How To Be A Successful Interim CTO

How To Be A Successful Interim CTO

How To Be A Successful Interim CTO

I get the impression that a lot of people are actively looking at interim CTO assignments now who might not have considered them in the past.


 So what is the same/different about being an interim CTO consultant or full time employee, and how can you maximise your chances of success if you make the leap?


In my experience very few people get treated any differently day-to-day in interim CTO roles than “permanent” employees..the fact that you’re an interim CTO won’t be a big issue but the expectations of you as an interim CTO can be higher.


You might be expected to be an expert on more things, and you’ll probably be expected to have a measurable impact – perhaps more quickly than a new full time employee would be.


You could also get more latitude to challenge the orthodoxy, not be expected to navigate the company politics so carefully, and have your change agenda considered more dispassionately.


 So how do you make sure you’re successful in your first interim CTO consultant role?



The first (and maybe obvious) point is to choose the right role.


Don’t set yourself up for failure by taking an interim CTO role with a team size, company culture or business model you’re not absolutely confident you can add real value to. Ultimately what you “sell” is your reputation and track record – don’t be tempted to risk it by taking on a role you’re not 100% right for.


Once you have found the right role, and before you start, make sure you are very clear about the brief. 


Make sure you really understand what success will look like in the potential role.


Sometimes a company’s real wants and needs can’t be articulated clearly and you have to use your experience and intuition to read between the lines about why they want to hire you. Make sure you understand whether you will need to be a good cultural fit or being counter-cultural is one of the reasons why they want to hire you.


 When you start get the basics right..always arrive on time and dress similarly to the prevailing dress code in the team.


At the early stages of any assignment make sure you don’t write cheques you can’t cash by promising unachievable things. There is no surer way to destroy your credibility (and make enemies of other people) than by promising things that can’t be done. It’s a subtle situation may have been brought in to increase urgency and delivery so any goals you agree need to be ambitious but achievable.

 So..what is the most important thing to do when you arrive?


It is to listen..never make the mistake of joining with a “here’s the tell me about the problem” approach.


 In your first week try and meet as many people in the team as possible.


It’s important for you to get to know the team, and them to get to know you, so scheduling 30 minute interviews with each team member to ask the sort of questions below will very quickly create a picture of what you’re walking into.


 Example Interview Questions

  1. Are you enjoying it here at the moment?

  2. What are our key responsibilities as a team do you think?

  3. As a team, what do we do well do you think?

  4. What do we need to get better at?

  5. Who are our stars?

  6. Does anyone in the team need help to be more successful?

  7. How could we get more customer outcome focussed?

  8. How could we move faster?

  9. Would you recommend working here to a friend?

  10. What three things would you do if you were me?

  11. Anything else we should talk about?


After the interviews an interesting exercise is to allocate any team member mentioned as a “star” in question 5. a +1 and any struggling team member mentioned in 6. a -1. Adding up all the scores will give a quick but surprisingly accurate team talent map.


Question 9. can also be used create a quick team “NPS” score.


At we like to end the first week of a new assignment with a “Week One Playback” with the person that sponsored the appointment. It’s a great opportunity to discuss the SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) found so far and calibrate it against what the sponsor wants.

Remember to add value to your client in any way you can as well. It’s not just about the goals. Doing things like sharing their job postings on LinkedIn, mentioning them in any interviews you do, retweeting their tweets, liking their Facebook page, and so on, all help.


Don’t “penny pinch” the client either. What “goes around comes around” so if taking a phone call or sending a quick email in non-client chargeable time helps solve a problem or keep momentum up then do it. You’ll be judged on your impact at the end of the day.


 The last thing to remember is…to know when to move on.


You know when you’ve achieved your goals or hit the diminishing returns point on the value curve.

Don’t wait to be replaced. Proactively suggest a new way to add value to the client if one is appropriate, or move on to your next challenge with another successful engagement under your belt.


 So there you have it. To be a successful interim CTO consultant you need to chose the right role, deliver as much value as you can, and then move on as soon as you’ve done it.


