Key Takeaways for Growth Marketers from GrowthHackers Conference 2016

Over the past couple of years, we've seen the rise of growth marketing — an integrated team that's dedicated to finding and optimizing key drivers of growth in an organization. This approach is responsible for dramatically changing the marketing organization, and it's an incredible thing to behold. Yesterday, a contingent from Urban Airship attended the 2016 GrowthHackers Conference in Redwood City, and I wanted to talk about what we learned.

It’s OK to Start Slow

First off, if you're not currently practicing growth marketing, that's okay. Some companies have it built-in from beginning, but that's not a requirement. However, since growth touches lots of different internal areas, cross-functional buy-in is critical. Lots of companies start with a heavily matrixed team, pulling in key people from different functional departments (typically heavy on product and marketing). Over time, this can evolve to having dedicated growth teams, but it’s okay to start with what you have (and to start early!).

Cross-Team Collaboration is Critical

An autonomous team is a key element, a message that was underscored throughout the day. It's not just about focusing on the top of the marketing funnel with acquisition, or just focused on building features that should help drive adoption. Instead, it's a holistic look at the entire experience to understand what's currently happening coupled with constant, rapid and obsessive testing on different areas to try and optimize the customer experience.

Pick the RIght Metrics

That said, you can't optimize something without a specific goal. Many different presenters talked about finding the key driver. Like Elena Verna from SurveyMonkey called out, choosing a metric like “revenue” to optimize against is a mistake; revenue, after all, is a trailing metric and, to impact the experience, you need to find that predictive user-centric metric. What's the key experience that will keep your users coming back again and again? What is the “aha moment” you can optimize around to drive your KPIs?

Build Toward Company-Wide Initiatives

Having that company-wide dedication to growth is an important step and ties back to the earlier points about needing buy-in from all relevant teams. We heard great lessons from Nate Moch at Zillow about the regular initiatives their whole company is focused on improving. While focus is always incredibly helpful, that large scale buy-in is also key since a fundamental element of growth marketing is to constantly test, poke, experiment and question. If you don’t have the organizational buy-in to take that aggressively interrogative approach on subjects that you don’t necessarily own, that can create a lot of tension. However, when it’s done right, the metric-driven results are powerful.

Channels are Constantly Changing

Being first on new acquisition channels can give you a quick bump, but it’s also short-lived as others begin to bring competition. Ultimately, there’s no silver bullet in terms of how you communicate with your prospects and existing customers. However, some channels remain always-valuable for talking to customers that are more down-funnel. Of course, push notifications and in-app messaging is an excellent way of doing this. A deeper dive on retention and customer-service oriented messaging would be a conference unto itself, as we well know.

We also think that digital wallet offers a new and compelling opportunity to interact with your users at any stage of the funnel. Having a presence on the mobile device, without necessarily having or needing an app, is a great way to provide an excellent experience to your end users. For instance, check out what the Modern Love podcast is doing using digital wallet.

Don’t Sacrifice the Customer Experience

There’s many channels to reach the customer and, as Spenser Skates from Amplitude pointed out (taking a lesson from Andy Grove), it's important to make sure that you balance  tactics and metrics with things that also ensure a good customer experience. After all, you can always increase engagement by sending more emails or notifications but — as we certainly promote — that's a terrible “scorched earth” strategy.

Modern growth marketing is a powerful discipline, and it's changing how we, as an industry, work with our users and how we create truly great experiences. It's still an early practice, and we're incredibly excited to see how it evolves, and to help those growth marketers who are committed to excelling in our key area — mobile engagement.  

Want to learn more about how we can help evolve your mobile engagement strategy? Get in touch.