Traction: How to Find Untapped Channels to Achieve Growth

Reading Time: 10 minutes

Knowing the AARRR framework back and forth is great, having lots of Ideas in your Growth Process is also amazing, and the last key 🔑 for Growth success is having a clear idea of where to be in order to communicate with your Personas.

Gabriel Weinberg wrote an amazing book called “Traction: A Startup Guide to Getting Customers”, where he defines 19 channels that will give you initial traction.

DISCLAIMER: Gabriel defines that these channels are good for Acquisition, but at GHS we consider that each of these channels can be used in different steps of AARRR Framework.

By having the capacity of trying different stuff and combining different frameworks and strategies, we believe that we can provide real innovation, that’s why we consider that combining Traction with AARRR is perfect for businesses that want to achieve growth in untapped markets!

So, based on this methodology GHS tested all of these channels with different businesses. Lots of the strategies failed, but the ones that worked helped businesses growth.

Remember that:

Not everything is going to work

You need to make sure that you test, test and test until you achieve a win.

You need to have buy-in from your team to understand that not everything works at first and that failure is part of the process.

Lots of businesses start communicating only at one channel and never try to broaden their horizons.

This is the main reason why lots of businesses arrive at a plateau and stop there.

So trying different channels is always a good thing.

What are the Traction Channels?

 

Let’s go Channel by Channel, but before we go just a quick intro:

Some channels will be more broad than others, but in a general way, these are categories that fall into these 19 channels.

Here is a table of contents that will help you to navigate through all of the channels:

 

Targeting Blogs

Blogs have had lots of ups and downs.

Today they are hyping, next year they are boring.

Targeting blogs is always a good idea to find niche audiences that talk your language and are part of your tribe.

Niche audiences can cost more to communicate, but they offer higher Conversion Rates.

Think of this strategy like this: instead of focusing on big lakes with lots of different fish, just go to the small pond that has 2 or 3 types of fish.

This is a great strategy that can be used at the Retention stage.

There are some brands that started like this, one of the most well-known brands is Mint. Noah Kagan, started Mint’s marketing strategy by targetting niche blogs early on.

 

Publicity

Publicity can be general applied to every advertising campaign that we will be running.

But this channel is generalized for more traditional media outlets.

Newspapers, magazines, TV, Radio or Billboards are all considered here.

These publicity campaigns tend to be fishing for broad audiences, that will guarantee you volume, but not that the right message is always going to get to your audience.

But if you happen to do a well targeted and easy to understand campaign, you can appeal to everyone, even the ones that didn’t knew that they needed your solution in their lifes.

 

Unconventional PR

There are two types of Public Relations (PR), the common publicity has we mentioned before, and there is Unconventional Public Relations.

Has we mentioned before, Publicity tend to appeal to broader audiences fishing for the ones that will like the bait.

In Unconventional PR, you are looking at more smaller, niche audiences, that will appreciate your actions and tend to generate press coverage.

For example Guerilla Marketing campaigns tend to fit on this channel, mainly because they are nichy and used to call attention to specific things.

 

Search Engine Marketing

As soon you’ll start discovering the power of online campaigns you’ll need to think of Search Engine Marketing.

It’s clearly different from SEO campaigns, and if you don’t know how to differentiate, please read this amazing article at Backlinko.

Exploring different search engines will give you differente audiences, and knowing your Personas will definitely help to know when you need to be on Bing, Google or any other platform.

You can be in all of them, but that would just be a waste of time and money.

Social and Display Ads

Social and Display Ads could be easily two different channels, but they all are based on the same purpose, Display Campaigns.

You have different types of usage of each Ad platform, but all based on the same concept, so that’s why they tend to be merged together.

Here you can consider all of the Social Media platforms there are, and where a huge part of advertising money is being used.

When creating a strategy you should generally talk about Social Ads, then further on refining your strategy you’ll choose the ones that you will be targeting.

Initially think of this has a way of putting everyone on the same page, you are doing Social Ads and not Publicity or SEM, so passing this information is already valuable.