We summarise it at with our motto of “Be Of Value”. If you do that at all times you will be successful.


 Being an interim CTO consultant won’t be for everyone but if you get your sense of accomplishment from delivering business impact and enjoy variety and challenge then maybe it’s for you?

Tech Leaders! Successful people ask questions…they seek new teachers…they’re ALWAYS LEARNING. Paperback/eBook @ Online Course @

Interested? Give us a shout on or 0800 246 5735 for an informal chat…

I am an inveterate Interim CIO ¦ CTO and the author of The CTO ¦ CIO Bible (#1 rated CTO book on Amazon) and How To Be A Hero CIO ¦ CTO (#1 rated CTO course on Udemy). I write about big ideas and share leadership stories that make you go “A Ha!”

My work has been described as a new genre of leadership advice…it’s based on unrivalled experience, genuine credentials, wisdom distilled down into 100’s chunks of actionable insights and even the odd bit of humour…

Some people don’t agree with what I say. Other people say I changed their career. Why not read/watch/listen and decide for yourself?!?

   85% 5 Stars CTO ¦ CIO Bible eBook & Book

The #1 rated CIO ¦ CTO Udemy & THINKIFIC Course

Ticks all the key elements...
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I loved this book although the first few pages initially caught me on the back foot as it is so different from what we are used to. Rorie has pulled together all the major elements of outstanding IT management and delivery by referencing the source material with his own explanation of why it is useful. So this is truly a read which lets you tick the boxes you already worked on and see what else might be useful out there. Personally I found it highly energising and a great read, I hope you do too.
Insightful and an easy to read
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I’m not a CTO or a CIO but I work closely with many that hold those positions, and this book has given me a wonderful insight into their world, the challenges they face and strategies/tactics they can deploy to be great. The book is easy to read and digest and incredibly informative. Thank you Rorie!
Thomas Kiessling
Thomas Kiessling
A great cookbook
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I highly recommend this book for both CTOs/CIOs at the beginning of their career and for experienced technology leaders on a quest to continuously improve and re-calibrate themselves. The method of the book is to distil decades of experiences into simple learnings. It’s a cookbook. It creates a mental grid of domains and principles for a technology leader to succeed. It also provides entry points to deepen your knowledge in specific subjects, always pointing back to the larger context. Well done. Fun to read.
A Fantastic Go-to guide
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Very interesting book which provides you with key advice as to how to manage your company and teams as a CTO or CIO. It is solution-focussed. It’s easy to read and can be read in any order. So if you need to know something quick, it’s a great go-to guide. The good thing is that it works on key aspects of management and provides you with fast and straight-to-the-point advice. Highly recommend to professionals with little time on their daily schedules who need a book which they can consult quickly to find a solution or improvement to their current situation.
Mr. Faisal Ahmed
Mr. Faisal Ahmed
Really insightful
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Easy to read in a complex world full of buzz words, really recommend this to anyone in the business field. Cannot wait for a follow up book.
Jonathon Moore
Jonathon Moore
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Bucketloads of great insight across the full spectrum of product development. A great read for product and engineering leaders alike.
Very readable
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A very easy to read and digest book that gives lots of tips and ideas for how to make a high impact in a positive way as quickly as possible. Not a technical book, but one of leadership, relationships and how to add value. A definite must for the library
Martin King
Martin King
Thinking from an expert!
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Clear and concise advice for people that already have a lot of the building blocks in place. The book offers plenty of critical thinking from a seasoned expert. Thanks Rorie!
Mr. S. Edwards
Mr. S. Edwards
Wisdom for busy execs
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I loved the simple, concise format of this book. Full of bite sized wisdom and instant takeaways to 'try now'. Rather than a massive tome of boring management theory, busy execs can read this book on a train journey and get instant value. Highly recommended.
Actionable leadership tips
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I've had the pleasure to work with Rorie and I was looking forward to read his book. I wasn't disappointed! The format may not be liked by everybody as more than narrative it's a series of tips, however I find the insights very helpful. On some topics I have slightly different views but Rorie gets his argument through explaining why he's giving those tips, based on his 20 years experience. Definitely a good read.
Alex Farr
Alex Farr
CIO UK Top 100
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An essential read for any #CIO or #CTO in 2020. Authored by the extremely talented Rorie Devine, the book gives the mission, objectives, strategies and tactics needed to succeed. It may even contain a small contribution from yours truly...
Oliver Bayes-Shelton
Oliver Bayes-Shelton
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Great book by Rorie Devine, I always enjoy reading things by peers! "The CTO ¦ CIO Bible: The Mission Objectives Strategies And Tactics Needed To Be A Super Successful CTO ¦ CIO"
Eoin Woods
Eoin Woods
CTO at Endava
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Interesting new ebook from Rorie Devine on how to be an effective #CIO based on his experience in the role and also working as an interim, seeing inside many organisations. Structured into bite-size pieces for easy digestion!
Michael O'Gorman
Michael O'Gorman
CTO/VP Engineering
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Just read CTO ¦ CIO Bible by Rorie Devine - great valuable insights by very experienced CTO - must read for all current and aspiring CTO’s/CIO’s - great job Rorie Devine
Artur Grabowski
Artur Grabowski
Technical Director
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Some really good tips and advice in "CTO | CIO Bible" by Rorie Devine. Definitely worth reading by anyone involved in a technology leadership role.
Nikos Kryvossidis
Nikos Kryvossidis
CTO at Racing Post
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A very interesting book has just been published by Rorie Devine => Highly recommended!
Ian Woosey
Ian Woosey
CIO Clarion Housing
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Some really excellent thoughts in here, well worth a read by anyone involved in a technology leadership role. Thanks Rorie.
Rich Phillips
Rich Phillips
Consulting CTO
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Not a long book but, packed with sound advice and tips from the author's own deep and varied experience as a consulting CTO. Reading a book cannot make a person a great CTO or CIO, but a good one like this can certainly help put the aspiring professional on the right path, act as a starting point for further research, and help avoid the common pitfalls.
CEO Energy Trading
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Found this book really helpful. Lots of ideas and advice that got me thinking as well as practical examples of successful strategies and advice on how to manage complicated projects. Highly recommended.
Loana Wurzel
Loana Wurzel
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Brilliant! Fantastic insight into what it takes to be a successful CTO or CIO. I love the way it is set up in easy to read sections and it works really well on a phone. It even manages to bring humour into being a CTO which must be difficult. Read it even if you're not a CTO any modern leader would benefit from reading this book!
Ade McCormack
Ade McCormack
Digital Readiness Institute
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Congratulations Rorie. Nice format. Easy to read. Clear direction.
Darth Vader’s guide to Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP)

