Best Growth Marketing Tips from 10 Experts

person building email drip campaigns on computer

If you’re just starting to make your way in growth marketing, it can be difficult to know where to begin. There are so many blogs, books, cohort-based courses, and thought leaders, and it seems like everyone has their own unique take on growth. 

But while strategies and tactics continue to evolve, the fundamentals remain consistent, and some advice remains evergreen.

In this post, we’re sharing ten tips from some of the top growth marketing minds in the world. We’ve included advice from leaders from all kinds of industries, from SaaS to DTC, so no matter what you’re working on, we bet you’ll find something that’s directly applicable. 

Each of these growth marketers brings a different perspective. But one thing they all have in common? A proven track record of delivering huge growth, at scale. 

As you read these quotes, think about the lessons you can apply to your business, interrogate your current strategies, and reflect on what you might change going forward. 

We’re excited to see where you go.

#1 Cynthia Kleinbaum Milner on Customer Experience

A seasoned marketing leader with experience leading teams at Bonobos and Gilt Groupe, Cynthia Kleinbaum Milner is now at Walmart, and leads marketing for Walmart+, Mobile, and Online Pickup & Delivery.

Heading up growth initiatives at the world’s largest retailer might seem complicated, but for Cynthia, it’s all about keeping the customer experience simple

“Simplifying the customer experience enables higher conversion rates and better retention. It allows companies to use resources more effectively—if you’re always working towards a small number of goals, and everyone is aligned on what success looks like, it’s easier to optimize your human and financial resources, enabling synergies”

#2 Gabriel Weinberg on Finding Scalable, Effective Growth Tactics

Gabriel Weinberg is the CEO & Founder of DuckDuckGo, a search engine that puts user privacy front and center. He’s also the co-author of two best-selling books: Traction: How Any Startup Can Achieve Explosive Customer Growth and Super Thinking: The Big Book of Mental Models.

As a founder taking on the behemoth that is Google Search, Gabriel’s focus is on constantly iterating to find highly scalable growth tactics. Here’s an excerpt from Traction, where he shares his thoughts on how startups should configure their growth marketing stack:

“The faster you run high quality experiments, the more likely you’ll find scalable, effective growth tactics. Determining the success of a customer acquisition idea is dependent on an effective tracking and reporting system, so don’t start testing until your tracking/reporting system has been implemented.” 

#3 Lucy Heskins on Customer-Led Growth

Specializing in early-stage growth marketing, Lucy Heskins shares highly actionable startup marketing ideas on her blog Oh, Blimey, and also heads up growth at Big Lemon.  

In a recent interview with TechCrunch, Lucy shared the concept of customer-led growth, a strategy startups can use to optimize every aspect of their customer journey, improving experiences and driving significant growth: 

“Look at the entire customer journey, from the struggle stage right through to when they’re a customer, and break each section down to where there’s an opportunity for growth. It’s really helpful for startups—especially post-COVID because chances are, your customers’ needs have changed.”

#4 Eric Ries on Vanity Metrics v. Actionable Metrics

Eric Ries is the best-selling author of The Lean Startup, a book widely regarded as an essential manual for founders and growth marketers. Drawing on his background as a successful founder and investor, Ries proposes a framework that focuses on rapid testing and iteration to reach product-market fit as fast as possible.

In this guest post on Tim Ferris’ blog, Ries discusses the importance of focusing on actionable metrics over vanity metrics:

“The only metrics that entrepreneurs should invest energy in collecting are those that help them make decisions. Unfortunately, the majority of data available in off-the-shelf analytics packages are what I call Vanity Metrics. They might make you feel good, but they don’t offer clear guidance for what to do.” 

#5 Joanna Wiebe on Effective Copywriting

Effective copywriting is central to every growth marketing strategy – regardless of what your business sells. As the cofounder of Copyhackers, Joanna Wiebe is regarded as the original conversion copywriter. 

These days, she helps digital marketers and entrepreneurs sharpen their copywriting skills through a series of online courses. Here’s one of her most fundamental tips about copywriting for growth:

“Here’s the only thing you’re selling, no matter what business you’re in and what you ship: you’re selling your prospects a better version of themselves.” 

#6 Ryan Holiday on Growth Loops

Ryan Holiday’s book, Growth Hacker Marketing, explores the mindset of growth hackers, teaching readers the core principles of growth hacking in an accessible, concise manner. 

