For highly effective brainstorming sessions, it’s essential to focus the conversation on specific goals. The worst way people do brainstorming sessions by bringing ten people into the room and say, let’s just talk for an hour about how we can grow the business. And you speak for 10 minutes about acquisition strategies,20 minutes on retention, and then you go to referrals, then you’re back to acquisition. This is not the proper way of doing a brainstorming session.
It’s just all over the place. Get focused on a specific metric and then go deep on that. Spend an hour thinking about how you can increase referrals. Then do a separate hour on activation rate or whatever it is. A helpful way to think about brainstorming and set the conversation up for success is, especially if you’re bringing in people from other teams.
And also, have someone from your team, whether it’s you as the leader of the group or somebody else to do contact setting. Where you walk through the customer journey for everybody else to understand what it currently looks like for someone who is activating for the first time or referring to someone.
That’s useful, and you can then see what is the current experience look like and gives you an excellent way to visualize what it looks like now, and then you’ll very quickly see areas of opportunity to improve. Whether it’s the way that you ask people to refer their friends or the message that they then send to their friends for referrals or what have you.
So brainstorming with your team and other teams are one useful way. To look at other businesses that are in a similar space for inspiration. So go out and research what other companies that you admire are doing with their email marketing or their landing page optimization their referral program, what have you.
Look for best practices, talk to other people in the growth marketing world that do similar stuff Like step one, it’s great if you can just look at another company and try to extract best practices. Even better than that is going a step further and hitting up someone from AirBnB’s growth team and ask them, what do you guys do for referrals? And learning from their experience is very valuable.
The Goal Of Brainstorming
The goal of brainstorming is to maximize the generation of ideas. You’ve got prioritization next to then hone in and focus on the best ones. But it’s essential for brainstorming that you want to limit the focus to specific goals, you don’t want to restrict the ideas themselves or put boundaries on what are the different things.
What are the different ways that you think you can affect a metric? Let people get creative think about all the different ways you can do that. If you then run into issues around feasibility, is this even technically possible? Do we have the resources or time for this, whatever, that stuff will get fleshed out in the prioritization process? But not putting limitations on itis where you’re, the big, crazy, bold new ideas come from.
They’re things that you would miss out on if you were limiting the scope and trying to focus on the most realistic, quickly implementable ideas. So concentrate on maximizing the number of ideas that you get down on paper is step one. After that, you can focus on prioritization and making sure you’re focusing on the highest impact things. You could potentially do two, actually break brainstorming into two different components.
Generally, some themes will emerge from brainstorming. So like, people won’t necessarily come up with specific experiment ideas, but it’ll be something like increased personalization in the onboarding flow. That’s not a tangible experiment you can run, and it’s a concept, it’s an idea. If you’re doing a brainstorm around, increasing activation rate, you’ll have themes emerge like increase personalization in the email automation flow after people visit the site for the first time.
AB test personalized copy on a specific landing page. Or whatever you have. And then you could start with themes, and then if you want, you can drill a layer deeper within one of those specific categories. So if you’re going to later, if you like the idea of personalization as a big opportunity around your onboarding flow and increasing activation rate, you could then go a little bit deeper on customization.
So what does that look like? It’s like triggering the message based on time of day when you have historically visited the site, Or including name, or adding the name of the person that referred you in a referral email. There are a million different cuts of personalization.
So, you start broad, think about the themes, and then if you want, you can go a lot deeper and try to get to actual experiments. But it’s okay if you just have broad concepts and themes. Especially from a more general group brainstorm and then can dig in more profound when you’re designing the experiments themselves. That’s valuable to your team thinking about all operations and all ideas through the lens of a hypothesis.
When you’re brainstorming, don’t just throw out random ideas without any thought process behind it. Formulating your plans in the form of a hypothesis wherein you say, my opinion is that by doing x, we are going to see y improved in a metric because of this reason, ensures that you’re formulating logical, thoughtful experiments that are, A, testable.
