Growth Conference Europe 2019: Two days dedicated to growth & digital marketing. GCE is the largest growth hacking event in Europe and it happened in Milan, Italy in the 3rd & 4th of June.
The successful event was organized in partnership with Growth Hacking Day & Growth Marketing Conference. The key people who brought this venture to life were Raffaele Gaito, Luca Barboni, Gerardo Forliano, Vasil Azarov and Andrea Roberto Bifulco, who was also the fantastic host of the conference.
GCE was the sum of many different speakers and ideas. The 25(!) speakers in total came from various divisions of digital marketing. Therefore, among them, you could find the general manager of AdEspresso (HootSuite), the product manager of Typeform, the head of partnerships of SEMRush, and the CEO of GrowthRocks.
So, did you miss Growth Conference Europe 2019 but still want to catch up on everything you missed?
No worries, this is what this post is all about.
Growth Conference Europe: Day 1
Emanuela highlighted the significant benefits of remote work:
- Access to best talents: Hiring without a remote option means hiring the best talent that lives or is willing to live near the geographical location of your company. Remote means hiring the best talent regardless.
- Happy people: Remote work makes employees happy. Happy employees feel more motivated, and motivated employees are more productive.
- Cost reduction: 100% remote means 100% not paying for a building that serves as your HQ. Not only that, but you also save from those electricity bills.
- Environmental sustainability: Daily commuting means moving from place A to place B. And moving from one place to another usually involves some means of transportation, which have an environmental impact. Also, what about that plastic takeaway coffee cup for your everyday latte?
Emanuela says that if you want your company to go remote, or you are starting a new one with this mind, then you need to hire the right people and make transparency your #1 priority. So what are you waiting for?
Watch Emanuela’s full speech at Growth Conference Europe:
Among other things, Steve taught the Italian speaking audience of Growth Conference Europe to:
- Understand the differences between the English and the Italian language
- Learn about segments (single sound units)
- Learn about suprasegmentals
- Explore voicing, articulation, and manner
- Learn about connected speech (assimilation)
- The muscular memory protocol (hypertrophy)
Watch Steve’s full speech Growth Conference Europe (IT):
The NUMA program itself is a 10-week procedure, divided into 3 phases:
- Weeks 1-2 are about Setup and Immersion
- Weeks 3-5 are focused on the Structure and Build
- And weeks 5-10 include Execution and Scale
In these 10 weeks, any startup aspiring to grow in a new market has to go through 4 steps, Frances said. These steps and their key-points are:
- Assessment – Find out whether the company is ready to enter a new market
- Research – Market Analysis, Competition, Product Testing
- Build – Sales, Fundraising, Partnerships, HR, Legal, Networking
- Scale – Repeatable Processes, Best Practices, Network Effect
Watch France’s full speech at Growth Conference Europe:
Thus, he divided everything he’s learned into 6 categories of the do’s and don’t’s that will lead to a better version of yourself:
- Self-talk, and how avoiding it brings new opportunities you didn’t know they were even possible.
- Working environment, and the effect it has on you, your productivity, and your well-beingness.
- Priorities, their meaning, and how to set them after you shake off some myths about yourself.
- Trade-offs, as in the sacrifice of immediate pleasure in the name of your ultimate goals.
- Deadlines, and the importance of setting them to achieve your goals be them small or big.
- Tools and the importance of bare hands.
After his presentation, and during the Q&A, Ryan, being a very inspirational individual, was one of the speakers with the most questions addressed. And so, he revealed some aspects of himself. Like, for example, that his diet of choice is ketogenic diet, and that nootropics or any other supplements are a no-go for him, besides coffee that is. The next answer was about his favorite tools and which were more or less “Trello – Gmail shortcuts, and text editor.” In the end, he also revealed that his next aspiration is to write good, or better, music.
Watch Ryan’s full speech Growth Conference Europe:
Next, Enrico shed some light on the “Viral Coefficiency” factor and presented the use cases and viral growth stories from Gmail and Dropbox.
Enrico concluded that you should set your product priorities and that you should be very careful not to chase a single prospect for months, regardless of how attractive it may seem. Ergo, the key points he shared were:
- No whale hunting
- Avoid drowning to chase a whale
- 6+ months of development
- The massive risk to lose a deal
- Be ready to say “No!”
And, ultimately, B2B viral growth is possible if you:
- Know your industry
- Understand trends
- Build a product that people will love
- Follow a clear sales strategy
- Stay focused
- Hire a great team
- Love your product
Watch Enrico’s full speech at Growth Conference Europe:
According to Luca’s perspective, the three pillars of growth can be found by answering these three questions:
- What do you do?
