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How Pawel Helped Growee 10x Qualified Traffic and Go From 0 to 70 Leads in 6 Weeks

We love doing interviews with growth experts, but we enjoy getting detailed process overviews just as much. We here have a piece from our very own conversion expert Pawel Banhegyi. Pawel has vast experience in CRO. For 7 years, he was part of the Conversion Rate Experts team before striking off on his own and then joining the Hypergrowth Collective.

In this piece, Pawel describes his step-by-step CRO methodology through a specific case study of one of his clients that you'll undoubtedly find interesting.

Project details

Background: For the sake of confidentiality, I’ll refer to them as Growee. They provide technical management services for promising tech startups and scale-ups, so you can think of them as a niche service provider for… niche SaaS businesses.

Problem definition: 100% of their leads were generated via networking and events, while they had a whole team of world-class developers who could do magic to their website. It was beautiful and modern, yet nobody used the contact form (lead count per month: 0).

Growee hired me with one key goal—to generate qualified leads and use a lean, creative approach to do it because they didn’t like all the growth gurus jumping in with Google Ads campaigns and growth hacks taken out of a template.

I used my own methodology to approach the problem.

Phase 1: Spyglass (finding out what the problem really was based on existing assets)

Identified problem 1: Websites visitors were not fit to become leads (unqualified traffic)

I started by looking at their analytics to understand where they’re getting traffic from. I used a combination of Google Analytics, Ahrefs, and Screaming Frog to find out that they didn’t have a lead-gen content strategy in place and people were only visiting “viral” blog posts (not directed at their potential leads). Almost 100% of the website traffic was unqualified to become leads.

Problem 2: The target service page was a beautifully designed brochure that was missing key information

I then looked at their service page (for the service I was working on) and didn’t understand a thing. They’re selling technical consultations aimed at a particular group of professionals, so I thought I might not be qualified to understand it.

So I recruited potential leads via User Interviews (I made sure they match the ideal lead profile, based on the kind of clients Growee had at that point) and asked them to review the site. And they couldn’t understand a thing. The end deliverables of the service were unclear. The process to get there, too, and Growee didn’t seem authoritative enough to handle the service they offered (except they actually were very authoritative).

Phase 2: Sailing (custom research to identify more problems)

Since Growee is in a very narrow niche, it was difficult to conduct quantitative research. I had to rely on qualitative methods and a pinch of creativity.

Activity 1: Interviews with the team

I sat on a couple of 1-2h calls with all the team members (mainly the board) who’d been involved in promoting, selling, and/or executing the services I was working on selling. They told me why clients choose Growee, why they don’t, what (they think) the issue was, and how they’d fix it (and why they hadn’t done it yet).

I didn’t use that knowledge to jump straight into optimization and testing. Instead, I had a few comparison points that I later used when talking to the real experts—Growee’s clients.

Activity 2: Interviews with clients

I booked calls with several clients that Growee had helped in the past, and I used that opportunity to map a potential prospect's decision-making process. I’ve confirmed some of the points that the board had made during my interviews with them, but the real value was in understanding that:

  • Clients choose Growee for their technical expertise (which was hard to understand on the website at the time) (!)
  • Clients love Growee’s unique methodology, but they don’t understand how it works in real life—not until they get their final report from Growee (!!)
  • At the moment of signing a contract, none of these clients knew what the end deliverable was going to be (!!!)

The last part was astonishing. People were ready to invest thousands of dollars and didn’t know what they’d get. The ambiguity of the service was a common problem in every aspect of my research at that point.

Activity 3: Team workshop (aka a Business Cartography Session)

After talking to the board and clients, I organized a two-hour remote workshop for all the team members. Everybody was asked to provide feedback on all the pain points and benefits I’d identified so far. We also talked about future directions for the company, and each employee got to propose their vision of Growee.

That session helped me better understand what I was dealing with in terms of the service's direct and indirect value. It also surfaced hidden benefits that clients reveal when working with Growee’s employees in person, but they rarely communicated to the board.

Activity 4: Market survey for product-market fit

At some point during Phase 2, I decided to pivot. Growee had a specific target audience in mind. But after doing some research, I knew there was a potential to expand. So I executed a market survey targeted at 300 potential leads from that “less obvious target audience,” which helped me verify all my findings and “quantify” the problems.

