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mei 2019

A step by step guide to running a growth marketing audit from scratch (part 1/5)

By | Analytics, growth analytics, Growth Experimentation, playbook | No Comments

If you place the wrong coordinates in your GPS, you’ll never reach your destination.

The same goes for crafting your marketing strategy.

You can’t understand your direction if you don’t know where your starting point is.

This is why crafting your marketing strategy doesn’t start with raising your budget or experimenting.

It starts with a growth marketing audit.

By understanding your current situation, you are able to craft thoughtful growth experiments based on data to craft your marketing strategies from scratch.

In this guide, you’ll learn one of the 5 parts on how to start a marketing audit from scratch.

Before you run your growth marketing audit

Every founded company has the ambition to grow, yet every company makes the same mistake when thinking about growth.

Companies think about growth before:

  • Hitting Product-Market Fit (the degree to which a product or service satisfies a strong market demand);
  • Having the right content in place to scale;
  • Having the right analytics in place to start rapid experimentation.

There is no sense in growing too early if all your users end up churning after their first trial with your product or service (and you have no idea why).

Your goal is not to hack yourself to growth, but to figure out and understand why they are really using your product or service.

Before you can start your growth marketing process or audit there is a need to first understand if you are ready to scale by running through a phase we call the Lost Northstar.

The Lost Northstar Phase

Here are 3 key things you need to understand before diving into your growth phase (in this order):

1. Messaging & Language

Understand how your customers explain your product or service to other people in order to create better campaigns for your growth phase.

2. Target Audience

Understand who is using your product and where they hang online in order to understand which of the 19+ different channels you need to be on when building your growth phase.

3. Product Innovation

Why did people sign up? Did they get to see the value we offer to their solution? And how does this feedback help us to create a better roadmap towards our growth phase?

If you haven’t figured this out, you do not need somebody ‘growth hacking’ your company or product.

You first need a deep understanding of who you are building value for in this world.

Why?

The phase your company is currently in will impact the experiments you run after the growth audit.

Here is the framework we use internally at Saasmic to determine which kind of experiments we should be running together with our clients.

Different phases, require different sets of experiments.

This is why it’s important to understand which phase your company is in before running a growth audit.

Because the simple formula to crafting your marketing strategy is simple:

Growth Audit + Vague Strategy + Rapid Experimentation = Growth Strategy

In other words, a thoughtful audit will help you craft better experiments to design a winning strategy.

Let’s get started?

Mapping your Funnel & key events

“Is AI something for us?” is a question companies tend to ask themselves these days.

At the end of the day, AI is only an advanced way to get an answer to a difficult question.

To have a proper answer, you need to understand which question you are looking to solve.

Before thinking about AI, companies need to think about which business questions they are looking to solve.

From there, reverse-engineer how you want to answer that question.

The same goes for a growth audit.

Before performing your growth marketing audit in your analytics, you first need to understand the questions you want to answer.

This is why a growth audit always starts with looking at your current flow from somebody who doesn’t know your product or service to becoming a loyal customer.

From there, you want to discover which key events you need to track to understand how to grow your business or what information you need to start capturing to answer your business questions.

Step 1: Map the funnel

We have used tons of tools to map out processes and flows. Currently we use a mix of Lucidchart and Funnelytics (because of the strong focus on Marketing).


These tools allow us to draw flows within minutes.

The reason we map flows are two simple reasons:

  1. It allows us to visualize how people go from visiting your website to becoming a loyal customer.
  2. It helps our developers or marketers to set up the analytics account faster later-on.

If you are more of a visual person like myself, it helps to print out the flows.

This way, if you are talking to your developer or implementing your analytics it becomes very clear to the person what button you want to track after your growth marketing audit.

Step 2: Map your key events.

Now you have a visual representation on how people are discovering your website, it’s time to map out the key events you need to track to understand your full customer journey.

The framework we use at Saasmic is the famous AAARR Funnel, a model developed by Dave Mcclure.

These 5 metrics represent all of the behaviours of our customers as they move along the customer journey.

We want to break down these 5 metrics on your product and look at them separately, then analyze and monitor them so that we can optimize them.