- What is remarkable about it?
- Which problem do you solve?
He then went on to analyze the two primary methodologies regarding goals and growth that he has come across in his career: SMART and OKRs. Luca himself abandoned the SMART for the latter method, which was pioneered by Intel and Google. In short, the OKR methodology is about:
- Defining a clear focus and direction that the team/company/department can get behind
- Mapping what is important to you
- Encouraging you to think big by providing you with clear goals, KPIs and a roadmap
- Allow you to both allocate resources and to take risks
- Guaranteeing alignment across the business
Watch Luca’s full speech at Growth Conference Europe:
During his presentation, Gerard justified email spamming, given that your product and your company benefit society.
And thus, these are these 7 Golden Rules for sending emails, according to his presentation:
- Make it real and direct/emotional
- Do not use email templates
- Keep it WhatsApp style
- Create a relation, not a presentation
- Always tell them how amazing they are
- Include one call-to-action in every email
- Do not reveal who you are or what is your name
Watch Gerard’s full speech at Growth Conference Europe:
Vasil shared his 3-step guide on how to start an event, and how he does it:
- Get on meetup.com. Meetup is a 40-million member platform, with 320k meetup groups and 12k daily events. Create your own meetup and make it stand out.
- Host an event. Do your research, find a venue, and recruit your speakers. Have your first event ready to go before the meetup announcement.
- Follow-up and get feedback. Do a survey, meet your speakers in-person, send them gifts, and connect with them.
Vasil stressed that when it comes to relationship and community building, quality beats quantity. In order to also communicate this value to your audience, this is what you can do in your first conference:
- Make the event exclusive. Even if that means having as few as 20 people in your event.
- Make the seats to your event limited. That said, you shouldn’t create fake scarcity.
- Promote your competitors. It may sound counter-intuitive, but success will stem from the value you can provide, not from just being the owner of a community.
Last but not least, the founder of GCE gave a few tips on growing a community without creating an event.
- Become an expert in your industry
- Start consulting
- Create a blog
- Start a podcast
- Join an existing community
- Speak at other events
- Write a book
Watch Vasil’s full speech at Growth Conference Europe:
First, he explained what a growth hacker is supposed to do as a Digital Marketing Auditor (DMA) and why their role is essential. Hence, a DMA will:
- Investigate all your digital marketing efforts. A DMA will check the performance of all your practices, strategies, ads, and posts, and he will try to find your “digital gaps and loopholes.”
- Suggest optimisations and will give you alerts at an earlier stage.
- Analyse every digital funnel, identify any leakages, and suggest solutions.
- Train you and your team to become better communicators so you can have better briefs, intelligible requirements, and better planning.
Next, Theodore explained the necessity of progressive profiling of your potential customers, and why you need to collect from your customers more than just their email. According to the Group CEO, the best way to achieve that is to give them some value first and get some of the info you want later. Then, give them some more value again and get a different piece of info about them. Your goal should be collecting their data, such as Messenger ID’s, phone numbers, Facebook ID’s, and Push Notification ID’s through time.
Ultimately, the modern growth hacker should:
- Identify gaps in the market.
- Know how to grow a product or a service.
- Have the ability to monitor trends, spy on the competition, and validate their ideas or fail – and fast.
Watch Theodore’s full speech at Growth Conference Europe:
This 30X growth, according to Massimo, was based on 4 Pillars:
- Content Marketing: Massimo’s numbers say that 20% of the blog drives 80% of the website total traffic. Every piece of content should also provide unique data, explain the ins and out of a topic, and save time searching for resources.
- Code as Content: “Code as Content” practically means the release of new products – usually for free. The value you will give that way will return to you by letting you leverage product launches on the Press and media, e.g., ProductHunt, which can result in a lot more traffic.
- Branding: Massimo described how building a strong brand was a key element to AdEsrpesso’s success. Effective branding includes a consistent visual design, a reachable team for the audience (AdEspresso did that through a Facebook group), and a unique tone of voice that communicates openly one’s values.
- Maximizing Lifetime Value: Like so many other GCE speakers, Massimo stressed the importance of customer retention. He explained that there are some excellent ways to maximize your long term value: pricing experimentation, creating product bundles, upsells of discounted upgrades to annual plans, or one-off high-ticket advanced training seasons.
