5 Tips for Making Great (and Cost Effective) Video Ad Creative

shooting a video ad on a phone

In two short words, we can sum up the whole point of this article: video performs. No matter if we’re talking ad performance (like we’ll dig into in this article) or organic engagement, landing page CRO, and beyond, video works. 

Here’s the thing, though, not all video is created equal. As a growth marketing agency, no matter how gorgeous, flashy, or on-brand a piece of creative is, we’ll ditch it any day in favor of creative that converts. 

Like any seasoned growth marketer will tell you: there’s no clear path to growth. An effective strategy leans on fearless testing, thoughtful hypothesizing, and an unshakeable zest for learning from failures. So, over the years we’ve accumulated a list of learnings as a direct result of successes and failures. While these are not complete (and will, frankly, never be because ad platforms are constantly changing), here are some pointers for getting your creative wheels turning:

  • Get to the point QUICKLY. Like within 15 seconds. 
  • Drop in some memorable branded elements (like a subtle logo overlay).
  • Captions are a MUST. About 80% of users watch video on Facebook without sound.
  • Don’t overthink it! Ad creative is ephemeral. It’s more important to get something out there than wait until it feels perfect. 
  • Humor is HARD. Unless you can really do it right, it’s best to steer clear.
  • Constantly search for inspo! Our favorite places to go are Facebook Ads Library, WPromote’s Ad Creative Bank, and PIVADS

Ultimately, when you’re thinking about kickstarting a campaign with video, our greatest pointer: don’t overthink it; just start.

Tip #1: Have Stills? Don’t Count Them Out

If you’re feeling extra tight on budget, short on time, or, you just have a gorgeous collection of stills, simple over-image text animation is an easy way to significantly boost performance. There are two relatively simple ways to go about this:

  1. Hire a freelance designer that can add over-image text in Adobe Illustrator (or some similar program) then migrate it into After Effects to add a little magic of movement. Looking for the perfect fit? Upwork is a great place to start to hire contractors that can jump on it quickly and most often for a super reasonable price. 
  2. Try your own hand! There are tons of drag-and-drop design tools out there to help people without much design experience create something usable in minutes. The reigning champ (in our opinion) is Canva. Pro tip: lean heavily on their templates especially if you don’t have lots of design background.

Animated text inspo roundup: Pilot | DoorDash | Blue Apron

Tip #2: Get Yourself Some UGC

User-generated content is, quite simply, golden. Think about it: how much more likely are you to buy a product like a razor when you see a real, relatable person incorporating it into their everyday life (like billie does) vs. a staged ad that showcases the product in a sterile, overly-glam staged environment (like Gillette does)?

Companies like billie that do UGC remarkably well are likely able to tap a wide range of influencers and probably have a community manager on their team (or partners with a PR firm) who spends most of their week connecting with influencers, managing the creative production, and keeping up with contracts. 

For most smaller businesses looking to get into the UGC game, it can be a challenge to know where to start. That’s why we recommend testing a service like Billo. The interface is super easy to use, the creators are friendly, fun, and super professional, the support is amazing, and it makes getting user-generated content super doable on a tight (financial and time) budget. 

We tested a UGC video from Billo for our partner AKKO — check out the results!

UGC inspo roundup: Shopify | Ritual | Ruggable 

Tip #3: Try Your Own Hand

One of the most experienced Social Ads Experts/Growth Marketers on our team wrote an article awhile back. The title tells you all you need to know about our recommendations for testing video on you ad platforms if you’re not ready to try Canva or UGC: Got a Crappy iPhone Video? You’ve Got the Perfect Facebook Ad.

The TLDR; “Typically, brands think that developing video assets = 💸💸💸. But that isn’t the case. Shoot the video on your iPhone, edit it together in TikTok, and export it to use on other social channels. Mimic the latest video editing trends on social, and you can get scrappy with creating your own video content — and see great results.”

Tip #4: Build Yourself a Rolodex of Freelancers

There are SO many different ways to infuse movement into your ad creative. And so it naturally follows that there is a seemingly infinite number of creatives to help you make it. If you’ve got a bit of a budget to spend, you’ve got the opportunity to hire creatives ready to bring your ideas to life. 

As we mentioned above, Upwork is where we’ll start if we’ve got no existing connections to leverage for a new creative idea. Here’s a quick list of things to keep in mind when you hire a freelancer to help with video ad creative:

  1. Can they help with illustration/animation? (This is one of the easiest ways to create flexible assets that don’t depend on a costly video shoot).
  2. Do they have experience working with ads? They function quite differently than brand creative.
  3. Do they charge hourly or by project? (For three unique video assets without shooting, earmark anywhere from $1200 – $2000)
  4. How quick is their turnaround?

Once you’ve found a freelancer that meets your criteria, write up a quick document outlining your three unique video ideas, the most important messaging you’d like to convey, any existing branded elements you have, and a full folder of creative assets (like illustrations, photos, video, etc) that the freelancer can use. The more information you can provide (plus examples of what you like), the smoother the process will go.

Illustrated ad inspo roundup: Bench | Hotjar | SEMRush

Tip #5: Test, Test, Test

So, we put our creative through the ringer early and often to check up on four key metrics:

  1. Cost Per Click (CPC): is the creative grabby/interesting enough that it can generate a quick click from our audience?
  2. Click-Through Rate (CTR): another way of looking at CPC and essentially answers the same question. Is it compelling enough that we can get someone to want to learn more?
  3. Time on Site (TOS): does the creative match the site experience? In other words, does your creative provide a smooth transition once your user hits the site?
  4. Leads: Can be swapped for revenue, signups, etc. based on your business. This tells us which creative kickstarted the strongest path towards conversion.

In the chart below, we ran a creative audit for a partner of ours that does bookkeeping for SMBs. We tested a wide variety of creative then pulled the top-performers and bottom-performers to compare metrics and glean insights. Based on what we see here we have a strong idea of what messaging resonates best, what creative led to the most conversions, and which creative just simply flopped. 

CreativeCPCCTRTOSLeads (calls)
[Video] Let’s go Brad$0.514.22%0:00:113
[Video] Stop bookkeeping$1.026.36%0:00:188
[Still] Family time$0.511.97%0:00:100
[Still] Social proof$0.270.22%0:00:020
[Still] Working late$0.431.00%0:00:030
[Still] Meet your bookkeeper$1.072.71%0:00:050

Now, based on what worked and the resources we’ve gleaned along the way, we’re ready to hit the ground with a creative refresh that leans heavier on what worked and ditches what doesn’t.

Ultimately, creative doesn’t have to be a production. While it should take time and consideration, we see too many organizations that shy away from video to their own demise! Looking for help kickstarting your own ad channels or leveling up your creative game? Let’s talk.

startup team working on growth marketing tactics

5 Common Questions Startup Founders Have About Growth Marketing

startup team working on growth marketing tactics

This year, Tuff has been fortunate to work with AARP Innovation Labs to connect with startup founders and collaborate on developing growth marketing strategies for their growing businesses. As a startup marketing agency, we’ve partnered with 50+ startups, but the opportunity to work with a dozen startups in a cohort at the same time has been an exciting and informative experience for the Tuff team. Through our AARP partnership, Tuff has provided growth marketing workshops, office hours for one on one discussion with startup founders and problem-solving, and tactical hours for the implementation of strategies for select startups in the cohort. 

In our time as a startup marketing agency, we’ve discovered that while no two startups are in exactly the same situation, there’s a LOT of commonality in the questions founders are asking about growth marketing. To get a sense of the questions our founders would ask during our first AARP Innovation Labs cohort, we sent a pre-workshop survey before our 8-week program began. Here’s some of the common questions we noted in the survey, and additionally revealed themselves over the course of the workshop series and office hours. 

  • What initial marketing channels do founders typically use?
  • What initial marketing channels do founders typically see their best results on? 
  • How are founders supposed to manage their growth marketing efforts?
  • How do you prioritize marketing channels? 
  • My product / service appeals to so many people – why is no one purchasing / signing up? 

What initial marketing channels do founders typically use?

chart of marketing channel mix

In our pre-engagement survey, we asked founders what initial marketing channels they use.  We broke it into two types of channels: paid acquisition, and non-paid acquisition. The most common response across both survey questions? Email marketing is being used by 71% of the founders we surveyed. 

Email marketing is a common initial channel recommendation by startup marketing agencies, so it’s no surprise that it’s up towards the top. However, we were surprised to see SEO content and PR be the second most common non-paid marketing channel founders said they had used. SEO content can be an effective marketing channel, but one of the common issues startups face is getting quick wins. Since SEO is a longer play, we typically recommend pairing SEO efforts in conjunction with paid acquisition so there is a consistent acquisition source while a startup site begins to rank. For PR, 

What initial marketing channels or tactics do founders typically see their best results on? 

marketing channels for startups

In our initial survey, founders felt positively about paid acquisition channels for their initial test efforts, in particular, Facebook and Google. However, one of the most common complaints founders had regarding Facebook and Google ads is that they are easy to initially implement, but difficult to master. Some of the common questions we heard in workshops, office hours, and surveys regarding mastering these acquisition channels were….

  • “How do I make my Facebook ads more effective with my small budget?”
  • “How do I gain the attention of my target audience on Facebook?”
  • “How do I use my data to make better decisions on my Google Ads?”

The last one in particular stands out to us, because at the start of our most recent cohort – 67% of our respondents said they are able to use data to make simple decisions, but 33% of them said they are not able to read their data to make any sort of decision. In the early phases of a startup – being able to interpret data is critical for making quick decisions that will impact a startup’s growth trajectory.

chart from survey about marketing data

How are founders supposed to manage their growth marketing efforts, and how do you prioritize marketing channels? 

Our most recent cohort had a 50/50 split on whether or not they had utilized a startup marketing agency or freelancers for their growth marketing efforts. This implies that most founders have a very, very, close relationship with the day-to-day implementation of their growth marketing strategy: either they work closely with an agency, freelancer,  team member, or they do it themselves. 