Though the book was published back in 2013, the lessons still hold up today, including this tip about the compounding effects of growth marketing:

“Growth hacking is about scalability––ideally, you want your marketing efforts to bring in users, which then bring in more users.” 

#7 Laura Fitton on Value Proposition

For any business to be successful, it has to solve a clear customer problem. Laura Fitton knows that better than most. 

After pioneering the use of Twitter as a growth marketing channel, she spent eight years at Hubspot teaching companies how to leverage inbound marketing. These days, she’s working on a new startup that’s putting market forces to work solving climate change. 

Here’s her advice on defining your company’s value proposition:

“Focus on the core problem your business solves and put out lots of content and enthusiasm and ideas about how to solve that problem.”

#8 Brian Balfour on Building a Growth Machine

The ultimate goal of growth marketing is to build a scalable growth machine, but that’s far from easy, as Brian Balfour, former VP of Growth at Hubspot, will attest. 

On his blog, he shares thoughtful essays on user acquisition and growth strategies, which include this nugget of advice on building a scalable growth strategy:

“The reality of growth is that there is never a silver bullet.  This doesn’t mean you won’t have experiments that produce outlier results. You absolutely will.  Most outliers result from combined learnings of a bunch of previous experiments.  They come from knowing your channel, product, and customer better than anyone else on the market and taking informed risks based on those learnings.”

#9 Kristin Luck on Building Brand Awareness

Kristin Luck is the Founder and Managing Partner of ScaleHouse, a management consulting firm that helps startups scale. She’s founded and sold several successful companies, has helped launch dozens of brands, and regularly writes in publications like Forbes and The Journal of Brand Strategy. 

Here’s her advice on how businesses can grow brand awareness:

“A brand launch or awareness push should be a coordinated multichannel strategy. Ensure you’re building a strategy that incorporates every potential client touchpoint, from your website to social media, to utilizing press and media outlets.”

#10 Julian Shapiro on Content Marketing

Julian Shapiro is the founder of DemandCurve, a full-service growth marketing agency that also provides training programs to marketing teams around the world. He writes about growth marketing extensively on his blog, Twitter profile, and in TechCrunch

His handbook on Growing a Startup is a must-read for founders and growth marketers, covering every phase of growth marketing in great detail. Here’s an excerpt explaining his thoughts on content marketing: 

“Content marketing applies to every business. There’s no reason not to test it. But content marketing is no longer a factory farm approach. There are no reliable SEO shortcuts. Content has to be extremely high quality and must satisfy the searcher’s intent. And it has to be optimized for conversion.

Embracing a Growth Mindset

There’s plenty of growth marketing thought leaders out there, and new ones are emerging all the time. The growth marketing community is active on Twitter, and there’s a lot of podcasts and additional growth marketing blogs where you can dive deeper on all kinds of growth topics. 

Consume this content with an open mind, but make sure to question how the strategies and tactics that are discussed apply to your business. 

Did we miss any of your favorite growth marketers out here? Drop the team a message and let us know!

team uploading brand assets

Revving the Creative Engine: A Checklist for Setting a New Creative Team Up for Success

team uploading brand assets

Working with a new designer? Onboarding a new team member onto your creative team? OR maybe you’ve just called in a growth marketing agency like Tuff to make amazing ad creative and boost your growth marketing strategy. No matter the particularities, there are a handful of things you can hand over to your new team to set them up for success and make sure your brand stays consistent in the process. 

As a startup or scaleup, though, we realize that sometimes as you’re building your company brick by brick, a brand is something that can come about in a more organic way, and not necessarily in a neatly-packaged brand book or style guide. That’s okay! 

We built our creative department at Tuff because we believe that great, hardworking creative doesn’t have to be a production, nor does it need to follow all the rules that a more traditional creative agency might insist on. So, consider the following list aspirational. And, if you need to look to our team (or whoever you’re pulling into the scrum) to help elevate your brand throughout UX design or ad creative projects, that is 100% doable.

Ultimately, maintaining a level of brand consistency isn’t just an exercise in vanity. Overtime, recognizability and memorability of your brand will help potential clients or customers recognize you across platform or as they move from awareness to consideration stages, and ultimately, increase their chances of conversion!

Logo File

First and foremost, your logo will be used across all marketing campaigns. It’s important to include all variations and color combinations of your logo. Color variations of all main logo types typically have a light, dark, and full color variation and can allow your creative team to take a number of different creative approaches, like light text on a dark background, dark text on a light background, and everything in between. The more variation we have here, the more we’re able to test, and the more we’re able to hone in on the type of creative that produces the best results. 