Darth Vader’s guide to Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP)

Since its launch Google has been heavily pushing AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) but two years down the line how have things worked out?


Is it really worth creating AMP pages/sites and does AMP deliver the benefits Google said it would?

When it launched AMP in February 2016 Google said that web pages were too slow and clunky on mobile devices and we needed a new approach tailored specifically for the mobile web.


It talked about “websites and ads that are consistently fast, beautiful and high-performing across devices and distribution platforms…” and promised SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) and customer experience benefits with AMP.


What is there not to like about that?


Umm…well firstly it means the not insignificant amount of work of re-writing your page/site using a new stripped down and restricted HTML/CSS/JavaScript mark up format. It really is different as well, you can’t even use your existing Google Analytics JavaScript tag.


If you accidentally write “normal” JavaScript in your AMP page Google creates a “critical issue” in the Google Search Console and implies it will stop serving your AMP page to users. Frankly we were so scared we couldn’t breathe until we had fixed it. AMP faster? Well not necessarily.


With two very similar looking pages and the second AMP compliant page loads in 2 seconds compared to the normal version which loads in 1 second on 3G according to Google’s own testing tool (


Drat that’s not good news.


What about the SEO benefits? Well yes a bit. A quick test has shown that whilst browsing incognito on the web and phone the AMP page is currently ranking one position higher than the web page for the same keyword.