Prioritization is the hardest part of being a founder. With no less than 1,000,000 things requiring your attention at all times, marketing can take a back seat. Add limited resources to the equation, and all of a sudden, you have a recipe for unstructured chaos. 

In our experience as a startup marketing agency, we create growth marketing strategies based on a few criteria: 

  • How easy is it to implement this test? 
  • Has this idea worked before? 
  • Have I done something similar previously? 
  • How quickly can I gather learnings from this? 
  • Will this lead to additional insights for other tests? 

This same methodology can be used by founders to manage and prioritize their growth marketing efforts. For example: if I’m a founder, and a long term goal is to have 50% of my leads come in via organic search, I could utilize paid search initially to test a keyword strategy to get quick insights as to how my target audience responds to our product or service. Rather than spending six months writing, publishing, and optimizing content, you can gain insights as to if that keyword is relevant to your business within weeks by running paid search ads. 

To get started with mapping our your efforts and priorities as a founder (as it pertains to growth marketing), we recommend starting by putting your ideas on paper. From there, evaluate all the growth tactics you’d like to test based on the above questions. Look for quick wins in low-hanging fruit, low-cost efforts (in time and money) that can provide rapid learning opportunities, and start there. 

Last but not least on the subject of prioritization: many founders feel the need to reinvent the wheel when it comes to digital marketing, because their product or service is so innovative. While we applaud and support innovation and testing – it’s always best to start grounded with a fundamental strategy before reaching for the stars. 

My product / service appeals to so many people – why is no one purchasing / signing up? 

Tuff’s creative strategist, Elle Ossello, loves to use this Kurt Vonnegut quote in relation to product and service marketing. 

“Write to please just one person. If you open a window and share your story with the world, your story will get pneumonia.” 

When it comes to product and service marketing, having wide potential appeal doesn’t make your product or service a market fit. Very few brands that are successful started off by focusing on appealing to everyone. Instead – when evaluating your target audience, we highly recommend focusing on the people who are most likely to buy your product, or sign up for your service first, rather than trying to reach large audiences of people. 

You can figure out who is most likely to buy your product or service by doing qualitative or quantitative research: by checking out your existing customers and asking them questions, by evaluating your demographic behavior in Facebook or Google Analytics, or reading what people have to say about you or your competitors in comment threads online. 

By digging deeper into the best potential customer or client fit, you can evaluate their common characteristics, what their buying motivation may be, what they may be purchase objections, and figure out how to communicate directly to their needs. This can help tremendously with refining your messaging, your product or service, and more. 

Pro-tip: Once you’ve identified your target audience – evaluate their “life before” your product, and their “life after” your product, and you’re pretty close to having a good grip on your value propositions. 

Not all startup marketing agencies are created equal…

A quality startup marketing agency should collaborate with founders on setting them up for long-term success by getting quick wins and lots of learnings. Additionally, they should be flexible – ready to pivot based on testing and the analysis of their results. 

And if you’re an early-stage startup, you probably don’t need an agency. When your startup is moving a million miles an hour and any small decision can set off powerful reverberations across your company, stretching a thin budget to hire a full team simply doesn’t add up. If you’re ready for growth marketing help and considering a growth marketing agency, check this out first. 

7 Low Budget PPC Marketing Tips for Startups

Intent-based marketing channels like PPC can be a true gold mine for startups. If done right, you’ll be able to introduce traffic that’s already in-market for your product/service to a better alternative: your business! While PPC can be super effective when it comes to brand recognition and even conversion, if you’re not careful—creating an airtight strategy, setting up campaigns correctly, and closely monitoring the results and optimizing accordingly—PPC can quickly drain your budget and leave you without much to show for it.

So, how do you go about low-cost marketing? How do you get more leads and exposure for your startup on a tight budget? The good news: we’ve got some answers for you.

And, if you’re in the market for not just answers but also executional help, we’ve got you on that one. We’re a startup marketing agency that helps early-stage startups, scaleups, and even enterprise-level businesses supercharge PPC so that it becomes a notable contributor to their overall growth. 

Read on to get an eyeful of PPC marketing tips for startups on a low budget.

Map out Your Strategy

As with any marketing strategy, defining your goals from the get-go is crucial to setting yourself up for success with PPC

Start by asking yourself what the most important KPIs for your business are. Is it leads? Transactions? Subscriptions? Once you’ve determined this key step, you’ll be able to easily map out clear KPI targets and set up conversion goals within Google Analytics.

Here’s how to set up your first conversion goal: 

  • Click the gear icon in the bottom left to go to the “Admin” section
  • Under “View” in the right-hand column, click “Goals”

setting up goals in google analytics

  • Click the big red “New Goal” button at the top
  • Enter in the name of your goal. For example: Contact Lead or Newsletter Subscriber
  • Under “Type” select “Destination” then click “Continue”

step 2 of setting up goals in google analytics

  • In the Goal Details section, enter the web address of your thank you page. Notice the suggestion under the field. Don’t enter the full URL with the domain name. Just enter the address of the page, such as “/thank-you”

final step - setting up goals in google analytics

  • Click “Save” and you’re all set!

Develop Effective Keyword Targeting

Effective keyword targeting is another critical part of your strategy. Before you spend a dollar, you’ll want to dive deep and map out the best keywords to target and organize them according to where in the funnel users will be when they use them.

Best-case scenario, you’ll want to prioritize Bottom Of Funnel (BOF) keywords, also known as “High Intent Keywords” rather than Top Of Funnel (TOF) keywords, or terms that might indicate a user is early in their research phase or are searching for something related to, but not super specific to what you do or offer.

google ppc keyword selection

For example, if your startup sells digital marketing courses, you’ll want to make sure you’re targeting users who are further down the purchase funnel. These users are typically ready to sign up and have likely completed the research phase so your conversion rates should generally be higher. 

When dealing with a low budget marketing strategy, effective keyword targeting will save you more money by showing your ad to the people who’re more likely to take action. 

Determine a Bid Strategy

In short: there are a number of different ways to tell Google how to spend your money. While there are more automated ways to spend, it’s definitely to your benefit to invest the bit of extra time and effort to manage your budget manually, at least when campaigns are new and there’s still a lot to learn about what works and what’s underperforming.

  • Manual Bidding: Despite the friendly warning from Google, manual bidding is typically the best place to start out for PPC. Manual bidding allows you to have full control over your campaigns, set individual keyword bids, and control cost. While this does require more time-investment—since you’re removing Google’s ability to do the optimizations with automated bidding—you’ll learn quicker and be able to set yourself up for more long-term success.
  • Enhanced CPC: This bid strategy is very similar to Manual bidding but it allows Google to take some control over keyword bids. With Enhanced CPC, you are still able control most of the bidding but now you’re giving Google the opportunity to adjust bids in individual auctions based on the likelihood that click will lead to a sale. You can consider this bid strategy like having Google as an assistant, but not your boss.
  • Maximize Conversions: You’ve finally entered the world of full automation. This means you no longer have control over keyword bids, and you’re allowing Google to take the wheel. The goal of Maximize Conversions is to try and get the most amount of conversions within your budget.
  • Target CPA: Target CPA (cost per acquisition) is a fully automated bid strategy where advertisers set a target cost per conversion, and then Google adjusts bids to generate as many conversions as possible at that CPA.
  • Target ROAS: This is nearly the same as Target CPA, but with return on ad spend (ROAS) instead. With this strategy, Google Ads will predict future conversion and conversion value performance based on your historical data to enter auctions. It will adjust bids in real time to maximize conversion value while trying to achieve the Target ROAS goal you’ve set at the ad group, campaign, or portfolio level. This bid strategy is mainly used for eCommerce brands.
  • Maximize Clicks: This strategy is very similar to Maximize Conversions but instead focuses on clicks. With Maximize Clicks, Google will work to get as many clicks as possible while spending your daily budget. This strategy can be great if you’re trying to drive more volume to your site and accumulate more data quickly.

At Tuff, we strongly recommend starting off with a manual bid strategy like Enhanced CPC before transitioning into automated bidding. If done right, utilizing automated bidding can be a huge win for your marketing strategy but you need to be careful when implementing. If you do not have enough conversion data for Google’s machine learning to work off of and you switch to automation too early, this approach can end up draining your budget without being able to very effectively drive results.

Pause Keywords with Poor Performance and add Negative Keywords

Even though you have your Google Analytics goals dialed, an amazing list of keywords to target, and your bid strategy locked in, sometimes you might not see conversions as expected. And that’s OK! Keep monitoring your keyword performance regularly and identify keywords with poor performance. In some cases, a keyword that’s performing well today may not perform as well two months later. So if you see a keyword that is not driving effective results, pause it.

In addition to this, make sure you are constantly building up a list of negative keywords. This list should contain search terms that you are 100% set on not showing for. Although yours might end up looking a little different, there are various categories that generally apply to most of the clients we have worked with. Here are our top ones:

  • Job Related – job, job opening, job openings, jobs, looking for work, new hires, occupation, occupations, opening, openings, opportunities, opportunity, part time, recruiter, recruiters, recruiting, recruitment, resume, resumes, salaries, work.
  • Research & Stats: about, article, book, case study, data, define, definition, example, diagram, forum, example, history, journal, maps, metrics, news, reports, samples, tutorials, what are, statistics.
  • DIY: crafts, diy, do it yourself, handmade, how can I, how do I, how does, how to, making.
  • Informational: what are, what is, when can, when I, where can, wiki, wikipedia, theory, weather, newspaper, newsletter, meaning of.

In order to add negatives effectively, always make sure to only add exact match negatives if the keyword contains anything that is still relevant to your business. For example, if you find that you served for “digital marketing jobs” and you don’t offer jobs, you’ll want to add an exact match negative for [digital marketing jobs]. If you don’t, you’ll potentially be excluding all and any searches involving digital marketing entirely.

