Ep. 53 – Interview w/ Araks Nalbandyan

How B2B Companies Can Leverage Growth Hacking to Scale Their Business

It’s a term that is frequently misunderstood and used in very loose terms in the B2B world – growth hacking. But what is growth hacking really, and how can companies utilize it effectively to manage more clients and grow? On this week’s episode, we talk to Araks Nalbandyan (Director of Digital Marketing10Web) about what growth hacking is and isn’t, some common challenges, what her go to tools and software are, as well as the importance of getting and leveraging the right data to scale sustainably.

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Topics discussed in this episode:

  • What is growth hacking? [1:56]
  • What should you pay attention to when it comes to growth hacking? [3:34]
  • Some growth hacking tools that Araks would recommend [6:53]
  • Araks shares her thoughts on the challenges of getting the right data for growth hacking [13:52]
  • Araks’s advice on growth hacking [18:44] | [20:32]
  •  

Companies & links mentioned in this episode:

Transcript

SPEAKERS

Christian Klepp, Araks Nalbandyan

Christian Klepp  00:00

Welcome to B2B Marketers on a Mission, a podcast for B2B marketers that helps you to question the conventional, think differently, disrupt your industry, and take your marketing to new heights. Each week, we talk to B2B marketing experts who share inspirational stories, discuss their thoughts and trending topics, and provide useful marketing tips and recommendations. And now, here’s your host and co-founder of EINBLICK Consulting, Christian Klepp.

Welcome, everyone to this episode of the B2B Marketers on a Mission podcast where you get your weekly dose of B2B marketing insights. This is your host Christian Klepp. And today, I am excited to welcome a guest on to the show who is on a mission. Her mission is to help agencies and developers to increase revenue, manage more clients, secure client retention, and grow their business with growth hacking. So coming to us live from Yerevan, Armenia, Araks Nalbandyan, Bari Galust! Welcome to the show.

Araks Nalbandyan  00:56

Hey, there, Christian, thank you for having me today.

Christian Klepp  00:58

It’s really great to be connected. Araks, I’m really looking forward to this conversation. And I’ll be honest with you, this is the first time I’m interviewing somebody from Armenia.

Araks Nalbandyan  01:09

I’m very excited, I am sure we will have a very interesting talk.

Christian Klepp  01:12

Absolutely, absolutely. So, you know, based on our previous conversation, you know, we had a lot of topics that we talked about, there was one, but there was one particular topic that I’d like to zero in on today, because you know, you have built up a great and successful career around it. A lot of what you do in your current business focuses on this topic, and that topic is growth hacking. Now, let’s break it down a little bit for the audience. Because you know, growth hacking, for me at least is one of these buzz words that everybody is trying to like use in very loose terms. And we are growth hacking our way to this and growth hacking our way to that. So just for the benefit of the audience, please elaborate on what you believe growth hacking is and is not.

Araks Nalbandyan  01:55

Sure. I completely agree with you. A lot of people use that term very loosely. They call everything growth hacking, like any marketing activity, like a growth hacking. For me. I understand growth hacking as doing fast experiments based on the data and finding out that what can work for your company, and then scaling it. It’s basically experimenting based on data and doing it very quickly.

Christian Klepp  02:22

Okay, no, that’s a good point. And what would you say growth hacking is not, right?

Araks Nalbandyan  02:28

Growth Hacking is not your general marketing activity. It’s like doing good SEO, for example. And ranking high that even if it takes, like, quicker, it’s not growth hacking, doing like the marketing campaign offering like sells off or something. It’s not growth hacking is just marketing. I guess, you can also differentiate that growth hacking is also more product based, rather than, like campaign based.

Christian Klepp  02:56

That’s a really good point. And I think it’s really important to highlight that because I think that’s one of the general, like misconceptions that people have about growth hacking. Speaking of misconceptions, that’s a very nice segue into the next question. And because, you know, you’ve been in this field for a while. So let’s try to look at it from a more, I would say, a constructive point of view, but just talk to us about, like, some of the mistakes and misconceptions that you’ve seen people make when it comes to growth hacking and what they should do to address these.

Araks Nalbandyan  03:27

Yeah. Basically when… as I told you, in my opinion it’s more about experiments, and sometimes you can do the experiments based on hypothesis. But it’s better to have your like ideas to be based on the data. And I think a lot of people just ignore data or don’t  pay as much attention to data as possible. That’s one of the things that I would advise to keep an eye more on. And the next thing is knowing how long you want the experiment last. So you have enough data again, so you can say if the experiment worked, or it didn’t.

Christian Klepp  04:08

Okay. I mean, I know that it really depends on the situation and where the companies are currently at in their lifecycle, but what would you say generally, is a good timeframe, you know, for growth hacking, how much time do you need to test something, to make those iterations generally, in your opinion?

