As we know, growth doesn’t just happen on its own. Sure, some companies hit the lottery but you can’t leave your success up to the fates by waiting for that to happen.

So you have to plan, week by week, month by month, to achieve steady, scalable growth.

Set Your Goals

The first step will always be to decide what your goal is. Paul Graham has mentioned that growth of 5-7% per week is a good rate. Some startups I’ve worked with are happy with 10-15% per month. Choose your most important metric and an increase that seems plausible based on past months but a bit of a stretch as well so you have to hustle.

No doubt, your growth schedule for the next month looks something like the following for a 15% month over month (MoM) weekly active user (WAU) goal, starting with 2500 weekly active members.

Month 1

Month 2

Month 3

Month 4

Month 5

Month 6

Month 7

Month 8

Month 9

Month 10

Month 11

Month 12

2875

3306

3802

4373

5028

5783

6650

7648

8795

10114

11631

13376

375

431

496

571

655

755

867

998

1147

1319

1517

1745

Now, this is great information to put into a goal tracker, like HubSpot or Chart Mogul. But, you need a drawn out plan that details how you expect to hit these goals, at least a few months planned out at a time.

Growth Marketing Calendar Month 1

For example, in Month 1 you have a gap goal (my saying for the increase from what you have to what you need) of 375 weekly active users. Now, what can you brainstorm to help you reach that goal?

Let’s look at your marketing options:

Facebook Ads– optimized, more specific campaigns and target audiences, like audiences, geographical audiences, campaigns for different offers.

Social media– Organic, with images, without images, paid ads on Twitter or Linkedin, subscribe cards, with links, without links, more replies and conversations, giveaways, referrals, contests

Email– onboarding, activation, reactivation, engagement, education, cold email, campaigns per offer, improved subjects, better format for click through rates, build a list, newsletters, swap campaigns.

Content– blogging, downloads, 10x content, guest posting, accepting guest posts, SEO, podcast, book.

In-app– messaging, ads, chat, support.

There are dozens of ideas for marketing, and there are always ways to improve what you are already doing in marketing, so coming up with a plan depends on identifying what you are doing, where you can improve, and choosing and implementing new methods.

Email Marketing Tactic #1

Assuming you are already using a bit of email, let’s fill out Month 1 with additionally weekly emails that engage the audience. We will call this “Email Engagement”- helping all members grasp deeper feature usage.

Example: For a SaaS metrics or analytics tool this could mean sharing dashboard templates, specific report links, or offering the ability to sign up for daily emails to your entire team.

I suggest sending 2 emails in the first week to see how well they are received if it goes well stick with that schedule for the month. If you receive a lot of complaints or unsubscribes cut back to 1 email a week and make sure it is of high value.

You could use MixPanel to identify features used by your most successful users, then share more about these features.

Facebook Ads Tactic #1

Now I always recommend having more than one idea to reach your monthly goals, so let’s add to this plan by slowing starting a couple of Facebook ads campaigns.

I would choose these for the first month because you’ll want to test and move slowly and you have a small gap goal this month so there is time to deal with setbacks if they happen.

And since you already know that SEO and content can take some time in showing results, let’s also add a 10x piece of content to use in next month’s newsletter, and on social media to get leads now. If possible add a download to the content to collect leads for email marketing.

Monthly Analysis & Adjustment

At the end of each month, you want to analyze your results and adjust the upcoming month based on what has worked, and what results you can expect going forward. I recommend using a spreadsheet to keep track of all experiments, adjustments, and tactics for future reference, in my experience growth teams are constantly growing and changing.

I suggest planning at least 3 months ahead when possible. This will give you time to handle larger goals as they come about. During Month 1, you’ll want to keep track of what worked as far as the email engagement and Facebook ads. Did you see an opportunity for improvement? Did you need it? Did you use it? If not, now is a great time to try. Add more?

It’s a good idea towards the end of the month to hold a team meeting to discuss results and how they affect future goals. If everything went well, discuss what your needs are for next month, how the calendar should change, whether it’s time to add a new marketing method, or if you have plans to improve on the methods you are using.

During this time I also suggest brainstorming for what to do if and when you come up short to meet a goal. It’s always best to stay on top of your goals with a goal tracker, if you have one so that you will know right away if you fall behind your growth goals.