Only Advertise Where You Can Deliver

Although it might be tempting to try to test multiple marketing networks at once, it’s best that you take a granular approach and focus on areas that can bring you the most ROI. For example, if you’re trying to drive conversions on your eCommerce site, you’ll want to begin by advertising your most popular products or best sellers before introducing your entire inventory. This will allow you to maximize your PPC budget to get the highest return on your investment.

You can also use location targeting to limit the areas or regions your ads are eligible to show in. With location targeting, you can get as specific or as broad as you’d like. From mile radius to zip codes to countries, the possibilities are endless.

Here’s a screenshot of one of our accounts where we are prioritizing specific locations:

location based targeting in Google Ads

In this situation, we are only targeting historically high performing zip codes within the United States. Not only did this allow us to maximize our trim budget, we were able to significantly increase conversion rates at a lower cost.

Scope Out the Competition

As part of Tuff’s process, we always conduct competitor analysis utilizing SEMrush to see what others in the industry are already doing. Take the time to research your competitors, identify their PPC approach and make yours better. Perhaps you offer cheaper prices, better discounts, higher quality, or additional features. Whatever it is that makes you stand out, include it in marketing strategy.

When it comes to conducting a PPC competitor analysis, there are several key areas and metrics to pay attention to:

  • Targeted Keywords: The best part about utilizing online visibility tools like SEMrush, is that you can see what keywords your competitors are actively bidding on. This can give clues into their marketing goals. Are they targeting conversion-focused keywords? Or, does their choice of keywords suggest that their campaigns are focused more on brand awareness? Most often than not, your competitors have already done their own version of keyword research so this will give you a better idea of what keywords to target. 
  • Ad Copy: If you’re new to PPC marketing, studying your competitors’ ad copy can be a great way to inspire your own ad messaging and achieve stronger clickthrough rates. As mentioned before, you’ll want to include a special discount or deal that is more appealing than anything your competition offers.
  • Landing Pages: Your competitor’s website can tell you a lot about the effectiveness of marketing campaigns. Do they have a form fill or call button above the fold? Is their site mobile friendly? What are their page speeds like? Being able to find any weaknesses or issues on a competitor’s site will allow you to not make those same mistakes.

Don’t “Set it and Forget it”

If you’re thinking that you’re done after your initial campaign setup, you’re about to flush some budget. When you’re managing a PPC account, you should always be monitoring performance on a weekly, if not, daily basis. This also involves constantly adjusting bids, adding negative keywords, and testing new ad copy to find what converts the best. 

Without the proper PPC ad management, things can go downhill rather quickly, which can have a negative effect on your campaign’s performance and ROI. So, make sure to always monitor and maintain your PPC campaigns, and refine them to yield better outcomes. 

Better yet, work to do an audit every three months at the latest. A thorough audit only needs to take a short 30 minutes and it can make a massive difference when it comes to performance and ROI. Not sure where to start? We broke it down step-by-step!

Ready, Set, Bid!

True, PPC is highly competitive. But it’s not nearly as intimidating as it seems! And, it can drive powerful business results that can help you set the stage for growth. If you dedicate yourself to putting in a little more effort into planning and crafting your marketing strategy, you can run low-budget campaigns that drive big results.

The tips we have provided above will help you get the best out of your PPC campaigns. Remember, analyze performance and let your findings guide your marketing tactics. No campaign is perfect; it only gets better with every data-backed change. And, if you find yourself ready to see results but without the time to spend, let’s talk!

email inbox

A Hill We’ll Die On: Email is Critical to Your CRO

Email marketing is a crucial way of keeping your audience engaged. Full stop. No matter if you’re an eCommerce or SaaS, B2B or B2C, email is an incredibly powerful tool that can move users through the funnel and help them pick up steam on the way towards conversion.

That’s why the way we think about email needs to change.

If your strongest association with email involves things like newsletters and announcements, you’re definitely not alone. But if we accomplish anything with this article, it will be helping you shift your perspective so you think of email as a powerful tool for conversion rate optimization (CRO). Since email is an intimate way of communicating with your customers, it is the perfect way to drive conversions.

Whether someone signs up for your email list at a conference, exchanges it for gated content, enters a giveaway, or joins your list after making a purchase, they are already familiar with your brand. That’s what positions it on a pedestal high above discovery-based channels like social media (although of course, social plays a different but equally important role).

Let’s talk about how to do some marketing alchemy and turn that familiarity into conversions. 

A note on newsletters

Before diving deeper into how email can be used as a CRO tool, it’s important to note that newsletters (while, true, we might have talked some smack above) are also a super important part of your overall strategies. 

Once you add someone to your email list, maintaining regular communication with them is essential. Doing so “trains” your audience to look for updates and keeps your brand top of mind.

Newsletter emails are also a great way to optimize your calls-to-action (CTA) by tracking how customers interact with them.  

In an attempt to avoid confusion for the intent of this article:

  • There is a CRO component to newsletters (button type, subject lines, actionable copy, etc) but that’s NOT what we’re talking about here.
  • Thinking about super targeted emails that communicate with your customer as a touchpoint in their bigger-picture path towards conversion IS what where talking about here. 

Step #1: Map Out the Customer Journey

The first step to turning email into a powerful CRO tool is by putting yourself in your audiences’ shoes. 

While email acquisition is its whole separate strategic beast (we could—and will!—write a fully separate post on this topic) it’s important to think about the different ways people jump onto your email list. 

Email flow and segment chart

So, on that note, before you think about creating CRO-focused email flows, put your heads together with your marketing team to dig in and map out what your customer journeys look like. This includes answering questions like: 

  • What are the myriad ways someone might give us their email address?
  • How long does it take cold traffic to convert? 
  • Is there a seasonality to buying? 
  • How is our sales team involved and how can we avoid duplicate messaging?

Once do the legwork here and get these down on paper (or mapped out on a white board) it will make segmentation much, much easier.

Step #2: Segment

In email marketing, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. It’s critical to clearly define your customers and create a personalized email strategy. To get the best results, segmentation is an important piece of the puzzle. That way we can target recipients based on factors like behavior and attributes and make email feel like a real part of a conversation as opposed to an impersonal blast.

Every business is different. (Stating the obvious, much?) Which means there’s no one blueprint to follow for segmentation. Hopefully once you’ve mapped out your user journeys, getting in and segmenting your users feels like a natural next step. 

Here are the two most common ways to go about it:  

Behavior

Behavior segmentation is a good way to target your audience based on how they will react to your emails. A few examples of behavior segmentation would be:

  • When someone downloads your app but doesn’t create an account 
  • When someone downloads a white paper 
  • When someone abandons their cart 

Analyzing how your customers behave on your website gives you valuable insight to help increase conversion rate optimization. 

Attribute

Another way to segment your audience is by their attributes. This involves collecting user information either when they give you their email (the MUCH easier way to go about it) or in retrospect through surveys or other tactics (a good approach if you already have a large list of emails but don’t have much associated information). 

Pro tip: Only ask for the most important information when collecting a user’s email address. 

Tips for Segmenting Your Audience 

Collect the least amount of/most relevant information as possible 

As we mentioned earlier, people don’t want to take the time to give out more information than they need to. It takes more time for them to sign up and users don’t want to give out information if they are not absolutely sure about the value they’ll receive in return. Only ask for the most important data that will benefit the end user and help you segment.

Think about the fewest number of ways you can segment 

Deciding the best way to segment your audience in order to drive maximum conversions can be the trickiest and most time-consuming piece of this equation. Our tip: don’t do it in a vacuum!

Segmenting your audience into fewer categories allows you to efficiently learn user behavior, run tests, and optimize your email strategy. Too many segments will waste resources and leave your approach scattered.

Just like customer journey mapping, segmenting your audience is a difficult undertaking, but doing it well makes the rest of the CRO process much easier.

Step #3: Get Detailed With Your Email Flows

The short story: the better your messaging speaks to your user that’s considerate of where they are in their customer journey, the more likely they will be to take the action you’d like them to take. 

Based are where your segmented audiences are in their customer journey helps you decide how to set your goal for your email flow. Do you want a user to sign up for a premium plan? Buy a product? Continue to a landing page? 

Guiding users to take action necessitates engagement and continuous reasons to stay subscribed (read: offers, awesome content, etc.). One of the most common (and worst) mistakes companies make is emailing too often or sending irrelevant emails without purpose. The last thing you want is the reader asking themselves “what’s the point of this email?”  

For instance, an email to remind someone about an abandoned cart will look nothing like an email sent to someone that signed up for a coupon after seeing an ad.

While designing your flows, keep in mind that you’ll want to have a plan for what to do once a user reaches a goal. This might mean moving them into a new flow or putting them back on a general newsletter. 

Pro tip: this is where it’s super easy to get overwhelmed by the number of possible flows you can create. We recommend starting with an email flow that targets a segment that’s most likely to buy (abandoned cart, quiz takers, and people that have recently joined your list) then refine, measure success, and scale from there. 

Also, stay organized! We map out our users’ journeys in a spreadsheet, like this one

Step #4: Create Really Great Emails

No matter how targeted your flow is, poorly designed emails won’t lead to conversions. The key to conversion rate optimization is creating really good emails.  

Before you create an email, you should be able to answer these questions: 

  • What critical benefits do you want your user to know and in what order? 
  • What are the biggest blockers between your user and conversion? 
  • How can you meet them where they’re at and deliver a targeted, rock-solid message.  

The hierarchy of messaging can make or break your flow. Your users not only need to receive the right information, they need to receive it in the right order. 

Next, consider the obstacles between your audience and conversions. When designing your emails, think of ways to help users overcome these hurdles. (Think social proof, user testimonials, press mentions, or even “personalized” messages from your founder).

Email copy example.