Example of logos

When you’re compiling logos, consider all of the following (we’d love to keep as many of these as possible on hand):

  • Symbol or icon
  • Word mark
  • Letter
  • Combination – combines word mark with symbol or letter
  • Emblem – company name is placed in an emblem, usually a circle or shield 
  • Emblem + slogan 

The file type of these matters to designers as well as developers working across design software. Vector files or SVG (scalable vector graphic) files ensure your logo will appear clear and crisp across different scales and not pixelated. It is best practice to avoid PNG or JPG file types when working within a design software as these often appear blurry and pixelated when scaling across marketing projects. PNG versions are beneficial when correctly sized when handing off to developers for a web project. They should be less than 200KB to ensure fast load times. PNGs are lossless compressed files. This allows them to maintain quality at a small file size. Besides an SVG, here are some other common vector file types:

  • .ai (adobe illustrator) this is Adobe’s own source vector file – only editable in Adobe. 
  • .eps (encapsulated postscript for adobe illustrator) another Adobe-specific file. Best used for printed materials such as business cards, posters, brochures, stickers, clothing, and more. 
  • .pdf (portable document file can be vector or raster depending on how saved) can be opened and edited in most major design software. Best used for printed materials such as business cards, stationary, letterheads, etc.
  • .svg (Scalable Vector Graphic) standard vector file format and can be opened and edited in most major design software. This is the best source file to provide your designer. Can be used across web and print.

Color Palette

Branding elements like the color palette are crucial for designers. Color palettes often include primary colors and secondary colors. Honing in on a consistent color palette does wonders for brand awareness. When establishing a color palette within your style guide, it’s imperative to include HEX codes, RGB (red, green, blue) and CMYK (cyan, yellow, magenta, black) codes. Here’s why (get nerdy with us 🤓): 

  • HEX codes are most commonly used for designers across digital design. Developers also use HEX codes when implementing website designs. These are displayed as a six-digit combination of numbers defined by a mix of RGB.
  • RGB is for electronic digital screens (computers, TVs, cameras, smartphones, etc) where combinations of red, green and blue light are compiled within pixels. RGB is an additive process using colored light. Values range from 0 to 255. 
  • CMYK is for printed media (magazines, flyers, photographs, product packaging, brochures, etc) and are measured in percentages. CMYK is a subtractive process using the pigment of inks, dyes, or paint.

Tuff color palette

While our creative team here at Tuff steers clear of printing (so CMYK are less important to us) it’s helpful to note that if you are working within a file intended to be used to print, be sure to check your software settings to confirm it is set to the correct color mode.

Typography Files

Typography matters. Typography connects your voice with visual recognition to your audience. The style of typography helps subliminally convey both personality and emotion. And, there are tons of fun design tricks we can use when we’re trying to say something in particular. For example, we can totally change the emphasis on, or noticeability of a sentence when we use different font weights like bold, semi-bold, regular, and thin. Establishing a consistent typeface paired with your color palette is the best way to make your brand stand out from the crowd.

The best file types for fonts to provide a designer is OTF or TTF. These are easily downloadable to install across Figma and Adobe software (our personal faves). These files are also extremely useful for developers as these are easily able to upload and code into a typography system on websites. 

Tuff Typography Hierarchy

When you’re able to provide your typography hierarchy for Headings (H1, H2, H3, H4, H5, H6) and body text, it sets us up for success for creating landing pages and other web related content so everything is consistent. As a designer, establishing a hierarchy ensures font types and sizes are categorizing information in the right structure to create harmony. 

Again, like we mentioned above, if you’re in the relatively early stages of establishing your brand, this is something you might not have and something we’d be happy to help you out with!

Graphic Elements

Do you use graphic elements to communicate concepts at a glance? Brands often establish a particular icon style for clear representation throughout their identity. Icons are powerful tools when used correctly. They provide universal understanding without the use of language. People have short attention spans and often skim information, only stopping to read more in depth if a website or ad is eye-catching within the first blink of an eye. Successful icon illustrations allow designers to communicate concepts quickly without a lot of text.

Providing an icon library ensures that the designers have these specific icon styles to utilize across social ads, website layout, and other marketing materials. And, if we spot a need to create a new symbol to convey a message, it’s super helpful to have a clear style direction to ensure consistency is kept across the brand platform.