Araks Nalbandyan  04:30

Well, it’s very different depending on the traffic you’re getting. Depends, like, on the experiment you’re doing, like a small thing, and you have like, a lot of data and you can get the results quickly. It can take very quick like, a week, but basically, probably like a in average, it can take one week, it can take two weeks, but it’s again, it’s based on the traffic you’re getting. Like if example, if you’re changing something in your signup page, just as an experiment, depending on how many people visit your signup page daily, you will need that much time. Basically, just but I would advise to for especially for like the new companies, startups that are just growing or like they need funds to grow. Just try to like even spend more money on advertising for a week just to bring a lot of traffic and then do A|B testing to see if the experiment works.

Christian Klepp  05:31

All right, well, that’s a pretty good advice. And, you know, just again, for the benefit of the listeners, would you say that growth hacking is an approach that is mainly used by tech startups and SaaS businesses? Or can it be used by large organizations as well?

Araks Nalbandyan  05:46

Well, it started mainly, like the trend of growth hacking mainly started for the startups. Because startups, they have an issue of problem to grow fast. We know that, like 9 out of 10 startups don’t succeed. So the ones that succeed, they need to grow fast, you know, otherwise, they will have competitors. But I think that huge companies can still use growth hacking, because each company can get more clients, get more retention rate, get more lifetime value, and they can just base again, based on data, big companies can see where they have problems and implement growth hacking in those aspects.

Christian Klepp  06:30

Okay. Okay. That’s, that’s quite interesting. For this next question. I’m gonna say, let’s have a look inside the toolbox of Araks. Alright, so to find out what’s in there? Okay, so what kind of growth hacking tools, you know, from your experience, would you recommend to people out there and why?

Araks Nalbandyan  06:50

Okay, probably, it’s, I can’t say it’s like just a growth hacking tool. But it’s basically Mural, I really like Mural, because it helps you to create a funnels, integrate everything, so you can see everything perfectly. We also use notion, it’s all just for how to work out, just use Google Data Studio for the data, just collect your data from everywhere in Google Data Studio. So it will be available for all your team and they can just take a look at the data and make decisions based on that. And depending on your business, just optimize your processes to make it more automatic, more faster and more efficient.

Christian Klepp  07:36

I know people talk about this a lot, because you know, especially not necessarily just in growth hacking, but other fields as well. But you know, like they’re always talking about, like, it’s not just necessarily the tools and the technology. But you also have the… need to have the right systems and processes in place to make everything work and harmonize. So well, what are your thoughts on that?

Araks Nalbandyan  07:57

Process are the most important thing, especially now then everyone will work smoothly, everyone works remotely. Processes are the main thing that keeps the engine going. So you can be sure that the team is working efficiently that the experiment you are doing is working great. And everything is in the right place, and you can have a clear information about how it is going. So processes are super important.

Christian Klepp  08:24

Yeah, yeah, that’s absolutely right. That’s absolutely right. I’d like to get your thoughts on this, because this is something that’s related to growth hacking, of course, and then best practices, most, especially for B2B marketers, right? So there was an article written by outbrain. And it lists, some like, you can call it like growth hacking tips for B2B. Okay, so there’s four of them. So one is, the first one almost seems obvious. Create relevant and valuable content? Yeah. I mean, we would hope so, right? So things like white paper ebook, SlideShare decks, blog posts, case studies, and so forth. The second one is offering free trials. I think the question is like, is anybody not offering a free trial? Creating targeted newsletters, I think newsletters is also quite a common one. And then using multiple marketing channels. So it’s not just social media, but like, you know, even native and search advertising, paid and so forth. So what are your thoughts in the above? Is there anything that you would add or anything that you disagree with? You know, on that note…

Araks Nalbandyan  09:34

I agree with everything, especially the last one is he said, I’ve heard a lot of marketers talk about like, advertising, SEO and usually people talk about it separately in marketing. It does not work separately, you need to have funnel in different channels and understand how and why the channels are connected and bring to the right traffic. One thing that I would like to add I can edit just from our perspective at 10web as well, because we do offer free trial, we do provide a lot of content. But the thing that we found that also helped us is not just providing valuable content, but also make sure that your product is valuable as well. Find what your niche is struggling in and provide something that it can be valuable for your target. Because product based marketing works greatly and provide you longer retention rate and lifetime value.

Christian Klepp  10:31

Yeah, no, absolutely. I mean, they kind of have to go hand in hand, right? I mean, you can’t have like amazing content and a great marketing campaign and the product is. So obviously, we’re not going to talk about COVID during this interview, but what I do want to know from you, which I always asked a lot of guests is like, how is the pandemic changed your industry, your line of work, right? And what are some of the trends that you think B2B marketers need to look out for, especially when it comes to growth hacking? So like, what’s changed in the past, let’s say the 12, last 12 to 14 months? And what is it going to look like look like? You know, moving forward?

