High-level Growth Approach

To be used by Got Users clients & community.

At a high level, you need to understand your customer and value props before you jump into brainstorming growth experiments.

Otherwise, you risk running the wrong experiments and drawing the wrong conclusions.

Here’s the high-level growth process we recommend.

Phase 1: Set North Star Metric (NSM)

The goal of growth is to get more people to experience the value of your product.

Growth strategy means coming up with experiments that help people ”do the thing” — experience that value — more.

To know if an experiment worked, a metric should improve. That metric should flow into your North Star Metric: the measurement of when people “do the thing”.

Examples

  • Rides completed per week (Uber)
  • Monthly active users (Facebook)
  • Documents sent per month (DocuSign)
  • Daily active users (Slack)

Bad Examples

  • Signups. What if people don't actually take a ride, order food, etc.?
  • Revenue. Revenue happens because of your NSM.

Phase 2: Clarify User Personas

Growth depends on users. Products don’t grow if people don’t use them.

So, to come up with a growth strategy, you first have to understand your ideal user, how you solve their problems, and how they hear about you. Then, you can prioritize experiments to get more of these people.

Who are your ideal users? They’re the ones that retain — they experience your core value over and over.

This means you need to answer the question: who is doing your NSM the most?

For example, if your NSM is # of monthly events thrown:

  1. Pull a list of the people who throw events the most.
  2. Interview them. Paint a picture of who they are and how they ended up using you.
  3. After your interviews, fill out this value props sheet and these persona slides:
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Here are some specific questions you can ask in interviews
  • How have they been using your product?
  • What are their demographics? (Job title, company size, industry, country, language)
  • What was their buyer's journey, step-by-step?
    • How did they hear about your product?
      • Who referred them? How do they know that person?
    • Did they research alternatives?
    • When did they decide to use you for the first time?
    • Did they have to sell anyone else on their team to use you?
    • How did they get budget to pay for you? (If they paid.)
    • Were there any other objections they had?
  • If they didn’t use you, what would they use otherwise?
  • What were the consequences if they hadn’t used you?
  • Why did they use you a second time?
  • How often do they use you?
  • What related tools do they use? How did they hear about those?
  • What’s their LTV?

You'll generally need to interview 10 to 20 users. Stop when you hear the same things again and again.

In many cases, your product person will have some answers already.

Without answers, you'll likely have the wrong value props, you risk running the wrong experiments, and you may write off channels that would otherwise work.

Phase 3: Monitor Main Growth Funnel & Loops

Measure every major step of the funnel, along with CAC.

For example:

  • Traffic
  • Sign Up
  • Activation Event
  • North Star Metric
  • Revenue
  • Referral

It should look something like this. Here's a template you can copy.

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This usually starts in a spreadsheet, but you’ll eventually move to a data tool like Improvado, Databox or Google Data Studio so you don’t have to manually update it every week.

Phase 3a: Monitor main growth loop

Most high-growth products feed outputs from the product as inputs into acquisition channels.

Examples

User-generated content (Reddit)
  1. You search for cat pictures on Google [input - SEO]
  2. You click the top Reddit post for cat pictures
  3. You go "Reddit is cool!"
  4. You sign up for Reddit
  5. You post your dog pictures [output - content that ranks]
  6. Those dog pictures rank on Google [input]
  7. New people search for dog pictures and find your post
Inherent Referral (Box)
  1. You get an email that a client shared a Box file with you [input - your email inbox]
  2. You make a Box account to access it
  3. You go "Box is better than [my old way of sharing files]!"
  4. You share files with an agency on Box [output - agency's email address]
  5. Your agency contact gets an email [input] that you shared a file with them
Branded clothing (Livestrong bracelets)
  1. You see someone wearing a yellow bracelet that says "Livestrong" [input - people walking by you]
  2. You go, "That looks cool!"
  3. You google Livestrong (or ask a friend what it means)
  4. You buy a bracelet on the site and wear it around town [output - bracelet with a unique word]
  5. Someone else sees you [input] wearing the bracelet

Figure out your growth loop if one applies and start measuring the major steps.

(Your growth loop is not always obvious! You may have to research & experiment before you find it.)

Phase 4: Brainstorm Experiments

Example experiments:

  • A/B test welcome email copy
  • Launch Facebook ads targeting teachers offering an academic discount
  • Internationalize in-product copy for Spanish-speakers

Some of these depend on the CAC you’re willing to spend. Here's a good way to think about channel-CAC fit.

(Source:
(Source: Zero to One.)

If you haven't monetized your product, you may need to rule out paid channels and focus more on in-product changes, content, & viral marketing.

Every experiment should have a metric that determines whether it succeeded or failed — so you can build on the learnings from it. Otherwise you’ll be spinning your wheels.

As a reference: here's an Airtable template we frequently use to prioritize growth experiments. Feel free to copy.

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Phase 5: Prioritize

We recommend using a framework like RICE.

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  • Reach: how many people does this touch?
  • Impact: if this works, how big is the impact?
  • Confidence: how likely is this to succeed?
  • Effort: how much work will it take to run?

Phase 6: Run Experiments

May require resources from other teams. If growth is actually a priority, you should be able to get dev time, sales time, etc.

Process: Growth Meetings

Here’s a general framework for growth meetings. Most teams do this every week.

  1. Learnings: Discuss learnings from the last week. (10-30 mins)
    • Learnings from recent experiments. (”How did the new copy convert on the landing page?”)
    • Learnings from user interviews. (”We learned that VPs of finance are actually the ones making the decision.”)
    • Learnings from changes in the data. (”Germany traffic went up 47% this week, likely because of a COVID spike.”)
  2. Brainstorm: brainstorm new experiments. (10-20 mins)
    • Should generally build on learnings from earlier in the meeting. (”The ‘7 day trial’ messaging is converting better on the pricing page, so let’s A/B test it on the homepage too.”)
    • Should usually improve a growth loop — so the results compound over time. (”Let’s add a popup after the magic moment to ask for a referral” is usually better than “Let’s do a PR push.”)
    • We recommend using this Airtable template.
  3. Prioritize: pick which experiments to run. (10-20 mins)
    • Want our framework for this? Try RICE.

We recommend setting a timer to timebox each part.