In the "4 things I wish I knew when cofounding my startup" essay, one of the advice pieces was that every product is a leaky bucket. Test and optimise all aspects of your product - from onboarding, activation, conversion funnel etc - to make it as 'un-leaky' as possible before you go through this process.
Why? Because it will save you time and money.
How to prioritise your growth strategy
As mentioned in my previous essay about the 19 channels for growth, I promised a follow-up piece on how to prioritise them.
The "bullseye" name and framework was coined by Justin Mares and Gabriel Weinberg due to the three-step approach in reaching bullseye and unlocking your growth. This approach helps you prioritise your growth startegy in a qualitative way that provides more insight than just picking a channel out of thin air. You'll see that the way I use the framework differs slightly to theirs, which means there is room for interprotation.
I think it's also important to note that there are many ways on how to prioritse your growth strategy, this is just one of them, and one that I found very useful at the beginning of my career. I will cover another type of prioritisation down the line, one that has a few more steps in the process but begins with the brainstorming technique from Google.
Who are you targeting?
To preface the prioritisation process you must have an understanding of who you are targeting. If you are pre-product launch with no customer data then you can target and test different hypotheses with different customer profiles (but one at a time). Simply put, hypothesise who they might be, what demographic, where they are, what they consume and what they do.
For example, this is how I started my own customer profile:
- Product = Dribble - daily fantasy football app
- Who = men, 18-21, uni, football fans, premier league, champions league, pub culture, punters,
- Where = Oxford (started locally, so where I was when started out, as it's always good to find a niche market, no matter how small, to potentially monopolise)
- What they consume: football highlights, football fan pages
- What they do: 5-aside football, season ticket holders, pub culture, FIFA, Pro evo
The One Metric That Matters For Acquisition
Once you have your target customer profile, it's time to understand the one metric that matters (OMTM) for your acquisition. Is it pure installs, registrations, activations, or further down the funnel with revenue or games played / messages sent? The OMTM is different fo every business so really think what your product is trying to do. For Dribble, we targeted activations, so users that have installed, registered and deposited money.
This metric will be your north star, so for every channel you look at you need to think "how is this going to drive [enter your OMTM]?" and then test, optimise and iterate to really maximise results. Focusing on one metric really helps, and advice would be focus on metrics further down the funnel, away from the vanity metrics like installs.
19 Channels For Growth
Last step in the preparation process is the brainstorm session, which is often the funnest part. The key takeaway here is to take your time with every acquisition channel, don't disregard any and understand one way you can drive acuisition.
E.g. looking at the channel "content marketing", are you going to focus on writing long form content, making a series of infographics, get into podcasts? How will you distribute to acquire the user profile you created at the beginning? Will that be on Medium, reddit, Instagram?
When brainstorming, always keep in mind your user profile and OMTM. How do you think your user profile will react with that specific acquisition channel, are they known for using said channel, and how will that channel positively affect your OMTM?
What helped me was listing out all 19 channels for growth on a large white board with space to input where and how you'd use each channel.
There are three sections in the bullseye framework. The outer ring, the middle ring and the onion ring...only joking, it's the bullseye.
So once you have all channels listed with ways you can leverage each, think about how relevant / promising / effective each are by rating each channel with 1,2 or 3.
But it's not that simple.
To help prioritise, you can only choose three channels for the bullseye, four for the middle ring and 5 for the outer ring.
At this stage you might have 5 channels with relevance score of 1, so the two channels you don't put in the bullseye will be the first to fill out your middle ring. Then from there you have two spaces for your number 2's, which will then overflow into the outer ring. Get the jist?
Once you have completed the qualitative part of the bullseye diagram it's time to start with the quantitative! Because at the end of the day, data is king and will tell you where to spend your time, money and efforts.
The first channels you start testing are the innermost. To do so, set aside a small amount of budget with a timeline, for instance, £1k to be allocated to the first three channels in total and run for a month.
At this stage, one or more channels will have started to perform better than the rest. If there is a clear loser(s) after the first month, swap in the equal amount of poor performing channels with ones in the middle ring. If all three are performing relatively similarly, test a little longer to find a statistically significant difference.
Keep swapping out channels in and out of the bullseye ring - while testing them over the same amount of time and budget - until there is a clear winner. This winner is your core channel and the one you should focus on.
How to keep momentum
The distribution of growth from the 19 channels follows the power law.
There really is only one channel at a time that brings in most of the growth. However, you can't rely on that singular channel until the end of time. Each channel has a saturation point.
You need to be able to squeeze every ounce of traction out of your core channel before you move on. To do so, you must focus, dive deep and continually experiment to find out exactly how to optimise growth. You will uncover new and effective tactics and try to scale them until you reach the saturation point. You will know when you've reached that point because growth will have stagnated, no matter what you do, and costs will no longer be sustainable.
When testing, it's quite common to have multiple channels working but with varying degrees of success. For example, you test online ads, influencer marketing and SEO. They all work well, however, influencer marketing works far better in terms of cost effectiveness and scale, but you elect to keep all three going. This is a common mistake that must be prevented. Really focus and specialise on the singluar channel that works well.
If no traction channel is significant by the end of testing, then you must go through the framework again. However, this time you'll have data to work with about previous experience, copy, tone of voice, language, creative etc. If you have gone through this process a number of times and still no real results, then you still have a leaky bucket. Fix that first.
Hope this has helped you in prioritising your growth startegy. It sure helped me.
FYI - after running my growth strategy through bullseye targeting, I found my core channel. It started with social ads, but after saturation point it became, and still is, partnerships. Things move. Don't worry.