Watch Massimo’s full speech at Growth Conference Europe:
Steli started his “case against growth hacking,” saying that, far too often, hacking equals to tricking. And tricking customers is not suitable for long-term business. So, for example, when Eli came back from his holiday and was browsing through his endless list of unread emails, it was one particular email that caught his attention. The subject line read: “Very disappointed.” As one should expect, Steli boarded a thought train which looked more like a Disneyland roller coaster: “What did I/we do wrong”? “Who did we disappoint”? he wondered. Steli , as anyone would do, insta-clicked and opened the email, which read something along the lines of:
“I’m very disappointed […] that I’ve sent you so many emails and we haven’t been able to connect.
We are an outsourced developer team that can help you build [whatever]. […]”
Steli wondered, how can you trust such relationships when, right off the bat, they use shady tactics and try to manipulate you?
In this fashion, growth hacking may come in the form of ‘BS metrics’ such as “80% open rate” and “200% conversion improvement”, when in reality they could mean +20 email openings and +5 customers respectively. Conclusively, focusing on so-called “hacks” is increasingly a waste of time, as the returns are short lived. What we should do instead is to think and act with a long-term scope.
Watch Steli’s full speech at Growth Conference Europe:
As the years go by, Clayton described, Google is increasingly focusing on 4 on-site behaviors:
- Direct web visits
- Time spent on site
- Pages per session
- Bounce rate
There are 5 more behavior signals that more behavior signals do count for Google, albeit they aren’t as important:
- Referring domains
- The number of backlinks
- Total referring IPs
- Total follow-backlinks
- Content length
More precisely, Intercom has changed 5 things regarding its onboarding, and Phil had one tip to give for every one thing Intercom changed:
- Listen to your customers: Listening to your customer is often something that many companies think they do, but don’t really do. Phil and Intercom try to gather as much data as possible through surveys. The questions customers answer have to do with their role, the main reason they plan to use Intercom for, and the type of features that are most important for one’s business.
- Define your activation criteria: Activation criteria refer to the actions that turn a lead into a long-term happy customer.
- Delete everything else: This tip starts with the perspective that every user on your website has a defined energy reserve. Every click your user makes and every message they get drains some of their energy. As a result, staying focused should be a top priority. It is also a good idea to give some rewards along the way.
- Stay classy after the sale: Phil reminded us that in the SaaS world, our customer chooses our product every month. For that reason, you have to stay in sales-mode all the time and avoid being boring, confusing, and cheap after the first sale or subscription.
- Always be testing: Phil stressed the importance of A/B testing and tests in general. So, for example, he presented an experiment they did with their onboarding flow. That test resulted in a 10.5% increase in activation, which led to a 9% increase in customer moving from the trial period into being a paying customer.
Watch Phil’s full speech at Growth Conference Europe:
First of all, Qualification went up, because it depends on the number of events that will take place. Since users do more stuff, the number of events went up as well. Activation didn’t move at all. And subscription tanked. But why did this happen? As a data scientist, Ignasi could explain what happened but not why that happened.
He and his team wanted to have a solid understanding of the user behavior that made up those metrics. For this reason, they paused the experiment and started doing some research. Two data scientists, one UX designer, and a product manager started asking the right questions. After a while, the team drew its conclusions:
- Activation does not lead to Subscription: 80% of customers pay before activating.
- Most qualified signups don’t activate for 3 main reasons: They either didn’t have the time, were waiting for approval, or faced other difficulties.
- Slow activators were 4 times more likely to become paying customers than fast activators.
Watch Ignasi’s full speech at Growth Conference Europe:
And so we have:
- More traffic
- Increased CTR
- More revenue
- Used for voice search
SEMRush analyzed 80 million keywords and 6.9 million featured snippets, through which he drew some big conclusions. Moreover, there are three types of featured snippets and three basic types of keywords
From a book about life to growth marketing, Naser describes the 4 Principles of Marketing for mastering the Art of Partnerships. As you should expect, the acronym of those principles create a catchy and relevant word; in our case – PEEL:
In the second part of his presentation, Naser explained how he and his company, Venngage, put those 4 principles into action. From 2015, when they had just got some traction, to 2019, Venngage grew by 4,000%, and today they get 40k signups a week, while their annual recurring revenue is over $6M. The beginning was tough, as their core goal was organic traffic through a link building strategy. And the problem with that was ‘How do you build links when you have no domain authority and no value to offer’? However, Venngage overcame that obstacle multi-ways by:
- Making what Naser calls “guestographics,” through which they manage to partner with Hubspot
- Createing co-marketing projects
- Making multi-company offers and integrations
Watch Naser’s full presentation here:
The questions of this process include:
- What is your Business Model?
