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Your data-driven growth engine: Time to look under the hood

It’s what’s on the inside that counts. An effective growth engine is not strictly powered by external marketing channels. The product itself has been designed in a way that allows for growth. In fact, growth is a direct result of product usage (Youtube, Instagram). In turn, product usage helps you to develop a strategic marketing plan with precise targeting.

‘Successful viral products don’t have viral marketing bolted on once the product has been developed. It’s not a marketing strategy. Instead, it’s designed into the product from the very beginning as a part of architecture of the experience.’ - Andrew Chen

We’ve witnessed companies like Snapchat and Uber scale rapidly and achieve exponential growth. Startups all over the world follow their success with curious and envious minds. Safe to say, they’ve figured out the relationship between product and marketing. How? They use data to create a more tailored user experience that allows for habit development.

Feel like driving off into the sunset with billions of dollars in acquisition money? Let’s take a look under the hood and see how healthy your growth engine is.

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Check for oil leak

What are your customers doing? Or more importantly, what are your customers not doing? User activation is tricky, we all know that, but data will lead the way. Look at your user flow and identify trends: Where in the journey are your customers deviating from the path? Once you’ve figured that out, it’s time to think about what you can do to make them stick to the path. However, if your users are not doing what you want them to do, then maybe you should be doing what they want you to do? Who knows, you could be one feature away from product adoption.

‘Always double check to make sure you’re not designing toward your own biases instead of what’s best for your product and users.’ - Cap Watkins

Yelp is an excellent example of a company that made something old new by putting users first. They also recognised the importance of what their users didn’t want, and pivoted in order to cater to their users’ needs. Find out more about Yelp’s five-star growth engine here.

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Perform a tune-up

In the fickle online environment, the products that succeed are the ones that manage to generate new user habits. In order to do that you need a sticky product - a product that creates repeated user behaviour. Companies such as LinkedIn, Tumblr and Pinterest have successfully made their products sticky by putting data at the heart of their businesses.

‘No growth hack, brilliant marketing idea, or sales team can save you long term if you don’t have a sufficiently good product.’ - Sam Altman

LinkedIn knew that active users played a critical role in both reactivating inactive users and bringing in new ones. With a focus on behavioural engineering and virality, they managed to reach profitability in three years. Find out more about LinkedIn’s viral growth engine here.

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Add more horsepower

Money can be used to accelerate growth, there’s no denying it’s great at generating traction and exposure. The tricky part? You have to make a profit off each customer, but more importantly, you have to remember that money doesn’t keep users - good products do. Get new users through the door by spending a bit of cash, but pay careful attention to where you’re spending it. If you keep getting users through the door that don’t stay, you might be looking in the wrong places (or at a much bigger problem).

‘The best marketing trick? Make an awesome product that does something that people really care about.’ - Ryan Singer

Evernote uses no incentives for downloads or acquisition of any kind. As stated by Phil Libin, CEO at Evernote: ‘We don’t pay money for users.’ How did Evernote reach 75 million users? Word of mouth. Find out more about Evernote’s $0 growth engine here.

Look under the hood of your growth engine and ask yourself this:

  • Does your product allow for the user to create habits?
  • Does your product motivate the user to expose the product to others?
  • Does your product allow you to test, measure and learn?

Remember this: A product doesn’t speak for itself, its users do. And your growth engine has to be developed based on the users that fuel it. Your growth engine depends on your type of business, your business goals and your users. Check out The Three Engines of Growth for more inspiration.

What keeps the cogs spinning smoothly in your growth engine? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.


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