Sean Ellis

CEO and Founder at GrowthHackers

THIS CHAT HAPPENED ON February 07, 2017

Discussion

Sean Ellis@seanellis · CEO, GrowthHackers
Hi everyone, really looking forward to this Product Hunt live chat today! I’m happy to chat about anything - though my biggest passion is growing businesses, from startups to more established companies. I recently wrote a book on the subject that will be published in April called Hacking Growth http://amzn.to/2ll80L3. I’ve helped several multi billion dollar businesses gain traction in their early days including Dropbox, Eventbrite, LogMeIn and Lookout and today I’m founder and CEO of GrowthHackers.
Kiki Schirr / 史秀玉@kikischirr · Founder, WeKiki Video Chat Platform
Hi Sean! Thank you for taking my question. One of the frustrations I see my marketing professor parents face is their students have watched too much Mad Men and don't think math is a part of marketing. What would you say to students that are reluctant to delve into numbers in order to convey the importance of stats/ROI?
Laf. Julius@laf_julius · co- founder @evolvesports
@kikischirr mad men is gospel lol
Sean Ellis@seanellis · CEO, GrowthHackers
@kikischirr Hi Kiki, I think it starts with understanding why the students are attracted by Mad Men style marketing. It's much more exciting to many people that data driven marketing. Just look at how many people get excited about Super Bowl commercials. So I think certain people are just kind of wired to gravitate toward this type of marketing. I personally feel like the most malleable growth minds are engineer CEOs. They tend to be driven, experimental and numbers oriented. I would much rather try to teach this person growth than the typical person that is attracted to a marketing degree. The good news is that data driven experimentation is much more fun than it sounds to many people. So I think your marketing professor parents would probably benefit from introducing the students to some marketing prediction games like you'd find on Behave.org (formerly WhichTestWon). That starts to make it clear that the only way to know if something works is to test it and measure the results. Hope this helps.
Sean Ellis@seanellis · CEO, GrowthHackers
Sorry to have to put this comment here, but no new places to put a comment after the session ends. I just wanted to thank everyone for the great questions. This was a lot of fun! If you have ever more questions, feel free to post them on GrowthHackers AskGH and @mention me in the comments to ask me to answer them. Have a great day everyone!
Bruce Kraft Jr.@brucekraftjr · CMO, social media & viral director
@seanellis I just missed the session! Are you familiar with viral growth widgets on websites, similar to one developed by Queue tech?
Synap@getsynap · Synap Software Labs
@seanellis @mention Thanks for taking the time to do this and to send such thoughtful responses.
Philip Kuklis@philipkuklis · Co-Founder, Hubble
Hi Sean, what's the most ingenious growth hack that you've seen so far?
Sean Ellis@seanellis · CEO, GrowthHackers
@philipkuklis Hi Philip, I think it's important to understand that true sustainable growth rarely happens because of an ingenious growth hack. It's much more about truly understanding what makes someone passionate about your product and making lots of tweaks to get new people to a similar experience with the product. I know that isn't as exciting as an ingenious growth hack, so I'll actually try to answer the question you asked too. I think the overly cited Airbnb growth hack where they reposted listings on Craigslist was super smart. They understood where the behavior was taking place that they wanted on their platform and found a way to tap into it and shift people toward their "better way."
Alex Baker-Whitcomb@awhitcom · Founder of Whitcomb Works
If you could give yourself 1-2 pieces of advice when you first started your company at zero, what would it be?
Sean Ellis@seanellis · CEO, GrowthHackers
@awhitcom Getting the product right will take a lot longer than I expect. Be careful about trying to scale customer growth too early and control the hell out of costs until the product is proven ready to scale.
Andrew Bass@andrewdbass · Startup junkie and improving hacker
What is the biggest mistake that people make when first getting into Growth Hacking?
Sean Ellis@seanellis · CEO, GrowthHackers
@andrewdbass I think the biggest mistake people make when the first start growth hacking is not testing enough. Then when they realize the power of testing, they don't focus the testing enough on the biggest opportunities to impact growth. The best opportunities can be uncovered by combining quantitative analysis and qualitative analysis on your overall growth engine. Once you understand the opportunity, you can help the team focus on it by setting clear objectives and sharing a summary of the analysis with the team.
Emer@spicer23 · Get Paid Quicker!
Hello Sean, Can you walk us through your typical Road Map - when you're beginning to search for >> potential customers, prior to launch? >> Thanks in advance.
