Growth Hacking Geniuses - Maree Jones - Visual Summary

Maree Jones

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

You know, it’s a funny story and it’s something that I would never ever – ever – recommend for a business to do.

I actually started out managing social media for a company that I was working for many, many years ago. It was a magazine publishing company. I was already working there, doing advertising, sales, and I was doing really well. I was very motivated and won several contests. But they kind of put me in-charge of social media and, really, my only qualification was that I was the youngest person in the office. And so, kind of by default, I was given that role and took it on for an additional $25.00 a week.

Since then, I’ve kind of found my niche and have grown that role but, yeah, it’s something that I would never recommend businesses to do.

What Are Your Thoughts on Growth Hacking or Growth Marketing?

You know, I believe growth hacking and growth marketing is really a response to the way that different online avenues have really changed the marketplace. Being reactive is really being the new proactive. As these technologies emerge, people who are able to respond, who are able to practice growth hacking have a huge advantage over people who only practice kind of the traditional marketing.

Growth hacking certainly does not take the place of traditional marketing but it’s a really cool compliment to it in that you can have those longer planning cycles but you can also be reactive in real-time.

What Are the Top Three Qualities that a Growth Hacker Should Have?

I think the first one is that they’re always looking for partnerships or integrations that make sense.

The smartest growth hackers that I’ve seen and worked with understand that one plus one equals three and that, the more you can find people and organizations to work with and to kind of grow your business, the better off you’re going to be in this environment.

You know, the second one I would say is a sense of curiosity or experimentation – being willing to try new things, new approaches, and really being reactionary while the marketplace may change or new technologies may develop.

Finally, I would say that user experience as well as the technical chops are very important. But thinking about the value that you can provide to a potential customer or partner is really important. Yes, you do have to have the technical chops to kind of bring it to life but you also have to have that creativity and that understanding of human experience to kind of bring to the table as well.

What Are Some Resources You Encourage People to Explore?

You know, a lot of times, I will come across clients who are maybe startups or entrepreneurs and they’re simply strapped for cash. They do not have a budget for marketing or PR or social media management. They can’t afford it so they kind of resort to approaches that are more along the lines of growth hacking – you know, referrals, loyalty programs, and things like that. Because of that lean cash flow, I like to point them in the direction of free resources as much as possible, if I can help them.

Sites like Kissmetrics have a wealth of information about growth hacking and even some of those non-conventional sites like Quora have a lot of information that’s community-driven and, really, heavily slanted to growth hacking.

Which Tools Do You Use to Grow Your Business or Help Clients Grow Theirs?

I specialize mostly in PR, content, social media, and there are lots of different ways to kind of growth hack those and to put some things on automation so that you can continue to work on your business. You can kind of set it and forget it, so to speak.

I really like tools like Hootsuite or Buffer that really make managing those multiple channels and social media more effective and having to log into an account or change a password or things like that. It saves people a lot of time in which they can work on other things and not have to worry about social media growth. It kind of puts them on auto-pilot a little bit.

For email marketing or content, there’s lots of really great things like CoSchedule. I use Emma for email marketing. I’ve also used MailChimp. Those kinds of tools have a lot of options that are very affordable if not free. They’re really great resources to kind of build your email list, build your social media following so that you can embrace kind of those principles of growth hacking.

Ricardo Martinez

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

I got started in growth and digital marketing around 2010 where I was doing PPC and search engine optimization with advertising agencies.

From there, I just kept on moving up and getting into sales funnels, building also conversion funnels, as well as content marketing, Facebook ads throughout several advertising agencies, then a Fortune 500 company. I decided that was too corporate and too structured.

And then, I switched back to the advertising agency model once again as a search manager. Then, I got promoted to director and then I decided to start my own company to have the ability to leverage the clients that I actually want which are mostly driven through eCommerce and performance marketing.

How Do You Attract Leads to Your Business and Clients?