Finally, be sure to keep CTAs in mind. Every email should include a clear action for your audience to interact with. Even if users aren’t ready to make a purchase or subscribe to your service, peripheral CTAs can keep them engaged along the way.

Step #6: Analyze, Optimize, Rinse & Repeat

Once you have emails sending and your strategy in motion, the work isn’t quite done. The way your users interact with your emails can give you super valuable insights. 

Consistently analyzing data like which links are most clicked, which subject lines drive the most opens, and which sends trigger the most unsubscribes should be leveraged on a monthly basis to drive design, copy, and flow. 

Ultimately, odds are, your first email strategy won’t be as effective as you want and that’s okay. The important part is to trust the process, analyze the results, and optimize your strategy until you get the results you want. 

In short, winning companies think about email as a CRO tool. By doing so, you can better optimize your communication strategy and generate more conversions compared to competitors that only see email as a way to talk to your audience. 

Looking to supercharge your email strategy to drive conversions? Let’s chat about it!

A man using social listening tools on his computer.

How To Create Your Own Automated Social Listening Tool

A man using social listening tools on his computer.

As marketers, it’s often easy, and comfortable, to remain focused solely on internal data. “Are we increasing conversion rates?” “How long is an average user session?” “Are we acquiring new users from the right channels?”

While internal data is extremely important, we must also utilize outside data to maintain awareness of specific trends in our industry and what we’re marketing. Although we can create or continuously iterate a brand and its products based on our internal data, we can only attempt to shape the public’s perception and opinion, and we may yet be missing unique opportunities. 

This is why it’s imperative to keep your ears open to the public to understand where your industry is headed, and how your product or service is being perceived in this journey.

Jorn Lyseggen, founder and CEO of Meltwater – a SaaS company that develops and markets media monitoring and business intelligence software – recognized this shift earlier than most. Jorn has coined the use of outside data to shape internal decisions as “Outside Insight.”

“Outside Insight shifts the focus from internal data and what you are doing to external data and what your industry is doing, allowing you to benchmark against competition and discover new threats and opportunities in real time.”

In recent years, this surveillance of public opinion, or industry and brand monitoring, has taken on a new life due to the prevalence of social media, carving a niche for what is known as “social listening” – a new breed of industry and brand monitoring that focuses exclusively on what users are saying on social media. 

No longer do companies need to rely on surveys from a select group of people. Today, we can actively monitor what the public is saying about our brand or industry. Even better, we can see what’s really being said about our brand or industry in real-time.

Creating Your Own Automated Social Listening Tool

Manually searching for brand mentions on every social media channel is a time-consuming task, especially for a social media manager who has campaigns to launch.

While there already exists a plethora of social listening and brand monitoring tools on the market, there is another simple, cost-effective way to create your very own, automated social listening tool in-house using one of my favorite marketing tools available, Zapier.

Most social listening tools work by scraping social media sites like Twitter and Reddit for mentions of your brand and/or keywords, and then importing these tweets or posts into a dashboard for you with various filtering options at your disposal.

With Zapier as our scraper and Google Sheets as our dashboard, we can do this too! 

Although not as fancy as a full-fledged SaaS, Zapier’s Google Sheets integration gives the average marketer super powers.

If you’re ready to save time on your social listening, follow along to these steps or watch the Loom video below:

https://www.loom.com/share/30aa96908bad4e30af42a676ffcf9581

 

Step 1: The Set Up

Create a free Zapier account if you do not have one. You will also need a Twitter account and a Gmail account to use for Google Sheets.

Set up a new Google Sheet with the following as headers in Row 1:

  • text
  • Screen_name
  • url

Once logged into Zapier, select Make a Zap.

Step 2: Twitter Scrape

Choose Twitter as your app and Search Mention as your event in Step 1 of your Zap. 

Monitoring search terms in Twitter

After selecting to continue, link your Twitter account to Zapier and enter the search term you want to monitor. For example, if you are Manchester United Football Club, you can choose to monitor your branded keyword “manchester united.” 

If tracking keywords with more than one word, be sure to put the keyword in quotation marks.

Test the trigger to confirm the data is being collected and continue. When viewing this data, you will fields for text, screen_name, and url, just like we set up in our new Google Sheet earlier. 

There is also a ton of other data that you can collect. If you are interested in any of the other available data fields, simply add a new column to Row 1 of your Google Sheet with the name of the data field.

Step 3: Google Sheets Input

Choose Google Sheets as your app and Create Spreadsheet Row as your event in Step 2 of your Zap. 

After you continue, you’ll want to link your Google Drive and Google Sheet, and Google Sheet tab that you will be exporting the data to with Zapier. 

Once linked, you will see the fields text, screen_name, and url. Now, you can click within each field and map the Twitter data we collected earlier to the column in Row 1 of your Google Sheet.

Step 4: Finishing Up

That’s it – you’re done. All that’s left to do now is the test the Zap in the final step, check to make sure your Google Sheet was populated correctly, and turn the Zap ‘On.’

You’re now set to collect every tweet that mentions your chosen keyword. 

Repeat these steps with Reddit, and you can collect post text and more information from Reddit whenever a post is made that includes your chosen keyword.

Conclusion

With a tool like Zapier, it’s easier than ever to keep your pulse on what’s being said about your brand and industry in real-time. This basic setup is powerful, yet only scratches the surface on what types of outside data can be collected and how it can be analyzed. Coupled with existing internal data, you can use this information – and the outside insight available from other tools like Google Trends – to understand how the public is engaging with your brand and industry.

Working on a marketing budget for a startup.

How to Set Your Testing Budget For New Channels

Working on a marketing budget for a startup.

One of the biggest growth challenges startups face is finding the most efficient marketing channels for their specific audience. These are common puzzles that plague every early-stage business working to find traction and scale:

    • Which channels should we test?
    • How long should we let them run
    • What should our test budget be?

One size does not fit all

You don’t want to blow your whole budget all on one channel but you also can’t afford to spread it too thin. You have to start somewhere, and you want data that’s statistically significant to your growth. 

So when it comes to creating the right testing budget for your startup, what is the right amount? How much money do you need in the bank to drive actually helpful learnings? 

There’s no one size fits all number for every single company. You have to look at your specific goals and audience and work from there. That’s why we hear this question so often from founders because there isn’t an ‘ultimate guide’ or copy and paste option. You have to do the work.

Here’s how we do it at Tuff: 

How to budget money to test new channels

The challenge for an early-stage team is creating a marketing budget when your company hasn’t tested many channels yet. At this stage, you might think you don’t have enough historical data to inform expectations around conversions and cost per conversions. 

The good news is, with a little digging, you actually do have a lot of data to work with. This is where we uncover how much money you need to spend and what you can expect in return.  

Step 1: Figure out your starting point 

While there is no set rule to establishing your budget, we get a baseline by setting initial budgets at 8 percent of gross or projected revenue

For example, your estimated gross revenue for the year is $1,000,000. We’d take $80,000 and spread it out over 12 months, making adjustments for seasonality. Theoretically, that’s $6,666.66/month, but, you will put more or less into certain months for seasonality. 

This is to set the foundation for your channel experiments, which can then be scaled up or down once you get data and can start to optimize based on your learnings. We like to start lean with lower budgets and then prioritize and scale up based on results.  If, like most startups, you are cash strapped, you can also start with 5% per month and tie that spending to concrete, measurable deliverables. 

Here’s what we’ve seen work the best for finding a test budget: 

  • Ideal: 5-8% of projected revenue for channel optimization
  • Funded: 5-10k for testing 2-3 channels at once
  • Bootstrapped: 2-3k for testing 1 channel at a time 

This structure isn’t perfect but it will help you understand what you need in the bank to prioritize campaigns to quickly drive key learnings and get data that’s statistically significant to your marketing.

Step 2: Customize your budget based on your specific goals 

You probably have an idea of what realistic projections look like for your business: how long it will take to scale, what growth rate is acceptable, and what profit margins are normal within your industry. 

You can use this information to narrow in on your marketing budget, too. 

B2B: Essentially, what is your acceptable CAC and how many customers do you need to show healthy growth? If your CAC is $1,000 and you need 880 clients by the end of the year, you know, at a minimum, you need $88,000 in your marketing budget to start. 

B2C and Ecommerce: Essentially, what is your acceptable CPS and how many sales do you need to show healthy growth? If your CPS is $25 and you need to sell 3,520 products by December, you need to be in the $80k budget range to start.  

Here’s an example for a budget I worked on this week. 

The details: 

  • I got this message on Slack from one of Tuff’s clients: 

What should our test budget be?

  • Instead of starting with a budget and backing into the numbers, we worked with our team to start with a revenue target. We agreed on $105,000 total revenue for a 10-day stretch in May. This would be a 200% increase in revenue from last year. From there, we were able to calculate a plan.  

The budget and plan: 

Since we’ve been working together for 6 months, we have:

  1. Historical conversion rates (17% from install to purchase)
  2. Data by channel for this company

Starting with revenue targets, we plugged this into a plan to see how much we needed to spend to hit our goals. In this scenario, we know that to hit $105,000 at our current conversion rates, we need to spend $35k across a variety of channels. 

This gives us an initial ROAS of 300% with a much higher return when we calculate LTV. 

Example Budget

Step 3: Set benchmarks by channel 

In the above example, we had historical data from the last 6 months which made it easier to allocate spend. You don’t have to have your own data to build marketing projections though. 

Industry experts and blogs can help you compile accurate benchmark data for the channels you want to test. We use this channel benchmark spreadsheet internally at Tuff to start and make adjustments depending on the industry and what we’ve seen from running hundreds of campaigns. 

Here are some of the best resources to leverage for getting benchmarks to sub for your historical data. 

This data will help you understand what to expect and help you come up with realistic (and smarter!) allocations. 