When working on your Growth Process strategy you can start broad and then when you start to define your NSM, and broadening down your strategy you will opt-in for the Social Media or Display Platforms that best suits you.

Offline Ads

From 2018 onwards the Digital Ad Spend surpassed the Offline Ad Spend, but prior to this there were more Ad Spend on Offline Ads.

This means that more and more businesses are turning towards Online plataforms and giving up space on Offline Outlets and also that the Digital space besides becoming crowded is also growing.

Even though the Digital Ad Spend will keep growing you should write off the opportunity that you can find in Offline Ads.

In this Traction Channel there is a thin line between Publicity and Offline Ads, but consider has Offline Ads everything that is not Digital such has: Print Newspapers, Magazines, Direct Mail, Road Billboards.

When working in Offline Ads for small communities, locations or regions you can still find huge opportunities at reduced costs.

Search Engine Optimization

Search Engines are used at every second and the trend is to keep growing their usage, mainly with voice search.

By knowing how to position your product or service to give higher search results (SEO), you can easily increase your organic exposure.

This takes time and lots of effort, but after getting initial traction on it, it’s really hard to go back to zero.

But before choosing this channel as an opportunity for your Growth Process, make sure that you know enough about it and what you are getting into.

Content Marketing

Having Content is really important, mainly because after having it ready to use, you can extract so much value from it.

It is hard to start and to keep consistency, but if you do, just think of the long term benefits.

What happens when you go to a website and you look at the blog posts and figure out that the last time they posted was three years ago?

Probably your first tough is if they still exist.

Or if they are real.

Or even if they have any strategy at al..

Then you have the opposite, the website that posted everything at the same day at the same time and never posted anything else from that date onwards.

Content Marketing can be a blessing or a curse.

Choose wisely when working a Content strategy.

Email Marketing

Email Marketing has being deemed as dead, resurrected and now is between life and death again.

The thing is, Email Marketing it’s always going to be trendy, just like Targeting Blogs.

When people get tired of having thousands of Emails to read and subscribed hundred weekly Newsletters they will stop using Email Marketing.

One day everyone is going to find a tool that helps to clean the inbox and Email Marketing will be alive again.

The best way to have Email Marketing working for you is having a clear strategy.

Choose it was your NSM when you really need it and focus on it at only one step of your AARRR Framework and you will be just fine.

Spam everyone with your emails and no one will care about your brand.

Make it personal, easy to read and understand and no one will think of it was spammy, or promoting anything and you’ll see your open rates will skyrocket. (Compared with market benchmarks).

Viral Marketing

Well, Growth Hacking without Viral Marketing is not Growth Hacking right?

Viral growth is not the only way of achieving Growth and Growth Hacking should not depend on this channel.

Of course its amazing to have viral growth and to get buzz around your product or service but once it’s done, you’ll achieve a plateau that if not manage properly it will not grow again.

If you want to understand how to calculate if you are getting Viral there is a simple formula called the K-Factor.

The simple explanation is that each user/customer that you get brings at least another user. And that keeps growing, in a exponential way.

This is exponential growth and if you manage a way to hack this, well congrats, you’re a Growth Hacker.

But remember, this is not possible to sustain long-term.

That’s why we insist in having a clear strategy that will unblock growth from other sides.

 

Engineering as Marketing

This is one of the most forgotten and hard to understand channels.

Engineering as Marketing is what Weinberg refers to building useful tools or resources that will reach to more people that are related with your market.

This is pretty vague right?

That can be anything!

Let’s go a bit deeper on this.

These tools and resources is anything that will bring enough value to your Personas that they will use this without even knowing that this tool can be yours.

There are several businesses that even started with these tools as internal stuff, such as Slack.

One of the best examples that we can give you is this one from Microsoft with How-Old.net

How_Old_Microsoft

Microsoft developed an A.I. tool that analyzes a picture and tells you how old you are on that picture.

