OUR RESEARCH PROCESS

We interviewed a dozen growth experts, responsible for driving $100 millions in ARR growth and teams of more than 100 people, and synthesized the very best insights from across their experience.

IF YOU REMEMBER NOTHING ELSE

  1. A growth dashboard estimates growth per day of work. Like a sales funnel, a growth dashboard projects the pipeline of experiments and estimates their value based on success probability and value if successful.
  2. Use the growth dashboard to prioritize your projects. After brainstorming ideas, use data to determine where you invest. Everyone’s ideas get the same treatment – your growth engineer’s or the CEO’s – based on their expected value.
  3. Communicate the pipeline value to the CEO. An executive dashboard includes the value of experiments in the pipeline, the value your team can deliver in a month, and the past accuracy of your projections.
  4. Instead of spending $10,000 for Periscope API access, use this hack for $19/ month: Periscope sends their daily email in PNG format → Docparser parses PNG daily, does webhook into Zapier → Zapier updates Airtable.

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The anatomy of a growth dashboard

Use a growth dashboard to calculate the value of each experiment idea your team generates, so you can prioritize based on value, estimate the impact of your pipeline, and communicate to the rest of your team.

Field

Definition

Example

Target metric

What metric will a successful experiment affect

Website signups

Confidence

How likely is experiment to succeed

50%

Opportunities / month

How many of the target metric will a successful experiment drive per month

50 signups per month

$ / Opportunity

What is the value of each opportunity

$400 ARR / Signup

Est days to build

How much time will experiment take growth team

2 days

Expected ARR / day

What is the experiment’s ARR / day of work

$60K ARR / day of work =

50% confidence * 50 signups per month * 12 months * $400 per signup / 2 days

A growth dashboard allows you to prioritize and communicate your growth pipeline

I’ve struggled for this for a long time – I’ve had CEOs say, ‘What are you going to do in the next quarter? How much revenue is it going to bring?’

I used to say, ‘Dude, I don’t know. It’s growth! How do I know what I’m going to focus on? It depends on what’s succeeding right now, and I have no idea what’s going to happen.’ And CEOs were desperate. They were like, ‘I can’t have six people working on something I don’t know what it’s going to do.’

Now I can give estimates – of how much revenue and how many days each project takes. I have a tally of all growth ideas, so I can say, ‘Hey if you give me one more person, this is how much growth it will add.’ I can tell if I’m going to fall behind. I know if I don’t have enough ideas or I don’t have enough man hours.

I can also prioritize based on value. In the past, a CEO would have this great idea we should implement now. I’d say, ‘This is a shit idea.’ Now I say, ‘How many signups do you think this will bring? The idea either goes to the bottom of the list and never gets done, or they commit to assumptions.

A growth dashboard lets you do three things:

  1. Prioritize what growth experiments to invest in based on expected return
  2. Project the results of your growth experiments
  3. Communicate these projections with the rest of your organization
  1. Prioritize what growth experiments to invest in based on expected return
  2. Project the results of your growth experiments
  3. Communicate these projections with the rest of your organization

Process step

Best practices

Output

1. Identify one key value metric

-What is the growth team tasked with doing?

-The rest of the growth dashboard will be put in terms of this metric

-This metric should capture the value the growth team creates

-Ad-driven businesses should track active use; subscription and commerce businesses should track annual revenue

-Focus on absolute numbers, not ratios

Key metric

(e.e. Annual revenue)

2. Identify funnel metrics

-What events happen in the sales funnel that directly lead to the key metric?

-Each metric represents a point where you can improve

-You’ll often have one or more metrics for each stage in the user funnel (Acquisition, Activation, Revenue, Retention, Referral)

-Define metrics based on where you track them, not on where they “happen” (e.g. track “site visits from Facebook” not “referrals from facebook”)

-Quantify the value of each metric in terms of your key metric (e.g. Annual revenue per site visit)

Funnel metrics

(e.g. Annual revenue / site visit)

3. Automate data collection

-Use a tool like Zapier to post data into your dashboard in Airtable

Auto tracking of funnel metrics

4. Create dashboard in Airtable or similar tool

-Automate data update so dashboard accurately estimates value of Growth pipeline

-Avoid paying $10K / month for Periscope API: Periscope sends daily email in PNG format → Docparser parses PNG daily, does webhook into Zapier → Zapier updates Airtable.

