How to scale quickly with growth experiments
When it comes to growing your business in the online space, it can often feel like an overwhelming task. If you’re new to the game, it feels a lot like guesswork, watching thousands of individual data points fluctuate up and down, without really knowing the underlying reason for why any of what is happening, is happening.
That’s why if you want to scale quickly and efficiently, it is absolutely essential that you have a clear process in place for growth experiments and a long term strategy built around these processes.
Without this all in place, you will spend time, money and effort making random clicks here, running vague campaigns there, without ever really knowing if you’re achieving anything.
However, if you effectively utilise growth experiments, then you can base your strategies and campaigns upon solid, quantifiable data.
And from experience, we have always found that following the numbers is the best way to scale quickly in the online world.
To get this data though, you need to conduct your growth experiments with a genuine scientific method.
You know the kind of thing, we were all taught it back in school once upon a time. It follows this kind of formula:
1. Start by asking a question
2.Conduct research around the area you’re asking about, and construct a hypothesis based on this research.
3.Test your hypothesis by running two side-by-side experiments, only changing one individual factor.
4. Analyse your data
5. If your results align with your hypothesis, then present your findings and apply your new knowledge.
6.If your results don’t align with your hypothesis, then take your findings and apply them to step 2, and rerun the rest of the steps from that point.
In this blog, we’ll unpack the ways in which you can use this same methodology for scaling your business quickly. Because whilst following your gut can sometimes be rewarding, if you want to scale quickly, you need to cut out the wasted time, energy and resources you spend running campaign or following strategies that, eventually, lead nowhere.
You’ll find thousands of articles giving you advice on how to conduct effective growth experiments, but here at … we’ve found that this simple little anagram, R.O.L.L, can work wonders for developing a consistent process for your growth experiments.
This simple process for each of your growth experiments can help you scale your business really quickly, and it provides you with consistent steps you can follow each time to make sure you aren’t wasting time asking questions about how to proceed.
It also helps you save time debating, meeting, and talking about doing, and simply gets you doing sooner.
So what does R.O.L.L. stand for?
R – Research
O – Organisation
L – Launch
L – Learn
Let’s unpack each step in your growth experiment to see how you can utilise this method effectively for your business.
R – Research
Our first piece of advice for the research part of your process is that, essentially, never let this stage end. Set up a team spreadsheet or a Trello board that your colleagues can just pop ideas onto whenever they have a light bulb moment by the kettle, or if a bolt of inspiration hits on the commute.
As we’re focusing on ideas around growth for these experiments, you’re going to want your marketing team to focus on specific ideas that are linked to each stage of the acquisition funnel.
By splitting your spreadsheet or Asana dashboard into the awareness, acquisition, activation, retention, revenue and referral stages, you can get your team thinking seriously granular, with a laser focus on ideas that could impact each of these stages.
This allows you to organise the flood (hopefully) of great ideas that your team comes up with, and helps avoid any overarching, vague ideas or strategies that you can’t implement and test easily.
By assigning individuals to individual parts of the sales funnel, you can also get people getting creative about one specific area that they either are, or will become experts in.
O – Organisation
It doesn’t matter how many great ideas for quickly scaling your company or maximising efficiency your team comes up with if you don’t organise and prioritise your ideas.
We’ve seen so many situations where groups have fantastic ideas, but they don’t go anywhere because they either try to do everything at once, or they never get started at all because they don’t have a sense of where to start.
Even when it comes to prioritizing your ideas, you want to take a scientific approach. Instead of simply thinking, “that looks easy to do, let’s do that first”, break down each suggestion into ease of implementation, potential gains, the probability of success, and the cost on resource.
Score an idea out of 10 for each of these factors, then use those figures to consider what you should try first. Again, this simply allows you to focus and get one potentially game changing idea on the move, which, as we all know, can be difficult when you try to do too much at once.
L – Launch
Your next step is probably your most exciting – actually launching your new strategy and starting your growth experiments.
To do this, first you need to set out a few things very clearly:
☑️ what you are going to test
☑️ your current performance in the same area
☑️ what you are going to change
☑️ what you are going to measure
☑️ what results you are expecting to see
☑️ what results would make the change a success
The first couple of bullet points are simple. Let’s say you run a home tech company and the aim of your experiment is to increase the number of subscribers to your newsletter.
Your first couple of bullets may look like this:
⭕ We are going to test whether we can grow our newsletter subscribers by acquiring homepage users.
⭕ We currently have 2000 email subscribers, and the rate in which we are growing is 5 new subscribers per week.
After that, you need to be very specific about what you are changing in order to establish whether it has made any real impact. Something like:
We are adding a pop up that will appear on the home screen after 20 seconds of activity on the site, inviting the user to enter their email address and subscribe to our newsletter.
Then, set out what you are going to measure, and how you are going to do it, and what you expect to see, based on your research.
⭕ We will be measuring the number of new email subscriptions per week, by taking a measurement of total figures every Friday.
⭕ We expect to see our acquisition rate of new subscribers increase, as it will be less effort for the user to join our newsletter.
You always need to consider what constitutes success in your growth experiment beforehand, so that you can eliminate any bias along the way. You might say:
⭕ The experiment will be a success if we achieve a 50% increase in the rate of new subscriptions.
Then, it’s time to install the pop up on our home screen, and track your results carefully. When it comes to tracking your results, it’s smart to split those results into two fields – quantitative and qualitative.
Whilst qualitative results are less scientific than your quantitative results, they can still provide great learnings you can employ further down the line. They might include things like, “the pop up was annoying and made me leave the site” or “it was so easy to subscribe”.
Quantitative results will be something more along the lines of, “we saw a 72% increase in the rate of new subscriptions per week”.
L – Learn
And this is where, if you get this step right, you can deliver enormous growth and create a hugely successful company. If you get it wrong though, you could set off a growth strategy in completely the wrong direction, and eventually run your business into the ground.
This might sound dramatic, but we cannot stress the importance of analysing and studying your data properly enough.
With your insights you are going to develop an entire growth strategy, so you need to be sure that you really understand what is happening when you change certain things, and why.
Remember to keep the figures you decided would constitute success in mind. It’s easy to get carried away when your fledgling idea, that you were so sure would work, comes to fruition and makes any kind of impact upon your business.
If you don’t get the results you hoped for, you need to take your learnings, understand what wasn’t a success, and try again.
And try, and try, and try. No one develops a world-beating growth strategy or campaign at the first attempt. You’re going to have to tweak, alter and edit almost every experiment you undertake, each time gaining invaluable knowledge that takes you one step closer to the perfect formula.
Because if you approach your growth experiments with a truly scientific method, you are winning every time there is another ‘failure’. You are learning, you are understanding, and ultimately, you are setting yourself and your business up for future success.