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IDEAS. STRATEGY. TACTICS. INNOVATION. INSPIRATION.

Laura Hyman on Driving Strategic Growth


Laura Hyman is the Head of Multi-Brand Growth Marketing for Resonance Companies, where she oversees customer acquisition and retention data strategies, including paid and organic marketing collaborations and partnerships. Prior to Resonance, she was the Director of Growth Marketing and the first marketing hire at Luminary Media a subscription podcast startup. She built and executed Luminary’s go-to-market paid channels strategy and oversaw customer acquisition. Here, she shares strategies on how growth marketing fits into your organization and how your team can maximize its impact on your business as you scale.


What is your definition of growth?

Growth is a big, complex, amorphous and ever-evolving topic. Growth is a hub, not a spoke that sits in the center of your business. When you think about where it fits, think about it as deeply integrated into your business in a bi-directional capacity. The success of growth is predicated by defining your destination. So you can iterate on the path, not the other way around. You have to build to learn because that’s what’s going to enable you to evolve.


If you think about the role of growth, it’s to elicit a response from your prospects and customers. You’re pushing a message out in the world with the intention of somebody taking an action—ideally, a profitable one. So whether the response from the customer is explicit or implicit, direct or indirect, successful or unsuccessful, frankly, that’s the data. Those are signals straight from the horse’s mouth. And those need to get fed back into your business to help inform the direction of the spokes as we position them to grow. Growth is ongoing experimentation, insights, mining, and then optimization off the back of that learning across your full marketing funnel in bi-directional partnership with all of the key areas of your business. The objective is to drive revenue via efficient and scalable customer acquisition and retention.

Build to learn and test those learnings relentlessly. Growth can and should be a constantly evolving part of your business.

Tips for newer brands?

If you’re a newer brand, prioritize channels that offer you the flexibility to learn quickly. You want to limit your core investment, particularly as you’re learning. Think about a digital channel. Facebook’s a good example: you identify an audience, insert a creative, and it runs a campaign. People are going to click on it, or they’re not going to click on it. They’re going to convert off the back of it, or they’re not going to convert. That is going to allow you to learn quickly and make changes quickly. And that’s where you want to start.


The second place you want to go to is amplification so you have a core mix. It’ll be digital primarily and you can learn and iterate quickly. You also want to experiment. There may be audiences that you think have the high potential to convert effectively. You have hypotheses you want to pursue that don’t make sense to pursue on Facebook, Instagram or Google. You might want to explore creating a format like direct mail, for example. These are things that can leverage learnings that you want to double down on.


It’s essential to start testing early. Test, iterate and optimize across the board.


What are the benefits of email marketing?

Email is the cornerstone to your ability to double down on first-party data, which will ultimately enable you to reduce your dependency on third-party data. I tend to think about email in two different buckets, proactive selling and relationship building.


Email makes for a very compelling personalized marketing case. I’ve received five types of emails so far. They all pursue a different angle, trying to engage me. The first one dives deeply into what it is they offer. The second or the third one is about what they’re going to do for me and why I should take advantage of it. The fourth one is community-oriented. The fifth one zooms out. It’s crucial to define your destination so that you can iterate on the path.


Build to learn and test those learnings relentlessly. Growth can and should be a constantly evolving part of your business. If you can identify and build towards where you’re going with a maniacal focus on learning along the way, you are going to be much less vulnerable to the changing dynamics, and in my opinion, exponentially more likely to chart a path that’s going to get you to where you’re trying to go.


How do you avoid over-saturation with email?

There are a couple of things to think about. One is testing and comparing the efficacy of the customer’s journey based on what it is they’re trying to achieve. So test things. Test the two journey email versus the three and versus the five. What percent of people clicked through? What percent of people unsubscribed? Ideally, you’re running a pilot that is focused enough to help inform customers of next steps without putting your customer base at risk. You just have to be honest about your business and the complexity of your value proposition.


What are best practices for responding to new email signups in your newsletter cycle?

There’s a delicate balance. For a welcome email, there’s value in taking the opportunity to explain, particularly to prospects. I would consider creating a delineation between people who sign up through a pop-up versus people who buy something. Presumably, people who buy something have a little bit more information or are a little bit further along their journey.


I do think there is value in using it as an opportunity to further educate about who you are and what you do and introduce them to your brand voice. If you can successfully communicate that in a way that feels authentic and compelling, in one email, and you can test a single email journey, then that’s great. Length isn’t the point. The point is communicating the messages that you’re trying to communicate because you think they will move that person further along towards your destination.


How can we use digital to scale the conversion journey?

For a lead generation campaign or lead generation effort, your funnel looks slightly different from a digital conversion. The rate at which you convert people might be a little bit slower. You can use digital channels to create awareness around who you are and what you do and flow people into your phone or in-person funnel.


There are a couple of ways you can think about doing that. One is driving people to your website, where the goal you’re optimizing for is an intake form, or some quiz or some email capture, that then gets populated into a queue or into a database that your team can then follow up on. You can use ads, even to advertise the fact that people should visit your store if they’re localized enough, or drive them to the site where they can find a location that’s nearby for them. The way you evaluate success might not be how many people your in-person face-to-face team converts. To evaluate the success of your digital program, it might be how many leads you’re able to use those channels to generate.


The best way to deepen loyalty is to deliver a really good experience.

How would you scale down these recommendations for those with limited budgets?

Set targets and then back into it. How many people do you need to get in the door? Make sure you’re clear in your numbers and that those expectations feel realistic based on what you can afford to do. Get really focused and creative around how you structure tests, digital channels, and other core channel mixes where you can input things quickly and learn fast. Facebook, Instagram, Google, those things don’t require a whole lot of money to be efficient and teach you things.


Structure smaller-scale campaigns, make your hypothesis a little bit more focused and instead of going after the whole world, go after people that meet XYZ demographics and have ABC interests. That’s still going to be a broad audience, but it’s going to be much less expensive than if you’re going after the whole world.


A good place to think about spending when you don’t have a lot of money is on paid search. On Google, rather than paying to show an ad to somebody, you’re only paying when somebody clicks on the ad that you show. It tends to be much more efficient because you’re capturing people who have already found it and showed interest as opposed to going out and prospecting people.


When awareness is the goal, what are the best strategies to use with digital marketing?

Think creatively about partnerships. Think about brand advocates and influencers, particularly people who are willing to do things for trade. It’s a really interesting way to test into archetypes about who your audience breaks down into. And if you can negotiate arrangements that fit within the context of your budget, those people can end up being valuable advocates that help spread the word. And particularly if your expectation isn’t that somebody purchases something in the moment, that has the potential to be a really valuable channel.


How do you maintain or increase customer lifetime value in an age where trends are high and loyalty is low?

The best way to deepen loyalty is to deliver a really good experience. You could have the best, most efficient growth marketing program in the world, but if you aren’t making good on the message that you’re delivering, it’s not going to matter. Deliver something that is quality, consistent, and differentiated.


In addition to that, there is a very strong movement towards wanting to feel connected to the mission, wanting to feel connected to the community, wanting to feel like you’re part of something. Feed into that desire for community by thinking creatively about the stories you tell within your brand, product or service. Speak to those values, and bring them to life.