There is another benefit with AMP in that Google will serve it from it’s Content Delivery Network (CDN) free of charge. Thanks Google, that should help keep download times low around the world.


If you don’t want your AMP page being seen as a referrer by Google you’ll need to add to the Referral Exclusion List in Google Analytics, though.


So is it all worth it then?


You’ll have to make your own mind up.


Google are right in that given most web sites now have more than 50% of users accessing the site via their phone it really is time we built experiences tailored for their device profiles and bandwidth situations and at least AMP is open source rather than proprietary.


AMP is still pretty young compared with HTML over the web (which has been around since 1991-1992) and my hunch is that it has some way to go but it is around to stay.



Rorie is CEO and Founder of which puts high impact temporary team members into organisations that need something done quickly, done well or delivered against the odds.



How To Use Google’s CDN…For Free

How To Use Google’s CDN…For Free

How To Use Google's CDN For Free

After implementing an AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) page ( we started seeing a lot of referrals to our web site from


After doing some digging it looks like that if you create an AMP page Google will CDN it for you (for free).

Cheers Google.


I guess that’s another reason to create an AMP page on top of the performance and SEO benefits…


Note…if you don’t want your AMP page being seen as a referrer by Google you’ll need to add to the Referral Exclusion List in Google Analytics.


If any of this is of any any interest why not give us a shout on or 0800 246 5735 for a friendly informal chat?

Growth Hacking Wiki

Growth Hacking Wiki

Growth Hacking Wiki

“Strive not to be a success but rather to be of value” – Albert Einstein


Good News – After reading this wiki you’ll know what Growth Hacking is.

Bad News   – You’ll realise that some of the core approaches are not all that new.

What Is Growth Hacking?


Growth Hacking Might Be Defined As


Hacking social media, SEO, incentives, product features, traditional marketing techniques and anything and everything as part of a singular focus on Growth.

growth hacking is picking one (and only one) growth metric (visitors, registrations, check outs, downloads…whatever) and doing anything and everything possible TOF (top of funnel) to BOF (bottom of funnel) to grow it.


A Growth Hack Might Be Defined As

A growth hack is something that delivers growth but is cheap, can be edgy, and ideally is quick…

Real World Example…an online gaming company decided to force players to share the game at least once to get to the next level…users increased by 1,000%


Where Did Growth Hacking Come From?

Sean Ellis (IPO’d LogMeIn and, first marketer at DropBox) coined the phrase Growth Hacking in 2010 and it really started to get traction in 2012.


What Does Growth Hacking Mean?

To Growth Hack is attack Growth in a x-functional way using skills traditionally found in Marketing, Sales, Product, Digital/Online, Technology and so on…

To Growth Hack is to address the whole customer lifecycle from Top Of Funnel to successful Conversion.


The Growth Hacking Funnel


Inbound TOF activities such as competitions, email, social media, content, SEO, referral schemes, paid advertising, white papers, free trials…


Conversion MOF activities such as minimising friction, guarantees, testimonials, stating benefits, one time offers, forced virality, layout…


The Growth Hacking Triangle


Referral                                                                                      Email                                


The x-functional and edgy nature of Growth Hacking means it might not be usable by everyone but it can deliver spectacular results and change business trajectories…


But…Growth Hacking is a hungry beast – it devours content…

an online Gambling company had a very comprehensive but complicated navigation structure to get to the particular thing the users were interested in. One of the team had the idea of putting a search box on the home page…revenue increased by 30%


Top Tip – At the time of writing are Google UK #1 #2 #3 #4 for “Interim Growth Hacker” and have Growth Hacked successfully for a number of organisations…


The art of growth hacking is…targeting ←→ relevance…

The reason that growth hacking can be so much more effective than “traditional” marketing is that it focuses on putting interesting/useful things in front of very carefully targeted audiences..


Growth hacking is to put the right things in front of the right people at the right time to deliver GROWTH


More Good News

All we need to do is put something interesting/useful in front of potential customers.

How hard can that be right?

All we need to do is Target –> Influence –> Interact –> Convert.


