My job is functionally all about Growth. In reality, it’s been that way for 20 years as I’ve served in marketing and growth roles at much-hyped startups and industry giants, like Microsoft, Vevo, and Goldman Sachs. I wake up thinking about how to grow a customer base — CPI, LTV, DAU/MAU, I see log scale histograms of buyers and sellers in my dreams. Super nerdy, right?
But, for people really good at Growth, this is how we see the world. If you can identify with that lens, read on.
How does methinks help “Growth”?
Qualitative and quantitative research serve critical needs in Growth and Product Management. After reading this, I think you’ll understand why the biggest, most successful games companies are testing new titles and game mechanics using methinks.
Too many people still think Growth is about customer acquisition. Generally speaking, there are three phases of growth:
- Finding product-customer fit
- Finding expansion in segment relationships
- Finding scale across all desirable segments
Sidebar: Many people think optimization and finding “buoyancy” in acquisition are phases. I get that perspective, but that’s not pertinent to this post. The important point is to recognize that Growth has very little to do with media buying, and more to do with understanding how to create a multiple on your paid customer acquisition by leveraging the app actions of paid customers — more usage creates more money and more organic customer growth. It’s a very simple concept but very difficult to execute.
I have used methinks three times in finding product-customer-fit, and one time I used methinks in identifying segment relationships for expansion. Here are the methinks capabilities critical to those efforts:
1. Video recording, playback, transcription and session recreation.
These are critical in identifying and determining product-customer fit. One thing methinks has always done well is record user sessions via Smart Phone and desktop. Now, methinks provides video playback that augments my questions and annotations with test subject transcription and video. I can “Bookmark” a customer insight, tag and share, clip and drop into research repositories, research summary decks, and investor presentations. If I want to convince a PM, engineer, or investor that my sketch designs and prototypes are valid, methinks saves me a massive amount of time. It’s hard for people to abandon their design instincts, but methinks obviates internal discussions — it’s hard to argue against the preferences of real customers as they’re articulated over recreated click paths in video. Even more critical to my world, if I want to validate feature-functional concepts produced by PM and design before moving to an “A-B” test, methinks reduces risk in execution and provides customer insights in the prototyping design process.
2. Surveys and Ethnographic Interviews.
As a part of larger organizations, I’ve been a part of massive research projects with the simple goals of understanding customer needs, product appeal, brand perceptions. In Growth, these learnings affect “top of funnel.” In my experiences, professional agencies and services are tasked with finding qualified customers. It’s a costly line-item that is tasked out to sub-contractors that scrape “gig economy” sites. Because I couldn’t filter, the research subjects frequently weren’t a fit. In many instances, finding viable research subjects is the most time-intensive period of the overall project — longer than interviews, longer than analysis and summary. Using methinks, I have literally conducted interviews with qualified research subjects on the same day that I specified and posted a research request. I can interview people in their home, showing me how they use competitive phone apps, what kind of A/V solution they have in their house, how they feel about a logo, messaging, etc. I can roll a qualifying survey or follow-up survey to these subjects in minutes. Arguably, I could cobble together point solutions from UserTesting.com, Skype, Survey Monkey, etc., but only methinks does this all in one place, in one solution, and the speed-to-feedback is key when engineering time is at stake. The efficiencies I’ve realized are amazing — a process that once required months is compressed into a matter of minutes, hours, and days thanks to methinks on-demand customer research capabilities.
3. Longitudinal studies.
When you’ve got product-customer fit, you’re undoubtedly factoring customer insights with product performance data. This is when Growth people start thinking about segmentation and scale. This is where the focus becomes growing usage via feature-functional additions. The excitement is amazing, but it’s accompanied by the downside risk of change — the risk of of adding to attrition in user journeys, unintentionally increasing churn. These are the moments when, historically, I really wished I could go find that customer that loved or hated a feature I’m trying to improve. I want to ask that subject for an opinion on proposed product changes — I want to show them the mocks, I want to ask them if the new fields make sense, how the “new experience” works for that customer I interviewed a year ago. In the traditional agency model above, getting back in touch with that customer is nearly impossible. With methinks, it takes me a minute to reach out, and I can be talking to that customer in a matter of hours. Thanks to methinks, my relationship with a “representative” customer never has to end. Isn’t that the way it should be?
4. Pre-launch testing.
Increasingly, Growth is a hire from the start. Ten years ago, I wasn’t hired until there was a “growth round” of funding, or a management team felt that they were ready to buy customer attention and scale. Today, venture investors and entrepreneurs recognize that they need a growth hypothesis at launch. But, how do you “A/B” test before you have a product ready? How do you aggregate 500 or more target customers and then put them into a non-public discovery and on boarding flow? How do you start with a great UX that converts users and gets them into monetization flows ahead of a public launch?
methinks does this. I can link into apps that are not yet published to the AppStore or PlayStore. I can put a user into a U/P domain after their session has started. I can send a user to a specific Facebook ad test, a mock user page, and into a beta flow inside of methinks. There is no longer a period in a startup life-cycle where I am no longer testing, able to take a break. Isn’t that great?
If you have questions about how I’m using methinks, want a customer reference check, reach out to me on LinkedIn or email methinks at sales [at] mehtinks.io. You can also set up a demo if you want to see the product in action.
About the Author: Aaron Burcell is a Growth Expert with more than 20 years of experience working in Startups acquired by Microsoft, Yahoo! and other tech giants. Recently, Aaron was a VP of Growth at Goldman Sachs, but he first started using methinks as head of Growth and Product Marketing at Vevo, the Music Video joint venture owned by Google, Sony Music and Universal Music Group. Aaron is now CEO of methinks.