Right now, this is something that other brands and apps already explored but when they launched this service this was unique.

Other example is a calculator that can help you understand how much you need to build an app or an website.

Or even the Google Page Speed Insights that takes you to other Google Services afterwards.

These are all great examples of how you can leverage your business with Engineering as Marketing.

And look at this channel as a whole and don’t narrow down your vision looking at this channel as been good only as an Acquisition channel.

 

Business Development

Developing strategic partnerships that will benefit you and your partners is what is called Business Development (BD).

Companies that work together to improve on specific markets are the ones that benefit the most here.

One example is when Google bought Fitbit to get into the fitness market. With this they could also develop the fitbit watch alongside their smartphones to offer more competition to Apple.

Of course that these kind of opportunities don’t come up very often and that not everyone will have the possibility of being acquire by 2.1 billion dollars.

Looking this at a smaller scale, making a strategic partnership with local services that will help you to acquire services at lower margins that will benefit both is a perfect BD strategy.

Sales

Never forget that the primary source of income of big companies are Sales teams.

Even Apple with their amazing stores uses their employees as their primarily Salesforce team.

Being a sales guy is not seating in an office making phone calls every day.

So to nurture a real team that can sell your product for money is always a good strategy.

You just need to make sure that you have a good PMF that will get traction.

To have a fully functional sales team, you cannot be a bottleneck for them, so make sure you apply the same thinking that you are applying to your Growth, by building a sustainable, scalable and clear process.

Affiliate Programs

Affiliate Programs are great if you have a big market and set of users.

Companies like Amazon or Ebay create Affiliate Programs so their users can become advocates of their brands and sell using their platforms.

Right now everyone is doing other type of Affiliation Programs, also known as Influential Marketing.

You contact and Influencer, give them a promo code or an affiliate link and off they go to sell your product.

By making sure that your affiliates are talking to your target prospects you can easily leverage this channel.

But when most of them don’t have the same character as your brand you can quickly lose traction and credibility.

Be sure that you know how to use this channel alongside your strategy, and you can make growth become easy.

Connect with the wrong audience and you’ll be spending money for nothing.

Existing Platforms

Leveraging your business by being on others platforms is also a great way of growing and Existing Platforms alongside Engineering as Marketing is easily forgotten.

The best example that we can think of is about Farm Ville that was developed by Zynga and used Facebook Game plataform and millions of users to launch the infamous addicting game.

Other excellent example is when you go to Mailchimp integration area and you can find lots of third-party integrations available.

Lots of MailChimp users start by discovering other services this way.

Not using this as a channel is definitely something that you never forget.

Trade Shows

Going offline again, trade shows are perfect to show case products or to meet previous customers or prospects.

That’s why thinking of a tradeshow only as an Acqusition channel is not accurate.

Also having a clear strategy for when presenting your solution there is utterly important.

Do you know many brands that have different Areas for different prospects? Imagine how you can break the market with this!

Tradeshows are great to discover new prospects because they tend to bring industry insiders and foster interactions between different markets that can lead to innovation.

Other big think that can happens at trade shows is big announcements or launches of certain products.

Using this to your benefit can be great and provide lots of media coverage.

Offline Events

This channel is often misunderstood with Trade shows. But Weinberg talks about offline events in a broader way.

Sponsoring, Creating or running offline events are all part of this.

Creating your meetup communities and grow them to large conferences can be a primary way of getting to know early adopters and turn that into your tribe of users.

Also promoting or sponsoring small events that are still on their beginning is also a great way of targetting these Offline Events.

This can give you the opportunity to talk with potential customers or leverage the BD Channel with other businesses.

Also it’s a great place to meet prospects that already have been in touch with you!

Speaking Engagements

Being able to present and speak in public is not for everyone, but appearing as an expert about something is also valuable to get traction into your brand.

This works particularly well when you’re giving classes for specific groups of people and pitch your product or service in the midst.

Normally, this channel is more used by Book Author’s that do road trips to present their book and do meet and greets with their fans.

