Tech Bound #35: Brian Peters thoughts on understanding Growth right

6 min read

Hey friends,

I’m blessed to have Brian Peters (Digital Marketing Strategist @ Buffer) as this month’s guest editor!

Brian is a very nice guy and I’ve admired him and his work for a long time.

Other than that, I’ve spent a week in Amsterdam (pretty impressed), visited the TQ Tech Hub, met some smart people, and head to Helsinki tomorrow.

– Guest of the month

Brian Peters: Understanding Growth right

I used to think that “Growth” was only for product managers.
Find a product growth lever, pull the product growth lever, see what happens, and repeat. 
Clearly, I was missing half (or more) of the complete picture. What I now understand is that a Growth framework and mindset can be applied to most everything. Product, marketing, education, exercising, productivity – the options both personally and professionally are endless. 
To me, Growth is simply the process of using intuition + data to identify opportunities that will accelerate the success of whatever you are trying to improve.
Quite often, these opportunities don’t fit traditional ways of thinking or doing things. Growth blurs the line between various fields of thought and frameworks. It mixes the objective with the subjective. Growth is holistic and fast. 
For example, we recently grew our Buffer YouTube channel by 59% in just 30 days. This wouldn’t have been possible without taking a Growth approach. This approach included:
– Understanding which keywords (lever) would lead to targeted views
– Optimizing our videos for long-term discoverability (lever)
– Creating videos that combined everything we learned (pulling the levers)
– Analyzing what we did right, what we did wrong, and repeating the process
Buffer YouTube.png

Now, I view everything as Growth opportunity.
We have more access to platforms, data, and technology than ever before. It’s time we start using it! 
Other Great Reads:
Until next time, everyone! 
– Brian 
P.S. If you’d like to learn more about personal Growth Hacking, I run a weekly newsletter called Thinker. Would love for you to join me!

– Q&A

How to align SEO and PPC

This week’s question is “How do you combine SEO and PPC?“.
There is a lot of content around aligning SEO and PPC but – as always – it’s pretty fluffy. You might be familiar with using PPC to test landing pages, also called “smoke test”, or sharing keyword sets. There are way more opportunities, though, and it’s important to understand how to measure the impact of bidding on certain keywords!
Remember, SEO traffic is “free”, but when you pay money for traffic, you need to know how much you spend per customer (CPA) and make sure you come out with a profit (LTV – CPA = profit).
It doesn’t end there. First, there’s a big difference between bidding on brand keywords vs. non-brand keywords. The former often indicates a lower stage in the funnel, the latter a higher one. The higher up in the funnel your keywords are, the lower your chances to convert the user and, hence, the more you spend to convert her/him to a customer.
Second, you cannot scale PPC infinitely because at some point you are the highest bidder and rank the highest. There is a principle of diminishing returns when you measure CPA against volume, so you have to find the sweet spot.
In general, there are three scenarios when aligning SEO and PPC: compensation, cannibalization, and conglomeration (“3 C’s”).
Compensation means PPC fills gaps of SEO. Since SEO takes a bit of time, depending on which keyword you’re targeting, you can use AdWords to bid on keywords that you’re not organically ranking for, yet. For that, you need a list of relevant keywords, of course.
Cannibalization means PPC interferes with SEO. When analyzing the data, you realize that the traffic from Adwords doesn’t bring a bigger incremental in terms of conversions, and takes away traffic from your organic results. That often happens when bidding on your own brand, but not in every case.
Conglomeration means SEO and PPC work very well together. That’s often the case for highly competitive generic keywords.
Your goal is to find out which of these three cases applies to each type of keyword, so for most of them, you have to run test campaigns. It’s hard to just copy what another company did because not every industry and brand deals with the same situation. That’s why you have to test and analyze your data.
You are looking for a positive ROI for each keyword. The formula is LTV – CPA = ROI. If you can’t calculate the exact ROI because the keyword is too high up the funnel, you can use an assist metric. In the end, it’s also a question of quality of your attribution model.
To get the best understanding about which keywords to bid on, you need to look at a couple of metrics:
  • organic and paid entrances
  • click-through rates
  • conversions and conversion rate
  • revenue from organic and paid
  • LTV (per product if you have several)
When that was a bit fast to you, worry not! I’m thinking about writing a longer blog article about the topic and showing exactly how to measure things right.

Your weekly dose of awesome content

“How to Diagnose Decline in Rankings (Craziest SEO Issue We’ve Seen)”

(Kinsta) Cool story about an uncool forgotten Google penalty.


“7 Failed Startups and the Lessons Learned”

(Crunchbase) Premature scaling happens faster than you think. Often, VC money puts pressure on a company that makes it tend to focus on vanity metrics, which in return create a bias that makes it think things are going well.


The Startup Founder’s Guide to Analytics

(Thinkgrowth) Great overview of how analytics evolves over different stages of a company’s growth.


“Infinite Scroll: The Web’s Slot Machine”

(Startup Grind) A nice overview from Nir Eyal on the mental reaction to infinite scroll.


Startup Genome report

(Startup Compass

“The Startup Genome report is an industry paper about why startups fail.
It looks at milestones and thresholds that startups need to be aware of in order to keep going or improving in certain aspects.
Biggest reasons for failure:

  • scaling team, customer acquisition or product too early
  • not learning fast enough
  • raising money too early in the process
  • not taking the time to validate the product

Chances to success are higher with

  • more than one founder
  • technical founders
  • a full-time founder
  • being driven by impact than money”



Creating exceptional experiences for one billion users. (Exciting talk at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity about
Chinese apps and how their user experience is structured. Pay attention to how Tencent is addressing Chinese Culture like ” Red Packets”.)