian Balfourformerly Growth at HubSpot, Brian has years of experience and writes monthly essays teaching about growth frameworks and the other processes needed to see extensive user success.

Jason Cohen– A Smart Bear might be my newest and most favorite startup blog. While I’ve heard of him before, I didn’t take the time to go back through his old posts and fall in love with how he shares. This is a great blog and I look forward to new posts.

First Round Review– If you go through the posts here you’ll find a lot of interviews and stories of founders and startups and their successes and failures. It’s a treasure trove of education from some of the biggest companies to some of the fastest growing.

Alex Turnbull on Groove’s Journey to 100k- Think of these posts as over-the-shoulder pieces that fully explain what it’s like to grow a SaaS startup. Great content by a dedicated team who really wants to help others be successful.

Various/ Miscellaneous

Cohort AnalysisA collection of tools that explain cohort analysis and how to use the information obtained to improve marketing and churn.

Understanding and Managing Subscription Businesses by Recurly– An informative guide that gives founders a look at the metrics they need to track and a great deal of information on identifying and fixing churn.

The SaaS CEO’s Guide to Happier Customers by Drift– Drift is killing growth and one of the reasons why is their focus on keeping customers happy. This is customer success and growth at its best and something we can all learn from. Check out my piece to 29 Growth Lessons from Drift.

SaaStr Academy-  Learn anything you need to about running a SaaS startup at SaaStr Academy, but this link will take you straight to their growth stage section where you can learn about founder mistakes, raising funds, and tips to growth 10-20% faster.

How to Nail Your SaaS Trial by Autopilot– Once you already have people in a trial, it’s much easier to convert them to a paying customer, right? Not so fast! In this guide by Autopilot they take you through the necessary steps to make sure you convert as many of your trial users as possible. Having gone through a trial with them I can attest to their helpfulness and passion to convert.

Creating Successful SaaS Products by Ramen– Many people launch their product or service without considering whether it will sell. Here the team at Ramen help you consider successful SaaS products and how you can emulate their achievements.

The Essential SaaS Metrics Guide by SaaS Metrics– An analytics guide to the metrics of importance at any SaaS company, this has been put together by a highly knowledgeable expert in SaaS analytics and we can all learn a thing or two about SaaS metrics here.

More Resources for Startups:

Onboarding Resources

Customer Success

Churn Guides

Retention Resources

Pricing

Business Model

User Experience