By Lars Lofgren
I love running growth teams.
It’s everything I could want from a job. It directly impacts the company, is fairly autonomous, works great with a few high-caliber folks, and involves a ton of A/B tests.
I’ve spent years running these teams—but I don’t know if I’ll ever build one again. I doubt that I’ll even have a growth team at any company I’m managing in the future.
In fact, I believe most companies should not have a growth team. In the rest of this post, I’m going to try to talk you out of building one.
How I define “growth”
The term “growth” gets used loosely these days. A lot of folks treat it as a synonym for online marketing.
I use a more restrictive definition: A growth team is a product tech team that’s focused on acquisition instead of core product features. It other words, it’s a team of designers and engineers.
The growth teams that I’ve built
I’ve had the opportunity to build growth teams across multiple companies:
I joined as employee 14 and spent a few years at this analytics startup, which was founded by Hiten Shah and Neil Patel. I had the great fortune of being able to learn growth from one of the original growth hackers, Hiten Shah. He was literally in the room when Sean Ellis coined the term “growth hacker.”
After working as an individual contributor for a while, I had the opportunity to build my first growth team. We had a designer, a front-end engineer, and a data scientist.
We ran A/B tests around the clock on our free-trial funnel for nine months and got these wins:
- Quadrupled monthly lead volume in one year;
- Tripled the conversion rate from visitor-to-trial signups on our homepage.
I Will Teach You to Be Rich
I was hired to level-up the marketing team. The team started as all marketers focused on lead generation. It was a typical lead-gen team when I joined. Then, I evolved it into a growth team by hiring a designer and two engineers.
Using the same playbook that I developed at KISSmetrics, we ran non-stop A/B tests on our email subscription funnel, driving 480,000 leads in 2016 and smashing our lead goals for the year.
We expanded to four growth teams, each assigned to different parts of the funnel. Two of the teams focused on the two main sources of revenue, one team on inbound leads, and the last team on site conversion rates. Every team included a mix of designers, engineers, marketers, and copywriters.
Things…did not go well.
My whole growth system fell apart, and I learned a lot of tough lessons about the limits of growth programs. Hopefully, the insights below will help you avoid the same mistakes that I made.
9 reasons why growth teams fail
After years of building and managing growth teams, I’ve come across nine difficulties.
1. Probability is very counter-intuitive.
What do you expect if I say there’s an …read more
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