As of right now, we’re mostly focused on getting leads for clients. In terms of my own business, we do it through lead magnets and a lot of content marketing. We’re not running anything through Facebook or AdWords or affiliate. It’s just crafting very, very long and lengthy pieces of content that provide pretty great value for our audiences that are on LinkedIn or on different blog posts.

For clients, we do utilize a bunch of different tactics and digital marketing aspects to get leads. Majority of the leads that we utilize and that we get for clients are coming through search engine optimization. A lot of them do come from Facebook ads. We run a lot of Facebook campaigns with budgets ranging all the way from $2,000 a month all the way to $60,000 a month with video campaigns, conversion campaigns, brand awareness, local awareness that drive directly to the product page as well as to a category page.

But we also drive the majority of the traffic to direct response landing pages. We bring a lot of traffic as well through, again, content marketing for our clients by crafting guides and how-to tutorials to get people from the top of the funnel. We also focus a lot on affiliate marketing campaigns for our clients. We’re also focusing a lot on micro-influencers which are basically these people that have YouTube followings and Instagram

followings anywhere from 20,000 to – let’s say – 125,000. Those are sort of the influencers that we like to work with just because they tend to have a much more engaged audience.

We also bring a lot of clients through Instagram ads as well as organic Instagram efforts. The way that we do that is by scraping competitors’ websites and scraping also niche websites by actually following every single person that comments on a picture or actually seems engaged. Therefore, we actually start following them and start communicating with them via direct messages. We send them to our profile or our client’s profile. And then, from there, we actually put a link on the bio and start generating leads that way.

Lastly, we’re also generating a lot of leads through referrals and loyalty programs. Those are actually working pretty well such as Customer Works is the brand ambassador.

How Important Are Lead Capture and Conversion Funnels?

For now, conversion funnels are the most important aspect of digital marketing. They can give companies the ability to actually segment users by awareness, consideration, evaluation, or sales purchase – depending on whether they land upon researching or interacting with the website.

As of right now, too many companies and we still see this with a lot of eCommerce companies that are just treating every single marketing funnel the same way versus actually interacting with customers in such a way that would present them the opportunity to separate – whether it’s by age, interest, audience, gender – in order to provide the most well-crafted message to make sure that there’s an actual interaction and connection with the user and the brand.

What Are the Top 3 Qualities that a Growth Hacker Should Have?

For now, honestly, I’m still growing the company and still messing around with a lot of growth techniques that we’re utilizing for clients as well as for our own.

I’ve got to tell you that the three most important aspects, the first one is going to be knowing when to fail and having the guts to fail. Too many of us are scared of thinking, “What if this campaign doesn’t work? What if these efforts don’t work? What if it’s a waste of money?” But you need to actually realize and get to a point in which, after analyzing the data, you say, “Okay, is it worth it to continue with this project or do we just go ahead and kill it and actually restart by making something better?” Definitely having the gut to fail is the most important aspect of being a growth hacker.

The second part is going to be actually data analysis – also something extremely, extremely important. The data is actually what makes or breaks the business and it’s what takes basically any campaign to the next level. It’s what give you the ability to scale marketing efforts. However, this is not just relying on Google Analytics and looking at average time spent on site or bounce rate. This is definitely going to be on analytics catalyst, implementing data visualization tools and reporting as well as utilizing heat maps, scrolls, Clicktale, Kissmetrics to find out exactly where the customer not only is on the page but knowing how they’re interacting, looking at purchase behavior flows in order to then again pass it on to different parts of the funnel and segment audiences depending on the actions that they’re taking on your page.

The third quality about being a growth hacker is actually having the ability to lead a team. Yes, one person can be very well-skilled and very well-crafted in the analysis, search engine optimization, PPC, but once you actually start combining paid search engine optimization, copywriting, UX, development, there’s just too many different skill sets that need to be combined. Having the ability to provide a team with the tasks that need to be done upon reaching a specific threshold is extremely, extremely important to keep on moving forward and making sure that the team is working in conjunction.

Which Tools Do You Use to Grow Your Business or Help Clients Grow?

That’s a pretty awesome question.