Make sure you are tracking the right metrics  

One of the most vital parts of growth marketing is assessing data. Having those numbers in front of you helps you make informed decisions about everything from product adjustments to marketing campaigns. Without this data, you’re just guessing.

Before you dive too deep into budget, you have to set up conversion tracking and analytics. Start by identifying and measuring the metrics critical to your company and then make sure you’re set up to track each campaign. 

Focus on collecting actionable data 

When you’re testing new channels and setting your experimentation budget, it’s not about just getting results. We understand that when you look at businesses like Facebook, Uber, and Airbnb, it can be tempting to imagine that they have uncovered some secret sauce for instant success, and you just need to figure out the recipe.

Well, the thing is that you have to start somewhere, and you have to get data that’s significant to your company. Here are the five steps:

  • Start with a testing budget (see figure out your starting point)
  • Experiment with new channels
  • Figure out what works and what doesn’t work
  • Quickly retool your approach
  • Then attack every possible angle to unearth that hidden growth potential

If you want more info on CAC or CPS estimates based on how successful certain channels have been for clients, schedule a free growth marketing strategy session with our team today. We’ll analyze your marketing, product, metrics, and business to help you build a growth marketing strategy mapped to your goals. 

Person working at a computer.

13 Ready-to-Go Growth Marketing Spreadsheets Startups Can Use to Boost Productivity

Person working at a computer.

Note: this post was updated in September 2021 with two new spreadsheets for Facebook and Landing Page ops.

One of our team values at Tuff is to work smarter, not harder. For the work that we do, this often means creating clear and repeatable processes.

We also think dashboards are a little overrated. 

Although they give you a snapshot of important metrics, and they look good, dashboards aren’t great at providing the details or context that effective data-driven decision making requires. 

This is why spreadsheets have been such a staple for our growth marketing agency, helping us to collaborate more efficiently with our startup partners, track budgets and core metrics, see our growth more clearly, organize our experiments, and get more work done

That being said, building the right spreadsheets that are actually helpful and relevant to your startup can be time-consuming. We’d love to help.

We’ve pulled together a list of the essential spreadsheets and templates we have used and improved to help prioritize experiments, run campaigns, and track growth for Tuff and our startup partners.  

Let’s jump in…

For many of the growth marketing spreadsheets linked below, you can download as an .xls file to use and customize in Excel or Google Docs. Google Doc users can also go to “File > Make a Copy …” to add the spreadsheet to their account, then edit.

1. Growth Marketing Framework 

Growth marketing spreadsheet.
Use for: Prioritizing and tracking your growth marketing experiments

Grab a copy of this spreadsheet here >>

We discovered this Growth Marketing Framework spreadsheet after attending Sid Bharath’s talk at the GrowthMentor summit last year. We tested it out on our own and it’s quickly become a go-to for our team when we need to prioritize campaigns, identify new experiments, and find big wins for our partners. We like it so much that we have one for Tuff that we look at weekly as a team. 

In this spreadsheet, you have four core tabs: 

  • Customer Personas 
  • Customer Journey 
  • Tactics Backlog 
  • Experiments 

Our favorite part about this spreadsheet is that your customer personas exist in the same spreadsheet as your ideas. In the past, we built out personas in a word doc or slides with visuals and descriptors, and sometimes we still do. But having your target audience in the same place you go to list ideas and pick experiments is extremely helpful when it comes to prioritization. Before we add any ideas to our backlog, we can revisit our personas, their journey, and then truly assess if they are the right fit for our audience. With this setup, your personas become a driving force for tactics instead of an afterthought. You end up with experiments that hit the mark more often because they’ve passed the persona check. 

2. Channel Projections for Experiments 

Marketing projections spreadsheet.

Use for: Forecasting budget based on historical data and determining projected performance 

Grab a copy of this spreadsheet here >>

We get these two questions a lot: How much should I spend? And, what can I get in return? 

In order to set monthly budgets and projections, we start with core KPIs. What are we trying to achieve? Do we want to book more demos, increase sales, drive more leads? Once we understand these goals, we can forecast budget based on historical data and determine projected performance using this spreadsheet. This isn’t an exact science but it helps us align as a team about what we’re trying to achieve based on specific targets. It also helps you know how much you need in the bank to test and learn. 

For traffic and conversion rate data, we lean on tools like Google Analytics, Shopify, Metorik, Firebase, Salesforce, Facebook, and Google Ads. If you don’t have this data available because you haven’t experimented on these channels, you can still use this spreadsheet, you’ll just need to take bigger leaps with the numbers based on industry averages. 

3. Growth Marketing Scorecard 

Growth marketing scorecard.

Use for: Tracking results daily, weekly, and monthly in one shared spreadsheet

Grab a copy of this spreadsheet here >>

When you’re running experiments and testing new campaigns, we like to have a reporting template that gives us true insight into what’s working and what’s not. We use this spreadsheet to track daily, weekly, and monthly results for our campaigns. 

One of the most important things about this scorecard is that it’s 100% manual. While there are a bunch of automated dashboards out there, after three years and 35 startups, we still think this is the best option for our team and partners in the early stages. It’s simple (no fluff) and sticks to the most important metrics. While pulling the data from various sources takes time (about 10 minutes each morning), it gives you an opportunity to really look at the data, dig into what it’s telling us, and then make smarter optimizations and budget allocations. 

4. UTM Generator for Campaigns (Tracking) 

UTM Generator Spreadsheet.

Use for: Understanding which campaigns are driving meaningful results 

Grab a copy of this spreadsheet here >>

UTM codes are snippets of text added to the end of a URL to help you track where website traffic comes from if users click a link to this URL. If you’re anything like the data-driven campaign managers on the Tuff team, you probably don’t run any campaigns without UTM parameters. By tagging your URLs with UTMs, you can get a good understanding of how your visitors interact with your website, allocate budget more efficiently, and cut out anything that isn’t working. For a full rundown on UTMs, we turn to Niel Patel’s ultimate UTM guide here

So what’s with this spreadsheet? If you’re running multiple campaigns and experimenting quickly, it’s easy to lose track of your URLs. For example, we have a batch of Facebook campaigns active right now, with 23 different audiences, using 23 different URLS. These can add up! This spreadsheet keeps all active URLs organized so anyone on the team can check the URL, review performance in Google Analytics, and then help make smarter marketing decisions at the campaign level.

5. Blog Post Traffic Tracker from Buffer (Content) 

Blog Post Traffic Tracker from Buffer.

Use for: Knowing which posts are gaining the most traffic 

Grab a copy of this spreadsheet here >>

This is one of the best spreadsheets to understand how your content is stacking up. If you don’t have a blog yet, skip this spreadsheet. 

The blog post traffic spreadsheet from Buffer enables you to keep an eye on which posts are hitting your traffic goals and it’s also really great to keep an eye on what topics are performing best, too. While this is easy to see in Google Analytics, pulling the data into a spreadsheet helps you benchmark performance more easily to identify content wins. 

One of the more actionable ways we use this spreadsheet is to help us identify articles we want to update. To increase the effectiveness of your SEO efforts and boost your search engine traffic, you canupdate your old content and give yourself an improved freshness score. 

Buffer has 10 other very helpful social media and content spreadsheets here, in case you want more. 

6. Budget Tracker for PPC Campaigns (Paid) 

Google ads budget tracker.

Use for: Creating an automated monthly budget pacing dashboard for Google Ads

Grab a copy of this spreadsheet here >>

When you build this spreadsheet, you’ll get a quick glimpse at how your budget is pacing for the month on Google Ads. This can be helpful when you have specific monthly targets you want to hit. 

With this spreadsheet you can see how far through the month you are, what percent of spend you’ve used, and how close you are tracking towards your goal. For example, you might be 61% of the way through your budget but only 53% of the way to your revenue goal. 

This works best with larger budgets (below $1,000 per month is less effective) but as you ramp up, it can help you stay more efficient and effective with your spend. 

7. Influencer Marketing Template (Influencer)  

Influencer marketing spreadsheet.

Use for: Managing and tracking your Instagram influencer marketing campaign 

Grab a copy of this spreadsheet here >>

Performance-based influencer campaigns can drive revenue and user growth if you can tap into the right communities. 

The way that this spreadsheet works is simple. Once you’ve defined your niche and set goals for your influencer program, you can start compiling your influencers in this spreadsheet. From here, you can start to calculate each influencer’s engagement rate. This will tell you who has an active audience. 

There are a bunch of different ways to calculate engagement rates and this spreadsheet uses the below formula: 

ER post = Total engagements on a post / Total followers *100.

A higher engagement rate typically spells out a wider reach and stronger influence. 

Again, this is another manual process and it takes time. If you find early traction with your program in the first 90 days, we recommend transitioning to a tool to help manage as you scale. 

8. Email User Onboarding Flow (Email) 

Email user onboarding spreadsheet.

Use for: Building and visualizing your welcome email flow  

Grab a copy of this spreadsheet here >>

Installs, sign ups, and demos mean nothing if you can’t keep your users — which makes your onboarding email campaign incredibly important. 

We use this template to outline our Email user flow from start to finish. For a successful strategy, it helps us: 

  • Set a goal for each email in the series 
  • Set timing for each email 
  • See the entire flow at once 

From here, you can start thinking about copy, CTAs, and design for each email, benchmark performance, and start testing. This structure has helped us get higher retention rates and increase revenue. 

Bonus Template: If you don’t have an onboarding flow for new customers or leads, this email marketing planning template from Hubspot is handy for planning marketing and transactional emails. 

9. Google Ads Keyword Audit (Paid)

Google Ads Keyword Audit Spreadsheet.

Use for: Efficiently auditing your PPC keywords & search queries to identify top performers based on ROAS.

Grab a copy of this spreadsheet here >>

When it comes to optimizing paid search campaigns, keyword optimizations can oftentimes be time-consuming, scattered, or – even worse – ineffective. A keyword with a high CTR and low CPC may be performing well at first glance, but these are surface-level metrics and they don’t necessarily correlate with the most important metrics.

