Adam understands how to use visualizations to generate interest for your product, and ultimately conversions. In this episode he teaches us the necessary ingredients for creating powerful infographics and visualizations.
→ What is visually
→ How to use visualizations to generate interest in the product
→ How long has he been working on the marketplace
→ Understand how to use visualizations to generate interest for your product, and ultimately conversions
→ The necessary ingredients for creating powerful infographics and visualizations
→ What are there terms for growing the different sides of the marketplace
→ His thought about infographics are a really powerful way to grow product
→ And a whole lot more
Bronson: Welcome to another episode of Growth Hacker TV. I’m Ross and Taylor, and today I had Adam Bressler with us. Adam, thanks for coming on the show.
Adam: Hey, no problem to be here.
Bronson: Yeah, I’m looking forward to our talk. I’m a visual guy. And you work for a company called visually. You’re actually the the VP of product there. And you have some other startups under your belt, too, that you’ve worked at and started. And we’ll talk about those a little bit later. But tell us about visually a little bit. What is visually?
Adam: Sure. So visually, we’re the world’s largest community and marketplace for information design. You know, people come to our site to browse informative and beautiful visualization content. And then once they have something that they want to get created, they come to our marketplace and work with one of our designers in order to make their their infographics come come into place.
Bronson: Gotcha. So is it like an infographic marketplace? Is that the best way to kind of sum it up?
Adam: It is, yeah. We you know, we’re we’re touching on infographics in the static form. Recently, we’ve gotten into more motion graphics and data visualizations and reports and presentations. So it’s a little broader than that. But that’s kind of our our core.
Bronson: Yeah, that’s great. And then from looking at the site, it looks like there’s kind of this like public viewing area where you go to it and you’re just looking through infographics, maybe getting inspired, learning whatever. And then there’s also like this marketplace side next to it where you can, you know, buy or create depending on what side of the equation you’re on. Does that kind of some of the product right now?
Adam: Yeah. So the product, you know, it starts at the website level and that’s where we see about 80,000 visitors come through every day, just looking and browsing and graphics. And that’s about the top of the funnel for us in the marketing sense. So we get a lot of traffic there. That was the original product in and of itself that we launched with a few years ago. And so we had the website. We were able to grow a pretty strong and sizable community based on designers submitting their own work in order to get attention and distribution and recognition for it. And then from that, back in October of last year, we decided to kind of make the transition to more of a commerce focus and building a marketplace platform where the designers that were artists, many of their work could now take on projects that clients were looking to have created.
Bronson: Okay. See, I thought the the stuff I was viewing was actually a part of the marketplace. So it’s kind of a cool growth hack because, you know, we know infographics get a lot of traffic. So if you’re the platform where people are uploading their infographics, I mean, it makes sense why you guys have almost 100 K people coming through a day. That’s a that’s quite a bit of traffic. But it’s because infographics are really popular, right?
Adam: It is. Yeah. And you know, sometimes people have that misperception and it can be in our favor. We try to not assume that people think that we created all of the work because we didn’t. It’s, you know, our community of designers and we give them attribution and everything, but we do call out when there are graphics that were created in the marketplace, usually you’ll see designed by visually or it’ll have our visual logo on the graphic itself.
Bronson: Yeah. No, the stuff I’ve seen where the visual logos on it is beautiful and the normal stuff is beautiful. So it’s not like there’s a huge difference between the two or anything. What, you know, how long have you said you’ve been working on the marketplace? Just since last.
Adam: Year. Yeah. So the marketplace officially launched in October of 2012.
Bronson: Okay. So what are you guys doing there in terms of growing the different sides of the marketplace? How are you, you know, acquiring artists? How are you acquiring people that need artists? What are some of the things going into that engine?
Adam: Sure. So like I said at the top of the funnel, you know, we have all the graphics on the site that people are coming to and browsing. And what we found is that our best kind of form of marketing for the marketplace is creating really killer visualizations and infographics within our marketplace. So we’ll actually go and work with some of the designers who are working on client projects and then tap them to to work on marketing graphics for us to say we have some topic that’s, you know, topical or in the news and we think we can put out something really compelling around it. Well, we’ll work with some of our marketplace designers to crank something out really quick and then use that for our own marketing.