Bad News

B2B growth hacking is hard. Really hard. There is probably a relatively small number of people you need to talk to in a B2B marketing context and they are probably difficult to reach. In B2C growth hacking the addressable market may be millions or even billions of people. In B2B growth hacking we may be targeting only thousands or tens of thousands of people. To reach them we’re going to need to use laser guided bombs rather than the blanket bombing approach typically applied in B2C growth hacking. A lot of the “go to” approaches in B2C growth hacking (such as competitions/referral programs) don’t work so well in a B2B context when people are normally procuring on behalf of their organisation.


Definition – We’re mostly going to be talking about what is now called “Inbound Marketing” in this wiki. In inbound marketing we “earn” a potential customer’s interest by demonstrating that we have something interesting/useful to them. This is opposed to old-style Outbound Marketing that involved a one way push to an untargeted audience.


Top Tip – Don’t be afraid to challenge any orthodoxies and try things that may not be “fashionable”.


For instance – As the number of advertisers in Yellow Pages style directories is falling the value delivered to remaining advertisers is going up and up. Good ROIs (Return On Investments) are possible if your target demographic includes people over 50 in particular.

an e-commerce company “accidentally” put the “buy now” button right in the middle of the head of the brand’s animal character logo…a lot of people complained that it looked stupid…revenue increased by 27%


Before We Start


Design your product/service

In an ideal world we would start with clearly identified customers and needs and then design the product/service to get product-market fit and an optimum growth hacking strategy. We can then think about optimum SEO/content/URL/referral approach before we build anything but in the real world we tend to get called (0800 246 5735) after the MVP has been built and customers are needed – now!


Getting going

OK so you have a B2B product/service you need to growth hack and you know who your target customers are so let’s do the first things first…


What you’ll need

A responsive HTML5 web site that can be edited/changed as we test and learn. (Responsive is another way of saying that it works well on a mobile phone). WordPress is a very fast and easy way of getting a professional looking responsive web site up and running quickly and cheaply. The WordPress CMS (Content Management System) makes it easy to create and manage content – which will be very important to us.

A Google account so we can use the Google suite of free tools like Webmaster Tools, Analytics, Adwords …

Google analytics installed on your web site (some people will say GA aggregates data too much but it’s free and we can work around its limitations).

A way of managing, sending and tracking professional looking emails. Tools like MailChimp are easy to use and effective.

What is the SEO (search engine optimisation) strategy? In other words what phrases typed into Google would we want to rank highly for? The Google KeyWord planner tool here is a great place to see what people are searching for (and how competitive those words are).

The content strategy. It has been the elephant in the room and now I’ve said it.



If traditional (“above the line”) marketing involves spending lots of money mostly talking to people that don’t want or need your service then growth hacking is much more targeted but there is no such thing as a free lunch and it needs content rather than money to fuel its engine. Growth hacking is a hungry beast – it devours content. Content can be anything from short blog posts to status updates on social media – but you will need a way of regularly producing relevant, interesting content. The more authentic the better.


Nice to have

Some kind of “freemium” proposition that means the product/service is free to start using with money changing hands when more customer benefit is taken.


Target Market

The first thing you need to do is to decide who your potential customers are – and it’s not as easy as it sounds. will be working with a cool new start up called Workteam (who provide SaaS HR software that is actually really easy to use and is designed to improve employee engagement rather than irritate employees) so in a B2B growth hacking context who will be “target market”? CEOs/MDs? HR Directors? IT Directors? Employees? (It all comes down to who is accountable for the benefit the new product/service brings but more on that another time…)


Getting Ready

OK so you have a B2B product/service you need to growth hack so let’s do the first things first…there are some things we need to know and some things we need to do…


B2B Growth Hacking Task List


Fact Find

  • What is your primary geography – The UK? USA? Needless to say this affects the growth hacking approach needed. Google is very dominant in the UK with an 86.94% market share according to but is much less dominant in the US with a market share of 63.6%.

