“Most startups don’t fail at building a product, they fail at acquiring customers.” – Gabriel Weinberg, CEO & Founder DuckDuckGo
I’ve talked to hundreds of entrepreneurs over the years and one of the most frequently discussed challenges is growth. Growth is the livelihood of a startup and according to Paul Graham, it’s what a startup is designed to do:
Startups are so hard that you can’t be pointed off to the side and hope to succeed. You have to know that growth is what you’re after. The good news is, if you get growth, everything else tends to fall into place.
Growth is hard, especially if you’re a small team or solo entrepreneur. Because you’re tackling a handful of other tasks, growth can often be placed on the back burner even though it’s one of the biggest factors in determining your success.
The need for rapid growth has resulted in a handful of startups, tools and apps being developed to help entrepreneurs and teams grow quickly and drive results. It’s resulted in a world filled with apps, tools, resources and new technologies all making the promise that they will help you acquire, attract and retain more customers.
Imagine if you could find a tried and tested tool that could make an instant impact on your business.
What if there were a list of validated apps and tools that some of the best growth marketers in the world would recommend?
You’d probably want that list.
Well, today’s your lucky day because that’s exactly what I’m going to be sharing. A comprehensive list of the best growth apps and tools validated by some of the industries best.
Let’s get to it…
Everette Taylor is the founder of MilliSense, formerly served as Chief Marketing Officer for the popular e-commerce company Sticker Mule and now leads growth and marketing for new projects at Microsoft. Here are two of his favorite growth tools:
MailChimp – Send Better Email
MailChimp is an absolute no-brainer to me. Its definitely a more mainstream tool but doesn’t take away from how effective and easy-to-use the platform is. Email marketing and lifecycle marketing is essential for any startup for customer acquisition/sales, retention, brand awareness, distribution of content, and driving traffic.
MailChimp allows you to easily segment your mailing lists, send targeted emails based on website activity or inactiveness as a customer, get optimal send-times and other data to help your emails perform better, and even monkey hi-fives as your email campaign is going out.
Role In Driving Growth:
MailChimp built its business as a newsletter and email campaign product but now offers automation that rivals some of the best in the industry. You can set up a handful of automation series for education products or even drip campaigns associated with ecommerce transactions.
Optimizely – Making it easy to optimize apps and webpages
Everette’s Take: Startup marketers are scrambling to learn how to code and get more technical in the ever-changing world of growth marketing. But there are still plenty of tools out that less technical marketers can still be effective without help from a developer.
One of those tools is Optimizely. Prior to tools like Optimizely, A/B testing required developers to split pages and traffic plus track results. Optimizely’s visual editor feature now allows marketers to create without being dependent on technical support. Marketers can now run landing page a/b tests within minutes without changing any code and have the ability to track KPIs.
Nichole Elizabeth DeMeré is the founder of Authentic Curation and acts as a SaaS Consultant & Customer Success Evangelist.
Here are two of her favourite growth tools:
Segment – Simply your analytics
Nichole’s Take: It seems like every day there’s a new tool vying for your attention, claiming to be the best new thing in marketing or analytics. Segment is a customer data platform that helps to tie all of these tools together; you just collect data once using the Segment API and then it’s automatically routed to any of the +180 tools on the platform.
With Segment, you can stop bugging your engineers to integrate new tools and just turn them on through a super simple dashboard. Tool-hungry growth-hackers also love that Segment makes it simple to replay data into new tools.
Role In Driving Growth: Segment brings everything together. As you grow your business, it’s very possible that you will leverage a variety of different tools from different providers. Segment offers you the ability to keep everything synced and make it easy to install new tools as you grow.
**Wootric – A platform for boosting customer happiness. **
Nichole’s Take: Wootric is the in-app Net Promoter Score platform for boosting customer happiness. ‘In-app’ is important, because it is often the best way for SaaS businesses to engage with their customers. Their elegant survey delivers off-the-charts response rates (vs. email), and runs automatically for a constant pulse of rich, contextual feedback.
Sujan Patel of ContentMarketer.io and Narrow.io also pointed to Wootric as a preferred tool for businesses looking to drive growth in 2016. Here’s what he said when discussing its role in driving growth:
Sujan’s Take: Most marketers focusing on growth in terms of gaining new customers. I think of it the other way around, how can we better leverage our current customers and assets for growth. One of assets you have with you is customer feedback and if you have happy customers a chance to have their help for growth. That’s where NPS comes in.
Asking your customers for feedback in a simple yet frequent way is crucial to your business. You can reduce churn by simply solving your customers issues and leveraged your happy customers by simply asking them to share their experience on social media. That’s exactly what Wootric.com does with their NPS software.
That’s two votes for Wootric!
Shanelle Mullin leads content & growth at one of the leading sites on marketing, ConversionXL. Here’s what Shanelle pointed to when asked about must-have growth tools for 2016:
Projects By Growth Hackers – Where teams turn ideas into results
Shanelle’s Take: Most people who work in growth and optimization don’t have a shortage of ideas. The organization and prioritization of those ideas, however, can be a little more difficult. As a result, growth slows.
