Lyle McKeany

1. How Did You Start Your Journey in Growth and Digital Marketing?

Yes, that started a few years back, mainly just out of reading articles and being interested in growth while I was actually a sales guy at a different company. You know, getting excited about the concept of growth and maybe get into this a later but how I feel like it’s a little bit more than just traditional marketing – a little more analytical – and that was interesting to me.

In that process, I discovered Tradecraft which is kind of like an immersive program in San Francisco for three months. I did that about, I think, three years ago now and that was sort of my kick-start into the San Francisco tech startup scene. From there, like you earlier, startups – tried to start a few things on my own and things like that. And now, I’m growth marketing manager here at Galore.

2. What Are Your Thoughts on Growth Hacking or Growth Marketing?

I don’t know if I really like the term “growth hacking.” I know it’s a bit of contentious debate about that here and there.

And then, you know, like I kind of alluded to a second ago, I feel like marketing is sort of a subset of growth. Like, I look at it as growth as sort of an umbrella of different things you could be doing to grow a product and marketing is maybe one component or traditional marketing can be one component of that whereas there’s a lot more to it like product and things like that that I like to focus on with growth as well. So, it kind of extends beyond the traditional marketing you would think of – or most people would think of – like, running advertisements and things like that.

3. What Are Your Top 3 Pieces of Advice for Growth Marketing?


Number one for me – especially if you’re doing early stage startups – is prioritizing. That’s just super important. There’s a million things you could be doing at any given moment s you need to figure out what you actually should be doing. There’s a number of ways and frameworks about going about doing that.

The second piece I would say is being okay with failure. You’re going to fail a lot. Like I said, there’s a thousand things you could be doing and not all of them are going to work amazingly well and not every case study you read and you’re going to try whatever they did that’s going to work for your product or whatever you’re selling. So, be okay with failure and learn from that and move on and maybe innovate and try different things.

The last bit is kind of related. When something actually does work, then double down on it and exploit that as much as you possibly can – whether that’s adding more budget or automating the process or whatever it may be – once something actually works which feels like a rarity sometimes in growth but, when it does, just double down on that.

4. What Are the Top 3 Mistakes to Avoid When Doing Growth Marketing?

Kind of related to prioritizing is trying to do too much. I feel like you can very easily take on a lot of things. In the end, you’re really not executing that much. It’s better to be focusing on a few things that you have determined to be priorities and go deep on those.

Second, when people hear the word “growth hacking,” they think of being like, “Oh, we’re going to do these kinds of spammy hacky things.” I think just being inauthentic or spammy in general, I see that all the time with growth-type stuff. A perfect example, you could try this, you could go on Twitter and you could type whatever you want and just put the hashtag #growth or #growthhacking and you’ll have something like fifteen people automated likes on your tweet and that’s just an example of that’s not really you doing authentic growth marketing. You heard about it somewhere and you made some little script to like things automatically. That’s not really that authentic so it’s a little bit spammy.

Lastly, you know, a lot of people will come to me, they have growth goals and they’re not quite hitting them or they’re looking for that silver bullet idea. Like, “Oh, what’s the one thing we can do that will get us where we need to go?” Largely, it doesn’t exist. You hear about things from other companies like Dropbox has their referral program and everyone talks about that as being their huge driver of growth. Sure, it was a big driver of their growth, but there was a lot of other stuff too. And word of mouth is always a really big one as well which is hard to manufacture. So, I think, like I said, there’s really no silver bullet. It’s a combination of a lot of things and a lot of it stems to just having a really good product.

5. How Do You Get Customers a Quick Win?

Early on, I like to focus on things like conversion rates and thinking about things from their customer journey standpoint – kind of putting yourself in the shoes of a customer that’s just hearing about a product and maybe going through a sign-up flow or whatever it may be – and seeing if that makes sense, especially if it’s a client or consulting work where maybe they’ve been heads down on this product for who knows how long. It could be years, right? They’ve been staring at it and they know every detail of it.

But, if I’m coming in a little bit fresh with that growth marketer’s mindset towards it and looking at it and going, “Look, if I’m a customer, does this make sense or is there something missing? Can things be cut out?” Oftentimes, that’s a big one – cutting things out.

Just increasing those conversion rates, those little drop-offs throughout a sign-up flow or something like that can add up to big changes at the end.

Growth Hacking Geniuses - Rick Kuwahara - Visual Summary

Rick Kuwahara

1. Who Are Some Successful Growth Hackers that You Learned From or Inspired You?

Well, I think everybody kind of, you know, there’s always the usual suspects. But there’s three little more under-the-radar guys who I like their stuff.