  • What is your target company size – 1-10 employees? More than 1,000? Smaller companies tend to have low barriers to purchase but can be very price sensitive whereas big companies will have the resources but can be very difficult and bureaucratic to transact with given their approval cycles…

  • What is the target “subject area” if there is one? Google Analytics talks about in market segments like Travel/Hotels & Accommodations, Software/Business & Productivity Software, Employment/Career Consulting Services…


  • What is the target customer role? CEO? Head of? Manager of people? Don’t make the mistake of assuming that your B2B service will only be purchased top down. A lot of products/services can be adopted by teams/individuals bottom up.

  • What is the target customer persona? Is there a demographic that your typical customers fit given the nature of your product/service?


Site Pages

  • HTML5 responsive web site – we need landing pages and a funnel. Can be existing or new.

  • LinkedIn individual/company page – an effective LinkedIn presence is very important in a B2B context.

  • Facebook company page – depends a bit on target customer persona but Facebook can be an important weapon in our armoury.

  • Twitter page/account – should probably be part of the toolkit but results can be underwhelming.

  • Instagram/Pinterest account – nice to have and generally underused in B2B growth hacking.



  • Has a Google account been created?

  • Has the Google Analytics JavaScript code been added to each page on the web site?

  • Has the Growth Hacker been added to the account?

  • Has a goal been created? An alternative is to set up a funnel in Hotjar (see later).

  • What is the daily/weekly/monthly session and conversion baseline?

Visitor behaviour (usage heatmaps, session recording, conversion funnels)

  • Has a tool like Hotjar been implemented? Implementation can be as easy as adding a JavaScript script tag to each page (in the same way Google Analytics is implemented).



  • Has an email list management list tool such as MailChimp been implemented?


Search Engine Optimisation


Ten’ish target keyword phrases to generate search engine traffic need to be selected.

  • Using the Google Keyword Planner or similar tool the optimum search phrases need to be selected.

  • 2 – 4 word phrases will probably be optimum. Single words will be too generic and competitive.

  • Ideal phrases take the form <product/service key benefit> For example is working with Workteam which is SaaS software that helps companies and managers improve employee engagement. A good keyword target phrase for Workteam might be “increase employee engagement”.

  • Optimum keywords are the ones that deliver maximum traffic at minimum competition levels. The Google tool will tell you the average search volume and AdWords Cost Per Click bids which is a good proxy for how competitive the phrases are.


  • One of our other posts here shows you how to track your keyword positions for free (the best known web site charges $150/month).



A draft content creation and publishing plan needs to be created.

  • What kind of content will be created and what “voice” will it use?

  • Who/how will the “foundation” content be created?

  • Who/how will the “front of mind” content be created?


Getting Going


Dipping Our Toe in The Water


We are going to need three things to get going;

1. To have an optimised destination for our growth hacking traffic.

2. A blog.

3. An initial idea of who our target market might be…


Once we have those three things we can start to test and learn on how to communicate with our target market most effectively.

Top Tip – start small. We want to be as targeted as possible as we start to test and learn so we need to break our problem down into manageable chunks.


For example…when Workteam started rather than starting with “SaaS software to increase employee engagement” (which it is) it picked one element of its’ offering, which was managing employee time off, and started with that. It was a much more manageable problem.


Top Tip – a blog is very, very important. It will be a great place to publish interesting/useful content 2-3 times a week and you can easily add a plugin to capture and add email addresses to your email list.


For example…when started we used SumoMe to automatically capture and add email addresses to MailChimp on our blog . The Pro version of SumoMe (which is needed to integrate to MailChimp) isn’t cheap at $29/month and they will bill you a year in advance.


B2B Growth Hacking – Setting Up A Landing Page and Goal

We need a landing page on our web site optimised for the search engine phrases we have chosen to point our traffic at that has the tags for Google Analytics and ideally Hotjar installed so we can see what happens when they get there.


We also need to define a goal in one or both of those tools so we can measure success.


We will eventually need a page per phrase but one page across all the initial phrases will be good enough to get going.


Once we have these things in place we can start to post some content and start testing…


B2B Growth Hacking – Finding Your Target Market

If you don’t have have existing content then you will need to create a post that says something interesting/relevant/useful/funny around the “need” your product/service is designed to fill.


