Objective prioritization is key to the success of your growth marketing strategy
If there's one thing most founders who invest in growth marketing strategy and execution have in common, it's their endless supply of ideas for the future.
How your rank and prioritize those ideas are often key to achieving your most important growth objectivess.
In this article, I'm going to show you how our growth agency prioritizes experiments being run through a methodology called "ICE."
It's designed to objectivize subjective concepts so you can more intelligently prioritize your ideas for experimentation using Growth Marketing methodology.
Let's start with some important jargon.
- North Star - Click HERE to learn more
When executing against your growth marketing strategy, it's easy to get caught up in the day-to-day and lose sight of why you're making the investments you're making. As you navigate the ups and downs of growing your business, having a well-articulated North Star will provide the ability to determine which way is forward (so it's important you choose a good one). Before you run the ICE score, you're going to need to have a clear vision of this term for your business.
- Funnel concept, "Pirate Metrics" - Click HERE to learn more
Growth is measured in stages: Acquisition, Activation, Revenue, Retention, and Referral. The stage you invest in is going to play a role in how the following methodology plays out.
- Experimentation cycle
When you first start investing in growth, you're going to be setting a lot of benchmarks, which is stage 1 of the experimentation cycle. Optimization is stage 2. Validation is stage 3. Standardization is the 4th and final stage.
(E)ase of execution
Whenever we're considering running an experiment of any kind, we put it through this grading system to determine how to prioritize. They should be ranked on a scale of 1 - 10 (10 being the best, 1 being the worst).
This refers to the impact we anticipate the experiment will have on the North Star. The North Star is a critical consideration in this.
INFLUENCING FACTORS: Funnel and context. If you're investing in something that is designed to generate leads (Acquisition), how realistic is it to suggest that it will have a "10?" Not very... unless, of course, you've established a connection to the subject of your experiment to the North Star. For example, we have a couple of blog articles that generate some of our best leads, which have a history of turning into customers. So, by increasing traffic from sources where there's an already-established record of success, we should be able to directly impact the North Star. Still, I'd say MOST Acquisition-based experiments land somewhere between 1 and 5. Activation tends to be between 4 and 6. Revenue between 6 and 10. Retention between 9 and 10. Referral between 5 and 10.
This refers to your level of confidence that the experiment will succeed, NOT how much it's going to impact the North Star (we already have that covered).
INFLUENCING FACTORS: Experimentation cycle. When you're first starting an experiment, you have very little context, so that should be embedded into your score. Benchmark experiments should rarely be above 5, but can go higher when previous experiments that led to this one have compellingly enough data. "Optimization" means we're improving an already successful outcome, so our confidence should start to creep up higher and higher based on how successful the previous outcome was--3 to 8 should cover it. "Validation" means we're proving a highly successful experiment is scalable, so 7 - 10 should work. "Standardization" means we've proven something so strongly that we are making it evergreen and/or expanding into other channels with it. 8 to 10 should work here.
EASE OF EXECUTION
This refers to the amount of resources and time your experiment is expected to consume. 10 should still be the best result, because the ICE score is an average. Executing 10s often means capacity for more experimentation.
INFLUENCING FACTORS: Experimentation cycle and content type. If you're benchmarking something, that means you're building it for the first time, so that's going to take more energy than optimizing (in theory). If you're setting up an ad campaign, that's going to take considerably less energy than an ebook... and less time given the smallness of it all.
PRO TIP: When you rank these different categories, do it as a team.
Take the average score of the three, and use that score to determine how to prioritize your resources. It's a good idea to engage in a mix of high and low resource experiments, and I definitely recommend applying a rigid experimentation cycle (2-week increments) to keep the pacing of your growth marketing strategy optimal.
Using the ICE ranking methodology will help address misconceptions early, establish trust with your stakeholders while making them feel heard, and prevent uncomfortable conversations later. Most importantly, it will help you steer your growth program more effectively, since key decision-makers with mountains of ideas will be forced to reckon with WHY they think those ideas are game-changers to begin with.
I can't tell you how many cliffs I've been able to talk us off of because I asked "why are you so confident in this idea? Where is the data to support it?"