We have been able to build out the Adaptive Growth at Ladder thanks to our experiences, inhouse talent, and client feedback. The number one goal behind it is to improve growth efficiency across the entire team and funnel that is going to embrace it. In the back of our heads, we kept our channel, industry, and company stage agnostic approach to ensure everyone will be able to benefit from the perks of Adaptive Growth.
Where to start with Adaptive Growth?
The first step to embracing the Adaptive Growth is a strategic view with a test and learn mentality. It enables you to build a vision of where do you want to get, how soon and what resources are you able to devote to this journey. All that while remaining agnostic about how you will get there. You may have strong ideas or feelings about what will get you there. Whether it’s a particular channel, target audience, USP, or tactic – but you can’t be sure of it until it has been tested. Keeping your head open to learning and being comfortable not knowing will position you for success.
I have literally just listed the prerequisites that we are looking for in our potential new clients when we do intro calls with leads that have reached out to us. This essential prerequisite will enable you to utilize the full capacity of the Adaptive Growth and set you on a much faster path to discovering your growth levers.
Speed is a key element in growth. Whether it’s the testing velocity, optimization pace, reacting to market conditions or embracing new learnings. The faster you react, the better for the project. Every channel, tactic, or framework has a lifecycle. The sooner you get in, the better the chance of you riding the wave of success before everyone adopts it and it ceases to be a differentiator.
We capitalize on the speed element by working in weekly tactical sprints and monthly strategy sprints. That way we can quickly adapt our output to the changing market conditions and new patterns that data serves us. The monthly strategy assesses the successes and failures of particular tactics to adapt our focus and goal accordingly and enable the opportunities we’ve identified to drive further growth.
Adaptive Growth is About Specialization
In line with the speed element, we have invested in specialization at Ladder. Before that, we have worked in a more generalist environment where everyone worked across multiple channels and had a wider scope. With the adoption of the Adaptive Growth, we have moved into specialized teams that aim to drive the best results by collaborating as well as with the client.
By enabling domain experts – whether its Search Ads, Social Ads, Conversion Rate Optimization, Creative, or Strategy – a specialist will be more effective than a generalist. This efficiency translates into a higher speed of execution, noticing patterns and opportunities quicker, and knowing exactly how to act on them.
This creates a unique opportunity for any company that needs the speed and expertise of a specialist team but is not ready to commit to hiring one or needs it now. Hiring marketing talent takes months and onboarding adds another month or two to that to fully ramp up. You can speed this process up by hiring a freelancer or a growth agency. The biggest advantage of an agency over a freelancer is the capacity to scale the collaboration up, proven processes, and more robust expertise. Freelancers are good for smaller projects or one time gigs.
We’ve built internal specialist teams based on the market demand and our experience from our 5 years on the market. These include Strategy, Paid Social, Paid Search, Creative, CRO, and CRM. Equipped with expertise among these channels, we can help companies across their entire funnel and use our experience from working across multiple industries to deliver the most efficient solution to their growth problems.
The strategy team is a part of every client relationship. Without a proper strategy, we can’t know if we’re moving in the right direction. Our Growth Strategist is acting like your Head of Growth, ensuring we are moving forward in our areas of focus by closely collaborating with the performance teams, meanwhile exploring new opportunities that are out there. The Growth Strategist is crucial for Adaptive Growth because they build a strategy that enables us to pick the right channels to drive growth.
This means monitoring competitors, market trends, modeling your growth based on the recent results, budgets, and timelines. The strategist is also a connector between any initiatives that are taking place within the client’s company and our team so that we can capitalize on any opportunities that we identify. Among the strategists’ responsibilities are the monthly strategy and quarterly growth reviews.
A monthly strategy is there to ensure that every month we assess the campaign results and market conditions to see if there is room to adapt it. The quarterly growth review is designed to take a look at the past quarter and assess what have we been able to achieve, what shows promise and should be scaled, what have we learned and build a strategy for the next quarter.
This way we can divide the quarter into 3 months and base the monthly strategy on each part. Going deeper down, each month’s strategy is divided into tactical plans per performance team.
For example, we have a monthly strategy for an eCommerce client that is focusing on the conversion rate between add to cart and purchase. Then we know that our CRO team will focus on identifying the bottlenecks in the check-out process and figure out what fixes we need to build to improve the conversion rates. In the meantime, the strategist can find the channels and segments within these channels that have performed best to drive further growth across these segments together with the performance teams.
Then the performance teams are equipped with the right goal of scaling the audiences that have proven to work well, meanwhile testing new audiences and creatives. They build weekly tactical plans in order to maintain the creative refresh, audience testing, and campaign optimizations momentum. The last remaining step is to execute the tactical plan by building and optimizing the ads and campaigns.