It’s important to understand about AARRR, because only when you understand all the metrics, you will understand where exactly your business has a problem.

Map out the funnel and describe your key events.

Here is an example of how this would look like for a tool like Albacross, a B2B lead generation tool to identify which company visits your website.

Acquisition:

A new user signs up into your app or downloads a resource your company has.

Ask yourself: “How does an acquired user look like”?

Activation:

A new user installs their code on the website

Ask yourself: “How does an activated user look like”?

Retention:

This is probably one of the most important metrics for any company. If you can acquire customers, but lose them at the same rate.

You might as well not do anything.

Since it’s one of the most important metrics, it’s also a more advanced metric to track.

Some companies stick to Google Analytics to run coherent analysis (which is a fancy way of saying if people return to your website) or others use more advanced tools like Mixpanel or Heap.

See what is in place in your company or talk to people with experience in this topic to pick the ideal stack for your company.

Ask yourself: ‘how does a retained user look like’?

Revenue

As every single company, the goal of almost every single company is to make revenue.

If you running a SaaS business, you are tracking how people convert from free trial/demo to paid.

If you are running an eCommerce store, you are tracking the (average) basket size.

Ask yourself: How or where can people upgrade their account?

Referral

The best and cheapest way to grow a company is by making your customers your advocates. If you are helping them achieve this by stimulating how they refer people to your website, make sure to map this key event and track this properly.

Ask yourself: “How does a customer refer my company”?

Awesome. You now have:

– Your customer journey mapped out from visitor to paid customer;

– Your key events you need to track along that journey.

Now it’s time to audit what you have in place and figure out what work needs to happen to get a full understanding of how your business can grow.  

It’s easy to get carried away tracking everything. My advice is to start with what we call an MVT ( Minimum Viable Tracking) first, the bare minimum to track your funnel.  

From there, build your solid growth marketing analytics foundation over time as needed. Otherwise, you risk spending hours of your time implementing advanced tracking solutions your team might not even look at.

 

Analytics audit & tracking inspection

Your experiments are as good as the results you measure. If you can’t measure results, you can’t properly experiment. This is why the first step before running growth at any company is fixing your analytics.

Before we dive into any analytics account, we start with having a look at your Marketing pixels, which is a fancy term of a website code which gathers data from your website to see how they behave.

The most common ones:

– Google Analytics Pixel

– Facebook Pixel

– LinkedIn Pixel

– CRM & Marketing Automation pixel (Hubspot,  Active Campaign,..)


I want to stress the importance of setting up your pixels early on, even if you are not planning to run paid campaigns any time soon. Every pixel gathers relevant information from your audiences for you to deep dive later-on to run better campaigns.

Let’s start with the first one.

Checking your Google Analytics Pixel

Step 1:

To understand if your pixel is correctly installed you’ll have to download a Chrome extension called Google Tag Assistant.

Step 2:

Once you’ve installed Google Tag Assistant, you’ll be able to see a funny blue guy in your Google Chrome bar.

Head over to your website, click on the Google Tag Assistant icon and enable to the extension.

Notice how it’s not doing anything?

No worries, all you have to do is refresh your website (CMD + R for Mac).

If all went well, you’ll see your Google Analytics firing on your website or through your Google Tag Manager (which we will cover later in this guide).

Most of the time your Google Analytics Code is installed through a plugin or Google Tag Manager (which we always advice). If it’s not properly working, these places should be the first to look at.

Notice how you can do the same for your competitor’s website? We’ll cover this in part 2 of our growth audit.

Checking your Facebook Analytics Pixel

Step 1:

To understand if your pixel is correctly installed you’ll have to download a chrome extension called Facebook Pixel Helper.

Step 2:

Google and Facebook aren’t really good friends. If a key event happens in Google Analytics, they won’t tell Facebook unless you set this up.

This is where the Facebook Pixel Helper comes into play. It will tell you exactly what Facebook is tracking for you to know what is being tracked or should still be tracked.

If you head over to your website and click the icon in the Google Chrome Bar you’ll see how many pixels are installed (some websites have multiple). If yours doesn’t pop up here, you’ve got a problem.

