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3 Critical Mistakes Startup Founders Keep Making With Growth Marketing

If you ask startups about their main goals, they will tell you one thing: growth.

One of the best ways to achieve their growth goals is to include growth marketing strategies as part of their overall strategy.

While many startups have the talent and resources for growth marketing, they often fall short or limit their potential because of three critical and often common mistakes. If you are a marketer or founder, avoid these mistakes to unlock your true growth potential.

Mistake 1: Not Tracking Experiments Effectively (or Not Tracking at All)

In terms of growth and marketing success, we think of Silicon Valley’s most famous startups, such as: Airbnb, Dropboxand flaccid. We have all heard and read the famous case studies of these brands and the fantastic results they have achieved.

What is often overlooked is the process through which they have been successful with their top campaigns and growth strategies. What is the process that these companies are proud of? Well, it’s experimenting with continuous iterations to discover what works and, most importantly, what doesn’t.

Running experiments and iterating data is critical to a startup’s success. From A/B split testing, running ad account campaigns, testing open email rates and other marketing channels, all startups and eCommerce brands want to improve results faster than ever.

But what is the most glaring mistake startups make that hinders their ability to grow faster? Usually it does not have a systemic process to follow experiments. Or worse, no experiments at all.

Tracking experiments effectively is vital because you test your hypothesis in a structured way. You then receive data on your performance, know what works and what to prioritize to improve results.

Dan Siepen, Growth Marketing Consultant at Marketing is fun often sees this lacking in startups. “Startups want to grow as quickly as possible, but lack the discipline of a data-driven growth approach.”

“The goal is for product and growth marketing teams to become well-oiled machines, and the best way to achieve this is by running experiments through an experiment tracker. They are easy to set up and help track, analyze and prioritize campaigns and tactics based on performance.”

There are a few ways you can set up experiment trackers using tools like Google Sheets and Asana.

Be sure to include these important criteria when it comes to experimentation:

  • Formulate your hypothesis.
  • Duration of campaign or tactic.
  • Which channel(s)?
  • Key Statistics.
  • Results.

By introducing this experimental approach, you can achieve your growth goals in a shorter period of time.

Error 2: Poor project planning, management and workflow configuration

While a fast-paced environment and the ability to act quickly are essential for startups, poor internal workflows and loose project management lead to bottlenecks, overspending and missing deadlines.

In reality, 50% of organizations experience failed projects and campaigns due to undervaluation of the importance of project management. There is no perfect practice, but here are seven essential project management tips to ensure your startup marketing team implements:

  • Use a project management software tool like Asana or Trello.
  • Integrate with your favorite apps like Gmail and Slack for notifications and communication.
  • Set clear rules, make agreements about the general structure and conventions and clearly label project tasks.
  • Integrate time tracking to track efficiency.
  • Set realistic milestones and do regular check-ins.
  • At the end of each week, hold retrospectives to resolve bottlenecks.
  • Choose a project management “champion” who can provide best practices.

Duncan Jones, Head of Marketing at Cluey Learning (ASX:CLU), finds brainstorming and developing growth ideas fun and easy. The hardest part is agreeing to those ideas, rolling them out correctly and on time, testing them, and scaling them up if they win.

“The essential part of that process is project management, making sure that every part of your plan or sprint is documented and ticked off as you go so that nothing essential is overlooked. Nominating one person to lead this process – and it doesn’t have to be you or someone with extensive marketing knowledge – who has excellent project management skills ensures that you complete and test the ideas you need to grow.”

Mistake 3: Recruitment agencies expect success with the silver bullet

Agencies can be effective for growing startups if expectations are aligned. However, they can also often be the scapegoat when results don’t go as intended, expectations aren’t met, or aren’t managed properly.

Too often, startup founders and marketers hire agencies to give them the “golden key” to success when they’re not ready or expect to see explosive growth in a short space of time.

Ben Bocarro, Growth Marketing Manager at Basiq explains,Do your due diligence when researching the agency, its team, and its track record. Determine what challenges need to be solved and what success looks like. Ask your network for recommendations. Satisfied clients often refer to the best agencies.”

“Agency should be seen as a partner and an extension of your internal team, where startups use the specialist expertise they don’t have in-house to solve certain challenges.”

While agencies can do wonders for your startup’s growth (and deliver incredible results quickly), understanding their role and understanding what is expected is crucial.

  • Be clear about your goals and expectations.
  • Communicate your issues and needs with your preferred agency before embarking. Put everything on the table.
  • Have the right processes in place to manage the relationship. If you have messy processes, the relationship will be messy too.

Not only is it essential to set expectations and goals, but you also need to choose the right agency that understands your problem. Here are some tips for hiring the right agency and what to look out for.

  • Interview multiple agencies. Get different opinions.
  • Read their case studies on the services you want to partner with.
  • Pay attention to the questions they ask. Good questions lead to better conversations and problem solving.
  • Evaluate their industry knowledge.
  • Look at their ratings and what their strengths are.
  • Find out if they care enough about your business and where you want to go.

Sum up

By avoiding these common mistakes, startups can achieve their goals faster. Ensuring proper discipline by including the right systems, processes, scheduling and agency partners can be a game-changer for your business.


Shreya has been with australiabusinessblog.com for 3 years, writing copy for client websites, blog posts, EDMs and other mediums to engage readers and encourage action. By collaborating with clients, our SEO manager and the wider australiabusinessblog.com, Shreya seeks to understand an audience before creating memorable, persuasive copy.

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