Because it’s set up as a hypothesis, you can test that. And B, ideally, the assumptions are then rooted in data or research that you have done so that you are not just throwing out random ideas that aren’t necessarily testable or informed by any real insights about your customers. You’re thinking about what you know about your customers and how you can solve those problems and what the result will be for your business.
We’ll talk a little bit more about hypotheses when we talk about how to design experiments and to design tests. It’s the right frame for the brainstorming session and sets you up for having ideas that are easy to then translate into tangible experiments.
How to do Prioritization
For prioritization mostly, what you want to do here is come up with some conception your predicted return on investment. So, the popular framework is, called the ice framework. So, you want to estimate the impact of the experiment, your confidence that you’ll see the results that you’re projecting, and then the effort that will be required to implement that. Expected impact, they’re two ways you could do this.
Most of the time, it is some like rating on a scale. Mainly it’s one through five impacts, and you roughly estimate it, based on like how big is the audience that is receiving this campaign or experience.
If one test is going to affect all of your users, then another test is just targeted towards a particular subset of a couple thousand. Projected impact is probably going to be a lot higher when it’s much bigger audiences affected. Confidence is about how sure are you that you’re going to see the projected impact that you are expecting to see.
So, a couple of ways to get better at confidence, and this is one of the harder parts, and you get better it’s just the longer you work on growth and the more experience you run one way to improve your confidence ratings looking back at past experiments.
So, have you done similar experiments in the past, and have they worked? If so, you can say with more confidence that this one’s going to work, you can look at your experiments.you can also look at other companies and other examples from other people in the industry. Are you seeing lots of other people in the industry doing similar campaigns and experiments?
If so, you can probably see some success from that and that it’s worth trying, and you can be more confident it’s going to work. Thus, confidence generally improves with like, A running more experiments and getting more data.
Then also just knowing intuitively after running more experiments, what are the things that tend to work and don’t work. And then lastly, the effort is how much time, and energy and resources are going to go into shipping this experiment and getting it built and in front of customers.
So, this could be a combination of like how many hours will you individually have to spend then getting it set up.
- Do you need engineering resources?
- Do you need design and copy resources?
- Do you need money?
Like all of these things are essential to look at because if you were to look at projected impact some things are potentially very very high impact that could be very very costly in terms of time and energy and resources.
They get put in, and if you have something that could have like a five out of five on projected impact, is also a five out of five on effort. It’s going to take three weeks of engineering resources, you’ll be working on it for a month, or you have another experiment that’s maybe four out of five projected impact, not quite as high but still very high. You can implement it in a day.
It’s self-evident that you should go for the one that takes way less time to implement You’ll get results faster.you’ll get the benefits of that hopefully successful experiment for more extended, like return on your investment is the right way to think about all growth experiments and the way that you get better at prioritizing things is getting a lot better about projecting your impact.
Ideally, at some point, you can go from ranking things on a scale from one to five, to projecting a specific metric impact. So, this is going to net 10000 incremental activations for the business or even better, just dollars. It’s only additional revenue
That way you get to a point where you’re apples to apple comparison, against other teams, other experiments. The dream there is that you also get to the point where you can compare and prioritize like acquisition activities versus engagement, sometimes it’s hard it’s like is it better to resurrect a turned user or to activate a new user. These are different metrics, like how do you know which one you should be spending more time on
But if you would quantify the value in dollars in terms of revenue of those two activities against each other, then it makes it very easy to make that decision and invest your resources most wisely. So, getting to a point where you can be very specific about your projected impact gets much better about your confidence.
Teams even during the prioritization process, people think how confident they are in different experiments. Then we’ve actually like tracked who is the most, who gets it right the most. People even like a bet on operations and think it will be most successful.
People sometimes overlook the importance of confidence. That’s how you start focusing on the things, and the things that work best like optimizing your growth process and driving the most growth is about choosing the right experiments and then running the experiments faster.