Araks Nalbandyan  11:10

Yeah, basically, because we’re a B2B company as well. We are like, focusing our main our clients, our agencies, and freelancers who build websites for, like other companies, other businesses, when COVID started, we noticed that actually, the number of websites started growing, because a lot of local businesses went online. So a lot of agencies got new clients, building websites for them. So that was one point. And the other point was the work processes, as we talked about it previously, the work processes where we set up a new processes that work in the remote environment, and actually, we started working, even, like more efficient, there were men in the office back then. And the process were amazing, we were able to do a lot of experiments, and again, based on the right processes, and right set tools that we are using.

Christian Klepp  12:05

Yeah, no, that’s quite interesting. And I think it was an inevitable trend that all of these companies started to do everything remotely, and everything was digital, right? Because at least… I mean, again, it depends from country to country, but a lot of people they couldn’t go to the office, so they had to work from home. And they still had to find a way to like, you know, interface, like if it’s an agency interface with the colleagues on a certain project, maybe access the server for materials or use platforms, like take your pick, Trello, Slack, Microsoft Teams, all of these right?

Araks Nalbandyan  12:43

Yes, basically the automating, or tools became very popular as well. And because we also offer like website management, website building and posting automation, it was, again, one of the part that helps a lot of edges to automate their processes, project management, website management tools, and they’re going more into automating manual tasks and more focusing on creative work.

Christian Klepp  13:13

Hey, it’s Christian Klepp. Here. We’ll get back to the episode in a second. But first, is your brand struggling to cut through the noise? Are you trying to find more effective ways to reach your target audience and boost sales? Are you trying to pivot your business? If so, book a call with EINBLICK Consulting, our experienced consultants will work with you to help your B2B business to succeed and scale. Go to www.einblick.co for more information.

You probably brought this up a little bit earlier. But what do you think is one of the biggest challenges that’s facing growth hacking right now?

Araks Nalbandyan  13:48

Probably, I mean, maybe I’m repeating myself, but the main challenge is getting the right data. I can’t emphasize enough how much data is important and sometimes where maybe we need to be sure that the data is correct, that we have enough data that they get is actually correct, would that somewhere the code is now broken. And we’re not getting our own data, we need to take attention all the way in there, we need to take into consideration the data at each part of the funnel. For example, if you have a trial, and you’re doing advertising, getting to see where the client, the data of the advertising, then the data of the sign up, the data of after sign up processes. Before they upgrade, you need to see the funnel and pay attention to all the aspects of data, because maybe you’re doing an experiment, that growth hacking and you think it’s not working, but maybe something is broken in the acquisition part and not actually the experiment. So you need to take attention at data in all the aspects and consider everything when thinking if the experiment is working or not.

Christian Klepp  14:58

Yeah, no, that’s a good point. And yes, you have brought up data a couple of times in the past two minutes, but I think that’s quite frankly, not a problem that’s going to go away. Right. So and, you know, I’d like to just, you know, talk about that a little bit further if that’s okay with you, because I think like, you know, um, and it’s not necessarily just because of the pandemic. There were also a few things that happen pre-pandemic. There’s a lot of If you look at, for example, the EU with the legislation, yeah, around data, right, especially data that’s collected on different platforms and so forth. And how do you think that these, that this kind of legislation, just in general terms, would affect growth hacking?

Araks Nalbandyan  15:41

Actually, I think it will affect quite a bit, we will I think, in the upcoming months, months, or evens a year, we will see a clear effect of that on growth hacking, because we will have less and less data, because now people can decide if they’re sharing their data or not. Actually, I’ve talked with someone from Google, we were recently doing Google growth lab classes. And what they were saying is just to pay attention in general, and try to get like more data and generalize the data in the future, and not focus on like, specific things. But still, I think it is going to be quite challenging to understand better where your clients like, are interests, or whatever clients are interested in, what are they doing, it’s going to be a lot more challenging. And I’m wondering, I really, I’m really interested in how many people will decide not to share their data, and how much data we will have left, like in a year. But I’m sure it will be quite challenging.

Christian Klepp  16:54

That I think it’s quite interesting and a little bit scary. And if I may, I want to just throw this question out to you Araks, because I mean, yes, I’m sure with a lot of this legislation, certainly it will affect growth hacking. And so as a result of that, like, you know, people can decide whether or not they want to share their data with you. And as a result, companies might have, I wouldn’t say lesser, but like more restricted access to data. So at least from your experience and expertise, what would be the advice in the from the growth hacking perspective that you would give people out there that are coming to you saying,, hey, we’re really worried that this, this new legislation in these markets is going to affect them the way that we are able to collect and analyze data, what would you say to them?

