I’ve been a Sean Ellis fan for as long as I’ve been following the startup space – and after this post, you might be, too. Sean’s blog ranks first for “Startup Marketing” on Google, and he’s credited with creating the term “Growth Hacking.” His successful career includes head marketing positions at companies like LogMeIn, where his growth leadership took the company to IPO.

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Though he’s not on his blog that much anymore since kicking off his own analytics and optimization software (Qualaroo), there’s enough gold on his site to dig into for months – if you really wanted to. I figured I’d just cull some of what I though was positively the most useful posts from Sean about marketing and growth, and share em’ here.

1. Optimization Mistakes that Kill Startups. Sort of an extreme title, but got my attention. In this post Sean goes into three factors that he considers to be most common and most dangerous for startups aiming to refine their marketing channels: Premature optimization, not being deliberate, and what he calls “killing the love.”

Biggest “Ah-ha”: “My recommendation for startups is not to begin optimizing until at least 40% of your randomly surveyed users say they would be “very disappointed” without your product. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to have a great first user experience, rather it means you shouldn’t start iterating flows until the core product meets this threshold.” This may apply more to a web app than to a robotics application or a consulting company, but the concept of product-market fit (nailing it) is undeniably a box that needs to be checks before we start looking at mere website opt-ins.

2. Empowering Marketing Tools – For Non-Engineers. Not everyone can “code.” When it comes to testing, experimenting, and analyzing a startup’s marketing efforts, the engineers will always have a few more tricks than us non-techies, but there’s tools to even the field. From KISSmetrics to Qualaroo, Sean talks about some of the tools he uses in this post.

Biggest “Ah-ha”: For basic A/B split-testing, Sean recommends Optimizely – and speaks to it’s easy functionality. I’ve always been a Visual Website Optimizer guy (they’re similar), but Sean’s making me do some re-considering in this post…

3. Getting to Product-Market Fit. Some people credit Sean most for his insights on product-market fit, though this post is written by guest contributor, Patrick Vlaskovits. Here, Pat digs into the nitty-gritty of what it means to build something people want and need, and how to calibrate the real (not “assumed”) want and need for the product itself.

Biggest “Ah-ha”: Being reminded of what pivoting and MVP (minimum viable product) is more than useful, even for someone (myself) who’s thinking about variations and “tweaking” all the time. This goes beyond the front-end adjustments to your real business hypothesis, and it’s worth the mental exercise to re-think these concepts. Plus – there’s links to more of less everyone you’d want to get perspective from on this topic, including links and insights from Steve Blank, Eric Ries, Dan Martell and other startup thought-leaders worth tuning into.




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