Sean Ellis@seanellis · CEO, GrowthHackers
@spicer23 Hi Spicer, I personally don't do much searching for customers prior to launching a product. I do basic problem validation and then get to work on the solution. Most of my customer growth efforts happen once the product in launched where I'm able to let people experience it and then start to hone in on the signal of what makes a passionate customer. At this point ROI efficiency really isn't very important. You just need to throw enough users at the product to see if any of them are able to get "must have" value from it. Then it's all about replicating and scaling that value delivery engine.
Naomi Assaraf@nassaraf · CMO, Technophile, pancake lover.
@seanellis @spicer23 That's excellent. What if you get there and then need to monetize? Is it just a series of A-B testing? How do you implement payment after clients have received product for free in the name of growth?
Sean Ellis@seanellis · CEO, GrowthHackers
@nassaraf @spicer23 Hi Naomi, I think monetization is very important when you're trying to scale growth, but I personally don't care too much about it when I'm trying to validate value in a product. Once I understand where the value is, then I figure out the monetization piece. That's when you need to figure out how price sensitive the customers who need the value are and also what their next best alternative is. Business model is one area where I don't do a lot of A-B testing, but maybe I should :) I've done it a bit when trying to hone in on the best price with Dropbox and LogMeIn, but in both cases we had enough user flow on the free product to make this testing pretty easy.
Naomi Assaraf@nassaraf · CMO, Technophile, pancake lover.
@seanellis @spicer23 Thanks- I'm at 200k users now, so I think I've figured out the value prop. Now time to figure out the value. :) How much drop off from free to paid did you have (percentage wise) when testing with Dropbox and LogMeIn?
Hugo Fauquenoi@hfauq · growth @todoist and @twistappteam
With hindsight, do you regret the wording of "hacking"? Lots of people seem to chase quick hacks to get rich fast, the "change your CTA color and get 300% more signups", when sustainable growth most often comes from improving the customer experience relentlessly, understanding what makes people successful with the product, and driving others to that outcome.
Sean Ellis@seanellis · CEO, GrowthHackers
@hfauq Hi Hugo. I don't regret using the word hacking at all. Anytime you can put a name on a concept that gets worldwide attention, then you're doing something right. I used the word hacking to really contrast against the marketers that sit around a white board for days strategizing about how to grow a business. Compared to this approach I prefer the "get rich quick" hacks that you're referring to. Of course the best way to grow is not to think that you are going to uncover a silver bullet, but instead you are taking a very systematic approach to testing with a solid feedback loop of data and qualitative insights. But no... No regrets at all on the use of the word hacking. It started a conversation that has led lots of people to try to figure out a more effective way to drive sustainable growth in businesses.
Timur Zhiyentayev@tima_zhi · Cofounder of Drizzle
Sean, what worked and what did not work for promoting/marketing GrowthHackers.com? Are there any strategies which worked really well? Thanks.
Sean Ellis@seanellis · CEO, GrowthHackers
@tima_zhi Hi Timur, Twitter was really effective for us when we were first growing GrowthHackers.com. It helped that I already had a decent following on Twitter so we just needed to shift the conversation to GrowthHackers. Over time Twitter has become less effective because it's getting very noisy with content. But it was great for getting traction. Something else that was important was understanding and tapping into why people were using the site. It was largely about reputation building, community and inspiration for growth ideas. So over time we've doubled down on functionality that supports these needs. The one thing I wish we were better at was retaining visitors. We have a lot of monthly churn in visitors. If I could figure out a way to double our retention, that would be more powerful for growth than any new customer acquisition channel.
Darren Lee@darrenlee · Crypto Bird
Hi Sean looking great there! Just curious what are the thoughts usually that you have when you wake up every morning? For example this morning? Also, do you have any morning or daily routines ?
Sean Ellis@seanellis · CEO, GrowthHackers
@darrenlee Hey Darren, lately my thoughts when I wake up are "crap I have a lot of stuff I need to do today!" I then calm down and get to work. I know I probably shouldn't do it, but I check email first thing in the morning. When I get into the office, I generally ask my operations manager to leave all admin stuff for the afternoon. I try to dive into our big business challenges first thing in the morning because I believe my subconscious was probably working on solutions during the night. I don't want to clutter my brain with reactive stuff until after I get a chance to dig into these business issues/opportunities. At 9:30 am we have our standup, so usually starting about 9:15 I'll list out the items I want to get done today and what I focused on the previous day.
