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Growing your start up through measurement

Analytics, Start-ups
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Written by: Jake Mayell

After running growth marketing activity for companies of all sizes. Time and time again, the most meaningful help we provide is to those companies and founders just starting out. Those that want to grow their product but aren’t sure how to approach it. 

Until you’ve found product market fit or have a product that’s capable of onboarding users and keeping them engaged, it’s probably too early to build an in-house marketing team. I’ve been the marketing lead hired by start-ups, hungry and ready to go on day one, only to find very quickly that you’re there too early. Your salary is burning through capital and you’re tasked with acquiring users for little to no budget, pouring users into a leaky bucket, or worse - have  absolutely no visibility on what’s happening post-acquisition!

Growth is a term banded around a lot. You’d be forgiven for thinking it’s just a rebranding of the marketing team, and in some cases that may be true. But growth is less of a defined role and more of a mindset that touches almost every element of your business. Growth isn’t simply about acquiring users, sure that’s one factor, but among other things it helps uncover the holes in your proposition, find product-market-fit, discover pivot points that unlock new opportunities…

Most of this can be done with a few foundational pieces in place. A vital one being measurement.

Understanding your product and ad performance

Before you even consider spending anything on acquisition you need to make sure you’re set up to understand the performance. Importantly - and often overlooked - performance not only of your ads, but also your product.

Whether you’re utilising a third party provider like Mixpanel or Google Analytics, or building a bespoke back-end BI tool, in order to get the best out of it you need to feed it the right data. 

The term ‘North Star metric’ is banded around a lot, but in reality it’s rarely a single data point you need to be measuring. In the words of Instagram founder Kevin Systrom:

Imagine trying to fly a plane by staring at a single metric like airspeed. You don't know if you're going up or down. It correlates with up or down but you don't actually know, so it will never help you land the plane.
It turns out you have to synthesise a bunch of metrics to know where to go but individually they don't lie. If your air speed is zero you are probably going to fall out of the sky

Every product is different and will require you to synthesise different data points but ideally you need to be able to answer questions like “which three actions do all of my high LVT users perform within their first few sessions?”, “where is our biggest leakage point?” and “what impact did making that button green have?”

Collecting the data

In order to answer these questions you need to be collecting various types of data. Today - especially with the forthcoming forced adoption of GA4 - this is typically done utilising events and properties like the simple example below.

Event Name: tapButton
buttonName: Signup
buttonColour: Green
userType: Free
userID: 12345

Considering  the sheer number of possible events for a given product, this job isn’t particularly quick or easy - especially if done retroactively - but an MVP version should be in place before user acquisition begins. Especially if you consider early acquisition efforts as the acquisition of learnings and data, rather than simply users.

Baking this into your product sprints is the simplest way to keep on top of it. Have a measurement champion whose responsibility it is to keep your event database up to date. That way before any code is shipped someone’s making sure that any new or updated functionality is reflected.

One final piece of advice - don’t overwhelm yourself with data. Think carefully if the action will be in any way useful for you in your analysis. Sometimes having too much data is worse than having none, analysis paralysis is real.


Image courtesy of Jukan Tateisi on Unsplash