Jonathan Martinez Contributor
Jonathan Martinez is a former YouTuber, UC Berkeley alum and growth marketing nerd who’s helped scale Uber, Postmates, Chime and various startups.
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You’ve launched a few paid acquisition channels and are now starting to see your first leads trickle in. Perhaps you have even created a drip campaign that converts these leads to paid subscriptions. Amazing!
But when you begin ramping up your marketing efforts (which we’ll refer as “growth stack” in the remainder of this column), it becomes more important to have a solid growth marketing tech stack. This foundational piece is an integral part of every startup’s overall growth strategy. They have also been able to understand and implement their growth strategy.
What is a growth stack? What are its components What are its components?
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Growth stack overview
A growth stack is the foundation of your growth marketing efforts — it essentially webs everything together. While not an exhaustive list, the main components to a growth stack include:
Customer data platform (CDP).
Mobile measurement partner (MMP).
Business intelligence tool (BI).
Customer engagement tools.
A/B testing/experimentation tools.
Think of these tools as the parts of a car, where the customer data platform acts as the engine and the other tools are the parts hooked up to the engine. Segment, the customer data platform, provides a base for data aggregation and federation to other tools.
A mobile measurement partner is required only when running mobile application install campaigns. It is also used to attribute paid acquisition efforts. Mobile measurement partners are essential to prevent fraud from ad partner, create last-click attribution windows, and give credit to the winning channels.
Now that data is flowing between channels and tools, where are the internal data stored? This is typically the point when companies start looking for a data warehouse (Redshift, for example). But, it is a myth that a data storehouse is necessary early in the process. Business intelligence tools, such as Amplitude, are very powerful and can replace a data warehouse’s function.
In short, a data warehouse is used for combining data from multiple sources, tracking historical changes, and providing a single source to truth. This can be done with a business intelligence tool, but it is possible for startups to do this quickly.
Now comes the fun part of your growth stack — or to use our analogy, the modifications you make to your car. Customer engagement, A/B testing/experimentation tools and all your acquisition mediums are the pieces that help you drive top-of-funnel growth, optimizing the funnel and engaging with customers to push them toward conversion.
Why growth stacks?
If the answer isn’t already clear on why a growth stack is crucial for your startup, we can summarize the top three reasons for implementing one:
Source of truth.
Let’s say you’re five months into your startup, and you’ve proven there’s product-market fit. Now you’re scaling multiple acquisition channels, including influencers, paid, and lifecycle.
Moreover, extensive testing and iteration are being done on the user funnel. This is typical for a startup that is in scale mode. There are many optimizations and tests in progress. You can do it slowly and in error or quickly and accurately with the help of a stack.
Instead of relying solely on data from ad dashboards, which can often be inaccurate, a growth platform provides a single source for truth for all sources of growth. This increases the reliability and actionability of attribution. It is worth taking just a few minutes and pulling that data into a single dashboard. This allows for greater optimization.
Testing velocity with and without a growth stack. Image Credits: Jonathan Martinez
Implementing a growth stack
There isn’t a structured or one-size-fits-all method to implementing a growth stack; each startup has unique needs. A customer data platform, business intelligence tool, and a mobile measurement partner should be the top three priorities early on. These components will allow you to build your growth foundation and track and optimize traffic.
Visual representation of a lean growth stack. Image Credits: Jonathan Martinez
In this simplified representation of a lean growth stack, there is a customer data platform, business intelligence tool and mobile measurement partner. Paid channels and the lifecycle platform are acquisition medias that pass data back to a central customer data platform. The customer data platform receives data and federates it to the business intelligence tool to allow visualization.
If your startup is still young and testing product-market fit, you may not need a growth platform. This is when launching acquisition mediums will suffice. Once you have identified potential, it is important to prepare for the implementation and maintenance of a lean growth platform.
Leveraging a growth stack
So, you’ve got your growth stack all set up. What now?
Now you can begin to analyze the implementation and get actionable insights that will help optimize your business. You can think about cohort modeling (actuals or cohorted), retention charts, deep funnel analyses and identifying user-level behavior, cross-channelattribution, and many other things.
Sample Amplitude (business intelligence) dashboard. Image Credits: Amplitude
With a business intelligence tool, setting up a dashboard with various visualizations is one of the most beautiful ways to leverage your data. A centralized dashboard will provide you with traffic reports for each channel, funnel conversion rates, and conversion counts per state.
It is much easier to quickly access data than it is to pull and analyze from various sources. It is important to have one source of truth for all sources of growth. This will allow you to compare cross-source performance.
It is crucial to establish a growth stack as soon as possible to speed up optimizations. The rewards will come to those who take the time to do so.
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