The rubric busy entrepreneurs need to prioritize their tasks for impact
When a company has one person or even a small handful, it’s tempting to go with your gut as a key driver for growth. But “this feels important so let’s do it” doesn’t scale all that well. Once there are 6 departments all asking for growth assistance and insights as to what changes they should make to improve customer UX, decrease sales cycle length, improve newsletter conversions, or whatnot, you need something better. Teams and leaders need to know how to prioritize.
You have to have a scoring rubric.
You should have one now, at this moment, even if it’s just you spending a few hours a week working on growth improvements all by yourself. Why?
Well, a couple reasons:
- It’s good to build the habit and process now
- If you only have 4 hours a week to focus on growth tactics, you’d better make really sure that you’re performing the right ones
The importance of a good system to score your experiments and prioritize them arguably is highest when it’s just you.
I’ve been consulting & leading teams to build scalable growth marketing solutions for nearly 15 years now. In that experience, I have learned a few key problems which trip up teams. A big one is: how do I know what the next experiment that we run should be?
To answer that question, I built a 4-stage scoring rubric: the PIER Growth Framework: Priority, Importance, Ease, and Result.
Every experiment you can think of for your growth team can be evaluated by these 4 criteria. Each criteria is rated from 1 – 5, (1 is bad, 5 is good) and in the end we multiply them all together to generate a PIER score.
Scale out of 5, but Priority can have up to 6 points.
Priority is how you deal with the fact that sometimes, due to management decisions or inter-team cooperation, the items that you need to know right now may not be the most important things from a strategic perspective. Maybe there’s a test you want to try, even though it’s a bit outside of your core objectives right now. Priority rates 1 – 6 on a five point scale. This is in case you need to put your thumb on the metaphorical scale to help bump an experiment up.
Scale out of 5.
Every quarter or year or month or whatever, your management team should be setting goals for the company. Experiments that align with goals are important because they’re the most sure-fire way to help any team achieve them. Absent any high-level goal for a growth team to target, rate importance by considering how closely the action ties to revenue.
Scale out of 5.
How easy is it to execute this test? For every team outside of Growth who needs to touch a task, I subtract 2 points. I also deduct a point for every 10 hours of work I figure it will take to execute. If it requires no dev work and less than 10 hours of work, score it a 5 (really easy!). If it requires a developer, a sales engineer, and someone from the Finance team and will take more than 40 hours of work to pull off overall…well. Probably de-scope the experiment to make easier to execute. The whole point to growth experiments is that they’re quick and inexpensive.
Scale out of 5.
How confident are you that this will produce a measurable result in under 2 weeks? The result doesn’t have to be positive, mind you. Just measurable. This number is a little squishy because “measurable result” can vary widely from experiment to experiment. Keep in mind that every experiment needs to have a goal and a data-based result. You’ll see what I mean below.
Using PIER scoring
To keep the math easy, I score each on a 1 – 5 point scale. You can use a work tracking tool like Asana or Trello for these, or you can just use a spreadsheet. I’ll make a chart below to explain the scoring a little better:
Reading the chart:
Test is the name of an experiment. Channel, journey stage, and score are all explained below the chart, but the most important part to understand is that PIER ratings are multiplied, and higher scores are better.
A few things to note from the above chart:
Highest score wins
I generally hide the end score offscreen while I’m rating the criteria with PIER. I don’t want to see a score I don’t like and re-rate the individual elements. If you have several team members who are able to evaluate your PIER rubric, even better. Rate independently, add them up, and then average the ratings back down to a 1 – 5 scale to generate your final PIER score.
Channel is where you’re going to execute your test. Try to limit direct channels like email / phone / chat / SMS to only one test per channel at a time so you’re not bombarding people with messaging. I once accidentally had 4 email surveys sent to the same batch of customers in 3 days because they were moving quickly through their customer journey and I hadn’t thought about how that might compound.
There’s a “journey stage” here, too
Every company tends to have their own user journey stages, so the ones I have here don’t matter much. You want to make sure that you’re not running more than one experiment in the same part of the user journey at the same time because it can be very hard to figure out which experiment actually had the effect or if both experiments boosted each other or nullified each other out.
Every task has a trackable goal
The accuracy of the goal isn’t super key, but it is handy in helping to determine importance. for example, the goal at the bottom of the chart is “200 recommendation-driven signups”. For some businesses that goal would make a huge difference in monthly revenue, and for others it would be a tiny drop in the ocean. Provided that the goal is sensibly set—based off projections which are sound—that can be invaluable in deciding the importance of a test.
Score at the end is calculated by multiplying all of the individual scores together
They fall all over the place in terms of actual number. If a test has <50 score I can already tell I am not gonna be launching it. On the other hand, a score of >250 suggests that it’s pretty important and you should make sure to start on it soon. If a test hangs out on my rubric for more than a quarter, I usually delete it. It clearly wasn’t that important or it would be done by now.
Everything is an experiment
Every single idea that you come up with for a growth experiment—whether it’s a quick test of a new email format or a involved overhaul of the knowledge base for your company’s app—should start with a PIER score. Depending on how often you plan your work, weekly or monthly, check the PIER scores of your test backlog. From there, prep the experiments for the next iteration to come.
The single strongest multiplier you can have in your business is to learn more about your market and your users faster than anyone else. Using PIER scoring to evaluate what you need to know most and then learning that next? That’s attaching rocket boosters to your organization’s growth.