92% of sales achieved from a fraction of marketing budget; this and other findings from growth hacking assessments

Written by
Luke Szkudlarek

As part of our onboarding process for growth hungry clients, we conduct an assessment of their existing marketing & sales efforts. We challenge and explore all possible growth opportunities, identifying  where we can add value to accelerate implementation and growth. At the end of the process we deliver a roadmap full of actionable insights. Such a process gives us a good understanding of the customer’s business and their challenges. All in less than 2 weeks.

Over the last few years we have gathered a lot of insights from our assessments and have started to see some themes and common issues. Some of the products have stagnated due to poor agency engagement, others simply didn’t have an in-house owner responsible for growth. Whatever the reason is, it’s worth looking at some of the common issues and nuggets we’ve come across.

1 – Inaccurate measurement or badly configured analytics

From conversion rates showing 45%, no goal tracking or just meaningless goals, we’ve seen it all. Data is crucial to fully understand how you’re performing, what’s more the data feeds AI algorithms running FB/Google and other campaigns to ensure your ads running on autopilot are performing.

Ensure you have good quality data to make substantiated recommendations and invest your media spend wisely. Having some history and consistency in data analytics helps to observe trends, gather insights and make sophisticated algorithms learn and find top performing pockets.

2 – Incorrect budget allocation

This can often lead to the biggest improvements, but is rarely questioned – sometimes the biggest leverage can be simply achieved by moving budgets between channels or locations.

In one case of a medium size Google Ads campaign, we observed the agency managing more than a thousand keywords, where in fact the top 40 keywords delivered 92% of performance for less than half of the budget.

Look for radical changes here, not micro optimisation. Once you have the correct data it is relatively easy to see best performing countries, cities, channels, campaigns, keywords etc. Start with the large settings before you move to optimisation at the micro level.

3 – Overinvestment in social

We are all familiar with social networks, and it’s possible that this creates a perception that advertising needs to run on social media. The truth is that social media channels don’t work in most cases. Whilst of course there are exceptions, and opportunities should be exploited, it’s possible that your product simply doesn’t fit the social channels.

Analyse the time and money invested in social media, calculate your effective ROI, including the time multiplied by your hourly cost and cost of your agencies. 

4 – Obsession with hacks, forgetting the basics

Growth hacks apply to all companies, but let’s not assume that running a well oiled performance campaign is easy – it requires solid processes and rigour; hacks only flourish when fundamentals are achieved.

There are typically some easier and more obvious strategies, particularly for startups and digitally young companies. Rather than looking for the silver bullet or the ultimate growth hack, invest in the fundamentals and do it the right way. We often find basic errors in Facebook AdB setup, discover missing remarketing campaigns, identify poor creatives and more.

Get the basics right, it will be easier to identify growth hacks.

5 – SEO ignored

SEO is still relevant and with the advent of new channels (such as social media and influencers) it is much harder to find companies who have their content & SEO under control. When done right, SEO provides  sustainable growth opportunities, and with all the focus on shiny new channels, it is often left overlook, but can bring great results.

Do your SEO homework; start with keyword research, mapping, content optimisation & link building. Don’t forget the Google Search Console is a goldmine of opportunities. If you’re already strong in social and content it will be a smooth ride.

6 – UX barriers to sell

Poor landing pages, missing calls to action, confusing messaging and broken payment processing have a huge impact on conversion rate. As part of our assessment, we identify barriers to buy, and we also typically buy the product to experience it first hand. It’s one of my favourite sources for improvements. We look at UX from the sales perspective, rather than looking to improve or identify minor improvements – we look for everything that will impact sales, then score our recommendations and prioritise.

Focus your review on the purchase process, no onerous UX workshops and audits.

7 – Generic E-mail communication

Emails continue to be effective, although there is a big shift from promotional emails to more casual, informal, but highly targeted communication. We find companies with thousands of email addresses in their database still sending one generic email to all, once per month – most of them land in trash.

Build your email automation machine step by step, nurture automation rules, and adapt messaging to find the right formula for each of your target groups.

8 – Poor online reputation

Put yourself in your customers’ shoes and look at your image as an outsider, how are your product ratings, reviews – in B2B look at the names of top staff and keywords such as ‘reviews’ and ‘testimonials’ combined with the company name. Customer onboarding starts with the first touchpoint – which is normally way before they actually visit your website.

Google yourself and optimise Google MyBusiness, images, News, LinkedIn profiles, YouTube videos etc.

We typically find 20-30 improvements in every, even established, digital business. All of the above occurred in nearly all cases we looked at, and we anticipate that most of the companies out there, even those working with good agencies suffer from similar issues. Do a quick health check of your digital marketing and data to see how you perform. 

Let me know what you think of this type of process and what are the outcomes of your assessments. I’m curious to hear your thoughts.