GROWTH ACADEMY

The Traction Highway Framework

Testing new channels for acquiring customers is not only challenging, but also time – and resource-consuming. Especially when you're at the beginning of your business journey, searching for this one channel to drive a significant portion of new revenue. Is there any way to speed up this process? We've figured it out and want to share it with you. We called it Traction Highway, so that you can use it to move forward on your way.

Gaining Traction

According to Weinberg and Mares there are 19 channels that startups can use to gain traction. This is good because there are a lot of varied options to choose from so everyone can find something suiting their skills and market. On the other hand, it is also bad because of choice overload – with too many options it’s very tough to make a decision.

The process that authors recommend is as follows.

  • Come up with at least one strategy for each traction channel.
  • Then, you should pick a handful of the most promising ones – let’s say six – and test them.
  • In the end, you will double down on the best performing channel and optimize it. 

In this article we will present you a predefined list of six traction channels to test first. Or as we call it – Traction Highway – as they are very likely to get you to traction fast!

Top Five Traction Channels

After running more than 70 projects for various products over the last few years, we have started noticing some patterns regarding how various channels perform. Particularly, five channels tended to work well for us very well, over and over again. In B2B as well as in B2C. Here they are:
  1. SEO – the process of improving visibility in search engines to drive organic (unpaid) traffic.
  2. SEM – promotion in search engines through paid advertising.
  3. Existing Platforms – placing your product on top platforms or marketplaces in your industry to drive new users and revenue.
  4. Social & Display Ads – placing banner and video ads across websites and social media.
  5. Sales – building a sustainable, scalable sales process to turn prospects into customers.

Why These Five?

Why these five? There are a couple of reasons.

  • Well-targeted – they allow you to precisely target your audience.
  • Low entry barrier – each of them can be tested literally overnight with tiny cost.
  • Scalability – if they work on a small scale, you can often scale them up 10x or even 100x times.
  • Control – they offer many configuration options, each yielding very different results.
  • Data – they produce a lot of data that you can use to improve your performance.

Also, each of these traction channels soaked deeply into the tissue of our everyday life.

  • The most popular search engine, Google.com has over 89 billion visits (89B visits in May 2022, Similarweb) a month and each person uses it on average 3-4 times per day searching for information and products. That’s why SEO and SEM start the list. 
  • We spend over 2,5 hours per day on Social Media (Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, TikTok etc.) so no surprise then Social & Display Ads. The ultimate proof of how widespread and effective is marketing via search engines and Social Media, are ad revenues of Google – $147 B USD and Facebook – $115B in 2021.
  • What about Sales? Over 90% of internet users in the US access e-mail, spending 2.6h and receiving 120 messages per day. Add phone and Linkedin on top of that, and you immediately know why sales outreach is so powerful.
  • Last but not least – Existing Platforms. Just think of how many people visit the most popular platforms in their respective niches. For example – in travel we have Booking.com with 564M visits a month, Tripadvisor.com – 167M visits. In B2B software there is Capterra.com with 2.9M visits a month or Gartner Peer Insights with 3M visits / month (all data provided by Similarweb, for May 2022). If your customers (and competitors) are there, you certainly shouldn’t neglect them.

Sixth – „Joker” Channel

On top of these five, there is also one more channel that we recommend to test early. It differs from company to company. This channel should correspond with your superpower, as we call it, which can be your founder’s special skill or a company’s asset. This super power must be able to produce some tangible results. For example, „having a great team” by itself doesn’t produce any specific output. On the other hand, if you built a community around a certain topic and it targets the same audience as your product, you should certainly give it a try as a traction channel. You may read about these superpowers in this article.

This list is giving you more ideas for what skills and assets may become your unfair advantage, and what are their corresponding channels.

Traction Highway

Let’s sum up! Based on Weinberg's and Mares’ work and combining it with our experience, we have come up with a Traction Highway framework. It goes like this:
  1. From all 19 traction channels pick the following five and come up with at least one strategy to test:
    • SEO,
    • SEM,
    • Existing Platforms,
    • Social & Display Ads,
    • Sales.
  2. Add one more channel corresponding to your unique super power (e.g. if you are great at public speaking choose speaking engagement).
  3. Test each of them in quick experiments.
    • If you start seeing traction iterate on your #1 channel. While testing other channels consider them first as satellites of your #1 (they should be enhancing its performance rather than competing with it).
    • If you none of your experiments is successful try:
      • testing other channels OR
      • getting help with brainstorming new ideas and / or execution.
Traction Highway framework

Summary

If you like the 19 traction channel framework, but don’t know where to start, you should certainly check out our Traction Highway, which is a predefined list of six proofed channels to test first. Five of them are universal and one is unique.

Give them a try and tell us how it went!

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