Bronson: Gotcha. So you’re using your own product to market your product, which is awesome. It’s great. And it’s a good kind of testimonial that you believe in what you’ve created when you’re tapping into your own marketplace, you’re not going to some other source to get your infographics to grow your company. So that’s cool. Do you find that a lot of people consume a lot of these kind of free looking at other people’s infographics before they end up buying? Do you have the metrics to kind of be like, look, on average, they look at 50 infographics before they pull the trigger and buy their own.
Adam: Yeah. So it’s hard to say on average, but what we see is that there’s two typical kind of potential customers and one of them. Maybe they’ll come in through a really high intent kind of keyword query through Google. They’ll be looking for create infographics or, you know, if by infographics and you know, these these people already have really high intending they’ll just kind of follow the path on the side all the way through to the marketplace and sign up and contact us. The other class of visitors, which is that really large in terms of volume and percentage of visitors to the website every day, they might need some convincing. So, you know, they’re they’re browsing lots of infographics. They may not even be in the market to buy one book. In fact, they probably aren’t. So just kind of getting on their radar with ongoing content, whether it’s through our Facebook feed and through our Twitter feed, through our e mail newsletter, we’re just constantly pushing out content. And so when it is when it comes time for them where they actually have a have a need and they’re ready to pay to create an infographic will be top of mind. And then we also have these three tools we developed, which you mentioned are the visually create tools. And these are kind of demonstrations of our technology that we’ve built to allow people to create infographics with the click of a button. So they’re essentially templates that you can use plugging your Twitter or plug in your Facebook page data. And then we’ll look you’ll be able to pop out an infographic.
Bronson: Yeah, actually played with the the infographic creation tools I think it was a few weeks ago, maybe a month ago, and it was before I even knew you’re going to be coming on the show or that we had any conversation with visually. And I was I was the guy that did the Google search create an infographic. I ended up in the marketplace. I played with the free tools because I just want to see what options are out there because I guess, you know, before I went to Odesk, you know, I was kind of like, okay, we just find somebody that’s not fun or easy because I have to vet them, I have to find a price point. I like to look at their portfolio and make all the decisions myself where you guys really create a marketplace where a lot of those things are already done for me. I just show up, pay for it and get what I need or create it myself either way. So, so I like what you guys are doing there. Have you guys ever had a problem growing one side of the marketplace too quickly? So you got too many people wanting an infographic out of artists, too many artists, and there’s a lot of people wanting them. And so they’re getting bummed out. They’re not getting enough leads. Anything there?
Adam: Sure. So when we started out, you know, we were kind of in the fortunate position that we had the supply side of the market in terms of the designers already on the platform. So they had come to us initially to promote their work and then they had accounts and so we were familiar with us, we were familiar with them. And then once we decided to bolt on marketplace service, then, you know, we had we already had, I think, around 200 designers that we then went and certified to work on projects from day one. So we had a good kind of head start on the supplier. So that was never really an issue. We did hit. That being said, we hit our first kind of supply crunch a few months back when we had a, you know, spike in demand for four projects. But then we’ve since kind of expanded out the number of designers that we’ve been certifying. And so, you know, we’re a marketplace that’s it’s a different it’s not a free for all marketplace like an Odesk freelance. Like it’s it’s more of a curated approach that we’ve taken where, you know, there’s plenty, there’s tens of thousands of designers if you go and find through our site who submit infographics, but then we only select the top 5% or so of those to actually work with customers.
Bronson: Yeah, makes sense. You know, you talk about the supply and demand problem that you guys hit a couple of months ago. At least the problem was on the right side of the equation. You know, it’s good that you have too much demand and you have to, you know, find people to create the infographics as opposed to no one needs them because then you don’t have either side of the market.
Adam: Right. Right. I think I think that was you know, it was definitely intentional. Like we always knew we had to kind of try to grow supply first. So if there’s anything to take away from that, it’s just that I think biasing towards really focusing on supply before you try to generate more demand, it’s probably a good way to go, but great insight.
Bronson: What are you guys release in terms of numbers to show your growth? I know you’ve already mentioned 80,000 visitors a day. That’s a huge one. Anything else? I mean, you probably can’t disclose, you know, revenues and things like that, but, you know, number of infographics made, you know, number of jobs requests at home. Does anything like that at all?
