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.

Growth Hacking Geniuses - Doug Holt - Visual Summary

Doug Holt

1. How Did You Become Passionate About Business Growth?

Wow! You know, at a very early age, I started off with my own business. I think I actually started off at five. I’ve just been one of those people that’s just a serial entrepreneur. It’s just who I am.

I’ve seen the freedom that business can give to somebody, the rewards, but I’ve also seen the other side – the slippery slope of getting into business, being a technician, not really knowing – you know, really getting yourself a job and not really owning a business truly.

And so, through that, I’ve just gotten really passionate about growing businesses and helping other people do the same.

2. Which Daily Habits Have You Installed to Maximize Your Results with Clients?

I do a thing called the Hour of Power.

The biggest thing I do on a daily basis is I really work on my own mind. Get my mind right so I can actually deliver 100 percent each time I’m with a client. And then, right when I’m done with that, I actually work with each person on my team and work on their growth and to get their minds right.

Above and beyond that, when we go with a client, every day, we check the analytics. That’s one of the things that, as growth hackers, we have an advantage that no one’s ever had before. I mean, I used to run a print magazine and you just never knew who was reading it exactly. We made assumptions but never knew. Nowadays, we jump on and check the analytics, we can see exactly what’s happening on a moment’s notice.

We’re also checking news in those industries and alerts so we can stay ahead of the curve. Really, myself, I employ a high-level coach and I have coaches for each of my staff members that is besides me because I really feel, as a growth hacker and in our industry, we really need to invest in education. You know, you can’t see your own blind spots. So, having somebody else help you out is huge.

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

I would say number one would be integrity. I think, if you don’t have integrity in this industry as a growth hacker, you’re going to burn out quickly.

Above and beyond that, that should just be a standard. Unfortunately, it’s not.

Perseverance – as a growth hacker, you have to be able to push through.

You and I both know that there’s those long days that don’t seem to always go our way and you have to be able to really push through those.

I’d say the third quality would be a willingness – well, not even a willingness – maybe a need to try new things. I think, as a growth hacker, you have to have that burning desire that you just have to be able to break the system and rebuild it your own way.

4. How Do You Get Customers a Quick Win?

You know, there’s a lot of things that we do. You know, owning a full-service agency and owning a couple of businesses that are in that market.

But the thing that we found most beneficial for a quick win is really diving deep and helping a customer to find who their true market is. I think a lot of people have an idea who their market is. But, when we really do a buyer persona in a lot of depth, customers see that their marketing changes almost instantly. I don’t think we’ve ever continued a marketing strategy that we’ve picked up on and actually start seeing revenue increasing within the first week.

Above and beyond that, kind of a common thing is just really kind of hacking local SEO. We’ve been very good at figuring out what Google is really looking for – as well as Bing, but mainly Google. For our clients who are online and have a brick-and-mortar business, really giving them a strategy. They show it first when a client is searching for them on their phone or PC.

5. What Are Some Resources You Encourage People to Explore ?

There’s a lot of resources out there, I think I said it before.

Besides, I have a coach who I pay six figures to myself to keep me in line. I’m always investing in education.

But some resources on the digital marketing side of things would be DigitalMarketer.com – Ryan Deiss and his team have some great resources that are out there; Quick Sprout with Neil Patel – I think that’s a great site to go to; GrowthHackers.com – I think I like the community that’s there; and, obviously, your website’s fantastic too to get some stuff going on.

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.

Wes Walls - Visual Summary

Wes Walls

1. How Did You Become Passionate About Growth Hacking and Digital Marketing?

Before I discovered digital marketing, my big career passion was music. So actually I went to school for music and spent many years focused on that. One of the things that I love about music and attracted me to that is obviously, among many things, the creating aspect and the idea that you can sort of marry the creative and the technical to produce something that people can experience and listen to.

There was always that attraction to merging creative and technical I think. So when I decided that music wasn’t something that I was going to do as a long-term career, I was looking for something else and digital marketing was a natural fit just because of that.

When I started it was sort of an emerging field, a lot of people were learning what it is and developing the concept of digital marketing so there were a lot of opportunities, and in Montreal where I was living, the digital marketing community was very well becoming friendly and it just felt like a natural direction to head in.

2. Would You Mind Telling Us More About Your Role at Bandzoogle and Your Work With Other Companies?

I’ve been with Bandzoogle for about a year, and before that I was working with a startup called LANDR. The role really is pretty straightforward, it is helping to grow the company and the bottom line at the end of the day.

Practically speaking, what it comes down to is as a growth hacker, it is sort of bringing all the skills that I have and everything that I’ve learned working in the past at agencies specializing in various areas of digital marketing and bringing all that in and becoming a generalist, to pull everything together and do as much as you can with those skills. It’s everything from planning, the big picture, understanding where the business seems to go, working with key stakeholders in the business, so everything from that to, because we’re a small thing, to doing most of that as well. I’ll bring in specialists when needed, for design, copy, videos, or whatever, into projects.

But aside from that, it’s everything from tracking, analysis, strategy, planning, execution, and the range of tactics that run the gambit, from paid ads, analytics, copywriting, design, PR, outreach, tactical SEO, project management, conversion optimization, email marketing, among many other things. It’s using everything, pulling all the stops to grow the business.

Bandzoogle is a platform for musicians who need a website, essentially, so if you’re a band or any kind of music artist. It’s a platform that has everything you need to promote your music and sell your music in one package. You don’t need any technical skills to do that, for most musicians they don’t necessarily have a lot of technical skills, obviously.