If this happens, I suggest using an ace in the hole, which is basically my fall back plan for making sure I hit a goal when things don’t go as they should.

Let’s say you get to the 20th of the month and you’ve only gotten 200 WAU, clearly something is wrong and you need to come up with a plan to hit that goal of 431. This is when you use the aforementioned ideas from your meeting to close that gap. An ace in the hole is basically a trusty growth method that you can pull out when needed to hit your goals.

Growth Marketing Month 2

Based on a successful Month 1, the analysis of Month 1 and brainstorming for Month 2 we are going to plan the following for Month 2 where we need to get another 431 weekly active users.

We will assume Month 2 looks like this:

  • Email Engagement
  • Facebook Ads
  • Another 10x Content Piece
  • Cold Emails
  • Work on product based on survey

You’ll notice that only cold emails are new because there are a lot of opportunities to improve your emails, ads, and content. Let’s add the following specifications for Month 2, brainstormed after Month 1.

Improvements for Month 2

Email- target subsets of users and funnel them into their own reactivation campaigns, test 3 new campaigns, and be sure to take these users out of the pool of general users who get the first campaign. Additionally, try a few email subjects, and add a link call to action to the emails to increase CTR.

Ads- What campaigns did well? Can you test or improve the copy of the landing page or ad copy? Supplement newer images and ads in new campaigns to catch the eye of users who have now overlooked your ads. If you have time, add retargeting to your new campaigns for users who have been inactive for 14 days.

Content- How did the content do last month on social media? Remember to send it in the newsletter in Month 2. We should also plan some content promotion. Start with the bookmarking sites, multiple social media updates, and asking people on the team to share on social as well (no demanding it though), then consider adding the content to Quuu for promotion, or spending $30 on Facebook ads for the piece.

Cold Email Tactic #1

Cold Emails– With these, we’ll want to encourage people to join your free service, as they count as weekly active users as well. But, it’s not as easy as sending one email and forgetting it.

Today you have to send a drip email to make cold email effective. It must be clever, people are probably well aware that you offer a free trial (if you do) and just haven’t felt the need to sign up, so it’s your job to make them feel the FOMO, or at least understand how valuable it will be to their team to sign up.

I go over this extensively in a post on Crazy Egg, grab a pdf copy here.

Growth Marketing Month 3

Now we will plan Month 3. Email Engagement, Facebook Ads, 10x Content Piece, Cold Emails, Social Media, Event with CEO or CMO, and product update based on survey

This month we need almost 500 more WAU, the goals are starting to get bigger and heavier, but we have plans and can make this work.

We’ve been optimizing email, starting new campaigns in email and Facebook and should do the same this month. We might even try a like audience on Facebook to see if that will bring results.

The content we’ve written is getting picked up by Google so we are seeing some SEO improvement, let’s schedule more SEO tweaks for Month 4, Cold emails haven’t been doing great so we will shelf that for now and instead work on guest blogging to get exposure, we have a few sites willing to take our content.

We are going to put a special focus on social media this month and see if we can turn our likes and followers into more users, and last but not least the CEO or CMO will be a host on a podcast, or hold an AMA somewhere to help us meet our goals. Schedule this event early in the month to get exposure and have time to use an ace in the hole if things aren’t going well.

During Month 3 you should take time to schedule months 4-6, what new methods do you think you should include, how many appearances for your CEO? What has worked and what hasn’t? What needs to be improved to make it work? Have you had a hard time hitting your goals? Are you confident you can keep hitting them as each month gets harder?

A lot of thought and energy goes into your monthly marketing calendar, and it will no doubt change over time, but it’s still good to plan it out, have an idea of what you are doing, and stay up to date on where your metrics currently are.

If you need help hitting your goals, I can help, send me a message and we’ll talk soon. I look forward to helping your team build a growth goal streak.

Month

Tactics

Month

Tactics

Month

Tactics

Month 1

Email Engagement

Facebook Ads

10x Content

Survey Users

Month 2

Email Engagement

Facebook Ads

10x Content

Survey Users

Cold Email

Month 3

Email Engagement

Facebook Ads

10x Content

Survey Users

Cold Email

Social Media

CEO Event

As I say, growth doesn’t happen on its own, you have to plan it for it to happen. Hopefully, this post will help you jog your mind to come up with some marketing activities that will help you meet your goals.