Organizing your keywords and search queries into a format that helps you focus on what really matters the most – in this case, ROAS – will give you a clear picture of which keywords to invest more money into and which keywords to scrap from your campaign(s).

To use this spreadsheet, export your keyword report from Google Analytics for your chosen time period. Be sure to include the following attributes: Keyword, Campaign, Clicks, Cost, CPC, User, Sessions, Ecommerce Conversion Rate (or Goal Conversion Rate), Transactions (or Goals Completions), & Revenue.

The first row in this spreadsheet maps to these attributes. In Column K, you’ll find a ROAS calculation equipped with Conditional Formatting that will provide you with a quick visual representation of your Keyword success.

As a starting point, we’ve got Conditional Formatting set up to turn cells in Column K green when the ROAS is greater than or equal 250% and red when the ROAS is less than or equal to 150%.

With your exported data placed in this sheet, you’ll quickly see which of your keywords are driving the best ROAS.

To help sort, we have a filter placed in row 1 that provides you with endless filtering and sorting options. There’s also a nifty word count formula in Column L which will provide some insight into how your long tail and short tail keyword performance compare.

Run the same report at the Search Query level and compare it with your Keyword list. You may find some standout queries that can be added as Exact Match keywords to your campaigns.

10. CRM Spreadsheet Hack

Housing your website signup leads for b2b and b2c businesses doesn’t have to be complicated and doesn’t mean you automatically need to upgrade to an expensive email service provider (esp) or customer relationship management (CRM) software.

Take it from us at Tuff Growth. We don’t use a CRM or ESP to manage our inbound prospect leads but we also don’t spend time migrating information from lead forms to spreadsheets.

Our solution for a CRM is 100% free and utilizes tools that you likely already know about and some you might already use.

This solution isn’t for everyone. If you have over 100 leads coming in per day and need to send them down specific email drip funnel campaigns or assign them to specific sales managers, then a free CRM solution like Hubspot might be a better option for you.

For us, we have a manageable amount of leads come in through our website form each day and we either reach out to them should they look to be a good fit for our business or we do not. We also don’t have a full-service sales team and don’t plan to for the foreseeable future. All of our leads are 100% inbound generated and referral driven, which speaks to our dedication to SEO Content Strategy and doing great work for our existing clients.

To learn more about how you can create your own free CRM, let’s dive in:

At Tuff, our website is built on WordPress and we use the basic WordPress forms known as WPForms. Once a prospect enters their information into our form, then that person’s contact form information is sent directly to our Website leads Google Spreadsheet that is broken out by month.

The way that we send the form from WordPress Forms to our Google Sheets’ Lead Form is through a tool called Zapier which connects software APIs through no-code integrations.

Indicating a new Google Sheets trigger in Zapier

To set up this particular Zap, you will need to have a Zapier account, access to your WordPress site, and access to your website lead form sheet.

Enter your email to download the process for setting up this Zap:

Step 1:
Select WPForms as your trigger
Select WPForms as your trigger
Step 2: Choose the Trigger Event of New Form Entry
Choose the Trigger Event of New Form Entry
Step 3: Select the WP Account with which the form is associated. You’ll need to connect your WP Account to Zapier with API Keys if you haven’t done this before. Follow the steps to do so.

Step 4: Choose the form that you want to send submitted information from in your zap.

Step 5: Test trigger as instructed by Zapier and make sure information is correct in your test.

Step 6: Choose the action that you want to happen when someone submits a form. In this case, the action is Google Sheets.

Step 7: Choose your action event. For this zap, you’ll want to choose “Create Spreadsheet Row”

Choose your action event. For this zap, you’ll want to choose “Create Spreadsheet Row”
Step 8: Choose the Google Account associated with where your spreadsheet is housed.

Step 9: Choose the Google Drive associated with account that house the spreadsheet.

Step 10: Choose the Google Sheet that you want to send the submission data to.
Choose the Google Sheet that you want to send the submission data to

Step 11 Optional: If there are tabs in your spreadsheet, then choose which tab you want to send the data to.

Step 12: Now that you’re connected to the correct spreadsheet then Zapier will pull in header information and you will need to select what information from the form goes in each header column.

Select what information from the form goes in each header column.

Step 13: Test and review that your Zap is working correctly. This is a live test so Zapier will pull info from your latest submission on your WPForms over to Google Sheets. If it successful then you should see your submission updated in Google Sheets after you click test.

Step 14: Once your test returns a positive result, then click “continue” and turn on your Zap.

Note: You will need to refresh your zap every few weeks. If it stops working for some reason then go back through the steps and re-integrate your accounts to keep everything working smoothly.

11. Value Props Exercise

A spreadsheet listing out all of Tuff's value props
Grab a copy of this spreadsheet here >>

While it’s incredibly important to make sure you’re set up for success with budgets, projections, goals, and reporting, it all falls flat without putting in the legwork to really dig in and create smart, compelling value props. For the data and dollar-sign driven types like founders and growth marketers, this can feel a bit daunting, but sharpening the language around why your customer/client should convert can streamline spend and make all other growth marketing activities work more efficiently.

For the left-brainers in the room (us included!) we created a spreadsheet to help us achieve this right-brain task.

Hot tip: many marketers that jump into value props start in the wrong place. Instead of focusing first on the end goal—a smart value prop—we recommend starting with the problem. Think first about the exact moment in someone’s life where they stumble across a problem, hit a roadblock, or create a workaround that your product directly addresses. Then, work right, circling back to the actual value prop as the last thing you do.

If you’re Uber, here’s how we would approach it.

Problem: I waste my time standing on a street corner trying to flag down an empty taxi.

Implication: I cut into my day by carving out extra time to flag down a taxi and I run the risk of being late.

Solution: A way to connect with an available driver and know exactly when they’ll show up.

Benefit: A guaranteed ride and a predictable timeline.

Value Prop: Get a guaranteed ride on your time.

Note: the most important part of this exercise is to remember that even when you’ve scrutinized it, edited it, and rewritten it, it’s still a living document. Instead of putting it up on a shelf, periodically crack it open, make strategic updates, and use it!

12. Facebook Ad Creative Analysis Spreadsheet 

Facebook ad creative analysis spreadsheet

Grab a copy of this spreadsheet here >>

We’re a revenue and conversion-first agency. But great creative—from ads to emails to landing pages and beyond—is a critical part of the equation.

Because we want to really dig into understanding what ad creative is performing the best, our team uses this spreadsheet to pull the core performance metrics for our paid campaigns on Facebook and Instagram. This helps us, and our clients, understand what’s working, what’s not working, and how we want to test moving forward. 

We left the data in this spreadsheet so that you could see what the final output looks like. If you’re interested in using this spreadsheet to better understand how your Facebook creative is performing, download this and make a copy.

13. Landing Page Testing Plan Timeline

landing page testing spreadsheet

Grab a copy of this spreadsheet here >>

When it comes to increasing the conversion rate for our clients, we’re often focused on implementing impactful changes to the layout, copy, and images used throughout various landing pages to help increase our number of conversions.

For our process, it’s important to isolate as many variables as possible throughout testing so that we’re able to definitively say what improved (or negatively impacted) results. Not all CRO landing page tests go as planned, but with our testing methodology, we can always go back to the previous version of the landing page and start again with a new variable to test. 

That’s why we structure our tests bracket-style using this spreadsheet. We’ll have two almost identical campaigns running in our paid channels, but with the ads pointing to two different landing pages. We’ll take the winner, and pit it against the next iteration of the landing page, keeping all the data organized in this spreadsheet. 

Happy Spreadsheeting-ing

Thanks for reading! I hope you picked up one or two new tips and tricks for your spreadsheets here.

I’d love to hear what growth marketing spreadsheets your team has been using? What has worked well for you?

 

Growth Marketing Tips to Turn Your Crowdfunded Product Into a Sustainable Business

More and more, crowdfunding has become a popular way of launching new products. You can get access to the capital you need, gain market validation, hedge some risk, and even pre-sell some of your product. But how do you convert viral excitement for your product into a flesh-and-blood, thriving business?

In this post, we’ll talk you through the steps to take in the immediate aftermath of hitting your funding goal to ensure that you make the transition from funded startup to a stable business with sustainable growth potential. The post-campaign phase is going to be an especially sensitive time in the life of your business, so it’s important that you move not just quickly, but strategically.

1. Get to Know Your Backers

You probably did a bit of market research before you rolled out your crowdfunding campaign, so you may know who your target market is, but it’s time to take that one step further. Crafting customer personas is one of the best ways to lay the proper foundation for growth marketing campaigns.

Looking at hard numbers and data about the people who funded your campaign will help you build a three-dimensional picture of who you’re selling to. Once you’ve converted that data into a persona, you can use that to determine which tactics you should experiment with first, because you’ll know where the customer is going to be and how you should be speaking to them there.

Once you’ve filled in all the details about your current customers, you can feed that back into product development. Knowing your audience—and we mean really knowing them—is key in ensuring that you not only make them happy with this one product but continue to build the kinds of products that will keep them coming back for more.

2. Get Your Website Up and Running

Once your campaign hits its fundraising goal, your first thought will probably be about fulfilling your commitments to backers. But at the same time, you’ve got to make sure you’re laying the groundwork necessary to bring in even more new customers.

The best way to do this is to make sure you have an attractive, user-friendly website to direct people to. Choose the platform that best fits your ecommerce needs (Shopify, WooCommerce, etc.), and then focus on building pages that will easily and consistently convert. There are a few elements that need to be present on your pages to make that happen.

Clear Pricing Info
Don’t make people hunt for the numbers. If they have to scroll through paragraphs of text before to figure out how much the product costs, you’re bound to lose people. Put your pricing information front and center. Yes, this may weed out potential customers who are not willing to spend what you’re asking, but setting those clear expectations upfront will prevent customer frustration in the long run.

