I’ve worked with many companies who’ve shown exceptional growth, triple digits year over year that brings them to the next levels in their industries (music, education, marketplaces, etc.). But… in some cases, it wasn’t as good as it should have been. Because the main channels that they were using were vastly too big for what they should have been. So let’s dive a bit deeper into what that means.
When 80-90% becomes a problem
For some of these top performers in their space, they all had one fundamental problem: They were far too much relying on one specific channel that was driving their growth. If one channel (which is/was often Social Media or Organic Search) is driving over 80% of your traffic and/or revenue you might be growing but you’re also in immediate danger. As you can see in the following graph, this company was growing greatly for years before this. However what they weren’t realizing is, that they were not particularly setting themselves up for SEO success. They weren’t doing anything wrong, but they also weren’t doing anything in a way that I would consider a world-class SEO program. Then Google decided to change their approach to certain sites in their algorithm and this happened in the span of a few months. They lost over 40% of traffic and with that approximately 20-30% of their business.
So ask yourself, does your site/business have a healthy divide in traffic? Have you looked at the difference in channels for new and returning visitors? Looking at it the wrong way (combined) will likely skew your approach.
What channels this applies to
- SEO: If the majority of your traffic is coming in from SEO you have a serious problem. Remember the company that I was talking about at the beginning of this article. They saw their traffic drop with over 90% overnight! I repeat: overnight! This meant that their revenue streams itself crashed with over 80% (they weren’t solely relying on SEO at their revenue driver at the time).
- Paid Search & Social: When you’re thinking about this channel you’re likely thinking about Google AdWords, Bing Ads and for the social channels; Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. It makes sense, I do the same and because of that, I can’t blame you for it. But most companies aren’t even using Bing Ads, or only look at one of these channels. Even with, for example, Bing just being a few percents of your spend it will help you diversify your strategy a lot and protect you from Google changes that might hurt you in the long run. In addition, there are also tons of other networks out there which you could combine that could easily drive a few percent of your PPC spend. We looked into this recently and decided to move part of our display budget over to another platform/vendor just to ensure this, they were able to drive the same ROAS metrics and it felt safer to move a few percent of traffic to a smaller player.
- ‘Email Marketing’: In most cases, I don’t think this is really an acquisition strategy at all. Because from what source are these people actually signing up to be on your newsletter/mailing list? Likely one of the other channels that have been mentioned in this article.
- Social Media: Think about all the publishers who doubled down on social media a few years ago (Vice, Buzzfeed, etc.). Social media was a great driver of engagement, branding, and traffic for them. But have you noticed that trend over the last two/three years? Most of them have for sure not seen a traffic increase over that period. The reasons why: the social networks decided to change the way they ranked content and are likely less interested in sending more clicks to publishers instead of keeping them on their own platform.
In all these cases, still focus on these channels, they’re great drivers of growth for your business. Don’t rely on just one of them!
Why not other channels?
In my opinion, the problem doesn’t apply in most cases to referral traffic, affiliate marketing, and multi-level-marketing. As the majority of traffic from these is spread (it should) across many different partners and sites.
Valid Traffic Model
To marketers and founders, I would say, think more about the divide of your traffic and what is bringing in the actual revenue. Explore other channels, it’s not bad to kickstart growth on one channel (social/community, SEO, paid acquisition), in most cases I would encourage founders & startups actually to focus on this. It’s better to take a leap of faith and double down on a channel then to suck at a few channels.
Recruiting, Hiring and building out marketing teams has been what I’ve focused on for the last years. While starting at RVshare in June 2018, my latest role, I wanted to have an impact right away and read into how to best onboard myself in a new environment. But it was also important to provide a direct impact on the rest of the organization, I was their marketing leader after all.
On the flip side, I also spend over the years a lot of time onboarding marketers on my teams and obviously have learned a lot of lessons on that front as well. That’s why today I wanted to spend some time talking about this and provide a framework for how to onboard marketers and what to look for when you’re the newest marketing hire to a team. For this blog post, I’ve only looked at the first month, in the end, you can make a lot of impact in the first 30 days on the job if you approach it the right way!
Before getting started & Day 1
- Hardware/Software: Depending on if your newest hire will be in an office or will be hired remote it’s going to be important to figure out what they need.
- Order a laptop
- Order a screen and all the needed cables
- Accounts: What kind of tools does your company use, what can you set them up with so they can immediately hit the ground running with the software and SaaS tool that your team is using on a daily basis. Some of the examples of that could be:
- Google Account/Google Drive
- Communication: Slack, Email, Outlook?
- HR & Expenses: Too many vendors in this space to mention
- Google Sites/Atlassian/Confluence/JIRA/Github
- Video Conferencing: BlueJeans/Google Hangouts/Zoom/etc.
- Productivity: Calendly, Grammarly, TextExpander, Monosnap, 1Password/LastPass, etc.
- HR, Paperwork & Introductions: In most bigger companies you’ll spend a significant amount of time on the first day filling in all your paperwork, receiving your laptop and getting onboarded on the company’s IT systems and an introduction/class into the company(‘s history).
Month 1: The first 30 days of a new marketing hire
The first month is important, a good beginning will help support the future success of a new hire. That’s why I started listing out the things that I try to help out with once somebody new starts.
- In the first week, you can only get this started, but you want to make sure that you meet as many of your direct colleagues as possible. In our case, as part of the company is remote (including myself) we try to get somebody new out to one of the offices (Ohio/Texas) to meet the teams there.