Create your Facebook pixel and install the code through Google Tag Manager. Try to avoid plugins as much as possible since they’ll charge you for setting up more advanced settings or are limited in what they can do. Learn how to use Google Tag Manager, it’s going to be your best friend for running growth experiments.

Now that you have your pixel installed, it’s time to tell Facebook what events are important to happen on your website.

Let’s take for example you want to tell them a visitor has successfully downloaded our B2B Marketing Ebook.

You’ll see the pixel fires a PageView on this url.

Once you fill in your information and get to the download page, an event ‘lead’ should fire to let Facebook know a conversion happened.

You can double check this in your Facebook Pixel Helper or in your Facebook Ads Manager where you can test events in Real Time.

Ads manager –> All Tools –> Pixels –> Data Sources –> click on your Pixel –> Test events.


Repeat this process for every single conversion possible on your website.

This way you’ll know what is being tracked properly and what isn’t.

Checking your Google Analytics Events

Step 1:

Open Google Analytics and select Real Time on the left navigation bar. Click the Events tab.

Step 2:

When the Events tab open, you’ll see a real-time view of the actions people take on your website in the last 30 seconds.

Test your event triggers by walking through the customer journey (or funnel you have created) to see if each key event fires in real time.

Checking your LinkedIn Pixel.

You might be thinking Linkedin is too expensive for me to advertise or I don’t see myself advertising on the platform in the coming weeks/months or even years.

Here is one word why you should consider placing the pixel on your website nevertheless.

Website demographics

The reason why LinkedIn is an amazing platform is because of its unique way to capture data no other platform is able to do.

They managed to build a community of members sharing their valuable information such as job role, company size, industry,… for free.

Even if you are not planning to run any paid campaigns soon, it pays off to place the pixel on your website to gather insights about what type of companies and people are visiting your website. Building a nice way to do your research later-on.

Step 1:

Create a Linkedin Campaign Manager account if you haven’t.  Once created, head over to Account Assets –> Insight Tag.

From this tab, you’ll quickly see if your tag is installed or not.

If the tag isn’t installed, we recommend adding it through Google Tag Manager, or asking a developer of the website to paste the Insight Tag code in your website’s global footer, right above the closing HTML <body> tag.

Step 2:

Like Facebook or Google, Linkedin doesn’t have a chrome extension to help you understand if your pixel is set up the right way.

Once the tag is installed, you’ll be able to see if your code is receiving data from your website or not.

Keep in mind this can take a couple of hours to properly work.

Once the pixel has gathered more than 300 people on your website, you’ll be able to see what type of companies and people are visiting your website, to better understand your audience from a bird’s eye view.

Checking your CRM and/or Marketing Automation Pixel

If your company is focused on the B2B space, you probably have a CRM and/or Marketing Automation System in place.

Make sure to download an ebook or login to see if the data comes in properly. The goal is to make sure you are being identified in the right way and being tracked properly as you move through the website. This way you can send out relevant messages to yourself or your future customer based on their activity.


Website Performance Audit

The reason why most growth marketing experiments fail is not because of lack of skills to run an experiment.

It’s because of an understanding of why and experiment should be done.

It’s easy to say let’s test this, but it’s far more interesting to run experiments based on previous data and understanding to build your marketing strategy. Since this is where the best opportunities for growth come into play.

In this section, you’ll be able to audit the performance of your website to help identify acquisition opportunities or develop your next growth marketing experiments.

Which country is my best traffic coming from?

Once you have your goals and events in place, you’ll be able to turn your attention to where your traffic is coming from and how the conversions differentiate from country to country or even city to city.

Step 1:

Go to your Google Analytics –> Audience Tab –> Geo –> Location

Step 2:

Look for underperforming locations that are getting a lot of traffic but no conversions or outperforming locations getting little traffic but a lot of conversions. This way you can start thinking about moving budgets to certain regions or planning your next experiments for these countries or cities.

What demographics of people are visiting my website?

The first goal of any marketing person is to really understand the personas of the company.

There is not a single excuse to run a growth marketing experiment without having a clear persona or market segment in mind.