Right now, we’re definitely utilizing a lot of tools. I’m guilty of having a software addiction. We definitely try out dozens – if not, honestly, we have tried hundreds of different software. Our favorite software right now for growth hacking for clients in our businesses are Sumo, SEMrush, Keyword Revealer, […] Ninja Outreach, ScrapeBox, Hotjar, Mouseflow, Kissmetrics, even AdEspresso every now and then, Kowaya, Drip and MailChimp for email marketing, as well as our custom dashboards that are presently built depending on the data that we’re trying to analyze.

Sujan Patel - Visual Summary

Sujan Patel

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

I started off in SEO years ago in 2001, 2002, made an e-commerce website. This was before the luxury of Shopify, Big Commerce and those types of companies. So building it using a lot more rudimentary platforms. I put a lot of money into it, I was in high school and college. I built the website, no one came, I had to figure out a way to get people there. I stumbled on SEO. The business failed but I successfully kick-started my SEO career. As SEO has evolved over time, it’s become really just all things marketing. And so, over time, I expanded beyond SEO to just all things digital marketing. Growth has always been something I’ve been measuring myself against – what is actual growth numbers? There’s a lot of fancy numbers and things you can measure against, but at the end of the day it comes down to growth, which is really why you’re doing digital marketing in the first place. So growth is a new name for something I’ve been going off of, I call it ROI, fast-paced marketing. That’s kind of my entry into growth and digital marketing.

2. Could You Tell Us a Bit More About Your Company, WebProfits?

WebProfits is a growth marketing agency. When I say growth marketing, I mean we don’t do fluff, we don’t focus only on one channel, we can’t help with just SEO and PPC. When we help companies, we’re going to help them with all things growth, and we peel back the layers of going into the organizations – what else can they be doing on the customer support side? So we’re looking at all parts of that funnel, more than just driving more traffic or increasing conversions. And the services that we provide right now: one is content marketing, which we provide à la carte, and the other is called Fluid Marketing. Really what that means is we come into an organization or if we’re talking to a potential client, we want to understand what they’re struggling with, what are their channels that got them there, what are big opportunities, and we’re helping with all things growth. Our fluid service will adjust over the month to what we focus on. So we may start with an heavy emphasis on let’s say Facebook ads because that’s a great opportunity. But 3-6 months in, that’s gonna be on optimization mode, we’ve done a lot of the work, we may shift our focus to SEO or content. So we really focus on an omni-channel approach, leveraging any advantage a customer has to grow.

3. What Are the Top Three Qualities That a Growth Hacker Should Have?

Number one is hustle. Hustle is, I think, lacking in most people, not just marketers. What I mean by hustle is you gotta figure stuff out. I get lots of emails lately around people asking me questions and my response is Google it! Learn as much as you can by reading publicly available information and I guarantee there is publicly available information on every topic. You can be an expert coin collector. I want to help.

Ask people for help once you’ve gotten stuck or you’ve gotten to a point where “I got this, this, this information, this is what I’ve done, I’m stuck can you help me?”. That, to me, is hustle. People go immediately to the easy route. So that’s number one, the hustle, it’s working long hours and doing things that suck.

Some of my biggest success in marketing has been with working with customer support, it’s come from sending cold emails and doing the dirty work that you would probably outsource to a VA myself. Now, at some point, we’re going to scale those channels or tactics. But at the end of the day, it was the willingness to put in that hard work and doing it.

Number two is agility and understanding that it’s not necessarily tactics or certain channels that are always going to help you grow. You’ve got to think beyond the channel and think really to growth, what is going to help a company, your company, or whoever you’re working with to grow. That may not come from things you’re used to. So when I say agility, it’s the ability to move around, being uncomfortable, doing things again that are not sexy.

The last thing is testing. To be honest, nobody has a silver bullet. There is no silver bullet. Why work with me over someone else? It’s probably because I’m more relevant, I have more experience. Again, that can be said for someone else. Really, there is no silver bullet. Digital marketing has become so complex, it’s just as complex as offline marketing, and if not even more. It’s saturated, people are moving fast, you’re competing with people with bigger budgets. You have to be willing to get uncomfortable and learn and test new things, because you’re going to find things that work and then you gotta figure out how to scale them.

