Hello, my name is Pat. I work at Cascade in the marketing space helping drive traffic to our website, getting more trials and looking at what's working and what's not working for us. I've been with Cascade for a little bit over four/five months now. I thought I'd take this opportunity to not only walk you through the software from a marketing perspective but also give you a little bit of our story. I'd like to share where we're at now as well as really show you a behind the curtains as to not only how we use the software but how we got to where we are at this stage.
(You can either watch the video below or read the post if you prefer)
Starting The Process
So, before I started here at Cascade, we didn't really have a marketing team as such. It doesn't mean we didn't have any marketing being carried out, of course, we had plenty of marketing activities happening and it's evident if you go on and take a look through our blog, a lot about marketing was heavily pushed throughout our blog content and this is essentially thanks to Tom, our CEO, and co-founder who really championed the marketing space for Cascade up until this point and thanks to getting a lot of these articles ranking really well on the top of Google.
That really drove a lot of traffic to the site and we started getting a lot more traction but aside from the content and the marketing, a lot of our growth is primarily attributed to the software, the amount of growth that we've experienced is largely due to the software as such. We just hit the 200K mark recurring revenue in the last couple of months and it doesn't look like we're gonna stop any time soon. And this really just speaks volumes of the software.
The software is being really well received by our users and that's really pushed our growth and helped us without having to have a dedicated marketing team as such, but we looked at the landscape at the end of last year, that's when I was brought in and it was obvious we needed to drill down into the marketing for 2018 and beyond. So Maddy and I (you might have seen Maddy around some of the product update blog posts, particularly if you're a current Cascade user) put our heads down and looked at where we're at, at the end of last year and decided to start planning for 2018 and beyond.
Once we started the ideation phase, we were certainly not short of ideas. But obviously, we didn't want to end up with a never ending whiteboard. So we moved over to a spreadsheet process and this is something I've used in the past that's works quite well. There are many ways to look at focus areas for marketing, more often than not, most of these focus areas will fall into one of these four parts.
We'll either be doing an exercise which the end result will be acquisition, activation (so you're activating the people you've acquired) or be monetizing those users. Then, of course, you've got retention. Making sure that your current customers are happy and are staying with us for long.
So, everything really that we do in our space for marketing falls into one of these four areas. So, we decided to break that down and we would basically jot down the ideas, pop down the concept, the initial concept of the idea, a description of the idea and a hypothesis. This is when you write something like I believe that doing X will cause Y and I will know that when I see Z, you would then list the assets that you need to get this idea going and then what you do is you basically use this model to help you rank these ideas on how good they are.
If they're not that good, then we put them on the back burner for a while, if they're strong enough, then we proceed and we move them over to some of our goals, whether they be part of the organizational goals or underneath those goals. So, we would basically allocate these numbers, basically zeros or ones (binary process) and then you would score the project in three areas. So, if you felt a particular project was going to have a strong impact and you were very confident and it was relatively easy, you could give a high score for it.
Once we had that we knew this model (spreadsheet) wasn't sustainable in the sense that you can't work from this spreadsheet on a day-to-day basis as it becomes more complex, and you can't obviously track your progress other than it's happening, it's not happening or whether it worked or not.
From Idea To Cascade
We used this spreadsheet to help us generate ideas and to rank the ideas. Once we had that, we then moved over to our actual Cascade model in the software. We'd already had numerous brainstorming sessions about where the marketing space would sit as far as a vision. We have our own separate vision from the corporate plan and this is one of the great features of Cascade. You can have the different departments or different locations broken down and they can each have their own plan all leading to that key corporate plan.
They each have that independent space where they grow as such, they can have their own vision, and they can even have their own values. In our case, we're sharing the same values as the main corporate plan but we have our own focus areas. So, our focus areas include: acquisition, activation, monetization and retention and all of our organizational goals fall within those four spaces and then in those, we'll have the actual key goals or projects that we need to launch or deliver by certain dates.