Community Building

The last but not least is one of the most difficult channels to harness.

Community building could work as a great Acquisition channel but to reach this stage you will always need to already have customers on your side, that’s how you could build a community around your product.

Reddit has one of the best and most loyal communities out there, and that’s how they keep growing with more than 330 million DAU’s.

Looking at all of this information can be overwhelming, but don’t forget that what works for ones could not work for others.

That’s why we don’t use a one size fits all strategy when working with your Customers!

Each channel strategy should be designed for specific purposes and each set of Personas that you define.

If you want to better understand what you can do with all of these metrics, visit our Growth Process post.

A.A.R.R.R. Framework

Reading Time: 3 minutes

John went to the gym early in the morning.

Afterwards, like usual, he dropped by his favourite supermarket to buy some stuff.

He had a small shopping list and it was feeling hungry so he knew that it would be quick.

He arrives, picks up the shopping cart, and goes inside.

But today everything is different.

The bagels are not on the same place.

Fresh vegetables and fruits changed places also.

He needs to go aisle by aisle to discover what he wants to shop.

In the end, is cart has 20% more items than what it was expected.

Imagine if this was recurring and usual for every customer that went to that supermarket.

Everything was changed for each and anyone of them so they could increase 20% sales.

At this moment you’ve already understood the analogy right?

This is the power of knowing your persona and having a overall overview of how your product/service Funnel works.

This is why knowing how a funnel works and using it in tandem with your Customers Buyer Journey is crucial.

 

AARRR Framework

Dave McClure developed this framework later in the 2000s decade, when he realized that many startup and companies where only looking at vanity metrics.

Read about McClure’s framework here.

With this framework the main goal is to have a clear focus on what you should look at when working for each stage or phase of your customer journey with your product or service.

For each step of the funnel you have a different goal and objetive that you wish to achieve, thus different ways of reaching out and communicating with your Prospects until they reach to become a Customer.

The AARRR Framework (a.k.a. as Pirate Metrics) is compose of 5 stages:

  1. Acquisition
  2. Activation
  3. Retention
  4. Revenue
  5. Referral

Think of this as a funnel, that for each step you will be loosing customers along the way, because not everyone will do the actions that you wish them to do.

The first step to harness the AARRR funnel is to know which metrics you should look into for each stage.

Let’s just see a quick example of what can happen withing a AARRR Funnel for a Print-on-Demand Picture Service.

People can choose their pictures and print them on any type of canvas.

He’ll call this service Quick Check ✔️

The typical AARRR step-by-step would be:

Prospect Clicks Ad > Visits Website > Tries the Service > Goes Away to search for Other Providers > Comes Back > Makes an Order > Is Happy 😃> Does a Testimonial Video

Each of these steps needs to be measured.

So after we start collecting data we will get into our First Step of the Growth Process (If you come from the Growth Process Post youv’e guessed it!) Analyze!

See how everything is coming together?

In the next posts we’ll delve into each of the 5 stages of the AARRR.

👉Traffic & Activation

👉Revenue and Retention

👉Loyalty and Referral

Implementing AARRR in the Growth Process

In GHS Growth Process we’ve got you all covered.

We’ve created a simple sheet that will give you a quick overview of your Experiments and where they fit in your strategy.

So we’ve made a special column for each Phase of the AARRR Funnel, so you can define in which stage you wish to implement your Ideas.

Growth-Process-AARRR

If you wish to know more about our Growth Process hop-on to this amazing blog post.

Summarizing, the AARRR framework is the simplest and most effective way to look at optimizing your business and measuring growth.

Growth Process 101: From 0 to 💯

Reading Time: 7 minutes

Now that we’ve define a clear Value Proposition, and you know exactly who are your Personas, it’s time to start preparing the ground base rules of what Growth Hacking is and to create scalable processes.

Remember the Growth Hacking definition: “Experience-Driven Marketing”

Experiences are always happening and we can’t lose track of them, because those experiences will drive our Marketing Efforts!

