A Tool Culture

What and why use tools?
Someone with a good workflow is able to effectively turn situation A into situation B with as little effort and time as possible. A baker turns the inexistence of bread into the existence of a bread. This asks for precise measuring of ingredients, some mixing and the right distribution of heat. The hypothetical baker is assisted by his tools: measuring cups, scales, possibly a kneading-machine, and an oven.
Growth Hackers run into a lot more different situations A,- and B. Absence of traffic. A low CTR on specific ads. Form submissions with incomplete data. Luckily, these problems have existed for a while now, and just like someone invented a measuring cup to dose the water that goes into a good bread, other people have invented tools for all these problems online marketers face.

Getting your own tool belt
So how do you pick the right tools and integrate them into your workflow? The number one most important step is identifying what it is you want from a tool. More than once have I made the mistake of blindly googling for a tool I thought could be useful, spending hours to get it set up, only to find out in the end that this specific tool doesn’t help me with what I need, or just isn’t the best one on the market. I advise you to go and take a few hours to map out exactly what you do on a day-to-day basis, identifying the individual tasks you’re doing by hand right now, and then go wild on Google to see which tool is gonna make this individual task the easiest. If you have never done this before, you will be surprised by the sheer amount of tools that cover just about everything you do.
In fact, don’t just think about tasks. Think about the way you work. Think about the way you think. Because not only your jobs but also your communication and time management can be tool-improved, with tools like Asana, Slack and Trello.

A nice side note to keep in mind: Most of these tool companies are fresh, young start-ups with a similar growth mindset like yourself. That means that chatting, emailing or calling with them is usually very chill, and they’re really really looking to help you. If you’re ever in doubt or struggling with a tool, drop them a message because they’re there for you.

So what are some cool examples of tools? Please note that I wrote this article NOT to be a top-whatever-best-tools-list, only to get you thinking. However, I feel like sharing some examples will help with how you view tools, so here goes.

Reports in DataBox
My manager likes to look at numbers, which is ideal for a Growth Hacker. This is why he’s asked me to make a weekly report on the performance of our ads and site content. His advice, as well as that of my mentors, was to crunch the numbers in Google Analytics and HubSpot, take some screenshots, and paste them into a Google Presentation every week on Friday afternoon so he can look at it on Monday morning. After a bit of digging and asking around, however, it turns out I can set up the EXACT metrics he wants through the free-forever version of DataBox, which updates daily, is interactive, looks stunning and is easily shareable with all the different stakeholders. A few hours to set it up, but potentially hundreds of hours saved which I would have spent every Friday afternoon copying,- and pasting data into a Google Presentation.

Lead data in Phantombuster
There was a time when the grass was greener, sneezing wasn’t a social stigma and LinkedIn would still let you look up people based on their email address. During this time, whenever my company would get a lead submission with incomplete data, they would just look up that person on LinkedIn and have all their info ready. When I started out, after being told I had to join them in this task every week, I applied my tool mindset. Armed with an excel sheet with email addresses and a few hours to get the job done, I went to Phantombuster, kindly asked my free-forever version to supply that list with names and company info, and was done in a few minutes. If only I had been there sooner, my company could have saved hours and hours of manually looking up names on LinkedIn.

This amazing solution lasted a whopping 12 hours, since literally the day after I got my automation set-up, LinkedIn removed the email-look up functionality entirely. So get used to the fact that, when you use third-party tools, you may have to think on your feet from time to time.

Automate EVERYTHING in Zapier
As described above, a lot of the tasks we are faced with daily come from a very simple If this happens, then we have to do/​get/​make/​adjust that”. The great thing about this is that you can make a computer think exactly like that. This If x then y” principle is made easiest in Zapier, a tool that reacts instantly to any situation you supply it with.
Setting up Zapier, although sometimes frustratingly intricate, is one of the most fun things I have done in my growth hacking career. You take the If” scenario, following the above example If a new contact is added to the contacts without name” list, and you give it the then” scenario. In this case, there were about five steps, because the contact had to be exported to an excel file, ran through phantom buster, export those results to the same excel file, but on the right rows, and then re-uploaded back into Hubspot. It’s a puzzle where you create the pieces yourself, and it’s just a matter of getting everything to fit just right in order to make it work forever (or until some company changes their policies).

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Guest blog by Casper Leijen

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