An experiment always starts with a hypothesis within a persona or market segment, not the other way around.

This is why spending your time to figure out who you are serving with your service or product is key.

Here are a couple of ways to get a bird’s view based on data.

Google Analytics

Step 1:

Head over to Audiences –> Demographics –> Overview.

This way, you’ll have a quick overview of age and gender. The beauty if your events and goals are properly tagged, is that you can segment your audience based on pretty much everything to compare audiences.

For example, you can segment your audience based on every single person that performed a key action on your website.

LinkedIn

When your Linkedin Insight tag is properly placed and have more than 300 people visiting your website, you’ll be able to see what type of people visit your website such as:

  • Job Title
  • Job Function
  • Company
  • Company Industry
  • Job Seniority
  • Company Size
  • Location
  • Country

This way should give you a quick understanding of who you want to help in the future.

If you are in the B2B space, we highly recommend using the Market Segmentation and Ideal Customer Profile Templates from the LinkedIn Content Marketing Ebook to segment your current database in order to understand who your audience is in a step by step way.

What performance do I get from each device type?

We all know that we are moving into a mobile first world. The truth is, I haven’t seen people setting up CRM flows on their mobile phones. Here is how to check important data on how key events are happening from each type of device.

Step 1:

Go to Google Analytics –> Audience –> Mobile –> overview

Step 2:

Have a look if there is a big difference in conversion rates or revenue based on different devices by changing the goals that were set up in Google Analytics.

What landing pages are converting key events on my website?

When running audits we ran into situations where the Homepage was converting better compared to landing pages or the other way around. The truth is, numbers never lie unless they are not set up properly. This is why you want to understand which pages are bringing in the best results to create better experiments.

Step 1:

To find out which pages are bringing in the most results go to Google Analytics –> Behavior –> Site Content –> Landing pages

Step 2:

Change the goals settings or place filters to see which pages are bringing in the best results. This way, you can find pages that are outperforming or underperforming for you to use in your growth marketing experiments.

This way, you can build your case or lower the risk of your experiment failing.

What blog pages are performing well?

If you want to figure out how the content on your website is performing, you are one click away.

Within the tab Site Content, go to All Pages.

In this view, you’ll be able to see every single page on the website. Most blogs on the website have a url structure like “www.yourwebsite.com/blog”.

This way you can filter out only the blogs in this view by adding “/blog”.


Now you can have a look which blog posts are under- or outperforming.

For example, if a long form blog post has an average time on page of only 15 seconds, there is something wrong. Maybe the headline is catchy, but the intro isn’t appealing? Or, you find out one blog post is outperforming compared to all the others. This way you can start navigating yourself in the sea of opportunities out there.

What channels are working for my company?

At Saasmic, we are a strong believer in one key idea when it comes to paid acquisition. If you are focusing your efforts on trying to nail every single channel, you will always fail.

Peter Thiel, the founder of Paypal, describes why :

“Poor distribution—not product—is the number one cause of failure. If you can get even a single distribution channel to work, you have a great business. If you try for several but don’t nail one, you’re finished.”

From experience, we have noticed that far too many companies focus on building a great website or product, but never consider thinking about which channel they are actually going to grow.

To figure out which channels are not only bringing in the most visitors but also the most key events or revenue, do this.

Step 1:

Open Google Analytics –> Acquisition –> All Traffic

Step 2:

Go to Channels and press the button ‘Source/Medium’. This should give you an overview of each channel performance based on key events.

To dig a little deeper you can narrow it down with what is called a secondary dimension.

Which is a fancy way of saying: ‘Show me a piece of the data I see now based on what is relevant for me’.  

For example, you can add a dimension called ‘Campaign’.

This allows you to see which campaign within Google Paid Ads (or other channels) brought in the most conversions for your company.

Important pro-tip.

We have a saying in-house when it comes to data analysis: ‘Crap in, Crap Out’.

If this is your first time running this type of analysis, keep in mind that we can count on two hands the companies where their data is 100% accurate.

Take this information with a grain of salt unless you a very confident the team has profound expertise in digital marketing.

Now you should have a rough idea which channels you should put your effort on to validate and map them on your Bullseye Framework, a framework developed to find the best traction channels for your business.

