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?:
- Do you have analytics and activity tracking installed?
- Do you check the data daily?
- Do you understand the data AND implement changes based on the information?
- Does your team understand the data they have or how to access it?
- 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:
- The first 6 steps to home growing basic startup analytics by Andrew Chen
- Startup Analytics: Why and How we use Mixpanel by Hubstaff
- The Tools Early-Stage Startups Actually Need to Understand Their Customers by First Round
4) Your Marketing Lacks Motivation
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:
- 2x your conversions and 3x your prices by addressing your customers’ secret desires
- Poor conversions: the usual suspects
- 10 Dangerous Threats to Your Landing Page Conversion Rate
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.