- How much budget do you have?
- On which areas do you need total leadership/collaboration?
- Do you cover channel/strategy expertise?
- Do you have goals or deadlines set?
- Is the product/service validated?
- How much marketing is already happening?
- What is your revenue – and profit?
In his presentation, Luca shared the growth hacking process of the company, their growth strategy, and the journey their clients make.
Watch Luca’s full presentation here (IT):
Brulia is a mathematician and a data scientist, and therefore, it came as no surprise that his presentation was filled with charts and numbers. Being also a big fan of A/B testing, Brulia showed some of the tests: from a media company’s landing page registration to his LinkedIn image optimization.
Next, he made a small analysis of what really makes good content. Braulio underlined that when the content is good, this translates to some algorithmic triggers. So, for example, when users start paying attention, they click “See More.” When they keep watching/reading, the algorithm keeps track of said time and can also understand how engaging the content is by the number of likes, comments, and shares. And thus, when using reverse engineering, the content creator should try to:
- Build curiosity: Open with a bang – usually some drama. It’s what you already do with your email subject when you are writing an email. If your subject line doesn’t convince the recipient that it worths any of their time, they won’t read not one word of your email. Likewise, if users don’t engage with your first sentence, they will probably won’t engage with everything else you’ve written past this first sentence.
- Make the reading flow: Writing on social media does not equal to writing an article. So loosen up, both in style and structure.
- Add a Call-To-Action: If you want more people in your audience to engage with your content, sometimes asking for a like, comment, or share will suffice. So go ahead and add a CTA.
Watch Braulio’s full presentation here:
According to Gerardo, these are the 7 common mistakes in digital product design you should try to avoid:
- It should be mobile first – not desktop first
- It should be about the problems the product solves, not about its features
- Will this feature bring us closer to our vision?
- Will this product release add anything of value to our end users?
- Does this feature solve our customers’ problem?
- There is too much friction; stay focused and help your users find your content
- Insufficient user on-boarding. Give your users the “Aha moment” ASAP
- Mistakes regarding the virtual environment. Consider the external factors of a user experience
- Too less information: Too often, you may take much of the information you already know for granted. As a result, your Homepage could be missing a crucial value proposition
- Optimize, optimize, optimize
Before going off the stage, Gerardo left the audience with 3 take-ways to help entrepreneurs and marketers avoid those common product design mistakes. Keep these in mind:
- Retain current users before acquiring new ones
- Dig deeper into your customer journey
- Less is more (keep it minimal)
Watch Gerardo’s full presentation here:
Ben recommended a shift in perspective towards data. Upon a closer look, data can share some characteristics which you can leverage. Data can be:
For example, you can leverage proactive data with this 5-step process:
- Leverage a timely news peg
- Make a data study related to the news peg
- Post a study on your website
- Pitch data story to mass media
- Media links to the full data story
Get inbound traffic and SEO!
Next, Ben introduced another concept of PR Hacker: blueprints. Blueprints aim at getting your story covered in the media – worldwide. PR hacker has 27 of these blueprints, with each of them posing a question and at the same time having a methodology about how to execute. For example, the blueprint Georanking answers the question “How can we compare different regions to each other to generate local news at a global scale? The answer to that is found in the 3-step methodology Ben and his company use, which he shared with the GCE audience. Likewise, Ben showed many ways through which you can leverage data and receive massive exposure.
But Ben didn’t stop there. Before leaving the stage, he introduced his very own “growth marketing dance,” which involved an imaginary lasso and a pony(!). Don’t you believe me? Just watch the video!
Watch Ben’s full presentation here:
This experience let him draw some conclusions:
- A/B Testing pays off if you don’t give up
- Persistence can be a trap if you insist in the wrong direction
- Relevant targeting saves the day
- Framing is powerful
Continuing from his last point, framing, Valentin delved into the framing effect – the different conclusions people draw depending on how a piece of information is presented. In regards to CRO, there is a significantly higher conversion when the information is framed positively than negatively.
As Valentin stated, there are 103 cognitive biases. Combining that data with the sheer amount of data Omnicovert had in their hands, they concluded that there are 12 cognitive biases that matter the most in the digital world:
- Availability cascade
- Bandwagon effect
- Confirmation bias
- Fear of missing out
- Herd mentality
- Zeigarnik effect
- Authority bias
- Loss aversion
- Reciprocity bias
- Hyperbolic discounting bias
In the end, Valentin shared his insight that the future of CRO is not going to be so data-related, but rather, CRO will address the mentality of the user.
Watch Valentin’s full presentation here: