Nov 16, 2022
Growth Frameworks
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 min read

2021 & Growth Marketing

When we look back at 2020 from a growth marketing lens — CPM decreases at the onset of COVID, TikTok’s surge in popularity and privacy are a few key aspects that come to mind.

Who would have thought we’d have another major channel emerge with 315M downloads in Q1 alone. That’s the most downloads by any app in a given quarter. And yes, I’m speaking of TikTok.

As we look into the future of growth marketing in 2021, what can we expect? Below are three of my predictions:

1. Consolidation + Creative Focus

As growth marketing matures and major channels become less reliant on marketer’s guardrails (i.e age, gender, interest, lookalike targeting), less of the focus will be on testing endless targeting permutations, and instead be on creative and copy testing. The graphic above is of Facebook’s “Power5″ best practices in which they recommend a “simplified account structure” when it comes to campaigns, ad sets and creative. Now this isn’t to say success can’t be found when a makeup brand targets fans of makeup gurus — or when Rolex targets those with a HHI > $100,000. However, targeting algorithms are getting stronger and will end up targeting the highest propensity segment of users as it learns which users are converting from your campaigns.

This leaves us with creative and copy as our biggest lever.

When thinking of where to spend the lion’s share of time optimizing a paid social campaign, creative is the lever where the largest swings can be had. A quick look at Calm’s ads on Facebook shows ~2,000 with a few new ones added every single day. Below they’re testing the same wording with different ad formats (image + video) and types of scenery.

Calm's Facebook ads.

Each channel has different best practices on what resonates best with the user-base — for example, on Snapchat home-y type videos perform particularly well because they blend in with the organic content users are posting themselves. With that said, testing various permutations of different style concepts is crucial for a channel to succeed. If there’s one takeaway on the above, it’s to test creative and copy like a mad man.

2. Attribution Woes

With CCPA (California Consumer Privacy Act) being enforced January 2020 and Prop 24 expanding CCPA, it’s no secret that consumers are demanding privacy on the devices and apps that they use. Apple has further accelerated this with the launch of iOS 14, where developers will “…need to receive the user’s permission through the AppTrackingTransparency framework to track them or access their device’s advertising identifier”.

So what does this mean for growth marketing?

What this means is that users of apps and sites in California who opt out of CCPA will largely be untraceable. In addition, users who don’t provide apps their permission in iOS 14 to track or access their device’s unique ID, will also be untraceable. As you can imagine, this will make the jobs of growth marketers much tougher as they try and run tests to prove out the effectiveness of the channels they’re running. Much of the focus will be placed on running incrementality tests to measure the lift when having a channel turned on. The concept of incrementality tests isn’t new, but from my experience, hasn’t been prioritized at startups or newer growth marketing teams. At a high level, an incrementality study is a controlled test where a campaign or entire channel is ramped up/down or completely turned on/off and then the changes in volume are measured. There is much more that goes into these studies, but that’s a very macro-level look at how it works.

Okay, so more incrementality tests — what else? In specific cases, there are also other ways to measure the effectiveness of channels where attribution is lost. For example, with Google UAC, you can choose to use the performance on your Android campaigns in regions outside of California to try and best model how iOS campaigns perform. Growth marketers are going to have to get increasingly crafty and comfortable with running many of these MVP or heavy data science type tests.

3. Influencers, influencers, influencers

YoY influencer marketing growth —via Influencer Marketing Hub

One recent company that had massive success with sponsoring an influencer is teen credit-card startup, Step. A few weeks after sponsoring TikTok star Charli D’Amelio, they raised $50M in Series B financing. Coincidence? I think not. Another company, Bang Energy has been able to complete with the likes of Rockstar and Red Bull with a strong influencer marketing program. Their CMO, Meg Liz Owoc, noted that utilizing influencers has given the Bang brand an edge and ability to gain market share in the overly-saturated energy drink market.

qpark’s TikTok Feed.

Above is a look at @qpark who has a TikTok doing funny dances in public while holding a Bang energy drink. His account has 23M+ followers with short 15s videos garnering millions of views. This. Is. Genius. Advertising.

With Charli D’Amelio, qpark and the thousands of other powerful influencers in the creator economy — there is practically an influencer for any product, no matter how niche it is. As companies start to realize the potential of influencer advertising, we’ll start to see more organic-style placements in our feeds.

Concluding Thoughts

While these are three broad predictions for 2021, they are heavy hitting items that will impact every company, no matter the size or vertical. If you’re reading this and looking at ways to further refine your marketing program, consider consolidation of your social accounts to help channel algorithms enhance their targeting capabilities, incrementality testing to prove out channel performance and influencer marketing.

As we move through Q1, I’ll be writing micro-level articles that dive deeper on tactics you can employ to optimize your marketing program. If there are any specific items you’d like me to write about — feel free to reach me on LinkedIn.

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