While we could have done more research and prep, I decided to take an agile approach and test what I had. I knew:

  • Why clients choose Growee.
  • Why they might decide not to choose Growee.
  • Uncertainties about the service and end deliverables.
  • Expanded target audiences (including where they hang out and how they make investment decisions).
  • That the content strategy at the time wasn’t helpful for lead gen, and the whole sales process was way too manual.

Phase 3: Facing the Krakens (taking action)

Continuing with my agile marketing approach, I made a list of things to work on:

  • Creating a content strategy to attract qualified leads
  • Redesigning and rewriting the service page
  • Creating reciprocity (lead magnet + drip campaign) because the cost of the service was high, so it wasn’t a decision made after visiting a site once
  • Exploring LinkedIn Ads (their audience didn’t hang out on FB, and the Google search terms didn’t look promising)
  • Revamping client testimonials

Creating a content strategy to attract qualified leads

People didn’t search for the service Growee provided. Not directly. I decided to create/manage writing 3 pillar posts (that are now being backed up by branched posts) on topics related to the pain points of the target audience revealed during Phase 2.

We did keyword research for each of the posts, analyzed competitive articles, identified user intent, and created very detailed outlines for the authors.

The goal of each pillar article was to build Growee’s expertise and problem awareness. They were also linked in the custom-made reciprocity reports, email campaigns, and on the new service page and promoted on LinkedIn. The articles are still fresh, but they’re growing organically really quickly. Growee’s best non-viral articles have around 100 organic entries a month, while the most recent pillar article is already outperforming them:

We’ve now introduced a data-driven SEO approach to writing content (in general), and the articles stopped being “just nice articles” and they now produce value (support lead generation). But the main purpose of those articles is to nurture problem awareness of Growee’s target audience to realize they need Growee’s services (I call it indirect lead generation).

Redesigning the service page

Each element of the new page (that I designed and wrote) had a purpose and was backed up by specific insights from my research (which lead to creating an ideas list of 100+ things to implement, prioritized by potential impact and ease of implementation assessed by each team member involved in deploying website changes).

I tested the new page with a couple of more prospects, and they had only minor objections that we fixed. The next round of user tests returned a 100% messaging clarity and a 5/5 willingness to request a consultation score.

At this point, the “sales page” was ready, the long-term content strategy as well. However, the new page promised a sample of Growee’s work (not knowing the end deliverable was the most common objection from research), so I had to design a nurturing process around it.

Creating reciprocity

We created a mock report that prospects could download to see what they’d be getting. And so we did it (using Ludus), but we also used the report to sell Growee’s expertise and link people to the pillar articles.

Once people downloaded the report, they entered a drip campaign that I designed to run for around 6 weeks. Here’s how the email flow looked like:

Since I don’t like guessing, I set up an A/B testing campaign in Mailchimp (which required some back-end tweaks as the tool allows to test only single emails) and created Version A (more formal) and Version B (less formal) to see which of them performs best. I didn’t have a lot of traffic to play with, but that helped me tweak the process to some extent (again, an agile approach).

Exploring LinkedIn Ads

Since the page on its own didn’t generate traffic at the time, and the pillar posts take a couple of weeks/months to work their magic, I decided to invest in LinkedIn Ads, as that’s where the target audience hangs out.

I created several ad variations (different creatives, headlines, USP angles) and tested them with Growee’s team and external panels to narrow down the choice to 2 ads.

The budget was limited (less than $1,000) as it was a Proof-of-Concept campaign. However, I still managed to determine a clear winner that produced a 3x higher CTR than the other version, and it was also 2x higher than the LinkedIn Ads benchmark for this industry. The CEO decided to scale up PPC and run quarterly campaigns.

Revamping client testimonials

We also started recording video testimonials with clients that we’re repurposing as case studies, LinkedIn posts, and in the newsletter. I designed scripts and the shooting process, and we managed to organize it during the pandemic, which involved (a lot of) driving between different cities and re-setting up the scene. Phew!

Here’s to growth!

We went from 50 monthly visits to the service page to around 500 visits last month (it’s a very niche industry, so that’s still a great result). However, it’s not the number of total visits that matters the most.

We started with 0 leads, and now we have 70 leads in the drip campaign, around 80% of which are verified as qualified leads. 

As I said, this is just the beginning of their optimized growth based on a 360 agile marketing and research approach. Once the pillar posts, drip campaigns, and scaled-up ads “warm up”, we’re expecting to see even more growth. We’re also experimenting with… gamification on Growee’s homepage, which is a risky move in their rather conservative industry, but well, that’s what research suggested!

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