Darren Lee@darrenlee · Crypto Bird
@seanellis haha that's funny. But I can imagine that work could be both overwhelming and be the motivator as well. It's nice that you have such a great routine. I like the list idea. Thanks for sharing! I do hope to meet you one day but first I need to learn. 😄
Synap@getsynap · Synap Software Labs
Oftentimes people are looking for flashy/newsworthy ways to grow. What are some of the more basic but consistent avenues of traction that you've found success with?
Sean Ellis@seanellis · CEO, GrowthHackers
@getsynap Hi Synap, I think growth generally tends to be very un-newsworthy... It takes hard work of studying customers and data to figure out how your product really delivers value to them. And then it's about looking for ways to introduce that value to other people with the same characteristics as your most passionate customers. Not surprisingly most of the great growth people I know are pretty introverted. They are driven by curiosity and tend to geek out about very unsexy growth stuff.
Jose Garay@joselfgaray · exploring the limits of creativity
Hi Sean! I'd love some tips on growing a B2B business on the US market from Europe. Our customers are Campus/College recruiters. What content, channels and strategies would you recommend we use before we have/raise the money to move to US? Thanks so much!
Sean Ellis@seanellis · CEO, GrowthHackers
@joselfgaray H Jose, the good news is that I think you can be almost as effective acquiring customers from across the world as you can be living near your customers. For example, we launched LogMeIn from Budapest, Hungary and pretty quickly had a worldwide customer base. For reaching college recruiters, I think you'd need to ask the college recruiters where they find out about products like yours. The more you understand about them the more you'll start to understand the patterns that you can tap into. One place I often start is trying to figure out if there is any active intent for a product like mine or if I have to create demand. If there is active intent, generally you can use search and directories to get traction. But if you need to create the intent, then you'll need to focus on demand generation activities. For that Facebook is usually a good place to start - even for a B2B product.
Jose Garay@joselfgaray · exploring the limits of creativity
@seanellis great guidelines to follow. Thank you so much Sean!
Enrique Benitez@bntzio · 🦄 Full-Stack Developer and Maker
Hey Sean! Thank you for your time here on Product Hunt! 😄 What's your best advice for solopreneurs looking for traction on their projects/products? Many people struggle with getting their product out to people and making sales, what's your advice? Thanks! ^^
Sean Ellis@seanellis · CEO, GrowthHackers
@bntzio Hi Enrique, I personally haven't been a solopreneur so I'm really not qualified to offer advice on it. But my guess is that I'd be focused on finding scalable ways to deliver value to my customers. Scalable is the key word here because it's easy to be sucked into customer meetings all day long. If you're not focusing on how to do it in a scalable way, you'll probably just be super busy.
Tyler Lunceford@tylerdlunceford · Office of the CEO - Apttus
Hi Sean - I understand that formal growth frameworks are most useful to B2C and B2C2B characterized by heavy experimentation and decentralization of the buyer (bottoms up sales: Slack, Dropbox type models. Currently, what growth tactics are most successful in B2B (top down: Salesforce, Workday)? Do you see growth frameworks becoming more relevant in B2B models over time? Thanks!
Sean Ellis@seanellis · CEO, GrowthHackers
@tylerdlunceford Hi Tyler, I think it both cases it's about truly understanding the buyer journey from consideration to "must have" customer. Diagraming all details both quantitatively and qualitatively can help you hone in on the best opportunities for improvement. I think it's also really important to have tight integration of all the functions around the customer journey. In B2B it's easy to get pretty silo-d (ie - marketing generates leads, sales qualifies, customer success gets people using right...). If you don't have a cross functional approach to managing this, I think you'll fall well short of your growth potential. Learning needs to be shared between all people that are managing the customer creation process. So yes, I see growth frameworks becoming more relevant in B2B over time.
Aaryan Ramzan@aaryanramzan · Oomo 1st 3D 5.1 Surround Sound Earbuds
Hi Sean, I'm not looking for any investment. About to introduce the coolest immersive 3D surround sound earbuds to Kickstarter. Any chance I can send you a pair? I promise you'll be blown away once you hear them. https://oomosound.com/ Small business owner, I can really use some help in getting the word out. you will love them. Thank you. Aaryan
Sean Ellis@seanellis · CEO, GrowthHackers
@aaryanramzan Sure, I'll be curious to hear them. PM me for address.
Aaryan Ramzan@aaryanramzan · Oomo 1st 3D 5.1 Surround Sound Earbuds
@seanellis Thank you so much
Aaryan Ramzan@aaryanramzan · Oomo 1st 3D 5.1 Surround Sound Earbuds
@seanellis Where to send you PM? Should I email?