Projects helps your team run a fast-paced growth program in less time. As a group, you can generate ideas and score them based on anticipated impact, confidence level and ease of implementation.
Then, move your ideas to the “Up Next” or “Active” columns so the entire team can view progress. When the ideas have been implemented and fully tested, you can add the results and lessons learned, which are then stored in the Knowledge Base.
Plus, the Leaderboard shows you who has generated the most ideas, run the most tests and achieved the most wins. Gamification for the win! Projects makes the entire growth process a lot more efficient.
Role In Driving Growth: While it’s still in beta – the tool has lots of promise. Growth Hacker’s Projects offers teams to keep everything in one place and have a better understanding of where they’re going with their growth efforts and various experiments.
Dan Shure is the founder of Evolving SEO and host of the podcast, Experts on The Wire. When asked what tool he would recommend to businesses and startups looking to drive growth, here’s what he picked:
SEM Rush – Competitive Data for Marketing Professionals**
Dan’s Take: If you’re looking to accelerate growth via content marketing, SEM Rush is a real powerhouse of a tool. It’s one of the few tools I can honestly say gives you a true advantage from the data intelligence and research capabilities it provides.
It’s no secret that publishing content can at times draw massive amounts of organic search traffic. But the problem is, most don’t strategically manufacture this or just get it right by accident. However, my top tip is to leverage what has already worked in the past for others and do it newer, bigger, better.
You can do this by running a simple report on the paid plan: (1) Put your content competitors* in SEM Rush. (2) Go to the “pages” report. (3) Sort by Keywords. (4) Look for content they posted, that’s on the old side and ranks for a lot of keywords. Look at what those keywords are – can you create something better, newer and promote it really well? There’s your opportunity to overtake their past search success.
A content competitor isn’t always your business competitors. They are any site that posts similar content targeted at a similar demographic. For example, if you sell sales software, the “sales” content on Entrepreneur.com is one “content competitor”.
Role In Driving Growth: SEM Rush is great resource for gaining insight around opportunities for better search rankings. We know that most search behaviours start with Google so leveraging a tool like SEM Rush can arm us with the ability to understand what content we should be creating to increase the likelihood that our businesses show up during search.
Morgan Brown is the COO of Inman News and Co-Author of Growth Book with Sean Ellis of GrowthHackers.com. When I asked Morgan about tools and apps that are must haves for driving growth, here is what he said:
ChartMogul – Better understand your customers & business.
Morgan’s Take: If you have a business that relies on recurring revenue, ChartMogul is the analytics tool you wish you always had. It helps you track your recurring revenue, subscription growth and more. You can see churn by cohorts, track lifetime value, and filter the data in as many ways as your heart’s desire.
We use ChartMogul to help us understand our subscription business and look for opportunities to reduce under-performing plans and customer segments to drive down churn and improve the growth of our customer base and monthly recurring revenue. The best part is that it integrates right with Stripe and auto generates the reports. If you’ve ever tried to track MRR by hand, you know what a time and life saver that can be.
Role In Driving Growth: It’s tough to know where you’re going if you don’t know where you’re at. ChartMogul is a great resource for any subscription company looking to have their metrics at their fingertips.
Bounce Exchange – Digital Behavioural Automation
Morgan’s Take: Most websites have terrible conversion rates. The number of people who visit, bounce and are never heard from again is enough to bring tears to my eyes. Unfortunately, we’ve all just become accustomed to high bounce rates and low conversion rates. But does it have to be this way? Tools like Bounce Exchange help marketers convert more website traffic into email subscribers and purchasers. They instantly change the performance of your website, without needing help from engineering or IT to get it setup and make changes.
While there are lots of email collectors out there, the best part about Bounce Exchange is that it’s not just software, it’s a managed service. That means that in addition to the tools, you get a whole team of people dedicated to driving your conversion rate. From an account manager, strategist, design and development resources, Bounce Exchange gives you the ability to test, iterate and optimize faster than you ever could on your own, especially if you have a small team.
Role In Driving Growth: Exit intent is one of the last opportunities you have (beyond retargeting) to capture a user’s attention and have them take action. While some will call these efforts annoying, an aggressive pop up right before a user leaves has been shown to drive leads and sales.
**SumoMe – Tools to Grow Your Website’s Traffic
My Take: SumoMe is a collection of different tools that integrate with services like MailChimp, Campaign Monitor, Hubspot and more. It offers on site applications that are focused on helping businesses achieve more success through their web presence. Whether it’s their polite scroll box that captures emails or the highlighter that makes it easier to share your content – SumoMe delivers plenty of valuable tools.
My favourite part of SumoMe is the role it plays in inspiring social media shares. We all know that social media has changed the way that customers interact with our brands and content and SumoMe facilitates this experience with a handful of great tools.
Role In Driving Growth: SumoMe is a swiss army knife when it comes to marketing and digital growth. From heat maps to email forms, they offer a handful of different resources that can help you drive engagement, increase sales and capture leads.
So there you have it…
A handful of tools that some of the best growth marketers in the world have hand picked for startups looking to drive growth in 2016.
If you have any other tools that you believe can help drive growth, I’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment below – We’re always interested in other apps and tools helping companies grow.