Top Tip – video is very effective content and using sites like GoAnimate they are much easier to create than you might think. Make the soundtrack first and re-record until you’ve nailed it in one take. Then put the animation to the words. It will take about a day per minute to create great videos like this one from Workteam.


Remember to have a call to action (“CTA”) on your content and link to your optimised landing page. Once you have your content post it from your company page on Facebook and LinkedIn.

Top Tip –  publish your content as an article post on LinkedIn rather than sharing it as an update. It will appear in your connections’s notification feed and you will be able to access enhanced analytics about its’ reach.


Definition – Reach is usually defined as the total number of different people exposed, at least once, to a something (usually a piece of content) during a given campaign time period.


If you are starting from scratch you may need to spend £50-£100 on Facebook boosting your content to get enough reach. If so don’t target the audience – yet. Let’s start off with an unbiased sample.


Now we have content out there that should be relevant to our target market we can start to use the analytics capabilities in Facebook, LinkedIn and Google Analytics to learn about the reach and effectiveness of our content, and who and how people are responding to it.


Creating, Testing And Learning With Growth Sprints And Channels


What we need


At this stage your product/service needs to be in MVP form at least, a blog, an email management tool and you need to have set up the conversion goals (see above) so we can measure success.


Top Tip – if you are going to change any URLs or move to SSL (https:// …) do it all now before we start. We don’t want to change anything once we have started acquiring links back to your site (known as backlinks).


Money talks


Before we start you need to decide, estimate or measure a few very important things;


Growth Metric – The first thing we need to do is to choose our Growth Metric. To Growth Hack is to have a pathological focus on one and only one thing and do anything and everything necessary to grow it. What is the one thing we want to grow? Something like revenue is too high level to accurately establish cause and effect as we measure-act-measure so things like landing page visitors, web page conversion, registrations, subscribers, check outs, and cart abandonment all work well as they are very important but focused enough for us to influence and measure accurately.


CLV – the customer life time value needs to be measured or estimated for your product/service. This sets the parameters of our growth hacking because the customer acquisition cost (CAC) needs to be lower than the CLV. (If CLV < CAC we aren’t growth hacking – we’re buying customers and that isn’t the road to business success…)


Top Tip – In simple terms CLV can be calculated as the monthly sum of all the revenue you expect a customer to give you  x the number of months you expect to keep that customer. (Other less simple ways of calculating CLV are described here). For example – if the average customer will earn you $12 per month and you expect that customer to pay for your product/service for at least 18 months then your CLV is $12 x 18 = $216. If you have a “freemium” product/service then you will need to estimate the anticipated conversion rate from free to paid subscribers to calculate a CLV. If it is a new product/service then it is very much “finger in the air” at this stage but don’t worry – we have to start somewhere and you will be able to refine this number based on real data in the future.


 CAC – the customer acquisition cost per channel is easier to measure as it is simply total cost of the customers acquired through a channel/number of customers acquired through that channel.

For example…if we acquired 200 customers through AdWords at a cost of  $670 then our Adwords CAC is $3.35


Choosing your initial search keywords


If you are growth hacking an established product/service you can use Google’s Search Console to see what phrases are driving traffic to your site. See If it is a new product/service you will need to use a paid for service like Google Adwords to test and learn.


The Google AdWords tool (here) will suggest 50-200 potential keywords for you. Filter out the ones that obviously aren’t relevant to create a starting search space.


For example…with “interim” as the seed word AdWords suggests 157 phrases. I would filter out phrases like “interim in English”, “interim pronunciation” and so on. The suggested bids range from $16.64/£14.20 for “interim finance” downwards (gulp).


Top Tip – the thing to bear in mind when choosing keywords is INTENT. You need words that imply that the person typing the words into the search engine has the need your produce/service meets. For example “buy umbrella” is much more interesting than “umbrella by Rhianna” if we sell umbrellas.


Search, Display and Paid Inclusion Advertising

There are lots of legitimate ways of paying for web traffic but they can be broadly classified as Search, Display and Paid Inclusion.


