Using Growth Initiatives To Increase Focus

Is your marketing department allergic to project management? Here’s a strategy that might help you reign in the chaos a little bit: Morphing my vague marketing tasks into discrete, measurable projects: I call them growth initiatives. Others call them experiments, which I don’t use here because when I say that people tend to think “A/B testing”. These are more encompassing.

What is a Growth Initiative?

An initiative has four essential components: What you do, how you’ll measure it, when to measure, and what you expect to see when you measure.

What kind of work is involved in a growth-based initiative? Anything aimed at moving the needles on important numbers. Some examples:

  • Guest posting on someone else’s site. (traffic++)
  • Adding a new email workflow to your free trial. (conversion++)
  • Efforts to improve your on-page SEO. (traffic++)
  • A new feature in your app.(sales++, churn–)
  • A paid ad campaign. (sales++)
  • A new lead magnet. (leads++)
  • An A/B test on your pricing page. (conversion++)
  • Doubling your prices for 30 days. (money++)

What are the benefits?

  • In prevents project murkiness. No more goals like “improve SEO.” Instead, you work on a scoped project with a defined outcome.
  • No more guessing which marketing effort you should pursue. When you break your work down, They become easy to contrast. Then, you can focus your effort on the work with the best ROI.
  • No more wondering if a marketing effort worked. Since you decide how you’ll measure and what to look for, counting ROI and telling winners from losers is cake.

How to write and run your first initiative.

Step 1. Scope The Work

Decide what it is specifically you are going to do. The more specific the better. “Improve pricing page” is not a valid project. “Split testing headlines on the pricing page” is. The work should come with a hypothesis. Why do you think your new headline is better?

Step 2. Decide how you will measure the impact.

Decide what numbers you are going to watch and how you’ll get them. Tracking the effectiveness of an SEO initiative could be done by looking for an increase in organic search traffic in Google Analytics. Conversion rates could be tracked in Baremetrics or inside of your optimization tool. There’s no one true analytic solution. Use whatever is best for the project, even if involves slicing and dicing data in Excel.

Step 3. Estimate Impact

How much do the numbers from step two need to move to make you happy? If you aren’t sure, make a wild ass guess. 10% for numbers you are satisfied with and 100% for numbers you aren’t is a fine starting point. Don’t fret too much about specifics.

Step 4. Decide when to follow-up.

Sometimes the data that comes in will come in a few days, other times it can take months. Make a note a specific date and follow-up to check your results.

Example Initiative Email Subject Line Split Test:

You’re read that shorter subject lines get better open rates than longer ones. Shorter = more curiosity, so that makes enough sense to test.

Scoping the work: If you have a large enough email list (I’d say 2,500 – 10,000, depending on engagement), so all you need to do is send an email to the list with two different subject lines.

Decide how to measure: Your email service provider should tell you the open rate.

Estimate impact: I haven’t seen open rates across emails vary much on the same list, so I would start with a conservative 10% bump. 10% as it moving an open rate from 30% –> 33%, not 30% –> 40%.

Set the timeline:  People don’t always check email daily, so I tend to give emails 72 hours before looking at numbers.

So, now we’ve formed our initiative. We’ll send an email with two different subject lines, and observe the open rate.

Now Try It For Yourself

Think of some marketing or project ideas you’ve had banging around in your head. Can you work them into this framework? Give it a try on your next project and see how you like it. If you’ve been feeling stuck or confused, then taking this approach can help give your growth strategy clarity and direction.

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