Adam: Sure. You know, we’ve had over 500 kind of projects that have gone through the platform. Some of those are from multiple infographics. We had one customer the other day that one of 18 infographics they wanted to create, one for each press release they’re putting out over a few months. And so, you know, those projects, they range from just a static infographic to a motion graphic to a more like interactive or dashboard like. Presentation. So kind of runs the gamut there.
Bronson: Yeah. And as you guys think about your metrics, what are your all, you know, KPIs, what are the key numbers that you’re probably getting emailed every day or you’re looking at them once a week at least what are the numbers and realize all these matter and talk to us a little bit about that because it’s always fun to get inside of someone else’s head who has a different kind of business.
Adam: Sure. So we track everything in visually. You know, we’re sending out weekly reports on kind of the top, top metrics in each department. So on the sales side, we’re tracking number of prospects that come through the site. So those are people that have submitted a contact form, you know, express some intent to work on a project through the marketplace. Number of leads, which are people basically who have converted from a prospect to an actual conversation with the salesperson. Number of project starts we’re tracking. So how many projects are started this week versus last week versus the previous period? And for a for all these metrics we’re tracking week over week growth and like month over month growth. So we’re really we’re not focused on the absolute number. More on the growth rate. So we’re targeting higher growth rates instead of just trying to hit numbers typically. And then on the on the marketing side, you know, we have visits to the website at the top of the funnel and emails captured. That’s kind of our primary way of doing. Lead generation is capturing emails either through a sign up, like someone like yourself who signed up to use one of the templates. Maybe you left your email for a free infographic template or white paper, and then all the way down to the number of emails sent, number of responses and tracking growth rates on.
Bronson: How important is it for you guys to have those kind of numbers and build a see the week over week and month over month growth percentages? Is that just like fun or is it like really, really important for us?
Adam: I think it’s really critical because, you know, we have a really wide funnel. So we have all and we have to see how each metric relates to each other because we can throw a bunch of traffic and get, you know, a bunch of graphics out and get a lot of traffic to the site. But that’s at the very top of the funnel. So seeing how those metrics impact all the other ones downstream for us is is really critical to understand what’s actually driving sales. Yeah.
Bronson: No, that’s great. Now you’re the VP of product there, which basically means you obsess about the product all day long. Right. And thinking about features or thinking about how it works, the experience of, you know, the road map, all that kind of stuff. Are there any ways that you’ve tried to use the product itself to grow the product? And you kind of already mentioned one where you use the marketplace to buy infographics that are then going to be, you know, help you promote it, but anything maybe even more integral to the product to help spread it.
Adam: Yeah. So so in our case, you know, we have somewhat of an indirect kind of path towards growing the product since it is like the product itself. When you’re talking about the marketplace, it’s a project management platform and people will invite their colleagues that are working on projects together and that all kind of help get some distribution in. But it’s not it’s not really a viral product in the sense of, you know, most consumer facing things. So our our biggest engine of growth on is really our website as the product because that’s that’s where people first get in contact with us. So when we’re using, you know, when we’re talking about the Marketplace product, we’re using that to generate content that then is going to get distribution through our website and our other channels. So, you know, I think I give you one example of of a of a graphic that we created in the marketplace, really successful. So this was about a year ago. We created a graphic that called What are the odds you can look it up, just do a Google search. And basically it’s a fun graphic about what are the odds of you existing as you today. So what are the odds that going all the way back in time, back to your parents, meeting their parents all the way back to the big banks. So it’s not it’s not the most like scientific or factual graphic itself, but it sparked the really interesting debate between atheists and people that were religious, which I think was part of the success. But in any case, it generated 1.7 million views to our website for visits directly to the graphic, which resulted in a bunch of accounts created and emails and business down the road. And it got pick up on BoingBoing and all got blown up over the web. I think it got like 10 million views on external sites. And this is a graphic that I literally put together in a few days with a designer in a marketplace. So I had an idea one day in the shower, you know, what are the odds of me existing as a very sort of we can visualize this somehow, but I needed to try to put together the math behind it. Ozzy was kind of going to be a really arduous process. So I just started poking around Google and found that some professor at Harvard had already put together the numbers, so he did all the math laid out. So we just took that math with his permission and basically put it into a really nicely designed story in the form of an infographic. And just that kind of the hours of effort really paid a lot of dividends, and that was just an example of us kind of using the products, using our platform to market.