This worked really well for us because it kept everything tidy and what was relevant to set areas, stayed relevant. The other thing that you can do with Cascade, is align a project to multiple goals. Say for example, just because one goal is sitting in this particular focus area doesn't mean it only pertains to that space.
For example, our goal to optimize the Google Adwords Campaign aligns with both acquisition and activation focus areas for Cascade.
Another benefit of Cascade is that we have one place where everything sits and we can quickly see at a glance where these projects are sitting, the projects are all color coded so you can see the goals and projects that you've progressed on and are on track, and the ones you haven't and are falling behind. As I mentioned at the start, I'm really pulling the curtain on this, not all our projects are running as perfect as we want them to. We were quite ambitious with the number of goals we took on for this year because basically, we wanted to get them all into one place with the understanding that if we didn't carry through with some of them, we still had next year to continue with them.
The real magic for us is when we look at our dashboard. That's what we look at on a day-in, day-out basis. We look at key numbers that we have to keep an eye on every day really and this gives us that while saving us from having to log into analytics, Facebook, Drip (in our case), and all the different software that we have running in the background, Charge Bee or anything else, we can see it all in one dashboard and see whether or not we're on track. It also helps us to immediately see seasonal trends, without having to generate reports.
(Side note: If you're not sure what to measure in your marketing, here is a really helpful list of KPIs we prepared)
For example, we have a goal to get to 18,000 visitors a week to the site and that's lagging a little bit behind but it's not going too badly. At least we can see our progression and we can see the spike that happened once we launched our plan in January. Then we have our mailing list and we see that we're well above our target of the number of people in our list and then we have our trials, which is the number that we really need to push for us.
We also make use of the notes widget since have been in regular meetings with the rest of the team, and we use the dashboard to debrief them on what we're doing and get them up to speed on when we need some assistance from IT, for example, to help us out on bits and pieces for the website or any other sort of technical areas that we need focus.
Further down we've got the four areas, in GANTT mode so we can see them in the dashboard and we don't have to keep going back to the plan. We also have other metrics down the bottom here like Twitter and Facebook and LinkedIn followers etc. And the great thing about this dashboard is you can keep adding more of these widgets or you can basically create a new dashboard if you wanted to.
There are many ways of not only developing a strategy for your marketing, and there are also many ways to lay this strategy into a strategy software like Cascade. This particular approach really made sense to us since we were already doing organically in the marketing space, but we really needed to consolidate them and look at optimizing how these activities were running.
To give you a specific example, we were already creating content but it was done in a little bit of a sporadic way since Tom was the main writer for the blog for a long time and of course, there is that little thing of running the company that gets in the way of his writing, so the content was a little bit inconsistent. It was sometimes here one month and sometimes not there for a couple of months, so one of the things that we started doing is bringing some order into that by developing 90-day content plans and creating those every quarter. So, we knew it was too ambitious to try and create all the content for the year and it's really unpredictable anyway even if we did that, so by breaking it into four chunks, then we can start managing that side of things.
In other scenarios, we were already running Google Adwords but we weren't really looking at how to optimize those campaigns, and we were already doing in our email marketing of course but we weren't looking at again at how to get the most value from those subscribers. So there were many things that we were already doing organically but we just weren't drilling into them and looking at optimization as a whole.
Although we have 4 key focus areas, optimization is the leading theme for us, and having our goals in Cascade allows us to focus on each of these goals without the overwhelm factor creeping in. Thanks for letting us share the process with you.
We thought it was a really good way to showcase how not only how Cascade works and how Cascade can be used from a marketing perspective but also to give you a little bit of an insight as to for us how we running as a company and how we're approaching our own marketing. Hopefully, that's given you some insights and encouraged you as well to try Cascade, if you haven't already tried it.
(I wouldn't be in marketing if I didn't give you a little bit of a pitch:)
It's FREE to try, you get at least a couple of weeks for a test drive. If you also want, you can reach out to our team and they can walk you through the software, they can even help you get it up and running if you doing some integrations with other software. So, give it a spin if you haven't tried it out. I'm sure you will fall in love with it as much as I have. Thanks again for taking the time to read this and watch the video!