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The RBL Flywheel

July 8, 2019

Growth Marketing & Strategy
Tye DeGrange

Jim Collins wrote about the flywheel concept in Good to Great and is often referenced inside and outside Amazon.

He states: “A flywheel is an incredibly heavy wheel that takes huge effort to push. Keep pushing and the flywheel builds momentum. Keep pushing and eventually, it starts to help turn itself and generate its own momentum--and that's when a company goes from good to great.”

Flywheels are becoming more critical to leading growth teams looking to develop loops to identify how they can effectively grow their product.

Source: Bezo’s Virtuous Cycle (Amazon)

Ok so you are familiar with the concept of a flywheel, but can this be applied to a performance marketing agency?

We think so.

As RBL has evolved from a one-person consultancy to a team of experts that has served hundreds of startups and large consumer brands, we have found that there are three core pillars of our business:

Before we talk flywheel, let’s review each of these core channels we provide.

Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO)

A lot of paid marketing teams have applied landing page improvements to their work, but only recently are some offering Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO). This is a more technical and scientifically disciplined test-heavy approach to learning and improving conversion rates across a site. Once a product/site’s conversion rate is improved, this can have compounding positive gains across paid, earned and owned marketing. We’ll elaborate on how this compounding effect works in a later section.

Source: Optimizely

User Experience (UX)

This is a significant part of the product development process and touches CRO and even areas of Paid Marketing in the form of the landing page experience. "User experience" encompasses all aspects of the end user's interaction with the company, its services, and its products. - Norman | Nielsen Group. Our team can provide UX experts (not just performance marketers), wireframes, mockups, coaching, design support to improve both paid marketing experiences as well as core site experiences. Every role I have had in-house I have identified and improved the conversion funnel saving a lot of wasted media investments.

Source: Interaction Design Foundation

Here is a brief illustration of how improving conversion can save capital resources over time. We recently made some key UX recommendations for a mobile client. Providing them with detailed wireframes to improve the customer experience. As a result, the conversion rate from download to paying accounts increased from 8% to 12%, a 50% increase.

This improvement is illustrated in the graph and red bucket below. The red group of customers represents estimated revenue increase as a result of the UX changes we made and the yellow bucket is an estimate based on future UX changes.

Source: RBL client growth projection.

Here is another illustration illustrating how UX improvements and CRO can significantly improve revenue gains.

Source: RBL client growth projection.

As you can see, a 15% conversion rate increase, in this case, can yield an incremental $81k in revenue!

Affiliate/Influencer/Partner Marketing

This is an area near and dear to our heart. I started my career at Commission Junction working on a number of affiliate marketing programs for brands like StubHub. After growing their program I was recruited by eBay to lead the eBay Motors affiliate program and one of the more sophisticated affiliate programs ever created. Our team has worked with brands like Amazon, ModCloth, Hims, CapitalOne,, Wolverine World Wide, Inogen, WorldMarket, Carhartt, Petal, and Experian.

Source: TUNE

We bring an in-house perspective to affiliate marketing. We intend to stay small, objective, and open to alternative solutions that meet the needs of our clients. We can apply UX improvements and a more rigorous data-driven approach than other options at significant cost savings over a full-time hire.

Paid Social Marketing

Since launch in 2014, nearly every one of our engagements has involved paid social. We have gravitated toward this work and we enjoy delivering great results for clients across channels like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, Reddit, Quora, and Snap.

Our efforts were central to exceeding HIRED growth goals and launching Nextdoor’s Real Estate Product and their presence and growth in Europe.

Layered on top of these three core channels that can positively influence each other is a knowledge of Growth (capital G) that few agencies and digital consulting firms possess. As we have outlined in our process, Growth is a relatively new discipline made famous by Facebook’s growth team. Andy Johns VP of Growth (Facebook, Twitter, Quora, Wealthfront), outlines this process to explain the often misconstrued concept of growth and growth teams.

We think of it as applying a scientific process to Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) looking at qualitative and quantitative data across product, engineering, marketing, sales, and operations to sustainably grow the business. Why does this matter? Many teams focused on linear channels are great but they do not know the limits of each tactic and strategy nor how they can interact for maximum impact.

In 2018, RBL made a shift from a practice of completely channel agnostic growth to focusing on executing three pillars-our collective superpowers: 1) CRO/UX, 2) Affiliate/Partner/Influencer, and 3) Paid Social. The shift has proven effective as we are seeing our best period of revenue growth for our own business.

When utilized properly, combining these three pillars of RBL can create a flywheel for consumer brands.

As you can see from the above graphic we are offering select consumer brands an opportunity to boost their paid marketing performance with a more customer-centric (UX) approach to partner marketing and customer acquisition. It combines elements that are currently part of many Direct to Consumer (D2C) brands’ playbooks.

For RBL and many of our clients, we often start out focused on just one of these three core pillars.

For example, we might kick off a client focusing on affiliate/partner/influencer. Once we demonstrate impact with new partners and optimizing existing, testing a landing page, homepage, or product page A/B test can yield an increase in conversions and efficiency, giving the compounding returns on traffic moving forward. This then increases affiliate adoption as high conversion allows partners to have higher trust in advertiser offers. This increases the ability for partners to take on the risk of CPA (Cost Per Action or Pay Per Action) deals.

Of course, affiliate partner adoption is driven by a number of factors like commission rate, brand, Earnings Per Click (EPC), affiliate network ranking, relevancy match between brand and partner, as well as conversion rate to name just a few.

Bottom line, if a partner has skin in the game, and you just removed the friction, you just helped yourself and your partners. You just got a better performing partner.

Source: NPR

So what do you get if you deploy the RBL Flywheel?

  1. Frequent testing and continuous improvement to a landing page, product, onboarding and customer experience utilizing UX and CRO experts and scientific A/B testing
  2. Data-driven brand-centric partner marketing recruiting relevant third party content and rave reviews for your brand
  3. Targeting segments of your ideal customer allowing third-party reviews and influencers to tell customers how great you are rather than doing that yourself which is not as effective

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