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Your Guide to Growth-Driven Design, Phase 1: Strategy

November 8, 2020
Growth-driven design is a data-centric approach to building websites that really informs how we at PRP tackle marketing more generally. In a previous post explaining the basic ideas behind growth-driven design, I described it as a powerful tool for aligning business goals with marketing efforts. In this post, I’ll explain the first phase of growth-driven design, strategy, in more detail, and it will be clear how business goals determine everything that follows.

Growth-Driven Design Strategy Phase

How Fast Do Websites Get Stale?

The prevailing wisdom used to be that you needed to design a new website every two or three years. But having a new site isn’t going to get Google’s search engines to pay attention to you. It’s true that Google doesn’t like websites that don’t change, but what Google likes even less is websites that don’t have visitors engaging with them and then coming back to engage again. Putting new stuff on your website is helpful, but it needs to be engaging, too
Think of your website as an employee who’s trying to communicate with people. If that employee only has one script, interacting with them is going to be a boring experience and not particularly relevant to most visitors. Growth-driven design looks to find out what else visitors want from your website, what is maybe not so effective, and allows you to make the changes to keep people coming back and keep your Google rankings higher.

Audits and Workshops to Light the Way Forward

As a data-driven approach, growth-driven design is big on documentation, and we start on it right away. We begin with a set of audits that we perform on the website and a set of workshops we do with the team. These help us produce a global strategy document.
We bring the key stakeholders to the table to discuss the goals of the business, dig into different products and services, and look at different personas they’re selling to. Since a new product launch is often the impetus behind a website refresh, we may need to spend some time talking about the higher-level goals related to new products.
Those goals help us understand what metrics we’ll use to measure success. Then we begin looking at the tools we have to realistically give us those metrics. If we’re looking at sales, we might have to hook up with a CRM to understand how many closed deals we have and if we’re moving those forward.
Through the audits and the workshops, we get a picture of what’s going on with a business, how the website is participating in that, and what success going forward will look like.

Strategizing or Business Coaching?

We do send along some prep work and assign some homework afterward, but these initial workshops tend to be buttoned up within an hour-long meeting. This is often a really fun conversation to have with clients, and works a lot like business coaching. All we’re really trying to get them to do in this conversation is to speak with clarity about where they are and where they want to be.
That is a conversation people don’t have nearly as often as you might expect. It’s hard to drill down to the ones and zeroes of what you’re doing. When you’re building a product—especially if you’re part of a startup—it’s easy to get so lost in the weeds of the many details coming your way that you never have the opportunity to step back and pin down what you’re really trying to accomplish. With many clients, I find that getting down some high-level summary statements brings a ton of encouragement and direction.
And that’s good, because it’s one of the hardest workshops we do! It makes people say, in plain, black and white language, where they are and where they want to go. Do people on the team have different ideas about how successful certain services can be or how a particular product will perform against the market? The answers are not always the same, even among members of the C-suite, so hammering out those differences out can be every bit as challenging as it is illuminating.

Personas & Assumptions

The next two workshops tend to work in tandem a bit more. The first one is all about personas. Who are the people the business is selling to? Do we understand the individuals buying the products and services? What problems do they have? What demographic information do we have about them? What makes them tick? Why do they want to do business with a company like our client?
The second is called “Fundamental Assumptions.” This one drills down a bit more into the buyer personas, with a focus on the specifics of each persona’s buyer’s journey, some first experiences we’d like them to have when they come to the website, or how we’d like them to encounter some of our marketing assets. As part of this work, we’re going to be digging through those assets pretty thoroughly to understand how they relate to the personas as we understand them.

Getting the Right Team Members Involved

It’s probably clear at this point that growth-driven design has the potential to touch any member of your company. The CEO is likely involved with the initial workshops, whereas the Fundamental Assumptions workshop could involve the folks who actually create your website or marketing assets.
One of the things I love about the HubSpot platform is that it doesn’t silo marketing and sales, but makes it easier to bring them together as one voice of the brand. Growth-driven design takes a similar approach in that it helps us find the people or the technologies available throughout the organization who are ready to step up to the plate.
HubSpot doesn’t care if your team members are in marketing or sales and growth-driven design doesn’t care if they’re a salesperson or a bot or an FAQ or a blog post. If it will help achieve business goals, growth-driven design is designed to find a way to put that tool or employee where the customer needs to see them.

Okay, But I Just Want Leads

In the end, some people just want leads. And that’s understandable! More leads, presumably, is the first step toward more sales. But there are lots of places you can get leads. You can buy lists, you can go to trade shows, you can open a physical location for people to stop by.
Leads are easy to come by, but if they just get flushed through a system with no one paying attention to the experiences, more leads may not lead to more sales. After all, they’re people experiencing your sales system, not just leads.
We can use growth-driven design to generate more leads if that’s the best way to advance your business goals. And sometimes generating leads is the right answer. But the strategy phase of GDD allows us to find out and, whether the answer is more leads, a higher conversion rate for the leads we have, or something else, we can take the next step with confidence.
Sometimes, if you want to take a step forward, you have to take a step back. With growth-driven design, we’re able to use that step back to gather the information we need to guide the next 10 steps.
Coming next week: a look at the Launchpad phase!

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