Author: Keith Wood, Growth Product Manager, Noom
Hey I’m Keith! I’m a Product Manager on the Growth team here at Noom. Before Noom I worked at Google on the Accelerated Growth team, where I partnered with growth stage startups to define and implement their digital growth strategy. The experience at Google introduced me to the world of startups and I became fascinated with the unique challenges that young companies face when trying to grow their business with limited resources. While the opportunity to work with dozens of startups across different industries was exciting, my ability to influence was really only limited to Google’s digital advertising suite- just one part of a successful company’s growth strategy. As such, I found myself feeling like my impact was a mile wide and only an inch deep. So I began looking for a startup to join full-time that was right in the sweet spot for rapid growth – demonstrated product market fit, solid funding, an experienced leadership team – and that’s how I found myself at Noom.
As a PM on the Growth team, my job is focused on creating and improving the products that comprise our acquisition funnel (everything a visitor sees on our website from the moment they touch down on the main landing page until the point of sale). While I understood growth in the context of advertising, I had a lot to learn when it came to understanding Noom’s unique growth methodology and applying it in a product setting. I didn’t even know how to code! Thankfully Noom is sponsoring a front-end development course so I’m taking night classes at General Assembly (the engineers I work with give me a hard time about my front-end chops, but I’ll get there eventually!).
The approach to growth at Noom is unique, defined by a process of relentless experimentation that allows us to optimize every commercial operation, customer touchpoint, and internal process. It’s easier to understand Noom’s growth machine if I explain it alongside an example, so I’ll take you through a recent win we had that improved our site conversion rate by 25%.
A big part of a PM’s job is analyzing data to identify inefficiencies in your product, and then applying these insights to improve existing features or inform new feature builds. The main data source I look at is customer traffic to see where dropoff occurs. Our funnel is broken up into the following parts, and I’ve included some rough figures on traffic dropoff so you can see what percentage of visitors click through to the next step:
To get a sense of the general flow, a visitor lands on the main landing page, provides some demographic information during the main survey, receives their results, provides additional information in a follow-up survey that we use to create their plan, and then they get a preview of their plan on the payment page before purchasing. One of the big issues we identified was a significant traffic drop-off occurring after the results page.
This page is the first time we mention the price of the program, and one of our hypotheses was that mention of the program cost was driving people away before they had a good understanding of the product itself. I work closely with our designer, Youngin, so we got to work and designed a new results page that didn’t include the program cost. We then collaborated with our growth engineers, Di, Rose, Patrick, and Eric, to align on technical specs and intended functionality, then passed it off to them to build the new page. Once we had the elements built, we use a tool called Optimizely to send 50% of our traffic to the updated version of our site, while the other 50% goes through the original version (this is called A/B testing, and we run these versions in parallel to control for any unintended differences such as time of day or seasonality). This testing approach allows us to measure impact before investing the resources to make permanent changes. Once a test has shown to perform better when compared against the current version, it is incorporated as the new baseline, and future tests will be run against this new baseline to try and improve even further.
After this test finished, we had the following results:
We were able to get ~30% more traffic to continue past the results page, but the downstream effect wasn’t strong enough to change overall conversion rate. However, these learnings allowed us to arrive at our next hypothesis – we could get the most impact on a follow-up test by adding a convincing element after the payment survey to convert this additional traffic. One of the insights we gathered from conducting usability tests was that visitors weren’t convinced that we could analyze their survey responses and create a plan for them so quickly, so Youngin and I worked on creating a splash page that visualized this analysis, instead of running the analysis in the background while the visitor took the survey. You can check out the mock we created and the final version that our engineers built below:
We ran a follow-up test that included both the updated results page and the new loading page, and it was a huge success, increasing overall conversion rate by 25%:
This low-cost, iterative growth process isn’t possible without experimentation, and we wouldn’t be able to experiment without the proper engineering environment. I am able to control the experience 99% of our site traffic sees at any given time, and this setup gives me the autonomy to move fast and without fear from hypothesis to hypothesis. This environment grants every member of our team immense responsibility from the get-go because there is so much within your control, and our emphasis on data and results allows even new hires like myself to quickly gain trust from senior leadership. It’s also incredibly rewarding from a feedback standpoint to see the impact you are making in real-time, because we have the tools to measure it directly.
Our sandbox environment allows us to go from hypothesis to an experiment launch in 1 – 2 days, and in the 2 months since joining I’ve been able to run more than 30 experiments on our funnel. The company as a whole runs dozens of experiments a week on everything from our advertising to our recruiting methods- even our executive chef Sam has a process in place to constantly improve lunch! Some companies only run tests every quarter, on a yearly basis, or never- it’s crazy to think about the growth they must be missing out on. Testing can be humbling at times, particularly when you are bought-in to an idea but the results flop. By that same token it is incredibly rewarding to see positive results come in, and there’s nothing like witnessing the gap between your test’s conversion rate and the original grow wider and wider as more traffic comes in.
Besides testing, another way we efficiently drive growth is by building cross-functional teams that break down standard business unit silos. In a traditional corporate setting, teams are responsible for their specific tasks and insights rarely cross departmental lines. When teams don’t communicate significant opportunity could be missed, or easily-avoided problems could plague performance until resources are spent to solve them. This is not the case at Noom. Our growth team is made up of marketers, developers, engineers and product managers focused on maximizing productivity in every aspect of the business across every operating unit. We have a collaborative team that is always helping each other ideate, and I am constantly communicating with our engineering, advertising, user research, and communications team to uncover value at each step in the acquisition chain. We meet weekly to get feedback from others on the hypotheses we are testing, ideate on the highest impact tests to run next, and to get some fresh eyes on persistent or difficult to solve problems. There is a LOT of cross-functional detective work to go around on the Growth team.
At Noom, we’re taking on the $4.2 trillion health and wellness market that has been one of the slowest to fully integrate technology. Got any ideas of your own that you’d want to test out? Perhaps you’re more interested in building the clever and complicated environments to test them in? We are building a platform that has changed millions of lives and the best part is, our focus on testing and improving the product and delivery so that it is the most effective, manageable, and permanent weight loss solution available means that our own growth will empower millions more around the world to live healthier lives.
We’re building something special here with our playground of a testing environment, and we need talented people like you to help take this rocket ship to space. We are currently hiring front-end engineers, full stack engineers, an e-mail marketing manager, a senior accountant, basically everything… we even need another PM to sit next to me and help optimize our upsell store! Does this growth environment sound like an exciting fit to you? Drop us a line at email@example.com or feel free to reach out to me personally at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also check out all of our current openings here and join our team today!