Quick note: We recently announced the next Growth Series, an 8-week program for designed for experienced practitioners in growth (past participants came from Dropbox, Google, LinkedIn, Evernote, Airbnb, Soundcloud, Facebook, and many other companies). It's by application only, and if interested, you can learn more here.
In the early days of building the growth team at HubSpot, we spent a few months optimizing onboarding in our product and produced some meaningful improvements. As the team expanded, I wanted to dedicate a full-time team to onboarding, but I got a few versions of the following questions from other executives:
“Why do you want to put a full-time team on that? I thought you guys were done optimizing onboarding?”
The mentality of “done” is the exact opposite of the mentality of high performance growth teams. Change is constant. Change is difficult. Not adapting to change is fatal.
The point is a critical one for any company and is the foundation for this growth principle. By nature, humans resist change because adapting can be hard and it’s usually a lot of work. We like to think of things as “done” so we can check them off our to-do list, and move on to the next thing.
Any great growth team is ready for and responsive to change, nimble, and always, always adapting. They go beyond adapting, and truly embrace change building their team and process around it. Let's talk about why…
Systematic growth is iterative.
There are four main reasons that this principle is important:
- Product Evolution
- Audience Shift
- Channel Change
- Tactic Fatigue
And constant change is the common thread that ties them all together.
We must be aware of and accept of the constancy of change, integrate it into our culture and empower our teams to always be adapting. If we don’t, our product’s growth will inevitably stall at some point in time. If instead we evolve our growth efforts in sync with the changes happening across product, audience, channels and tactics, we will increase our chances of driving sustainable growth and operate by this principle.
Reason One: Product Is Always Evolving
We should be learning constantly. For product, this means constantly getting better at delivering more of the core value by refining existing features and building new ones based on our learnings. If we don’t, we risk stagnation and being beaten by competitors who are constantly evolving to meet the needs of the market.
As we refine and change our product, the way our users enter, engage, and exit the product will evolve too, which ultimately affects how we approach growth.
Think about how interaction with Facebook’s core value has transformed over the years. In the beginning, users updated their profiles, scrolled through their list of friends, clicked through to profiles and left messages on friends’ walls.
But then, when the company added the newsfeed, user behavior changed in a big way, evolving from comments to the Like Button to current day Reactions. What users shared also changed from text only, to photos, to links, to videos, to live videos today.
All of this points to the fact that with every product change, how we onboard, retain, monetize, and generally mobilize users for growth, may change. So we can never forget to evolve our growth strategies in lock step with our product strategy.
Reason Two: Audience Is Always Shifting
As the market shifts and the product develops and grows, the composition of our audience, who they are, what they want, and what they respond to, shifts. Across the board, our strategy and tactics from acquisition to activation, retention, revenue and referral need to evolve in sync. There are many ways to segment an audience and so there are many ways an audience, and each of its segments, can evolve.
The Innovation Adoption Lifecycle
First, let’s think about it in relation to the Innovation Adoption Lifecycle.