Araks Nalbandyan  17:45

Well, I will be probably advise to take more time on collecting the data based on like, getting more time on the experiments. For example, if you were like doing an experiment for a week, at a certain thing, and you have your traffic, and you couldn’t make your decision that, you know, if it works or not. Now, you will need more time to collect more data. So if you have more people that allow you to have more access to data, so it will probably take more time for you to get the correct data. So just pay attention to that. And I guess we will find out soon, you know, what else we will be able to do.

Christian Klepp  18:26

Probably right, probably. What’s a commonly held belief or a status quo in growth hacking that you strongly disagree with? And why?

Araks Nalbandyan  18:39

Okay, so probably, probably, sometimes, people do too many experiments when it comes to growth hacking. And though, doing experiments quick and getting resolved is quite crucial. But sometimes when you do just a lot of experiments at the same time, it all gets mixed up and you probably are going to harm your product and your conversion rate more, rather than just, if you focused on two, three experiments and give it a proper time. It’s again, coming through, watching the whole funnel and not just a single experiment, because something in the funnel can breakdown and it can affect that small experiment part. So that’s why it’s Imagine if you’re doing like seven, eight experiments at the time, it will be very hard to understand which works and which didn’t,

Christian Klepp  19:36

Yah, no, that’s some pretty good advice. So if I’m hearing you correctly, you’re saying like, do fewer, but do them well, rather than doing too many. And then the results are not great.

Araks Nalbandyan  19:47

Yeah, you can do like, for example, 3 experiments for a week, you get your results and move to another for you, just and after paying attention to all the final data, and then move to another one. And then another, not just at the beginning altogether.

Christian Klepp  20:07

Okay. Okay. So if you were to give some practical, I mean, you’ve given a lot of practical advice during this discussion, but if you were to just to wrap things up to give some advice to those potential, let’s call them the potential growth hackers out there. What is one thing that you think they should start? And one thing they should stop doing in growth hacking?

Araks Nalbandyan  20:32

Yeah, I think they should stay. And no matter, I’ve mentioned it a couple of times that you need to do everything quickly. But still, you need to pay… to spend a lot of time understanding your client, who they are, what they think, what they breathe, and doing interviews with your, for example, your already existing customers, or your focus group, spend time interacting with them, understanding what words that are using. Just diving deeper into understanding your customer and then doing like, different experiments will work better for you. And what you should stop, I guess we all should stop calling growth hacking is just like general marketing, stop growth hacking. Let’s just stop. Marketing is marketing growth hacking is more product based. And it’s different than just general marketing stuff that we usually do. I’m not saying it’s not valuable, marketing is valuable a lot and can help a lot of businesses, but it needs to work with growth hacking, but they are different. And we don’t want to generalize it.

Christian Klepp  21:43

No, that’s a fair point. And to be honest, Araks, that’s the reason why we’re having this conversation, right, let’s dispel the myth, you know, clarify some misunderstandings, and just the clearly defined what it is right, so that people don’t, hopefully, after they listen to this interview, they’re not going to use growth hacking so loosely, right. Um, but no, I mean, you know, again, thank you so much for sharing your expertise and your insights. And please, you know, do us the honor and introduce yourself.

Araks Nalbandyan  22:13

Thank you. It was really great talk. I’m Araks Nabaldyan. I’m the Director of Marketing at 10web. We’re an automatic WordPress platform that automates website building, hosting and managing processes. And I would like just to mention, my favorite aspect of our product is that we automatically get websites 90+ PageSpeed score, so our clients agencies, freelancers that build websites for their clients, they can focus on their business growth, instead of working on manually to optimize their commerce website.

Christian Klepp  22:44

Fantastic. Fantastic. This has been such a great session. And you know, thank you, again, for coming on and sharing. What’s the best way for people out there to get in touch with you?

Araks Nalbandyan  22:53

Thank you, as well, and they can always contact me through our 10web chat as well on the website, or if they want to check out the product. And they can also find me on LinkedIn.

Christian Klepp  23:03

Perfect. Araks, this has been such a great session. So thanks again for your time. Take care, stay safe and talk to you soon.

Araks Nalbandyan  23:12

Thank you as well, it was great talk.

Christian Klepp  23:14

Thanks. Bye for now.

Thank you for joining us on this episode of the B2B Marketers on a Mission podcast. To learn more about what we do here at EINBLICK, please visit our website at www.einblick.co, and be sure to subscribe to the show on iTunes or your favorite podcast player.

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