Paid Social Team
Our paid social team has very in-depth expertise in Facebook ads, we are also working with some clients on Pinterest, Twitter, Snapchat, Reddit, and TikTok ads. Their work involves planning out the most adequate approach to meet your KPIs. These plans incorporate choosing the right channels (or advising on the channel choice), proper account structure, coming up with the right audiences to target, coming up with the right ad types, creatives and copy. Social ads are very popular these days, so a lot of the Adaptive Growth setups we run are incorporating these channels.
The last critical element is tracking, the social team ensures that the pixel responsible for tracking conversions on your website is set up correctly and we’re getting the right data back to the ad platform. Based on this setup, the social team is moving into a weekly sprint mode, where each week we make incremental changes to the account – whether it’s by building new campaigns, adding new audiences, a creative refresh, or making changes in ways we do bidding. All of which aim to drive growth to the KPI we are focusing on.
Search Ads Team
The search team focuses on Google, Bing, and Quora ads. You may ask why Quora? Well, it’s a platform that is very much focused on users’ searches so our search team is best equipped to run it. Don’t be fooled by the name search, as there are display, video and mobile app ads across these platforms and our search team is also excellent at running these. Search ads are very popular, so they are also very often a part of the Adaptive Growth channel mix we run.
So what exactly falls under the responsibilities of the search team? They start with choosing the right channels (unless they have been already chosen, or advise on which channels to choose), optimizing account structure, campaign types, audience targeting, ads, and tracking. Just like the social team, after the setup period, we move into weekly sprints where each week we come up with the most adequate way for us to allocate our time on the account and the budget towards conversions.
The creative team is responsible for helping you build the right personas and adapt the messaging and design. This starts with a creative workshop to work out the best persona types, better understand how to target them, and what sort of triggers will work on them to convert. Afterward, we present our creative approach to the channels we will be using, so the copy and graphics for ads, landing page designs, and implement them across the campaigns.
With each campaign iteration, we learn more about the users from the data we gather. The more data we have, the better we know what works and what doesn’t, so we can dig deeper into what works and generate new ideas based on our learnings. Later on, the creative team is responsible for the development of the creatives and copy for ads, landing pages, blog posts, and ebooks.
The creative team is crucial for success, people act on what they see and read, so the more compelling the creatives the higher the chance of capturing users’ attention. By producing new creatives based on insights drawn from the data we can improve our results with every iteration. Ultimately what we are looking for is the best combination of channel, audience, creative and copy. This requires a lot of creative testing and strongly depends on the collaboration between the performance, and creative teams.
Conversion Rate Optimization Team
Conversion rate optimization is present throughout the entire funnel. It helps install good practices to move users down the funnel. This may be through quantitative or qualitative data analysis and presenting ideas on how to improve the user flow across the ad channels and especially on the website.
The focus of the CRO team is on installing good practices across the user journey or, when we have enough data, installing A/B tests in order to improve conversion rates. The key element to understanding CRO is that it’s not magic and has a higher bigger impact on funnels which are much more populated and a slight increase in conversion would mean a big commercial output.
Customer Retention Management Team
Another channel we use in our Adaptive Growth mix is customer relation management, better known by most as CRM, is used the furthest down the funnel. Most of the time it is related to email marketing workflows. One key element that CRM also covers is user segmentation and collecting more data points per user than almost any other channel. This means great insights into who goes down the funnel, where they come from, how do they get to the bottom of the funnel. This information is pure gold for a growth team because it gives a better idea of who should we target and via which channels. It also helps the creative team validate their ideas and find what they should invest more in because similar work has already worked well.
CRM is the essential tool to retain users and get them coming back, might be to fill out a lead, maybe to purchase whatever they have put into their shopping cart, might be a new promo – CRM is useful across all business models. There are a lot of bad ways to work around CRM, like all the emails you mark as spam or keep unopened in your inbox, the trick here is to send the right emails to the right people at the right time.
This is part 3 of 4 in a series entirely dedicated to Adaptive Growth, a system that facilitates the approach to growth.
Nobody gets it right the first time, so there is plenty of testing involved around who are the emails from, what triggers them, what do we write in them, what links do we put inside. The best part is that we can track it all, delivery rates, open rates, click-through rates, unsubscribe rates.
To sum up Adaptive Growth
Considering all the above elements of the growth puzzle. Ladder clients get a bonus on top of the execution. It’s data storytelling. Explaining what we are doing, why, results, next steps, and supporting them with data.
Instead of receiving a report with some numbers and graphs, we aim to tell a story of where we were, what we decided to do, how we executed and what results we exactly get.
That way our clients can follow our thinking process and don’t need to know the specifics of our work. In the end it’s all about getting insights from the data, understanding how to act on them and putting them to use through execution. To do that we need to make sure our clients understand what we’re trying to tell them, and numbers alone won’t tell the entire story.
This is part 3 of 4 in a series entirely dedicated to Adaptive Growth, a system that facilitates the approach to growth.