4. Who Are Some of the Successful Growth Hackers That You Learned From or Inspired You?

Honestly, there are so many people, I really love what Hiten Shah and Stellie are doing on the startup chat. Hiten is from Kissmetrics and CrazyEgg, and Stellie is from Close.io, great podcasts and great community around startup people. It’s not really what they say, it’s what they do, and it’s the fact that they’re solving problems which is awesome. I’ve been bringing people to that community. Obviously, Neil Patel. Dan Martell is a great guy, he’s taught me a lot, he’s with Clarity.fm. He taught me the power of mastermind dinners and networking and really just going out there, and even simple things like how to ask for advice. Guys like Gary Vee are awesome inspirations to see what they’re doing. Again their hustle – I work probably 50% if that of what Gary Vee works, and that teaches me how to be a better hustle. These days I look at their actions and the little things they do outside of that which really inspire me. Morgan Brown is another great guy and Sean Ellis, creating a great community around this. There’s so many people so it’s hard to list off these things.

The counter to that is it doesn’t matter. These guys are all great and inspiration, you can read all the knowledge you want on growth hacking and growth, but at the end of the day, it’s not about what you read, it’s about actions, testing, and then figuring stuff out, then scaling. At the end of the day, execution is the key, and these people personally inspire me to execute.

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

One, don’t believe everything you read. It’s probably true, but it’s very situational. Everyone write an article on how Hotmail did this, or how AirBnB grew by this, or how my company did this and that happened. Look, it probably did happen, use that for inspiration. Minimize your reading or silo it so that you’re reading maybe one hour a day and not throughout the day. Tip number one is focus on execution and try to read less, don’t ever thing you’re going to get the same results. Think “Oh, this is something I can test.”

Number two is split up your ideas and planning. That is right brain and left brain thinking, meaning your ideas should never be limited, but you don’t want to execute and plan when you should execute your ideas when you’re thinking so freely. You need to write everything down, so many people make this mistake is that they may be great at executing, but they don’t execute on the right things. And I’ve made this mistake many many times. In fact, I make it probably fairly often because I work on so many companies. But at the end of the day, let your right brain be creative and brainstorm ideas, write them down in Excel or on a napkin, but make sure you come back and you think about what’s the impact of that, maybe even sleep on it, and the next day plan when you can execute those based off of resources required and the impact it’s going to have. I emphasize the impact, because tactics are never going to be a winning strategy.

That’s kind of my last piece of advice. Whatever you’re doing is getting old. Digital marketing and growth moves fast. The lifespan of a tactic or strategy is getting shorter and shorter and that’s ok because the resources and tools and avenues for us as marketers to grow and leverage is getting bigger, so it kind of counters things out. So always be thinking about what the next thing is going to be, and think of how you can test. So, that way, as you have scalable channels that you’re working on for your business that are consistently growing or predictable growth, you’re also testing in new channels that may be unproven but you still have proven channels on top of unproven ones. So you have a chart, of graph of consistent growth, and then you have these crazy graphs of ups and downs of things that could work. And realistically, probably you’re not going to get everything you test to work, maybe one or two out of ten, and that’s ok, you still have the consistency. So combining those two is very powerful. Never rely when you’re done or out of scalability on your current channels to then start testing, you’ve already lost a strong foothold on growth.

I recommend that you spend 25-30% of your time in the exploration phase. This will also help you and your team be creative and think outside that box, because frankly as a marketer the worst thing you can do is not innovate because six months or a year your strategy is going to be either milked completely dry or not as scalable. If you look at Facebook ads, years ago they were the hottest thing, you could get clicks for cheap. Now you’re paying more than Adwords sometimes and how much things cost. Things get expensive, and if your economics don’t work out, if you’re not first there or early in, you might be starting at $6 CPCs and that may never work for you.