Keep in mind you are not considering the Cost Of Acquisition in your analysis.

Is my website fast enough to convert?

We have all been there. Scrolling through the web or Social Media. We get excited by a headline. Click. The website loads. You wait. The website is still loading. You give up.

The truth is, loading speed is a key factor in the decision phase of people engaging with your page or not.

To see how fast your website loads you can use tools like PageSpeed Insights by Google or GT Metrix. These tools will give you an overview of how your website is doing and insights on how to improve it. Don’t worry if you score very bad, even websites like LinkedIn don’t have the perfect website.

If you want to check the load speed on an individual page level, this is also possible.

Go to Google Analytics –> Behavior –> Site Speed –> Page Timings.

Here you’ll be able to see all sorts of metrics based on the performance of your website. Sometimes you’ll be able to see if one page is really underperforming compared to other pages.

If this is one of your best-converting pages, you know where to put your efforts on.

UTM Tag Audit

The reason why (most probably) you won’t be able to draw very specific conclusions from your Google Analytics account is because of something called UTM tags.

You have probably clicked on a website from an ad online to encounter a massive long url in your website browser like this one:

www.saasmic.io?utm_medium=cpc&utm_source=linkedin&utm_campaign=utm_builder&utm_content=growth_audit_guide

UTM (or Urchin Tracking Module) is a way for your Google Analytics to communicate with the incoming traffic from other websites for you to draw conclusions from your experiments.

Not only from my paid campaigns, but also from organic reach.

Here is an example.

When you go to my LinkedIn Profile, you’ll be able to see my LinkedIn Inbound Guide attached to my account.

If I wanted to know how many people downloaded my ebook by going to my Linkedin Profile, clicking on the ebook and going to my website to buy it. I would add UTM tags as seen on the picture here:

If you hover over the ‘view’ button, you’ll notice a very long url in the left-bottom corner of the page.

When people click on the view button and head over to my website, Google Analytics is now able to know the person came from this specific call to action.

This way I can analyze specific channels down the road to understand where my most valuable leads come from.

Even if companies are using UTM tags, you won’t believe what type of weird things we have seen inside a Google Analytics account. This is why the first step in your audit is to do two things:

  1. Ask where the company keeps all their UTM’s stored (can be software like utm.io or in a simple dynamic UTM Builder Sheet). Most probably, there is nothing in place.
  2. Define or ask for the naming conventions the company is using to identify campaigns. There is a 2% chance this is in place.

Keep in mind, even if you have a sheet, most platforms like Facebook and Google have custom UTM builders inside the platform for you to dynamically change without changing the link every single time. Yet, not every single platform has this feature.

This is why we have created a UTM Builder for ourselves and our clients.

A way to quickly build every single link we use in our campaigns.

For example, if your website has a way to invite team members in the app, you want to make sure the invite email has the correct UTM’s to track where that user came from in your CRM.

A pro-tip is to see if your CRM is capturing the UTM tags from your campaigns. This way you can further analyze where your most valuable leads are coming from on an individual level.

Growth Marketing Audit: Analytics Audit Checklist

Access you’ll need

  • Google Analytics
  • Google Tag Manager
  • Facebook Ads Manager
  • Linkedin Ads Manager
  • CRM / Marketing Automation systems (can vary)
  • Advanced Analytics Tool (Heap/Mixpanel/…)

Analytics Audit Checklist

  • Checked installed marketing tags/tools
  • Track conversion events in Google
  • Track conversion event in Facebook
  • Track conversion event in LinkedIn (if needed)
  • Track conversion event in CRM / Marketing Automation
  • Understand where your most relevant traffic is coming from
  • Gather user demographics from website
  • Check the performance of traffic by device type
  • Find your most relevant blog posts
  • Find your best-converting pages.
  • Understand the best converting channels to focus on
  • Check Page load speed
  • Set up UTM tags that make sense to your business to draw better insightsFrom here you should have a basic understanding of the baseline you have for your analytics of quantitative data. In the next chapter, we will learn how to run your competitor research to get a better understanding of what you are up against.