Growth roadmap that integrates real data

5. Use dashboard to prioritize growth pipeline

-Conduct weekly prioritization meeting, where growth members add ideas and commit to their own assumptions

-Prioritize weekly development based on expected value

Weekly prioritization meetings

6. Use dashboard view to communicate growth pipeline

-Every month, review actual versus expected value

-Share pipeline, and monthly performance versus projections as exec dashboard

Monthly exec dashboard

Primary metric

Key metric

Use this when…

ARR

You’re a SaaS or subscription business

Annual revenue

You’re a non-recurring e-commerce business

Active users

You’re an ad-driven business

Funnel metrics

Your key funnel metrics should lead directly to increased annual revenue, so that you can calculate the value of each opportunity from your business data.

Opportunity metric

Example value calculation

New visitors

$10 ARR per new visit = $100K annual revenue from new visitors / 10K first-time visitors

Returning visitor

$100 ARR per returning visit = $50K annual revenue / 500 returning visitors

Pre-purchase email collection

$2 ARR per email captured = $10K annual revenue from pre-purchase email list / 5K list

Checkout start

$500 ARR per checkout start = $150K annual revenue / 300 checkout start

$100 in order value

$125 ARR per $100 in order value = $150K annual revenue / 120K order value

Post-purchase email

$20 ARR per email captured = $100K annual revenue from pre-purchase email list / 5K list

Email clickthrough

$100 ARR per email clickthrough = $10K annual revenue / 100 email clicks

Call sales team

$250 ARR per sales call = $50K annual revenue / 200 sales calls

Use our template growth dashboard in Airtable

Template Growth Dashboard

We include the following fields:


Field

Example

Description

Experiment status

Idea, building, ready, graveyard

Idea

Facebook single sign-on (SSO)

Description

FB single SSO is a great experience

Hypothesis

We can increase signup by 25% using FB SSO

Target metric

Signup

Opportunity math

200 abandon signups; we think we can convert 25% with FB SSO = 50 signups per month

Inputs

Confidence

40%

Opportunities / month

50 signups

$ / Opportunity

$400 ARR per signup = $40K ARR / 100 signups

Est days to build

1 day

Outputs

Expected ARR / day

$8K / day = 50 signups * $400 per signup / 1 day * 40%

Increase over baseline

50% = 50 new / 100 monthly signups

Metadata

Channel

Shopify, outbound, paid, organic

Team

Tech, marketing

Category

Website, email, paid, organic

Funnel stage

Acquisition, Activation, Revenue, Referral

Design needed

Yes, No

Process step

Best practices

Output

1. Weekly prioritization meeting

-Hold a weekly meeting to source ideas.

-People bring and brainstorm ideas.

-The ideator commits to their own assumptions.

Key assumptions

2. Model prioritizes based on assumptions

-Key inputs are time for experiment, success probability, and impact on key metrics if successful

-Model gives you ARR / day for each project and an overview of projects in pipeline

-The model pulls real data funnel metrics every month

-Prioritization happens strictly based on metrics

-Growth team should pay for itself, so expected ARR / Cost per day of work should be > 3

Growth dashboard

3. Review at the end of each month

-Compare assumptions to actual results to improve estimation over time

-Calculate accuracy of assumptions by dividing projected ARR impact by actual ARR impact, overall and for each person providing assumptions

-For projects that are off, review assumed vs actual time, metric impact, and success probability

-Success probability must be judged in aggregate, by dividing predicted success by actual successful projects

Analysis of reality vs assumptions

4. Report ARR / week or month to CEO

-Executive dashboard includes the ARR for the given period

-CEO sees expected ARR in the pipeline

-Each month, CEO sees accuracy of last month’s prediction

Executive dashboard

5. Export this approach to every key team

Even teams that don’t report to growth, like customer service

-Allow everyone in organization to brainstorm, implement and evaluate growth ideas

-Run a weekly prioritization and monthly evaluation process in each key team with leverage on funnel metrics

Growth dashboard & process for every team