Brand Tone and Voice

What is your mission statement? What are your values? What are 5 words that sum up your brand? These all contribute to your brand tone and how you come across to your target audience. And, they’re super helpful for your new creative team when we’re getting to work on concepting—whether we’re dreaming up landing pages, email flows, or social ads.

You might be surprised to learn that your tone and voice can really positively influence a designer. Do you take a bit of a whimsical approach? Then we might choose softer colors. Do you make declarative, bold statements as part of your brand voice? Then we might lean on bolder typefaces. There are nearly endless ways to use your brand voice and tone.

Most organizations that we partner with either has an early version of brand tone and voice, or none at all! Take a peek at our value props exercise (spreadsheet number 11 in this lineup) to see how we’ll help a brand develop the start of a voice during the kickoff of every one of our partnerships.

Photography (Stock vs. Company Photography vs. UGC)

Imagery creates a high impact in design. It has the ability to evoke emotion and effects a user’s mood. When thinking about creative, it’s important to note when to use the right type of photography.

Stock photos are great for providing high-resolution visual assets on a budget to support your brand tone. The risk with free stock images is, hundreds if not thousands of businesses and independent establishments have more than likely downloaded the exact same photo. This typically hurts brand recognition, especially if competitors are using the same photos to communicate similar concepts. 

Do you have customers sharing images or reviewing your product online? This user generated content (UGC) may become valuable assets. Using random images on social accounts, such as Instagram or Facebook, for commercial purposes is a big no-no due to copyright violation reasons. It’s worth starting a list and reaching out to your customers to get permission regarding content you are approved to use. This type of content is proven to yield higher click through rates than common stock photography. Providing your designer with a pre-approved list of unique UGC assets will save so much time throughout the design process. Need a place to start with influencer creative? We share our top tips in this article.

Lastly, people LOVE to see who is behind the business. Featuring your leadership team or employees in different departments establishes more trust between your audience and your company. It’s worth investing in company-branded photography for individual headshots, team shots, and community photos during events to allow people a peek into your company culture. Showcasing your team instead of using stock photography creates a more memorable first impression and depicts your brand in a more authentic way. If you have taken the time to invest in company portrait photography, these assets will go a long way for your designer.

Raw Assets

Any raw asset files you have to offer from previous campaigns is a treasure trove to a designer. These may be existing vector files, image files, or video files that are extremely useful for a designer to analyze. Often, when raw Adobe After Effects, XD, Photoshop, or Illustrator files are provided, these can be repurposed and elevated for new content. Original files are always a lifesaver to manipulate and edit content with a quicker turnaround time. However, designers like our team, are used to getting scrappy with minimal MP4, GIF, or PNG/JPG files and are able to recreate or re-imagine elements from scratch.

Strict vs. Flexible

Are you a brand with an established style guide or a brand struggling to create a consistent recognizable identity? This is great information for a designer to know up front in order to determine what constraints they need to work within or if they are able to take more creative liberty to present something unexpected. 

Make it all the way through the list? Can you check off all the boxes? Do you have all of this information packaged up and neatly organized in your Google Drive to hand off to any new creative that might be making fun things for you? Thank you win 🥳. If you don’t, you’re still in luck! As we truly can’t say enough, we built our creative department at Tuff on the belief that creative doesn’t need to be a production. Even if you’ve just got the beginnings of a brand, we’ve got you. Let’s talk!

plant growing

How to Create an Initial Growth Model for Your Company

plant growing

Running a startup? Then you know as well as we do that quick wins are instrumental to finding initial traction and getting the first lift that affirms to your team, your peers, and your investors that there’s a tangible future ahead. These quick wins are also important as you validate value props, hone in on your messaging, and think about audience development. 

So, in the early days, the game plan is simple: learn, adapt, and ultimately, confirm that your service or product is going to solve a real and persistent problem. For your first year or more, you’ll get scrappy and find short-term momentum with tactics until you’re able to implement a growth model that works. 

But—and here’s where it gets more complicated and necessitates more patience and expertise—once you find initial traction, you also need to find ways of operationalizing those early wins so they can become repeatable. That’s where a growth model for your company can be useful. Your growth model will help you transition from startup to scaleup. It’ll fuel your strategy throughout each stage of your company life cycle and act as a map that tells you and,  importantly, your investors and other stakeholders in your company where you’re headed in the long run. 

A solid model will also help you identify priorities to feed into your growth machine. From traffic to qualified leads to paying customers, you’ll be able to measure and optimize the full funnel to increase conversion rates and uncover pressure points that need extra attention. This will help you spend your time on things that will have an actual impact on your growth — and at the very least, eliminate things that don’t. 