Sean Ellis@seanellis · CEO, GrowthHackers
@aaryanramzan Just sent you a linkedIn invite.
Aaryan Ramzan@aaryanramzan · Oomo 1st 3D 5.1 Surround Sound Earbuds
@seanellis Thank you
Emily Hodgins@ems_hodge · Community and Marketing, Product Hunt
What's the number one thing you've learnt about Growth Hacking that might seam counterintuitive to others?
Sean Ellis@seanellis · CEO, GrowthHackers
@ems_hodge Hi Emily, interesting question... I think over time I've realized the importance of focus. It's really easy to just throw a bunch of spaghetti on the wall and see what stick. But if I can focus testing on the best opportunities, then all of that effort is likely to yield a lot more long term growth.
Rich Allen@rich_allen · Co-Founder of Streamly
(Apart from PH obviously) what would you say are good places and techniques for launching a product?
Sean Ellis@seanellis · CEO, GrowthHackers
@rich_allen Hi Rich, I'm not really one for splashy launches. I think PH can usually give you enough initial user to start iterating flows, messaging and targeting on their feedback. You may need to sprinkle in some Adwords or FB ads to get enough volume to iterate. Then over time start to scale channels and efforts that are cost effective. Customers can give you insights on where you should be focusing your channel efforts.
Rich Allen@rich_allen · Co-Founder of Streamly
@seanellis Thanks.
Rich Allen@rich_allen · Co-Founder of Streamly
Is there an audio version of your book out in April too?
Sean Ellis@seanellis · CEO, GrowthHackers
@rich_allen Yes, in fact we're doing the recording this week. I'm recording the introduction tomorrow and Morgan Brown is recording the rest of the book.
Rich Allen@rich_allen · Co-Founder of Streamly
@seanellis Great Thanks. Will Check it out in April.
Sean Murphy@sean_murphy · Lightning "Get any service fast!"
Any specific advice for mobile app growth?
Sean Ellis@seanellis · CEO, GrowthHackers
@sean_murphy Mobile app growth is hard. Like any business, a mobile app business needs really good onboarding to drive customer retention. If you can't retain customers then you'll have a really hard time growing active users over time. So my advice is invest a lot more in activating users than you think you'll need to. This will make it much easier to cost effectively scale customer acquisition. ASO (app store optimization) can be important if there is demand for your app's category and Facebook is often a good way to build demand directly for the app.
Theoharis Dimarhos@theo_dimarhos · Marketing+Biz Dev at AngelouEconomics
Hi Sean! If you were to join a new company, what would your first 90 days look like in terms of putting in the systems that would help the company grow?
Sean Ellis@seanellis · CEO, GrowthHackers
@theo_dimarhos Hi Theoharis, my first 90 days would be instrumenting analytics and testing systems and really going deep getting to know the customer base. I'd primarily be looking for signal around what the company is doing well - who loves the product and why. Then I'd start running testing to improve the flow from consideration to experiencing the product in a way that gets people to love it. After that it's a lot easier to start building channels. Oh and before even joining the company I'd make sure that a sufficient number of people love the product to be able to support sustainable growth.
Laxman Kafle@laxmankafle · LaxmanKafle
Whats The Next Step , When you have Growth in Fan Base but want to convert sales from it ?
Sean Ellis@seanellis · CEO, GrowthHackers
@niwomb1 The way that I would normally approach it is that I would be monetizing while I'm building the fan base on a product. Otherwise it's really had to be aggressive about building a fan base - you don't know if your unit economics are sustainable. And if you don't put any money behind your efforts, you may miss out on some great opportunities for growth. Important caveat here is that I would fully explore and scale free channels before getting aggressive about developing paid channels.
Darren Lee@darrenlee · Crypto Bird
@seanellis @niwomb1 I would assume that the most effective or popular free channel is content marketing. Just wondering if you see other emerging free channels that most growth marketers are missing out?
Sean Ellis@seanellis · CEO, GrowthHackers
@darrenlee @niwomb1 Yes, content marketing with SEO and social distribution is generally what I'm thinking about when I think free marketing channels. Of course they aren't completely free since time is money, but they aren't marginal cost channels like SEM/PPC would be so if you can get that engine working there is a lot of upside.
Darren Lee@darrenlee · Crypto Bird
@seanellis thanks for the reply. Beaming positive karma to you 🙏