Most musicians would prefer to spend their time making music, not necessarily learning how to make a WordPress website. Bandzoogle allows people to not have to do that, so everything is drag-and-drop, really easy to use, very low learning curve, and there’s no need to look around for all sorts of solutions, everything is there, ready to drag-and-drop into your website. That’s the idea of Bandzoogle.

It’s really a time saver. I remember that myself, as a musician, obviously promoting yourself as an artist is a pretty important thing, and a website is a really key part of that. There are obviously many other things that you need to do, but a website is sort of a keystone. I remember spending quite a lot of time myself learning how to use WordPress and build a WordPress site, looking at WordPress templates, learning to play with HTML and stuff like that. Personally I would have liked to save myself a lot of time and Bandzoogle would have been a good solution had I known about it back then.

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

I think there’s probably more than three, but I think from my perspective, one of the things that is a daily challenge as a growth hacker is there is no rulebook. You have a challenge, you have a problem to solve, but there is no rulebook for solving it. So I think having that sort of analytical problem solving ability is an important thing. So being able to, first of all, creating a framework for where you want to go and where you’re starting from, developing a process for how to get from A to B without any sort of reference in terms of how to do that or you’re trying to do necessarily. So it’s really being able to work with stakeholders to create your own objectives, getting to know what your objectives are, getting to know what your metrics are, and figuring out for yourself how you can move your needle on your metrics. So I think you need to have some good analytical problem solving skills to achieve that and be successful in your role as a growth hacker.

I think definitely creativity is an important one. No matter how many skills you have, technical skills you have, how much planning or strategy you do, if you’re not able to put together a compelling campaign, you probably aren’t going to see much movement on what you’re trying to do. I think there’s an art form to good marketing and I think having that creative ability to create good marketing is a good quality.

The last thing is, this is the best way I can say it: having a fire under your feet. You need ideas obviously to start from, but ideas are the easiest things to come with. The hardest thing to do is actually getting stuff done. Even not necessarily knowing what the outcome will be when you start. It’s not always clear how things are going to work or what exactly you’re gonna do. So having that fire under your feet to just do stuff, because you need to do a lot. There is a lot to do. That sort of idea of moving fast, failing as fast as you can, learning from that, and getting better. So having a good strong pace is important, getting things done and moving quickly.

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

This is an interesting one. I have to give some credit to my colleague Justin Evans, who I worked with at LANDR, he’s one of the co-founders of LANDR. At the time I was moving from an agency role to a role where I was more of a growth hacker in-house and working closely with Justin among other people. Justin is very masterful at the art of marketing and compelling messaging. And I really learned how powerful and effective that can be when it’s done right.

Creating something that really resonates with your audience when you communicate it in a certain way. I don’t think he would define himself as a growth hacker, but I think as somebody who does that myself I learned the power of that. From Justin I also learned not to be afraid of even your craziest ideas. No matter how big and crazy your ideas might be, just embracing those big crazy ideas and oftentimes those end up being the ones that are producing the most amazing results.

I have a couple of other ones here. I think neither of them are actually growth hackers but there are some good lessons that I’ve learned from them in my journey.

There’s a guy named Michael King, he’s a SEO thought leader. I was following him a lot for a while because he was the first to promote the idea of researching for SEO and combining that with audience personas to create a framework for not just optimizing for keywords and SEO, but also for user experience, from the search engine results page all the way through to the end results of the user is hoping to achieve. And the reason I mention that is the idea of merging these two different ideas in a creative way and the tactical and creative aspect to that. Even though I don’t think he would call himself a growth hacker either, that quality of creatively coming up with these sets of solutions for problems and challenges, especially in the case of growth hacking it would be in an applied sense to specific business metrics. I think that’s the definition of a good growth hacker.

And I think the last one I’d mention is sort of a boring answer, but the author of The Lean Startup, Eric Ries. He’s pretty well known. I mention him because that methodology is something I use everyday at Bandzoogle – coming up with an idea, developing a minimum viable product for it, whether that’s the basic landing page variant in Optimizely or whatever, something quick and easy, testing it, measuring it, and optimizing it or just figuring out what they’re not […] The idea of just failing as quickly as possible so you can move on to the next step. I think that’s a really powerful methodology that works really well for this field of work.

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

The number one thing would be: being a growth hacker, every day is diving into the unknown to an extent. You might have your bread and butter channels or tactics that you know boost results. But you can never stand still. You always need to be pushing the boundaries in some way. So what that means is you’re always diving into unknown territory. Being bold and fearless is what I would say as a growth hacker, and learn to not be afraid of the dark, embrace the unknown.

I wrote an article a couple of years ago when I was starting, it was a reflexion on my growth hacking role. One of the things that really stood out to me at the time, and still is very much true today, is be prepared to use every tool that you have available in your toolbelt. So use every tool that you have, and not just once. Always be using every tool. You never have enough tools, you always have to find new ways to grow things, and you’ll keep adding new tools to your belt, so you always have to be pulling all the stops and using everything you have. Use every tool in your belt.

The last thing I would say is keep building your personal library of case studies. I don’t mean writing case studies. You’ll always be meeting new challenges everyday and as you progress and you overcome challenges, those lessons that you’ve learned will almost be inevitable and useful in the future. So when you’re approaching a challenge, being able to say that you did this, that happened, this is why it happened, it’s a lot more useful than just being able to say “If we do this, then that might happen.” You can reference something that you’ve done before, the lessons that you’ve learned. Maybe writing it down and keeping a record of the case studies. Making sure that from every challenge you encounter you make sure to learn something from it and remember what you learned so you can use it later.