Growth hacking, like almost anything else, is useless to attempt unless you can measure and track your efforts.
Think about it – if you don’t track and control your experiments there’s no way that you will be able to replicate any success that you have. Instead of finding a repeatable system that hits your targets, you’re left with little more than blind luck and the spaghetti approach.
My team and I back at Process Street have struggled through this tracking problem, and I’m here to share the four best tricks we discovered to tracking our growth hacks.
Use PILLARS as a foundation
PILLARS is a growth hack tracking system I read about back in 2014 – it’s a great way to kick off your efforts, but isn’t too great at covering everything you’ll need.
PILLARS stands for:
- Place – the platform your test will be on, like Twitter
- Idea – what your marketing idea is
- Labor – the work you’ve done towards it
- Link – the CTA for your audience
- Audience – your target audience
- Result – the results achieved (eg, no. of downloads)
- Spend – the resources you’ve put in / allocated (time, money, etc)
Setting up PILLARS as a spreadsheet with columns for each item was perfect for when I wanted to quickly track things like my latest batch of A/B tests, but in the long run it can get too messy to easily manage.
The principle is solid – boiling down your efforts to their core elements and then recording them in a spreadsheet – but once you’re navigating your 50th test record, trying to sift through previous entries to see what happened the last time you did it, you quickly start to lose your mind.
Hence why I took the PILLARS mindset and applied it to our own team, and optimized our processes at the same time.
Document your marketing processes
So we’ve got the mindset, and the core aspects to all of our growth hacking experiments. Unfortunately, that’s not enough to succeed.
To stay consistent in your marketing efforts you need to document and track your processes.
I don’t mean “stick them in a spreadsheet” – given a little time your handy sheet will mutate into a behemoth worthy of H.P. Lovecraft. No, you need to use a system which will let you quickly store new tests and bring up old ones for reference.
I did this using the Process Street app. My A/B testing process, for example, became a template which I could run as many times as I want. Each run is stored as its own checklist, which lets me see my progress in any given run, and search for particular instances whenever I want.
This means that I have a set of instructions that need working through every time I run an A/B test – I won’t forget a step, or change something on the fly, because my method is right in front of me.
You don’t have to use Process Street, of course, but it’s incredibly important to document your method. Finding the best results without wasting resources is hard enough without human error (eg; forgetting to track downloads) getting in the way.
Centralize all information
Let’s say that you’ve got a little traction and the workload is building. You can’t manage everything at once, and so you bring someone else on board to handle some of your marketing efforts.
What happens if they aren’t available?
Life gets in the way sometimes, but if a member of your team can’t work that shouldn’t mean the rest of your efforts come to a grinding halt. You need to centralize everything so that anyone can access the resources they need by themselves.
For example, if someone is A/B testing two email subject lines, the rest of the team needs to be able to access that campaign and see the results.
My team and I do this by using a combination of our own app, Trello, Slack, and Google Drive. Trello is great for having personal boards to manage your tasks, but still allowing others to access everything – this is even more true if you store links to all relevant resources in your cards.
Slack is fantastic for keeping communication up in our team – since we’re all remote workers we need to have that flow of communication in order to make sure that everyone is on the same page. Not to mention Slack’s ability to have pinned documents to group conversations (which we use to store important links like our processes and research documents).
Finally, Google Drive is absolute must for syncing your team. Everyone on my team has a local Drive folder which we use to store all of our work – this lets everyone access each other’s work, so no progress is lost if someone can’t make it online for whatever reason.
After all, when managing a virtual team, you need to have the right tools to succeed and keep everything centralized.
Update your processes regularly
So, you’ve got your processes set up ready to track your growth hacking efforts. Brilliant! Unfortunately those efforts will have rapidly diminishing returns if you don’t also develop a method for updating your processes.
However, more than that, your processes will always have room for improvement, be it to streamline the steps you take or boost the end result. To solve these issues, you can do two things:
- Stay up to date on the latest developments in your field (eg, new SEO tools)
- Get new hires to point out flaws in the system
Our team, for instance, uses RSS feeds to let us quickly browse through the latest breakthroughs and experiments in internet marketing, which in turn shows us what our processes could incorporate to improve.
Not only that, but whilst on boarding new hires we try to get them to comment on any process they use as they learn it. This is the most important part for updating our processes, as our long-standing team members tend to lose sight of flaws just because they’ve used the same process for so long that it becomes second nature.
Developing a process to track your growth hacks doesn’t have to be difficult – as long as your PILLARS are solid, the whole team is centralized, and processes are documented and updated, you’ve already won half the battle.