Bronson: Yeah, that actually Segways perfectly into what I want to talk about, which is how companies can use infographics to grow their own product because they may not be a marketplace for infographics, but infographics work beyond that. Infographics are powerful tools. Like you said, you had over a million people come to the site because of it, and if your site had been something else, you probably would’ve still had a million. Some people come to your site because of it. But let’s start with that. Do you think infographics are a really powerful way to grow a product?
Adam: I think they are. I think there’s a caveat there, which people often maybe overlook, which is that they’re they’re they’re really good. They can be very good for direct kind of customer acquisition, but they’re even better for kind of thought leadership and branding and more of being viewed as a, you know, a branding and advertising exercise versus direct customer acquisition. You know, oftentimes customers will will they’ll put out an infographic and it won’t have a, you know, a huge success. Maybe, you know, people come to their site, but they won’t convert. But you know what? What what it really is about is starting to be viewed as a thought leader in your space. And this is like something that takes a lot of investment in time and in developing a repeated content strategy. And you can’t just expect to throw something out there and hope it hits and you acquire one user. So it’s not a it’s not a quick kind of hit of of user acquisition in terms of direct marketing, but it can be very powerful there in addition to being viewed as a brand marketing exercise.
Bronson: Well, I think that’s an important you said in addition to because there’s very few things you can do, whereas building their brand and thought leadership simultaneously while giving you the potential for customer acquisition, I mean, those two things that don’t usually happen in tandem but infographics allow them to kind of both coexist. And that is why I think they’re unique in their power to to help us start about what are some examples maybe of companies that have used infographics really well that, you know, maybe on your platform, maybe just, you know, any time in history to help us get our head around the potential here.
Adam: Sure. Yeah. So so going back in time, you know, the founders of visually, we all came from a startup called Mint.com. And so we were in the marketing team there and we started using infographics as a marketing tool for the Mint product. This was back in 2007, 2008 era, when it was a relatively new fangled kind of technique. And so, yeah, you know, we had some success just based on the fact that it was new. People were really excited about it, but then we got really serious and started doubling down on it when we saw that it was actually driving a lot of success in terms of acquisition for the Mint products. I think at the peak we were generating tens of thousands of new signups to directly to the Mint product just through our content marketing, through the use of infographics for Mint. So that’s where we kind of really had that aha moment where, wow, this really works, you know, for, for this product that could work for for other products as well.
Bronson: Yeah. Let’s walk through the mechanics of kind of creating a great visualization, a great infographic, because maybe if people watching this, they’re going to create their own, maybe they already have an in-house team and this can help them or they’re going to hear this list and realize it’s kind of hard and they’re going to come to you and have you guys create one for them. But either way, it’ll be a good value add for them. You know, one of the first things that I’ve seen you mention online is you have to select a good topic. I think you are giving us an example of that. You know, what’s the you know, what’s the probability that I would be here the way I am? That’s a good topic. What makes a good topic? How do you know when there’s a good one or a bad one?
Adam: Yeah. So, I mean, a good topic. That’s that’s really that’s hard. The one kind of hack there that I’ve learned is that you don’t have to come up with the topic from scratch. Like, you know, odds are that there is some story out there like what are the odds case? You know, someone had already kind of done the research and figured it out. And so it’s kind of a shortcut, but it works a lot of times. And we created another graphic that was not quite as successful but did really well. It was called The Tale of Two Counts, and this is about different economies being visualized or not visualized. We put into a visualization or an infographic, but it was really just an old joke from the fifties. And so coming up with a good topic, you don’t have to look too far. Sometimes there a lot of easy ways to find existing topics that people are interested in, and then turning that into an infographic is kind of all you know.
Bronson: Yeah. Sometimes that infographic is just a new way to consume old ideas, but they’ll still be popular because the world has already vetted them as worthwhile ideas.
Adam: Exactly. Because coming up with that really new idea that is going to resonate with people, that’s really the hardest part. You can you can spend a lot of time trying to get that right and then it’ll still flop. Of course, you know, it’s still worth worth trying if you have a particular new idea that you want to try to get across and so want to recycle old ideas. But.