Trust Indicators (Reviews, Testimonials, Photos, etc.)
Your company is new, and anyone can raise funds on a crowdsourcing site, so the onus is on you to prove that your product is worth purchasing. You can do this by showcasing indicators of consumer trust for potential new customers. Your site should include high-quality images of your product(s) as well as reviews from verified purchasers and/or customer testimonials.

Seamless Checkout Process
Cart abandonment is a regular struggle for anyone who manages an e-commerce site. Consumers these days seem to have very little patience for slow processing, so it’s important that your checkout procedure be as painless and intuitive as possible.

Optimized for Mobile
Every year, more and more commercial transactions are taking place on mobile devices. While you need to make sure your desktop site functions smoothly, you really need to make sure your mobile site is optimized as well as possible for the most popular devices. Keep an eye on things like loading times, pop-ups, navigation, and visual design.

3. Scale Up Your Team

With limited time to deliver backer rewards and limited funds with which to do it, you may be tempted to take too much on yourself in an attempt to avoid adding payroll to your list of costs. But now is not the time to wear all the hats. You need to level up your team, but you must do it smartly.

Remember that hiring too quickly can hurt you, and so can hiring the wrong people. The pressure to deliver can feel really strong, but keep in mind that these hires are building the very foundation of your business. You want to make sure you’re bringing in the best possible people!

With that in mind, remember that now is not the time for high-level specialists with ultra-focused skill sets. You want someone who can plug-in where they’re needed and bring energy, effort, and results. Look for candidates that are scrappy, creative, and flexible.

You can hire someone to come on full-time and in-house, or you can partner with an external contractor or team to help support the initiatives that are a top priority for you in this phase. If you hire out-of-house, make sure that your partner is integrated fully into your business. They should function as a natural extension of your company, not a separate third party.

Regardless of which direction you go, make sure whoever you hire has done something like this in the past. Look for five or more years of experience in scaling brands with special attention paid to the consistency of their strategy and execution. They should have a visible, proven track record of growing startup revenue.

4. Establish Processes and Start Collecting Data

The real strength of a good growth marketing plan is assessing data and using it to make informed decisions about product development and marketing campaign direction. There are a few standard data and analytics tools that all startups should leverage from the beginning.

Google Analytics
This free service is absolutely essential for helping you gather data about how people are interacting with your website and how you can improve. It will integrate seamlessly with AdWords and other platforms that you’re likely to use for marketing, and it allows you the option of fully customized reporting. It can help you beef up the design of your site, determine where to focus your social media dollars, and aid in tracking your goals. It’s really indispensable.

Facebook Pixel
Retargeting is one of the best ways to recapture current and potential new customers and drive sales. Facebook Pixel is an analytics tool that will track your website visitors so that you can serve them targeted ads on Facebook in the future, and keep up with what happens when they return to your site. It should be a key component of your social media plan if you’re using Facebook Ads.

Google Ads Pixel
Similar to the Facebook Pixel, this tool will allow you to track what actions customers are taking after they interact with your ad. This data is invaluable when you’re making decisions about where to focus your ad spend and how to increase conversions.

Google Search Console
This tool works in conjunction with Google Analytics to help you develop a fully realized vision of how your website is functioning. Where Analytics focuses mainly on user data and demographics, Search Console also helps you identify malware, improve website performance, and determine how website visitors are finding you in the first place, whether through pages that are linking to you or through search queries.

These five tools are just a starting point for collecting the data you need to develop a robust growth marketing plan, but implementing them as soon as possible after your campaign is funded will ensure that you’re making the most informed decisions, even in these early days of your business.

5. Tackle the Low-Hanging Fruit

Once you’ve got your website up and running, your team together, and you’ve implemented some core processes for collecting and analyzing data, it’s go time. Look at what the numbers are telling you and quickly identify which channels are going to provide you with the highest possible ROI. Then hone in on those and work to scale them.

Here at Tuff, we always make sure to revisit the customer personas and user data to help us prioritize which channels and tactics to tackle first. Some of the most common campaigns we initiate from that point include:

Facebook/Instagram
Social media is one of the lowest-cost advertising platforms available, and if you leverage your data smartly, you can get even more bang for your buck. Focus on delivering strong, relevant content to highly targeted audiences to see the best possible returns.

Google Shopping
Utilizing this channel could mean your product landing in front of thousands more potential customers. It’s simple to use, but it’s important that you understand how the bid system works if you want to maximize your returns, as competition in this space is steadily increasing.

Retargeting
As we mentioned above, serving retargeting ads to customers who have already visited your site can be a powerful driver of sales. If done correctly, it can also be great for your budget. But there is a fine line to walk here, as customers can become annoyed or feel a sense of privacy invasion by seeing the same retargeting ads over and over again.

SEO
The more people who see your business in organic search results, the less work your paid ads have to do to bring in qualified leads, right? Optimizing your website for search engine crawling is, therefore, often one of the best ways to stimulate strong ROI. Pay attention to not only your on-page optimization for product pages, but all your site’s content.

Receiving funding for your product is such an exciting time, but there are pitfalls aplenty on the other side of crowdfunding campaigns. This is a time to move with intention and purpose and set the stage for not just fulfilling backer rewards, but for the entire future of this business venture.

If you’ve just completed a crowdfunding campaign and you’re not sure where to go from here, the Tuff team can help you make sense of it all. We’d be happy to set up one of our free 30-minute strategy sessions to discuss your business’s unique challenges and strengths. We’ll bring actionable tips, and together, we can explore the best possible routes for achieving and maintaining profitable growth for your new business.

tuff-30-minute-ppc-audit

The 30-Minute PPC Audit Anyone Can Do

Editor’s Note: This post has been updated with new links and fresh content. 

Original Publication Date: January 1, 2020 

Let’s get one thing about a PPC audit off our chest. We know our PPC accounts aren’t always perfect 100% of the time. Audits are one of the best tools we have for making small, sustainable improvements.

That’s why we routinely conduct audits for our clients. Incorporating this step into our PPC management process helps us catch small issues before they become big issues.

As we start another year managing our clients’ PPC accounts, we’re taking the time to audit our efforts more extensively. The main purpose of a deep-dive PPC audit is to help our clients with marketing strategy development. These audits help us:

  • understand historical performance in a way that allows us to set better goals
  • identify the right metrics we should be measuring
  • highlight room for improvement

Many of our clients leverage our expertise and data insights to help create and finalize their marketing goals and budgets. To help contribute to these strategy efforts, we conduct a PPC audit to offer reliable projections to determine spend, number of leads, cost per lead, conversion rate, sales, and more. Hopefully this post can help you do the same!

The following checklist outlines the different account areas you can dive into during your PPC audit and what items to look for.

Date Range

Instead of focusing on a short window of time, we like to focus on the entire year. You don’t want to get buried in too much data, but you do need enough data for your audit to be statistically relevant. For this year’s year end audit, we selected January 1, 2019 – November 1, 2019. 

Google Ads performance.

Metrics

The next step you want to do before digging into the data is select the metrics you want to evaluate your account by.

To avoid analysis paralysis, it’s crucial to strip away the excess and focus on the paid search advertising metrics that provide actionable insight. Assessing critical paid search advertising metrics during your audit will allow you to monitor and improve digital performance.

Here are the top 6 metrics we like to include in a PPC audit:

  • Channel Growth
  • Conversion Rate
  • Acquisition
  • Cost Per Order (or Cost Per Lead)
  • Sales
  • Revenue

PPC Audit Checklist

Review Campaign Settings

Your account structure should be divided into a number of campaigns based on clear categorical buckets.

If your strategy is to organize by market ー for instance state, city, or county ー your campaigns should be labeled with the associated market. If your strategy is to organize by product type or service, your campaigns should be labeled with the associated product or service. Keeping a clear naming structure at the account level will help you stay organized and reduce reporting time.

You don’t want your campaigns to look like this:

Screenshot of Google AdWords Campaigns dropdown

The key is to avoid numbers and over-complicated naming conventions – keep it simple, straightforward. Essentially, are the campaigns numbered A-Z or do they have unique names that explain what kind of ad groups you’re going to find and what type of campaign type it is?

Access Ad Group Relevancy

It’s tough to get potential customers to convert if their pay-per-click experience is not relevant. One of the best ways to make their click experience more relevant is to match the creative and copy of your ad to the search term of the user.

High-Intent Search Term —> Hyper-Specific Ads —-> Relevant Landing Page

How can you do this? Scan your account to find ad groups that hold more than 15-20 keywords. These are likely the groups that will require the most review and clean-up.

Why does the number of keywords matter so much? While your ad groups’ keyword count won’t impact performance, remember that you want your ads to be as relevant as possible. When you have a huge list of keywords, it typically includes various themes, meaning you’re forced to write generic ad copy.

Rather than serving generic ad copy to a large list of keywords, you want to break out your ad groups into lists of granular, related keywords that share the same theme. When you do this, you can create hyper-specific ads for each ad group that will help you increase your quality score and click-through rate.

Ad Extensions

Ad extensions are the extra snippets of information Google allows advertisers to add to their Expanded Text ads to provide more relevant information to searchers. Ad extensions can help improve click-through rates and give you more real-estate on the page. They are an important part of the PPC audit to pay attention to. If your account doesn’t have any ad extensions set up, get on it!

If you have extensions in place, double-check that the extensions are running successfully. Are your sitelinks truly representative of your business? Can you check your call extension to make sure someone is answering the phone when it rings?

Pro-tip: If you’re using call extensions to drive phone calls to your business, make sure to use the advanced settings to set your call extensions to run only during your hours of business. This way, you won’t be wasting money on calls to your business that no one is available to answer. You can also set your call extension to have a mobile device preference, serving your ads with the right extension to the right users at the right time.