Search – paying to be displayed before and alongside the “natural” or “organic” search results on search engines. What makes it so important is that the people typing the phrases have intent. They want to read, find or do something. That is not necessarily the case with Display Advertising although it will be interesting to see if Facebook search ultimately becomes more like Google search…


Display – paying to be shown amongst other content on web sites, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter or whatever. Not as valuable in growth hacking as Search advertising because people looking at what their friends are eating (or whatever) are much less likely to want to buy a product or service than people searching for something relevant to your product/service. What makes Display advertising very interesting though is just how hyper targeted it can be. You could literally target a single individual with Facebook advertising.


Top Tip – if you are producing video content don’t forget to include sub titles so people can “watch” the video with the sound turned down.


Paid Inclusion – paying to be included in a directory or some other content.

For example…when Workteam started one of the things they tried was being included in the software directory site Capterra (each click cost $2).


Setting Up Your Growth Hacking Channels


By now hopefully we have a landing page on our web site optimised for conversion, a blog, an email list management tool and a large collection of search engine phrases we might want to try. The tags for Google Analytics (and ideally something like Hotjar) are installed and success goals are set up so we can see what happens when people get to our site.


Top Tip – we should be aiming to convert more than 33% of the people we send to our optimised landing page. We’ll probably be nearer 10% at the beginning of our growth hacking journey though.


Sprints And Retrospectives

The optimum way to manage growth hacking is to choose a set of channels and test and learn on them during two week or monthly sprints. At the end of every sprint the performance of each channel needs to be reviewed in a whiteboard session known as a “retrospective”.


The number of customers acquired per channel and the CAC for that sprint needs to be compared with the other channels and LTV.  Everyone in the team should be included in the retrospectives, growth is critical for any business and everybody in the team will be able to contribute insight and ideas.


During the retrospective you should look to increase spend in the successful channels, adjust or pause unsuccessful channels and launch new channels.


Top Tip – if you want to hit the ground running with email you could ‘seed’ your email list from your LinkedIn connections. In LinkedIn click on My Network –> Connections. Click on the Settings cog in the top right and you’ll see “Export LinkedIn Connections” in the top right. Don’t change the suggested Microsoft Outlook (.CSV file) format and you will have downloaded a file of email addresses you can easily upload into MailChimp or other email marketing platform. Getting an unsolicited email from you like this will irritate some people but as long as you allow people to unsubscribe easily then they will only ever receive one email. We generally see very low un-subscription rates as long as you don’t spam people and only send things of genuine interest or potential value.


A Starting Set of Growth Channels For Sprint #0


A good set of growth channels for Sprint #0 might be

  1. Email

  2. Blog

  3. Google AdWords

  4. Bing Ads

  5. Paid Inclusion e.g Capterra

Once we have started to get some learnings from Sprint 0 we can start to think about adding in other channels like SEO, guest blogging, referral and so on.


Top Tip – write your own Blog content. It should be an authentic communication channel for you to communicate things of interest/value to potential and current customers. If you need help with it make sure that the outcome is still very much communicating your ideas, thoughts and opinions in your voice.

Top Tip – wait until you have some real data before setting your SEO strategy. It will be one of the most important channels in the future but it takes a fair amount of work to make it effective and a bit of analysis before you start could save you a lot of time in the long run…

Ready to growth hack?


Need a hand? How much does interim growth hacking cost?


Not that much actually. It depends on what the singular growth target is but to double/treble traffic, sign ups, customers or whatever we would need to do a one-three day deep dive with you followed by a campaign execution phase of one-ten days a month until the target is reached. That normally takes 2-6 months depending on the start and end points.


We won’t take an engagement unless there is an #highROI up for grabs and you will end up “hugely up on the deal”…after all we really think that the more people we help become more successful the more successful we become…


If any of this is of any interest why not give us a shout on or +44 (0) 800 246 5735 for a friendly informal chat about your growth hacking agency needs?


At the time of writing is #1,#2,#3 and #4 on Google UK for “interim growth hacker” and we have lots and lots of happy clients we can tell you about..

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