Here’s an example of a growth model that I built for one of our clients at Tuff. I built it for an early stage, B2B business with a SaaS offering for small businesses. When they started working with us in early 2021, the only leads they had generated were from referrals. They had been in business for less than a year and needed to prove to their investors (and themselves) that they could generate new leads across a number of channels. So, they turned to a growth marketing agency like Tuff. 

growth model for startup

The first thing we did was our homework. We started putting hypotheses in place about the target audience and the stickiest value props. In the early stages, value props will change and evolve based on feedback from customers and users but it’s important to have a starting point. Here’s what these value props originally looked like for this business

Then, we formed the foundation of awareness — in other words, using our target audience, we selected our channel mix. Essentially, we asked: What channels will we use to generate traffic or leads that feed into our growth machine? From there, we outlined the list of tactics we would test out on each channel. 

  • Acquisition Channels = the way people hear about you for the first time.
  • Tactics = a test you run on a channel. 

When it comes to channel selection, we think about three things: 

  • How expensive is that channel based on historical metrics?
  • What role in the funnel does it play? Is it top of the funnel (cheap traffic, lower quality) or bottom of the funnel (more expensive, higher quality)?
  • Can we get our content in front of our target audience? Will we be able to target the people most likely to buy? 

For this account, we started with Google, Bing, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, SEO, and Partnerships. 

Finally, we then turned our attention to generating repeatable acquisition by focusing on conversion priorities. For this startup, this was things like: 

  • Adding pricing to the website 
  • Redoing the copy on the homepage based on the language most often used sales calls 
  • Adding in a page for each service
  • Improving the UX on the blog 
  • Testing out three different signup flows to see what had the highest conversion 

When a user lands on your website, product page, or app for the first time (or even the second or third), it’s critical to communicate value immediately and efficiently; there’s truly no better way to improve conversion.

By putting this growth model on paper and using it to fuel our strategy, it became extremely clear how to define the metrics that matter for the business, and work out how to measure them. Using Google Analytics and Freshsales (CRM), we can track all of these metrics, identify which ones need improvement, and outline how to focus our efforts: 

Metrics: 

  • Spend: how much we’re spending on paid channels 
  • Traffic: how much traffic (new and returning) we’re generating
  • Traffic by Source: where the traffic is coming from and how it impacts CVR 
  • CPC: what it’s costing us to get traffic
  • Leads: the number of leads we’re capturing  
  • CVR: the percentage of traffic that’s converting to leads  
  • Clients: the number of clients we’re closing (new business)  
  • CVR: the percentage of leads that are converting to paying customers
  • CAC: the total cost of acquiring a customer 

We started using this particular growth model as our roadmap earlier this year and have stayed committed to this path for the last 8 months. With this approach, it’s not an overnight success. It’s a slow burn. We didn’t see a massive spike in leads within the first few months and even after that, the growth only started to trickle in. 

Despite being impatient for results, we haven’t changed course and now, eight months later, we have a foundation in place for compounding results. Because we can measure across the entire funnel and have a clear understanding of the core metrics, we can prioritize our resources, hours, and time, and ultimately, spend it all on the right things. 

The good news (much to all of our relief): we’re now consistently generating profitable, high-quality conversions for this client and have a repeatable formula to improve upon each month. We don’t have to rely on PR hits or an onslaught of referrals to hit our targets because we are in control of the pipeline on our own channels. 

The truth is tough: founders are used to fighting tooth and nail for product/market fit and every single investor dollar. But even when a startup starts to grow, there’s an endless amount of work involved to establish your growth strategy and stick to it. It’s not for the faint of heart. But, it’s for this very reason that I established Tuff in the first place. With a team of marketers willing, able, and eager to build a repeatable, scalable model and execute to a T, you’re laying the foundation for success not just for tomorrow but for years to come. 

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. 

Creative CPC CTR TOS Leads (calls)
[Video] Let’s go Brad $0.51 4.22% 0:00:11 3
[Video] Stop bookkeeping $1.02 6.36% 0:00:18 8
[Still] Family time $0.51 1.97% 0:00:10 0
[Still] Social proof $0.27 0.22% 0:00:02 0
[Still] Working late $0.43 1.00% 0:00:03 0
[Still] Meet your bookkeeper $1.07 2.71% 0:00:05 0

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?