- Plan in a regular one on one with your direct report/manager.
- Explore all the content that is already out there in your function. Read what you need to know, but also don’t feel bad about skipping things that are likely not going to help you right away.
- Prioritize: After 2-3 days in the first week you have an overload of new information landing in your lap. Can you figure out what information is urgent (you need to know it right now!) or what is a priority (it’s important but nobody will die if you don’t touch it today) in the short term.
- Introduce yourself to the rest of the company and meet with other teams to get to know them and learn what they’re working on.
- Make your first improvement/change: As a manager, I really like to make sure that in the first week a new hire has made a change that has an impact to the business. Usually, it’s a small thing that can be done, but often it’s great to show it to the rest of the organization.
- Vendors: Time to start connecting with the vendors that you might already have in place for this function. If this is a new role it’s unlikely that you already have figured out what tools & vendors you would need in your role.
- Industry research: Potentially you have already done a bit of research into what the industry looks like, but nothing is more interesting than getting to know the big players and all the industry facts then reading industry reports. The more context you have about the space that you’re operating in, the better.
- For most marketers, it’s going to be important to get familiar with the Analytics infrastructure (Google Analytics, Mode Analytics, Looker, etc.) to get a good understanding of how they should be measuring their own performance, and that of a channel when they manage that.
- Deep dives: If there was an existing team, start doing deep-dives on the work that they’ve already been doing. Otherwise, do deep dives with the other channel managers on the team.
- Customer understanding: Have your new marketer talk to the right people internally that know everything about the customer journey and the biggest pain points that your customers are facing. At RVshare, for example, we have multiple experts that most new people talk to, to get a good understanding of how the product works in detail.
- Your first 1-1: You’ll have your first actual one on one with your (new to you) manager. In the first weeks, it’s the right time to get any questions answered and get a better understanding of how the team around you will operate. For the manager, it’s a great time to make the goals for the role clear and guide you around the people that you need to work with.
- Meet with the rest of the team: Depending on the size of the Marketing team you likely haven’t met the people that you won’t be working too closely with. As an example, it’s likely not the top priority for a PR manager to meet the PPC manager in the first hours of the new job.
- Meet with all your important stakeholders: What other teams is this role working on, in most companies there will be at least overlap with roles in Product, Design, Engineering, Communications, Sales and/or Customer Service.
- Meet with vendors, part 2: After you have spent a couple weeks on the job and have met your existing vendors you likely have a better understanding of what you would need and what you’re currently missing. That means, that it’s likely time to find some additional vendors to fill in the gaps.
- Customer research: Have you had a chance yet to talk to customers. We’ve previously talked about the deep dives with other teams and getting a good insight into the pain points of customers. But set yourself up in some meetings/calls with customers and you likely will get a totally different insight into what goes on in the market and what their approach is to your business.
- First results: Think about the hands-on work that you’ve done so far and the approach that you have followed. Has it brought some early results that can help drive growth for the business (short/long term)? Evaluate what you have done and make sure that you always keep this in mind, it’s a great win if you early on can show the results of your work.
- Create a plan: After your first 30 days, you should have a better insight into what you can influence, what impact you have and what needs to be done. This plan shouldn’t be static at all and should constantly evolve over the next months on the job. But after 2-3 weeks you should have a good idea on what the low hanging fruit is to pick up.
- Start rolling out your ideas and set everything in motion to start picking up your projects. Create a 60-90 day plan of what you’ll be working on for the longer term. It will provide the basis of what you’re doing in Month 2 & 3.
- Write a job ‘profile’ with your manager: Something that I like to do after 30-60 days is to sit down with a new hire, and write down the responsibilities, goals, and support that they’re getting. Think of it as a longer & more detailed version of a job description in which you lay out what is expected of the role. After these many days on the job, you have a better idea because of early insights into what you.
What you have accomplished in Month 1?
A few things are important in the first month of a marketer:
- Do they feel comfortable talking to you and their new coworkers about the problems that they face? In the end, it’s your job as a manager to make sure they feel OK with what they’re doing.
- Do they have a better insight into how your business is operating and what your industry looks like? Have they explored the content that you can provide them with the business itself and the industry that you’re operating in?
Execute, Execute, Execute! That’s what likely the main topic will become after your first 30 days on the job. You have picked up enough knowledge to start to become useful for the organization and you can actively contribute to projects that are already running or that you will start up yourself.
Overall, this list isn’t complete yet. I’d like to keep it up to date with all the new learnings that I see with my new hires and myself over the next years. With that, I’ll try to update this post as much as possible to hopefully provide a useful resource for other hiring managers and/or marketers.
What happens after Month 1?
You’ve done a great job so far and already made real progress that will help the team. Time to keep on doing what you’re doing and have an even bigger impact on our progress/growth! Many things on the role will change and you will more continuously evolve. Hopefully, in a future blog post, I’ll shed some light on the second and third month in a new role. As you’re likely not fully ready to operate independently and understand the organization in that period. Food for thought for another blog post in the future!
Some books that I have read over the last years that I think are great in this specific use case.
- The First 90 Days: It’s a classic book, but does its work.
- The CMO Manifesto: It’s focused on higher level marketing executives, but at the same time it also touches on a lot of areas that are applicable to people that are starting in a new role.