Bronson: Yeah, but there’s a lot of old ideas that are good and not popular. Is that in that they found a niche somewhere, but most people on internet haven’t heard of it. So, you know, the two calls thing, you know the joke from the fifties, how many people who saw the infographic knew the joke from the fifties? You know, some small percentage probably.
Adam: Yeah. No, it’s true. It’s true. And then people, you know, they see that and then they have ideas for four. They’re like, Oh, well, what about for my country? And then they start contributing. So it’s like a it gets them gets them excited.
Bronson: Absolutely. And then after kind of finding the right topic is finding the right data, you know, you said you did a Google search and you happened to find this professor who had done the math. Is that really the next step? Like go and try to find somebody that’s already compiled the data? Possible.
Adam: If possible. Yeah. I mean, you might need to if it’s something you’re you’re using your own internal company data for, then you know, you’ll have access to that. But getting getting the data rights are really critical. You know, we’re we’re pretty serious about our kind of level of of data and data journalism and visually. So we have a number of trained journalists in in the marketplace that will work on this component of infographics. A lot of times people think great infographics. They’re just the designer kind of plodding away on and, you know, in Photoshop. But a lot of the upfront work being done that needs to be done by someone who’s a trained researcher, a journalist, in order to get their get the facts right and and start laying out stories. So we have an editorial team, editorial director who’s getting all of these journalists that are working on projects. So and I can I can assure you, they’re not they’re not sourcing Wikipedia.
Bronson: Yeah, that’s good. And so they find the right data. And I guess you probably already answered this. They analyze the data. So is that what these journalists are doing? They’re analyzing, making sure that it holds up?
Adam: Yeah. Yeah, exactly. And that, you know, the one thing there that is often overlooked is a lot of times people will come into creating an infographic with a particular idea of what the story is going to be. And we try to caution against that. Like, you can keep that in the back of your head, but it’s also important to kind of be open to exploring the data. So if you if you’re analyzing the data that you thought was going to tell one story, but it turns out to tell something else, that’s fine. It could be equally or even more interesting story. So it’s important to keep an open mind when you and you’re jumping into that.
Bronson: Yeah, I can imagine becoming frustrated if there’s a certain story. I’m just, you know, dying to tell. But I can think of the numbers to back it up. So there’s some internal conflict there with people as we try to reconcile those two worlds. And so after you’ve built the narrative, you have to come up with a design concept. So how does that happen from narrative to design concept? What does that look like?
Adam: Sure. So I mean, that’s that’s the design process. That that’s where it kind of the designers start working and they’ll come up with some some sketches, rough drafts for the story. It’s kind of like a storyboard where it’s just a series of charts or key points that they’re going to they’re going to use kind of wireframe together. And then going from that to more of the full fledged kind of polish in Photoshop.
Bronson: Yeah. And what makes for a great design? It seems like a lot of the infographics have similar elements. They seem very flat in a good way, very digestible. You know, things are, you know, appropriately highlighted. I mean, are those some of the criteria that really go into great infographics?
Adam: Yeah, those are those are definitely a few. You know, those highlights. I think there’s a few key things. Like one is compare it like comparison of numbers showing, you know, this month versus last month as a trivial example. Like they’re making comparisons between disparate datasets can be a or a similar datasets even can be a really good visual cue using use of metaphor, the use of iconography in order to try to really crystallize or ram home the message in the viewer. So not just having a, you know, a regular bar chart, but having a bar chart that’s in the form of, you know, what, what whatever the topic is or around that that elements and some other iconography can can really help, help drive home your point and then just having unique kind of chart types or things that you wouldn’t be able to see in just six L or a regular charting library can, can, really, can really help quite a bit.
Bronson: Yeah, those are great insights. And so then they polish and refine it, which my guess is then just. Being in Photoshop, making it awesome. And then you have the hardest part really, which is distribution. You know, a lot of people can design. Distribution is always hard, so I think we all know the answer. But what do you guys do there?
Adam: Yeah. I mean, you know, we’re we’re focused on on distribution. That’s like a it’s a key it’s a key part of what we offer customers because no one’s creating an infographic to get it not seen unless, you know, unless they’re doing it with private internal data. And it’s for the bots.