Makes sense? Of course, that’s why you’re a future Growth Hacker.

What does it take for companies to implement a Growth Process that will help them to have faster learning phases?

  1. Find your Product/Market Fit: know if your product or service is right for that specific market
  2. Define a Clear Objective: finding their North Start Metric that will lead to the final destination
  3. High-tempo Tests: where ideas are tested constantly and allows companies to iterate or move to the right direction faster without spending to much time and money (MVP concept)
  4. Scalable Processes: where processes are implemented to that specific process, so it can be fully automate, or done by anyone when required
  5. Small Wins, Compounded: by working on their MVP to their NSM, each bit of learning will lead to better performances, better ideas and a compound growth effect, ultimately turning small improvements into landslide competitive advantages

Product/Market Fit

In order to be sucessfull on the last 4 points, you will always need to understand how is your Product/Market Fit.

Based on the Growth Pyramid by Sean Ellis, PMF is the baseline by which any business can be led to a Growth Mindset.

PMF is the leading indicator that will tell you if you have a product that the market wants.

How can you know if you have achieved this model or if you’re going to?

The most common way of knowing is by doing user or customer surveys where if at least 40% of your existing customers indicate that they will be “disappoint” or “missing” the product or service, you are on the right path.

This will always be qualitative, and it can be geared towards your gut feeling, so it is utterly important that you try to be as impartial as possible.

If you are still starting to launch a product or service, then this questions are not for you. You’ll need to do a market research and understand how important your product or service will be and if you’ll have enough adherence on that product. (This should also be done with users surveys but it will be harder to measure).

This can be done in several ways, but the easiest is with a survey where you question 3 things:

  1. From 0 to 10 how important is our product or service?
  2. From 0 to 10 how would you rate the use that you give to our product in your day-to-day?
  3. From 0 to 10 how hard it is to use our product?

If your average on questions 1 and 2 is over 4 then you have achieved part of the PMF (higher the number, better the outcome)

If at question 3 your average is above 4 then you must consider making the product or service easier to use to achieve a better average in questions 1 and 2. This is baseline, and you can go further down this road and make it even more useful and detailed. At GHS this is the 3 questions that we use to start this process and that have been working better up-to-now.

Do you want to get our Survey Template? Sign Up for Our Courses here.

 

NORTH START METRIC

After looking what your PMF, it’s time to find out what is your North Star Metric.

Your North Star Metric can be the same as the Main Key Performance Indicator (KPI) that you use, or your main Objective.

We like to call it North Star Metric because it is your core value that will lead your business.

If you are Nespresso, your NSM is going to be “number of coffees sold”, if you are “Clash Royale” you will be looking at “number of downloads” per time frame that you define.

This is extremely important because all growth activity will be geared towards this metric.

This will make everyone on the same page and thinking for the same objective.

Then you can create several mini KPIs that each team can work, just like the OKR (Objectives and Key Results) Framework.

At this moment we will look only at the NSM because we need to focus on only 1 objective, growing!

If you want to know more about OKRs and explore further, you can do it at this blog post from Google

re:Work – Guide: Set goals with OKRs

So we’ve defined that we have achieved or going into a PMF, we know our NSM, so it’s time to start looking at our Growth Process!

 

GROWTH PROCESS

 

 

With this framework, you’ll be preparing your Business to a high-tempo process that will help you to test your assumptions quickly so you can move the needle towards, your north!

Remember that at this phase everything that we will gather are just assumptions looking to build to our NSM

The Growth Process used is broken down into a repeatable and scalable four-step process:

  1. Analyze — data analysis and insight gathering
  2. Ideate — idea generation
  3. Prioritize — experiment prioritization
  4. Test — running the experiments

Go back to 1 and REPEAT

Let’s look further down each step:

1. Analyze Data and Insights

Insights are the most important thing that you need to start this process. They will be your guiding lights towards your goal, they are based on your assumptions or based on your business data.

At this moment, all we have are ASSUMPTIONS, nothing else. Now we will gather and filter them to so we can start to Ideate and Priorize.

