2. The role of a senior growth marketer and how to vet them

This doc also serves as a framework for vetting growth marketer candidates.

A senior growth generalist’s role consists of these core duties at minimum:

  • Propose growth experiments, oversee their implementation, collect their data, share their results with the team, and iterate endlessly.
  • Oversee funnel optimization to identify and remove conversion bottlenecks.
  • Ensure the team’s channel experts are delivering on performance.

Let’s dive into these and explain how they become a template for vetting growth marketer candidates.

Role objective: Propose growth experiments

Senior growth marketers have to be excellent at continually generating good experiment ideas. They must source ideas then identify which are most likely to move the needle for the business.

This is the real function of your growth team: continually experimenting to break out of a local maximum of performance.

As a PM from Facebook, Nikita Bier, puts it: “A reproducible testing process is more valuable than any one idea. Innovate here first. All things equal, a team with more shots at bat will win against a team with an audacious vision.”

Therefore, when vetting growth marketer candidates, you need to ensure they (1) care deeply about process and that they’re not just haphazardly YOLOing “growth hacks” and (2) are framework-driven thinkers who build and iterate on processes for everything.

Strong senior growth marketers know that experiment ideas come from three key places:

  • Talking to customers and sales/support teams to see what customers are running into and requesting. Turn these into experiments for new features, value propositions, ad campaigns, drip email series, educational content, sales collateral, and more.
  • Competitive analysis to see what related companies in your space are doing for growth. Audit their landing pages, growth funnels, assets, ads, and everything else they do. What’s worth trying?
  • Consultants who you hunt down on LinkedIn. Find killer industry insiders and pay them $1000/hr for 2-3 hours of in-depth tactical consulting. Extract every great growth idea they have from their brains and decide which to prioritize.

What do these all have in common? The candidate is curious. They’re intellectually stimulated by growth frameworks and tactics, and they are hungry to learn everything.

Further, strong senior growth marketers know that they must focus on the highest expected ROI experiments and that to do so they must pursue big, significant tests (e.g. overhauling your onboarding flow)—not micro tests (e.g. changing button colors). (Read more about micro versus macro tests here.) To help them rank the expected ROI of growth experiments, they’ll use the ICE framework.

Role objective: Oversee funnel optimization

  1. Map out your funnel.
  2. Ad → Homepage → Onboarding → Drips → Webinar → App → Purchase → Referral
  3. Assess the conversion rate between each step.
  4. Propose significant experiments to increase the conversion rate wherever weak.
  5. Rinse and repeat until you see diminishing returns. At that point, try rethinking the whole funnel from scratch—and running A/B tests to see what’s best.
Source: https://www.researchgate.net/figure/Steps-of-the-Scientific-Method-Adapted-from_fig4_330452324

How to vet marketing candidates

Keep in mind that most growth marketers are not good. Most never internalized the frameworks described in this document. Instead, they haphazardly throw ideas at the wall without process or iteration.

This is why you must discount their résumés. I’ve seen so many founders hire bad growth marketers with seemingly good backgrounds. Instead, the only effective way to assess a growth marketer is to give them sample projects.

I use a three-step project It looks something like this, but it varies significantly per growth role, and this is not one-size-fits-all:

  • The candidate identifies customer acquisition strategies for your business plus prioritizes them (and justifies why). This reveals their ability to identify high-leverage opportunities and see the big picture.
  • They audit your product then walk through their methodology for optimizing conversion at every key step in your product journey. This reveals their process-driven approach to spotting bottlenecks and generating hypotheses. Ask them to compile a 90 day plan.
  • They create sample content for the growth discipline they're being hired for, such as running ads or email marketing. This showcases their tactical competency.

Collectively, these projects help me assess three competencies:

  • Creativity when generating growth experiment ideas. We’re assessing their process more so than their output. A great process adaptably generates quality ideas forever.
  • Reflectiveness when assessing what their growth successes and failures reveal as learnings. Because every company's resources are limited and growth can be time-consuming and costly, I look for a candidate who understands how to prioritize projects and efficiently allocate focus.
  • Resourcefulness when crafting experiments and scaling them up.

Resourceful growth marketers are those who never stop generating ideas, running experiments, and iterating. Never hire a "set-it-and-forget-it" marketer.

  • For example, when Facebook releases a new ad format, a growth marketer should spend ad dollars to uncover whether there’s new, low-hanging fruit to pick.
  • When customers use a product in unexpected ways, a growth marketer digs in, talks to customers, and uncovers how these learnings can improve website, ad, and email messaging.

Lastly, based on their role, I’m also ensuring they know what a job well done looks like:

  • Do they know what mastery looks like in the role they’re interviewing for?
  • If they're running ads, for example, can they identify compelling value propositions, write enticing ad copy, and target audiences that fit the product?