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Fábio Miranda: What do Engineers need to learn about growth hacking in order to design successful products and work with or lead multidisciplinary teams? Can you recommend books or courses for beginners?
Yiwei Yao: From a concept perspective, it would be great to first understand cohorting and funnel analysis, and set yourself up for success by pinpointing where there may be leaks in your application that are causing users to drop off or not be retained. You need quantitative data in order to be able to develop tools and perform experiments that will help you achieve higher growth in the long run. One example of a free service you could use is Amplitude.
You can think of growth hacking as increasing the percentage of users that go from user discovery -> user acquisition -> user retention. Depending on your business, let’s say for a SaaS product, if you hit around 30 percent you are doing extremely well. Unless your product is more usage based (e.g., the client pays per API call), this would be a good mental model to start with.
It’s also important to segregate your marketing channels so that your data is relevant and isolated to the types of marketing you are conducting. This way, you can allocate more or less resources depending on the degree of success. You can then determine the cost per user acquisition if you were trying out a new promotion, which will feed into the lifetime value of that user and give you a good base for your revenue modelling.
Now I’ll move onto your actual question:
When you ask what Engineers need to learn in order to design successful products and lead teams, I think it should be on the founders and senior leadership team to first provide the vision of the product and establish some base processes and methods. You need to provide direction and do the market research before bringing this to the attention of your Engineers. Engineers are generally the last people who get a say in what they are building.
I personally think it is unreasonable to ask Engineers who haven’t worked with a marketing mindset to build products that optimize for growth right away. Engineers are generally really, really good at building the features and components a product needs to have and spend most of their working hours doing so. That’s why companies usually have product managers and team leads that work with multi-disciplinary teams (e.g., sales, marketing, SLT, engineering) to facilitate and communicate what needs to be done in order to hit certain KPIs and OKRs. These translate into digestible tasks or tickets for your Engineers to work on. If you are the founder, then you will be taking on this role.
It takes time to transition from an engineering mindset to a growth one, so take the time to mentor and be patient and empathetic. Most Engineers I’ve met who haven’t worked in a startup or founded one just haven’t been exposed to anything but engineering. But they are intelligent individuals so I’m sure with the right leadership and direction you can build a culture where your engineering department is very growth minded.
A few books I would recommend are: Hacking Growth by Sean Ellis and Morgan Brown, Get to Aha! by Andy Cunningham and Loonshots by Safi Bahcall.
Hope that helps!
Beier Cai: Great perspective Yiwei! Not much to add here but +100 to Loonshot. Really enjoyed that book myself!
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