Bronson: Which is rare.
Adam: Yeah. Yeah. Well, yeah, it’s surprising actually. I mean, we can talk about this later, but that there’s a lot of what we’re seeing is a lot of trends from external use of infographics to moving more inside the enterprise. People are in like reports that are getting generated in infographic form. So that’s something we’re we’re kind of dabbling in a.
Bronson: Lot of people trying to keep their jobs. So they’re making the reports look super awesome now. Yeah, yeah yeah. That’s a blow away. Our boring meeting of I saw him this.
Adam: Exact exactly.
Bronson: That’s cool. Well no those are great insights are on all those things and so infographics I mean, just for people, you know, listening and watching, you know, it might be something worth trying we all we had ran Fishkin on a recently talked about inbound marketing infographics is a piece of that equation. Infographics can be a really important piece of inbound marketing tactics. But let’s change gears a little bit because you’re involved in some other things, just growth related that aren’t necessarily about infographics. Before coming to visually, like you said, you worked at Mint and then after that, I believe you also worked at a coupon site that you created. And so you have some experiences before visually. And one of the skill sets you picked up was per click advertising. And so I just want to ask you kind of what are some of the strategies that you learned previously about pay per click and the way you kind of go about it? And I see over your shoulder there the long tail of something. So all of that is anything to do with or not? You can tell us.
Adam: Yeah. It’s like that graph might be hard to make out. It’s, it’s basically I was explaining to someone the other day who’s over here showing them kind of the long tail of search when it comes to paid search. And it’s similar to the concept with, you know, organic search is that there’s 10% of, you know, in the in the kind of fat head of the tail. There’s your 10% of keywords that are doing, you know, 10% of the volume of overall search. But then there’s that 90% in the tail that is is in pay per click terms where you really want to focus. There’s less competition, there’s more intent usually. So these are keywords that are usually over three words or more. So they’re really descriptive of the intent of the, of the, of the browser, the visitor. And so figuring out strategies and it’s, it’s probably a whole nother episode to the anti but we’ll.
Bronson: Have you on again just to do a deep dove into that at some point.
Adam: We could do that. But I think, you know, the takeaways in a nutshell are just that that you can get from paper. Click is kind of a training ground for other types of growth techniques or growth marketing is figuring out intent is really key. So intent coming from a keyword is probably about the purest form of intent you can get. So trying to align your ad copy with your landing page with the keyword that’s actually being searched for and making sure those mesh 100%. It’s a hard thing to do at scale when you’re talking about five, ten, hundreds of thousands of keywords. Getting those all aligned perfectly is, is, is a big challenge.
Bronson: So you’re really using pay per click as almost customer research so that you can build it back into your copywriting design, what words they want to see and hear, whatever that kind of thing, right?
Adam: Yeah, exactly. So you can use it. You know, it’s great for direct customer acquisition, but then, you know, you can also use it as kind of a flypaper for figuring out like new things that people are looking for, new demand. Maybe that hasn’t you haven’t seen yet.
Bronson: Yeah. Now, let me ask you one question about the long tail of search. You might be gonna help me out a bit here, you know, as I go in there, I agree. Like, I want to go up to the long tail. So when I’m looking at testing the waters with, you know, pay per click on Google, let’s say for growth accurately, I go in there and when I go, you know, short tail, you know, cost per click is way high. And I’m not going to spend that right now because organic traffic so good. So then I go into the long tail and it says there’s not enough traffic for those keywords or those phrases. You know, they still run on ads on them. At the same time, even they’re telling me there’s not enough traffic. So do I need to, like, ignore their warnings or what? What do you do there?
Adam: Yeah, pretty much. They’re they’re probably like you, you know? I mean, the reality is like the threat, the individual search traffic is going to be really low. So when they say it’s less than ten searches per month, that might be true, but neither get all of those put together is going to be much more than the the amount of volume in the top of the funnel. One other thing that you know. You can kind of apply to other growth techniques from paint paid search is being able to forecast the the ceilings and the potential volume of a particular channel. So it’s really quantifiable in paint search because you have those tools like the keyword estimate or the Google provided. So you can see, oh well, you know, there’s only 10,000 people searching this per month. So if we get a fraction of that, it’s not really going to move the needle. And what I think is often overlooked in other kind of channel exploration is trying to forecast that potential ceiling or volume upfront before you really dove into it. So if you if you’re looking at email as a channel and you’re seeing that, oh, you do some back of the envelope math and we’re not going to be able to see all this beyond a certain level, then it may not be worth putting that time in upfront. So kind of doing that homework and pre-work in order to figure out the scalability of a channel is something that I learned from Head Search.
Bronson: Yeah. And so if you’re going to do a long tail strategy, you really need a lot of long tail keywords to add up to something meaningful or you’re wasting your time if you’re going after a couple of phrases, right?
Adam: Yeah, no, definitely.
Bronson: That’s cool. Now you also write a blog and on the blog you have different blog posts about different growth concepts from time to time, and a few of them caught my attention. So I ask you about them real quick here. One of them is you talked about the difference, you know, in perception of how companies grow versus the reality of how companies grow. What do you mean by that when you say perception, reality there?
Adam: Yeah. So it’s funny. I mean, you know, you often see in the press a certain story gets written about a company and it’s talking about the the collaborative economy or it’s, you know, there’s some some buzzword getting thrown around.
Adam: About over. Yeah, exactly. And, you know, oftentimes, if you look under the covers, the reality is somewhat different than the perception. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing for the company. Like, they’re, you know, they’re they want to perpetuate this idea that, you know, the ride sharing economy is is really big or in Airbnb’s case, that, you know, home sharing is is is kind of happening and people are having you over and cooking your eggs for breakfast. But in reality, probably it’s more professional landlords and people who are kind of, you know, they’re they were using something else before and now they’re just using Airbnb as the new distribution channel. So yeah, that’s kind of what I meant by the perception versus reality. No, that’s.
Bronson: Great. And I mean, until you’re on the inside of a startup, you just don’t know. And I think that’s good for a couple of reasons. One, you mentioned, you know, you get to kind of hide what’s really working sometimes if you want to and don’t let people assume whatever. But on the flip side, you know, don’t take the bait if you’re on the outside looking in. Don’t assume that. Oh, I can replicate their playbook. You may not even know their playbook. You know, you may know the blogpost that acts like they know their playbook, but you don’t know their playbook. And so you really have to think about your own startup. Think about your own KPIs. Think about your own methods for moving things forward up and to the right. And then somebody else can write incorrectly about how you’re going.
Adam: To help really with this. That’s the lesson.
Bronson: That’s cool. Another blog post you had, you mentioned that with AB testing, there’s no free lunch. What do you mean by that? That was Abby testing. There’s no free lunch.
Adam: Yeah. So, you know, free, free lunch in an economics, like I’m a economics geek. So that that was kind of, you know, me putting my economic spin. And it’s it really what I meant by that is just that when you’re when you’re doing a B test, what most people do, they’ll create, you know, an alternate version of the landing page. Maybe they’re testing a particular button color, maybe they’re testing a new image, maybe they’re testing a lot of things at once. And typically, when you set this up, you’re optimizing around probably one conversion of that one variable. You know, do we get more people clicking this form or more people signing up for our site, things like that? What I think that kind of gets lost in that sometimes is the unintended consequences of optimizing for a single variable. So if you have other conversion events that might be interesting or other metrics that you’re trying to optimize for that might be impacted by you trying to optimize for this this one event, you don’t really have the full picture. That’s what you actually did. And you may have not even kind of moved that moved the needle much because, you know, you tweet out this conversion event, but then, you know, it was a sacrifice. It was kind of sacrificing. Maybe the user experience was being sacrificed. So that’s that’s kind of what I meant. There is be careful of the unintended consequences of a swiftkey skip sprint testing testing your site.
Bronson: Yeah. I mean something about like the moving back to the future. Like you change one thing and you think you change one thing, but you have to change. Ten Hard to know what variables are actually interacting with each other now. Or maybe you think about.
Adam: The better freelancer. I like that.
Bronson: There you go. Or even the, you know, the experiments in quantum physics, where it’s like just by virtue of there being somebody observing the experiment, the experiment is different. It’s like, how do you control for that? Like, what does a control group look like when observing? It changes it. So at a deep level, yeah, he’d be testing. It’s just not that simple.
Adam: Sometimes it’s really not. And, you know, you can throw your hands and say, I’m not going to worry about it, or you can kind of get serious about it or it’s somewhere in between and just recognize that that there can be some fallibility in your experiment and just live with it.
Bronson: Yeah. Now, another blog post I want to ask you about. The last one here is you talk about the differences in learning from success and learning from failure. And I loved when I saw this blog post because I’ve always held that you can learn from both. And I still believe that you can learn from success and failure. But this clarified my thinking even more. So how do you see the difference between learning from success and learning from failure?
Adam: So I think kind of, you know, for me, learning from failures is overrated. I think some people in our in our industry, they try to glorify failure. You know, you hear the term fail fast. You know, I think that the assumption there is that getting your failures out of the way is going to get you closer to success. And I don’t really believe that to be true. So I think that if you have something and you figure it out, something that’s maybe kind of working, that’s a good place to start and just start really trying to get from something kind of working in to really working that. That’s a much better use of your time than trying to say, Oh, well, maybe this is kind of working, but let’s try like five other things to see if any of those will just take off. The reality is like, you know, nothing’s going to really work, especially when it comes to growth. Like most companies, they have one or two channels which are far and away the most successful channels for their growth. And figuring out what those one and two are going to be is is probably the most important thing.
Bronson: We can be doing. Yeah. And so that’s what helped clarify for me is that there’s a million ways to fail. There’s only a couple of ways to succeed. Yeah. Finding a few of the ways that failure is possible doesn’t actually help that much. It’s not a net negative, but it doesn’t help that much in comparison. But finding the few ways that actually work, that is a huge win because now you can drive growth through the roof. And so, like I said, to help my thinking, even though I still agree, you can learn from both. You do learn from success more.
Adam: Yeah, definitely replicate those successes.
Bronson: You know. Yeah. You can’t replicate failure. You can just move on. And, you know, I feel that way again. But you can’t build upon it. You’re not. It’s not for momentum is not a flywheel. It’s just cross that one off. We know that doesn’t work.
Adam: Yeah, exactly.
Bronson: Yeah. No, that’s cool. Well, this is an awesome interview, Adam. Just a couple, you know, high level final questions here. One, what’s the best growth hack you’ve ever seen implemented? Maybe you did it yourself. Maybe you saw it somewhere else. Just something that caught your attention, like, yeah, that’s cool.
Adam: Okay. Yeah. I mean, one, one that I saw it actually from a, from another startup they implemented and we started using it ourselves was it was pretty cool. It was they, they went out, they, they gathered up a bunch of their customer objections or potential customer objections like, oh, it’s too much money. It’s not going to work with this software. You know, in our case it was I have an in-house design team. Why would I need to use the service like visually? And so we gathered up all of our best existing customers. We posted this as an open question on Quora and then had all of our existing customers, right, who who like our service, put out their answers publicly. Encore. And then that got us a lot of a lot of used. And then we continue to use that link in all of our email signatures. So you see an email from here, you probably see my email signature. Why would I use the visually marketplace instead of use my in-house team? So it kind of perpetuated through for each new perspective customer.
Bronson: So it’s like you’re using social proof to answer objections because as someone that uses the service, tells them why that those aren’t really objections. It’s so much more powerful than an internal person copyrighting it to death and making it sound exactly the way that, you know, the legalese needs it to sound. So I like that a lot. That’s a great idea there. And then last question here. What’s the best advice that you have for any startup that’s trying to grow?
Adam: So you know what I said before? Focus on the kind of core. First, first and foremost, before you even worry about trying to figure out what is the core value of your product and how it’s being provided, and just obsessed with getting that right. That’s, you know, before you worry about anything else, that should be your number one kind of kind of directive. Once you think you’ve figured that out or you’re on your way to figuring that out, you know, then figure out what are those one or two channels that are going to grow, whether it’s email, whether. Search, whether it’s social media, you know, failing, failing fast is, you know, obviously I’m not a fan of that. But once you try to once you have something that’s working, really start trying to figure out how to make it ten acts better and just focus on getting getting that right.
Bronson: Yeah, that’s awesome. Adam, this has been a great interview. Thank you so much for coming on growth TV.
Adam: No problem. I love that.
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