When it comes to growth marketing, ‘so much of CRO is psychological’

When it comes to growth marketing, ‘so much of CRO is psychological’

As the number of startups competing for attention from investors and consumers continues to swell, growth marketing has become more critical than ever.

Based on the feedback we received in our ongoing expert survey, Growthcurve, with offices in London and NYC, offers plans that let companies scale services up or down depending on their needs at the moment — like having an on-demand flexible resource for growth marketing on hand.

We heard about the company’s founder, Mulenga Agley, from Maja Van Paridon of Hubpay through our growth marketing survey.

“Mulenga and his team at Growthcurve are seasoned experts in the fintech space,” Van Paridon said. “Mulenga previously grew Monese from scratch to one of the leading neobanks in Europe. Growthcurve is also Coinbase’s main agency and leads their creative strategy and production for performance marketing globally, which is a huge accolade.”

Growthcurve appears to have had quite an impact on Hubpay. “Growthcurve acted as our entire growth and marketing department. We scraped our seed money together to get them onboard, and they just helped us close a $20 million Series A round! They’ve been our only growth partner this entire time,” Van Paridon said.

To find out more about how Growthpay functions, we spoke with Agley about how the company works with clients, the advice they offer early-stage founders, and common mistakes in growth marketing.

Editor’s note: This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

How do you assess new clients’ requirements, and what information do you need before you can share an estimated project timeline and budget?

Clients self-select from three plans based on their needs, and will then be contacted by our new business team to help them select the right package. At this stage, we like to understand how their marketing and growth teams (if any) currently function, their budget, their proposition and business model, their target audience, growth ambitions, and any potential network effects or unique distribution opportunities we may be able to leverage.

When it comes to costs and timings, our clients control this month to month, based on the team they form and the package of services they select. As for timings, there can be any number of different objectives in progress at once; very rarely is there a single “project” with a single deadline.

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The team that our clients compose work on building a growth engine into the business. This involves work streams that span acquisition, activation, retention, referral and revenue. We set specific KPI-based targets monthly and review progress against business objectives quarterly.

Once a client successfully passes qualification by our new business team, they are assigned a client partner to complete their onboarding and help them make the most of their Growthcurve team and resources. Client partners are experts in a particular industry (e.g., fintech, SaaS, gaming) and champion the client.

When it comes to growth marketing, ‘so much of CRO is psychological’

The growth marketing team at Growthcurve. Image Credits: Growthcurve(opens in a new window)

What’s a ballpark quote for the average project, and how frequently do you communicate with clients once the work is underway?

When a business joins Growthcurve, they are able to spin up the growth marketing services they need on-demand and scale them up or down flexibly.

We’ve relentlessly iterated to reduce “time to value” for our clients to the absolute minimum. We’ve aimed to make working with us feel more like spinning up resources on Amazon Web Services or Heroku rather than the usual long, drawn-out process of commissioning a legacy advertising or marketing agency.

Since our clients typically use Growthcurve as their complete growth marketing department, or at least a significant part of it, they form cross-functional teams with specialists from our three plans. The cost is dependent on the team and resource profile that our clients form.

We have smaller app clients running their entire international marketing with us for less than $20,000 per month with a KPI of “ROF” (return on fee — basically how much money Growthcurve generates versus our cost), or “ROAS” (return on ad spend). We also have larger enterprise clients with up to 10x the team size and cost.

CRO isn’t always technical — brilliant copywriting and visual communication is one of the greatest drivers of conversion, yet so many companies fail at it.

If an early-stage client came to you today with a budget of $25,000, what would you prioritize?

Let’s say it’s an early-stage SaaS subscription business. If there is time, investing in SEO and a highly defensible content moat to generate inbound supported by ongoing growth experimentation and CRO would be ideal.

However, this is certainly not an approach that works for every early-stage business, either because the model is not hugely search driven (e.g., it’s a totally new concept), or because the client wants growth yesterday and simply can’t afford to invest in long-term growth strategies until they have secured a larger fundraise.

In cases where time is of the essence, we’d prioritize rapid iterative experimentation on paid channels to lock on to the most optimal combination of audience, messaging, channel, placement and creative. We’d also invest heavily in robust attribution alongside this so we can be sure which campaigns are performing at a bottom-line level. This is trickier in a post-iOS 14 world, but luckily we’ve developed several brilliant approaches.

Since we’re a growth agency, we always support any paid activity with growth loops that multiply each paid result through referral mechanics, gamification, social proof and product-driven growth. This can involve custom landing pages, interactive funnels, software and API development, marketing automation and more.

You offer conversion rate optimization services. What are the three most common mistakes you see marketing teams make as they attack this key metric?

Loading time. It sounds so obvious, but everything has to load instantly. We live in an instant world now, and users of any service will move on in seconds if your app, service or site takes more than a blink to appear. So engineer in lazy loading, compress those glossy .mp4 video files, stream data progressively, serve from a CDN network, and replace images with pure CSS as much as possible.

So much of CRO is psychological. A smart person once said, “A confused mind doesn’t buy.” CRO isn’t always technical — brilliant copywriting and visual communication is one of the greatest drivers of conversion, yet so many companies fail at it.

Create a compelling value proposition in the limited space you have, with the one or two seconds of attention customers will give you, and you will see results.

Failure to record and tag results of previous CRO experiments is another mistake. Accurately recording and tagging past experiments allows new team members to easily search through past tests and rapidly help them build on their existing knowledge.

Repeating tests that have already been done is a huge problem in the CRO industry and is a massive waste of time and resources. We have developed our own solution to record and categorize the results of any experiments we’ve run for a client so the exact objective, context, appearance and outcome can be understood.

What’s your average timeline for delivering a campaign after you’ve signed a contract? What do you need to accomplish before you can share copies?

We launch a lot of startups. No two are identical. The fastest we’ve pulled a startup launch campaign together is one week, and this included onboarding the client.

Some campaigns that involve launching in multiple markets simultaneously take longer, but a key part of the way we work is to “MVP all the things” to get a minimal viable output live as fast as possible and iterate. It’s no different with campaigns.

Since your team focuses on many industries and offers multiple services, how do you decide which clients to take on? Are there marketing projects you won’t work on?

We’re increasingly interested in helping businesses with a focus on sustainability, as well as businesses helping solve difficult problems facing society, be it with banking in Africa or carbon offsetting in New York.

We believe that private businesses can help change the world for the better, and indeed have the responsibility to do so. Generally speaking, we are happiest onboarding disruptive businesses aimed at revolutionizing an industry and with global ambition who we can help scale through successive funding rounds to unicorn status IPOs and beyond.

The businesses we consider working with will at the very least need to have secured a solid seed round of more than $2 million.

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