Growth has come to dominate all conversations that concern developing new products. Marketers, engineers, and product managers are under great pressure to deliver growth. Many have found that the best way to achieve it is to combine skills from all three areas. Enter the Growth Marketer.
No matter whether you see yourself as someone who’s main goal is to deliver growth, or a marketing generalist who’s looking to develop their skill set in order to stay competitive, developing technical skills is important to everyone who wants to grow a product in the Digital Age.
But where do you start? Being able to code and run regression analysis sound great, but developing those skills takes many years to master.
To help you on the journey of becoming more tech savvy, we’ve identified five essential technical skills growth managers need and how you can apply them to deliver on your growth strategies.
1. Growth Marketers Need Product Analytics
Collecting, analyzing, and using the insights from data lies at the core of what growth marketers do. That’s why analytics is a vital skill every manager responsible for product growth needs.
Data also works as a great tool to distill discipline in growth and product teams. It makes your work transparent and pushes you to focus on the areas that truly matter.
However, current product analytics goes far beyond tracking simple behavior and demographic data. With access to increasingly more data on user behavior in all stages of the funnel — pre and post-purchase— and ever-improving tools that allow you to make sense of data, growth managers have an unlimited opportunity to find ways to improve their products.
But in order to do that, you have to know how to use them to find valuable nuggets of information in the data you collect. New developments in product analytics allow you to develop an intimate knowledge of your users and personalize their experience based on that.
Product analytics is a skill and learning how to do it well allows you to achieve better growth. For example, early on in Sidekick’s lifecycle, they discovered that by tweaking the onboarding process, they could improve retention in week 1, which had a positive effect on the overall growth of the product.
Week 1 retention shot up to 75% once the improvements were rolled out. The bump in retention was sustained up to 10 weeks, where retention was at 25%. The key takeaway here is that in order to uncover worthwhile opportunities that lead to product growth, start by mastering your product analytics.
2. Growth Marketers Need to Do A/B Testing
A/B testing is popular among startups because it’s easy and effective. Many tools such as Optimizely and Visual Website Optimizer make it easy to get started.
Experimentation-driven improvements are a central part of what you’re responsible for. So developing your knowledge of how to properly conduct A/B tests is necessary.
The path to mastering A/B testing requires understanding the main statistical concepts that it involves. We’re not talking about getting an advanced degree in mathematics, but at the minimum, you need to be comfortable with basic concepts like:
- Sampling: Understand what makes a good sample, what makes a bad one and how this affects your test’s outcome.
- Statistical significance: Know when a test is relevant and when you need to continue testing with a bigger sample.
- Confidence intervals: Know what “Variant A converts at 10%±5%” means and why it isn’t always greater than the alternative treatment which converts at 4%±3%
A product manager who understands these concepts is equipped to help create and spread a culture of always looking for data-backed ways to improve their product.
3. Growth Marketers Need to Know Basic Statistics
Understanding basic statistics makes all other data-driven growth activities like A/B testing and product analytics more effective results easier. Having access to real-time data across the whole organization is great, but sometimes it pays to be able to do some manual manipulation. In these situations, growth marketers need to be able to extract insights from the reams of data they have access to. Being able to do this is a powerful asset for a growth marketer because you can plan, implement, and analyze a campaign from start to finish without requiring extra design or development resources. Here are a few resources to help learn statistics:
4. Growth Marketers Need to Understand User Experience
One of the common misconceptions about user experience is that it’s all about achieving good user interface design, and hence, should be left to designers. In reality, UX includes much more than the look of your product’s dashboard. Your landing pages, emails and even how customer service interacts with customers are all elements of user experience.
While a great experience on its own doesn’t guarantee virality, bad UX is almost certain to stunt your product’s growth. That’s why you need to be involved in all decisions that concern the user-facing aspects of the product.
To understand why user experience plays such an important role in the growth of a product, consider the story of how Airbnb “reverse-engineered” a Craigslist integration in its early days. The main takeaway from that story is the fact that they created a way for people to post listings on Craigslist, which looked much better than anything else that was available at the time.
While most managers don’t need to worry about programming or design to develop websites and integrations from start to end, They need to understand the basic concepts that make for a good user experience and translate that into wireframes or a working prototype of the product.
Photoshop/Sketch, balsamiq, and Moqups are just some of the tools available when you’re looking to improve the experience your products provide.
5. Growth Marketers Need to Know Web Scraping
Scraping is the practice of collecting data on a large scale from a public source — such as a website — by using automation. Many people look at it with disdain, because it’s often used for spamming purposes (e.g. to plagiarize content from large websites.) However, it has many perfectly legitimate applications, and is extremely helpful for growth marketers.
From collecting product information to keyword research for SEO, there are many ways in which a tech-savvy manager can use web scraping.
For example, scraping is used to figure out what keywords competitors in your niche are targeting for their SEM strategy. The resulting keywords are fed into a tool like Scrapebox get thousands of new keywords — by again scraping search engine suggestions.
Using scraping solutions such as import.io and Mozenda helps you easily collect data without writing code, such as collecting a high number of targeted leads quickly. Web scraping is certainly one of the most underestimated weapons in the skills set of a growth manager.
Do Marketers Really Need to Become More Technical?
Marketers can think of the five skills above as welcome additions to their skill set if they want to take on more cross functional projects to help build and grow great products. The technical skills should not replace the creative skills, design skills, or vast range of other skills marketers have but rather, complement them. The people who can draw on a range of skills from different areas will be more autonomous in their work and a stronger asset to any team.