One is Ryan Stewart over at Webris – he has a lot of great stuff about processes and frameworks to help you scale. Love anybody who’s so process-oriented.

Dave Gerhardt at Drift – they’re doing a lot of stuff with content. Their approach is really unique and, you know, it’s disruptive. It’s different from everybody else. So, I really love how they approach it.

Bernard Hong – he was our point of contact for distribution over at when we through 500 startups. We were in Batch 18. He’s just an SEO wizard. He had some really cool hacks that he’s done in the past. If you ever get a chance to go on YouTube and see his presentations, some very cool things that he’s done when he was doing growth at 42Floors and Food by the People.

2. How Do You Attract Leads for Your Business?

Right now, we attract mainly all through inbound. So, SEO is a huge, huge growth lead generator for us. We targeted bottom of the funnel keywords that convert very well. You know, there’s just a lot of opportunity there. At any time, we focus on long-tail and, within a niche, it was lower competition and we’ve done well to rank number one for a bunch of good keywords that just, you know, search volume is not super high. It converts very well and it’s very revenue-driving.

And then, we do offline stuff. I think that’s something that’s undervalued a lot. So, a lot of events and we call them “social mixers” where we bring together customers and potential customers and that works like gangbusters, especially when we go to conferences. We pull people off of the conferences to our mixers. That’s done real well. That’s how we landed our first hospital deal.

Right now, actually, something that we’re going to be playing with is account-based marketing type of work to work our outbound sales a little bit. We’re really excited about that and we’re going to be doing that in the next month or so.

3. Top 3 Qualities that a Growth Marketer Should Have?

Well, I think, definitely, process-oriented. You know, if you don’t have a process, then you can’t scale and you can’t go back and see what worked or what didn’t work. So, definitely someone who can follow a process.

I think something that’s really underrated is being able to apply concepts because there’s really nothing new under the sun. I mean, marketing has been around for years. Everything has been done. But being able to apply a concept from, say, SEO to content marketing or SEO to, you know, your paid advertising, you know, that’s where success happens and that’s really how innovation happens – you know, when you’re able to apply, you know, “Someone did this over in e-com and you can pull it over to your B2B SaaS.” I mean, that is a skill that’s really undervalued.

And – everybody says it but it’s true – you’ve got to be curious. You know you have to want to pull apart a campaign or, you know, you saw an onboarding funnel that somebody did and, “Yeah, that was cool, how did that work?” and then, “How can I make that work for me?” I think that’s something that you always need to have.

4. What Are the Top 3 Mistakes to Avoid When Doing Growth Marketing?

I think tunnel vision is something that you’ve got to really watch out for, especially when you’re doing a lot of the experiments. You still need to keep in mind the big picture overall and that especially is true when you’re trying to prioritize things. You know, there’s a lot of frameworks to pick – you know, what experiments to deal with first – but, sometimes, you’ve got to factor in the big picture. What’s your strategy?

I think something else is making too much statistical significance. I think people get married to it sometimes and you can miss a lot of opportunity and move too slow if you get too caught up in needing that because, you know, data can be directional. You can be informed by it and still make a decision. So, sometimes, you’ve got to just make a call and move on, especially when you’re early and you don’t have much things – like, much traffic – to do, say, an A/B test on a landing page. You know, especially if you’re testing concepts and not small details, you don’t need a lot of data to make a good decision.

I think the last mistake is just not talking to your customers – you know, not just only email but getting on the phone with them and talking with them. You can learn a lot about people and really build your personas and understand who your customer is if you just get on the phone and a lot of people just don’t want to pick up the phone anymore.

5. Which Tools Do You Use to Grow Your Business?

We use the typical stuff like Salesforce for our CRM and we use Autopilot for our email marketing and Google Analytics and things like that.

But, you know, some unique things that we do, we use something called Clearscope. We were lucky to get early in on a beta of it and I think they’re going to launch pretty soon, actually. Basically, it gives us data-driven recommendations on how to improve our content. You can reverse engineer what top-performing Google content is out there and it was definitely something that helped us get to number one and some of those keywords that we targeted.

So, Clearscope, you’ve got to check that out whenever it comes out live.

Upwork is something we use to scale a lot of our – I would guess – grunt work or things like that. I mean, Upwork is very cool. If you have good processes in place to train people, you can get a lot out of it.

And then, the last thing is the super underrated – like I said before – the phone. You know, we use the phone to grow our business – whether that’s talking to customers or being quick to call back someone. I mean, they really appreciate it. We have very good, loyal customers that way and it helps us close our deals faster. It really shortens the cycle that way.