Google ad call extensions

Check Number of Ads and Ad Copy

Scan your account to find ad groups that only have one ad running. These are likely the groups that will require the most review and clean-up. We generally recommend having a minimum of three ads per ad group to improve account optimization.

However, you also don’t want to have a ton of ads per ad group. The sweet spot is typically somewhere between 2-3 ads. This amount keeps the account manageable while giving you enough data to run split tests. Let your ads run two weeks, identify a winner, pause the losing ads and test out new options against your winner.

While you are reviewing your ads, don’t forget to focus on the basics as well. Are all of your ads grammatically correct? Do any of the ads have spelling errors? Are they promoting the most relevant offers?

Review Settings

Analyzing your campaign settings is a simple activity that takes less than five minutes. We love digging into campaign settings because it’s generally something that is set up when the campaigns are created and then never looked at again. There are probably some juicy adjustments to be made.

In the settings tab, you can check and optimize device performance, ad delivery method, ad scheduling, ad rotation, and location/language targeting.

Key items to focus on:

  • Is your campaign targeting search and display traffic? If so, fixing this can be a big win for your account. The main problem with targeting search and display within one campaign is that these networks target users in two completely different scenarios. You can’t get a clear understanding of performance and your ads are less effective.
  • Are you serving your ads in all available target markets? Check your locations settings to make sure you are targeting all the countries, states, cities, or counties relevant to your business. Here you can make bid adjustments based on the target locations you value the most.
  • Are you making device bid adjustments? Review your performance by device – mobile, desktop, and tablet. If your performance alters by device, you can make adjustments to prioritize your top performing devices.

Review Audience Targeting 

Your ad groups are setup and optimized, you’ve got the right amount of ads and the right copy ready to go, your keywords are fine-tuned, and your campaign settings are exactly what you want. What else can you focus on to make sure your campaigns are as effective as possible? The right audience targeting.

Oftentimes, advertisers are very familiar with audience targeting including remarketing audiences, when it comes to display campaigns. However, adding relevant audiences to your search campaigns can be an effective way to gain insights into your market, while also boosting your performance.

In addition to keyword targeting, you also have the ability to add in-market audiences and custom intent audiences to your search campaigns. We recommend setting these audiences at the ‘Observation’ level for targeting, which means that users that Google has not grouped into these in-market or custom intent audiences can still be served your ads as they search for your target keywords.

Google ads audience targeting.

A major benefit of adding audiences at the Observation level is the ability to add bid adjustments to these specific audiences. After adding some audiences and gathering data, review the performance of your audiences and decide if they are performing better than the average user who has interacted with the campaign. If so, add an appropriate positive bid adjustment to these audiences (e.g. 15-30%).

Pro-tip: consider adding remarketing audiences to your search campaigns. This tactic, known as Remarketing Lists for Search Ads, or RLSA for short, is especially effective if you have a lot of traffic. 

For example, if you have an eCommerce site and receive a lot of traffic, you most likely have a lot of abandoned carts. Consider creating an abandoned cart audience for remarketing and adding this audience to your search campaigns with a solid bid adjustment. The users in this audience have already shown high intent by adding a product to their cart. How much more than your standard bid would you willing to pay to get these audiences back to your site when they are searching for your targeted keywords? 20%..35%…maybe even 50% more? 

Triple Check Conversion Tracking

Last but not least in the PPC audit, are you tracking conversions properly? Neglecting to track conversions is a massive PPC mistake.

Without conversion data, it’s impossible to understand what’s working and what’s not. Here are some common conversion errors that you can watch out for:

  • Your not measuring phone call conversions from search and digital. We strongly recommend setting up CallRail to track calls from PPC. Setting your account up to track phone calls will help you optimize your marketing and increase ROI.
  • Your clicks and conversions are exactly the same. If you see this in your account, you have your conversion tracking code on every page of your website, rather than just your order confirmation/thank you page. Unlike your remarketing tag, your conversion tag should only be placed on the page that appears after a conversion has been completed.
  • Your conversion count is super low. A suspiciously low number of conversions could mean you’re missing conversions. Before abandoning your PPC efforts altogether, double-check to make sure conversion status isn’t “unverified” or “tag inactive”. If you see either of these errors, re-install your conversion tag and follow these steps to verify the setup is correct.

Your turn!

We strongly encourage marketing teams to conduct a PPC audit quarterly and annually so they can search for new and better solutions to improve campaigns. While the above checklist can easily be completed in 30 minutes, if you’re interested in a more comprehensive check, it may be better to outsource the project and get fresh eyes.

Tuff offers a free PPC audit and would love to learn more about your company and goals.

We’d love to work with you.

Schedule a call with our team and we’ll analyze your marketing, product, metrics, and business. Then, present a Growth Plan with actionable strategies to find and keep more engaged customers.

Got Funding? 5 Growth Marketing Steps to Take Now

Woman brainstorming on whiteboard

Securing funding for your business is a major step. And it’s something you should rightfully celebrate. But when the champagne runs dry, you’ll probably be feeling the crunch to get things moving.

Receiving financial backing is encouraging for startups because it means that people believe in you and your idea. But it also means that you now have external parties involved. And with those parties comes a lot of associated pressure and expectation (and fun!).

You’ve got money in the bank now, however, so the time has come to move quickly and strategically. The goal should be putting those funds to the best use while showing your stakeholders that they backed the right horse. There are five key steps you need to take after a funding round to capitalize on this exciting and important time in the life of your business.

1. Level up your team

For most companies, once they’ve got some funds to work with, their first thought goes to team.

The first element you’ll need to consider is whether you want to hire someone to be in-house full time, or whether it’s more beneficial to partner with an external team. Whichever direction you choose to go, your focus should be on finding people with a specific and proven track record of success in growing startup revenue.

There are a lot of talented potential hires out there, but you want to make sure you’re prioritizing the candidates that have real-life experience with this kind of growth work. You’ll want to look for people who have clocked five or more years of time scaling brands, and doing it with rock-solid strategy and execution.

If you choose to bring someone in-house, at this early stage, what you need the most are generalists. You want a growth marketer who has a broad knowledge covering a wide range of tactics with in-depth knowledge in one or two specific areas.

If you choose to partner with an external team during this phase of your growth, look for a team that is efficient, decisive, and ready to learn and adapt. Work to integrate them fully into your business, both via processes and communication channels.

Whether you go with internal or external hires, making smart moves and putting together a strong team with proven growth experience will be a clear signal to your investors. It will reassure them that you have the skills within the team to execute on your plan and deliver on your plan.

2. Rally behind shared goals

Having other people’s money in your hands can give you a real sense of urgency to deliver results. But you can’t do that effectively if you haven’t even defined what success looks like.

Everyone should deeply understand the driving force of the company. To do this, you need to identify the growth marketing metrics that matter most to you and make sure everyone on the team is working towards those.

Additionally, you need to make sure there is buy-in from top to bottom. A company’s founder(s) will naturally always be the most invested in the mission of the brand, but if you hire smart and discuss these metrics early on, the entire team can move like one cohesive unit.

And for your existing employees, remember that raising capital is an exciting but stressful time. Once it passes and you’ve secured that money, it can be easy for people to drop the ball or forget what they were working towards in the first place. So rally around your people, and be in constant conversation with them.

At Tuff, we think this step is so critical to success that we hold weekly meetings with our startup clients. We align on goals, see how we’re pacing, and make sure we’re always learning and inching closer to our north star.

3. Refine your processes

Again, it’s totally understandable if you’re eager to move immediately once you receive funding. But if you want to build truly sustainable growth, you have to lay the groundwork first.

To that end, we suggest that you refrain from implementing any new tactics for the first 30 days after securing funding. Focus instead on setting up the right processes before diving into the execution phase of things.

Regardless of whether you hire in-house or bring in a partner like Tuff, your growth marketing team is going to need time to dig deeper on:

  • Mission
  • Business Objectives & Key Metris
  • Unique Selling Point
  • Reviews and Customer Insights
  • Product
  • Business operations
  • Previous market efforts
  • Performance metrics (CPM – CTR – CPA – CAC – LTV)
  • Organic Traction

Then, they’ll need to put on paper a full-funnel roadmap to reach your growth goals. One that outlines tactics, deliverables, testing plan, and spend.

You want to move as quickly as possible in this phase, but you also want to move strategically, with purpose and intention. Doing so will not only provide better results for you but will also show your investors that you are taking a thoughtful and measured approach. Taking the time to do things right shows them that you respect their contributions and intend to utilize them efficiently.

4. Identify what works and scale that

You’re growing, and that’s great, but chances are that if you’re moving smartly, you’re still operating in a pretty lean fashion. Your time, money, and people are limited, and you can’t afford to waste any of that on channels that aren’t profitable.

Let your team do some quick experimenting, document the results, and uncover the channels that provide you with the most generous returns. Then throw all your energy into effectively and smartly scaling those channels to show your investors some timely and reassuring results. This will help you get an early win and increase everyone’s confidence across the board.

5.Test it all, internalize every number, and use those results to inform what you do next

This one is so important. You can hire great people and rally them around your vision, but if you don’t track the details of what is and isn’t working with your strategies, you’ll get stuck once you’re ready to scale.

One of the most vital parts of growth marketing is assessing data. Having those numbers in front of you helps you make informed decisions about everything from product adjustments to marketing campaigns. Without this data, you’re effectively shooting blind.

Leveraging the data you gather to improve your performance is what separates good companies from great companies. Don’t rely on hunches or surface metrics to determine your course of action, either. Dig into the hard numbers, and let them lead you in the right direction. We promise they won’t steer you wrong.

Getting funding for your business is exciting. And we understand how much hard work it takes to get there. To honor all that effort, though, it’s important that you take the right steps after a funding round to get the most out of what you’ve been given.

We’d love to work with you.

Schedule a call with our team and we’ll analyze your marketing, product, metrics, and business. Then, present a Growth Plan with actionable strategies to find and keep more engaged customers.