We’ve created a USP and Personas because they are the most important thing for this first step of analysis. This is where they will be the most useful and used!

Here you would like to filter your audiences into 2 categories:

Engaged Customers (Hot Customers)

Inactive Customers (Cold Customers)

2. Ideate

Ideas will be the baseline of your assumptions. Here you will list and write any idea that you would like to Test.

These are the leading input to achieve growth. If you don’t have any ideas you won’t know where to start and to impact your audiences.

This is why it is important to define your strategy before starting to growth hack. Having a clear idea of what your Personas are, and if you know what is your NSM, if you present this to anyone, everyone will be on the same page, and all ideas that will be tought off will be for the same objective.

At this stage any idea is valuable enough to be written, since we will be using a P.I.E.S framework to filter them.

Don’t think that any idea is stupid or that it is not worth it. Everything counts until we test it or prove that is not worth to test.

There isn’t a perfec tnumber of ideas to start or finish, but if you aim to have at least 10 ideas, this would be great!

3. Prioritize

After gathering a bunch of ideas, you need to decide which are the most important ones and which won’t make the final cut.

This is where you’ll need to score and prioritize all of the ideas that you gathered before.

Here is where P.I.E.S Framework gets into action. We’ll get more into detail in the next post.

One can argue, “what the heck? Another framework? And what about I.C.E. or G.R.O.W.S (great naming btw)?”.

We know there are several systems that you can use. The guys at Growth Tribe created their own G.R.O.W.S. Process, and Sean Ellis created I.C.E. and P.I.E.S was created by Wider Funnel.

Here at Growth Hacking School, we consider that every one of these frameworks are valuable and in the end, any of them will lead to the same outcome.

The main idea is to have a easy and quick system that will let you score your ideas leading to a rapidly prioritization that will help you to test your ideas in an effective way.

What is the most important thing here is that you need at least 2 to 3 persons to avoid biased results. The more the merrier, the outcome will be more accurate.

4. Test

This is the last and final step before going again to the First Step of the Growth Process, building your first Growth Loop Process.

Testing is where you will start to figure out if your pieces will all fall into place or if your tower will collapse and you will Fail!

Failing is always good, because after failure we tend to try to avoid repeating the same mistakes, thus leading to new learnings.

Each test or experiment should have a start and an end date, this is really important!

The starting date will help you to define when you need to have everything ready to start testing and the end date is when you will start analyzing the data.

At this step most people tend to give inaccurate starting dates because most of them don’t know what are the required Tools to build their tests.

Testing is not just activating a button and wait for the final outcome.

Sometimes we need to create A/B tests in our Landing Pages or update our Email Marketing Campaigns or even just change the color of a button.

Other times, we need to create a new setup of new events that will take some time.

This is why it’s so important to fully understand the importance of the PIES framework and try to give an accurate score to each step.

Testing should be done quick, and not take long. Remember that we want to figure out what will drive Growth towards our NSM and not develop a Growth Loop with this test (yet!).

The baseline values for testing is between 1 to 3 weeks.

To prepare everything for testing you should not take more than 1 week setting everything up. If a test set up will take longer, you need to fully consider if at this time you have the resources (Time, money, man power) to spend on this test!

At GHS, our experience tells us that most tests can be done in 2 weeks tops.

When your test is starting, normally you should warn your company so everyone will be on the same page and understand why things are changing.

Afterwards, you should analyze your test and measure the final outcome to see if it reached the final goal. This is when you are going to go back to step number 1, Analyze!

Repeat

It’s really important to, at the end of each Testing phase, gather the team around, or at least write the ideas on the final outcome.

This Growth Process is an ongoing loop and having a clear thought on why the test worked out or not is important.

Also by having a Backlog of the ideas that have been tested is really important.

Again, never assume that you are 100% right or wrong, ideate, select, test and analyze!

Data Levels All Arguments!

Next, let’s talk about the PIES Framework in a bit more detail?