Unlock strategic growth with the 4-step Bullseye Traction framework. Identify and focus on your best channels to gain traction.
As a business leader, you should constantly ask yourself one question: "How do I reach new potential customers?"
There are tons of channel options — SEO, ads, email, and more. You know marketing is crucial. But with limited hours in the day, where should you focus your efforts to make the most impact?
Here’s where traction channel marketing comes in. Traction channels are the specific marketing channels that effectively and efficiently drive new customer acquisition for your business. They bring in leads that convert at high rates for low costs.
Finding your unique traction channels is essential, but easier said than done. That's why you need a strategic framework for testing and validating traction channels tailored to your business.
This post will explore a proven traction channel methodology — the Traction Bullseye.
An exceptional product or solution alone can't keep a business afloat without enough customers. That's why you need to find a traction channel.
A traction channel is a marketing avenue that attracts and converts your ideal customers consistently. It provides measurable results and momentum for your growth, not just random activity. Traction means your strategy is working.
However, finding a traction channel isn't easy. Many SaaS companies and startups waste time and money shotgun-spraying efforts instead of testing channels strategically.
You need to identify and double down on the high-potential channels that work for your unique business to gain traction. You also need an experimentation mindset and diligent testing.
It takes some upfront work, but zeroing in on your best channels pays dividends long-term. You can maximize ROI by refining profitable channels while phasing out ones that don't produce results. Your marketing dollars start working smarter, not harder.
So how do you do it, exactly?
Without a structured approach, gaining traction feels like a game of darts while blindfolded — you’re chucking marketing tactics, hoping any stick.
Luckily, there’s a better way. You can aim with eyes wide open using the Traction Bullseye Framework, a simple but powerful methodology for identifying your best traction channels.
To use it, imagine a target wheel with four rings.
You list all the marketing channels you can think of on the outer ring, all the possibilities. As you move down the wheel, you narrow the list until you reach the bullseye — proven traction channels that convert customers consistently.
Your goal with the Traction Bullseye Framework is to find which channels listed on the outer ring will successfully make it to the bullseye. The process involves four steps:
First, brainstorm an extensive list of every possible traction channel you can think of and place them in the outer ring.
Cast a wide net here. You want to capture all options, traditional and out-of-the-box.
In the book Traction: How Any Startup Can Achieve Explosive Customer Growth, Justin Mares and Gabriel Weinberg talked about 19 traction channels you should start testing if you don’t know where to begin.
Their list includes:
Once you've made your list, go through each item and brainstorm ways you can use every channel for your business. Even if it seems too forced, try your best to develop an idea. The goal is to unpack all potential channels.
Next, review your brainstorming and identify the channels with the highest potential for your business based on data, experience, or intuition.
To help structure your thought process, you can create a spreadsheet with your list of possible channels. Write down your ideas about how each channel could work for you. Then, rate each channel based on how much potential you see there.
Some example criteria you can use:
Which seems most promising for your business? Move these to the middle ring.
For example, a SaaS startup might move content marketing, paid ads, affiliate marketing, and SEO to the middle. An e-commerce site might select paid ads, email nurturing, influencers, and loyalty programs.
The middle ring is your working list of channels worth deeper testing. If needed, you can come back and add to this list later.
Now comes the most critical phase — designing and executing channel experiments to validate which channels drive traction.
Of course, your narrowed list may still be extensive. Experimenting on all these channels at once may not be practical or feasible. Remember the rating you did in step 2? It’ll come in handy when you decide which channels to prioritize. To start, just pick the top two or three.
Once you have your top picks, it’s time to run some tests. You want these tests to be quick and cheap. After all, you have a whole list you might need to work through.
During testing, ensure you can directly track leads and sales from each channel. You will also want to know:
After sufficient testing, analyze the data to determine if the channels will help you get the conversion rates and cost per acquisition you want. Can they give you traction?
If none of the top options pass. It’s time to test the next batch of channels. However, if they seem promising, you have your bullseye.
Finally, the moment of truth. Which middle ring channel demonstrated the strongest traction metrics in your experiments? It’s your bullseye channel. Move it to the inner circle.
Now, concentrate your time and resources here for maximum impact. You can still monitor the other channels, but the bullseye should receive the lion's share of the budget to scale and optimize it further.
You don’t have to stop here. Periodically assess your list to see if a new bullseye channel emerges. But don't jump the gun based on assumptions. Rely on updated test data to make decisions.
Traction channel testing doesn’t just take effort. Doing it also requires time and resources. Is it worth it for you?
Consider these top reasons that highlight its potential benefits:
The most significant advantage of traction channel testing is that it prevents you from throwing money at tactics that don't work.
Most businesses and startups waste massive budgets on large channels without validating whether they drive conversions.
For example, you may pour time and resources into SEO or display ads because you assume they’re essential.
Realistically, your cost per lead from events or referrals may be far lower. Traction testing grounds your assumptions in hard data.
When you cut spending on high-cost, low-ROI channels, you get more budget to allocate to proven top performers. Testing gives you the insights to avoid speculation and put marketing dollars where they’ll have the most significant impact.
Once you've identified your highest traction channels through rigorous testing, you can double down on what works. Instead of spreading efforts thinly across many tactics, you can go all in on the channels with the best results.
Focusing 80% of your time and resources on the inner bullseye channels gives you the freedom to scale and optimize them for even better conversion and lower costs.
When you know the precise levers that drive growth for your business, it makes sense to pull them aggressively.
Finding and focusing on your traction channels also generates momentum. As you scale the top tactics, they’ll compound upon each other and propel growth.
For instance, content marketing emerged as a top channel for generating leads. As you double down on high-performing content, organic search improves, giving you a second traction channel.
When your bullseye channels start working together, growth can accelerate rapidly. Traction unlocks the potential for channel flywheels and viral loops!
The success of traction channel testing lies in rigorous experimentation and tracking. Here are tips to help you design and run high-quality tests:
A/B tests different channel variations against each other to determine the top performer.
For example, test two newsletter designs to see which converts more leads. Make just one isolated change between A and B for accurate comparisons.
Look beyond generic traffic or lead numbers. Dive into your sales funnel to understand the conversion rate at each stage for a channel.
High traffic means little if conversions are low. Identify where drop-off happens.
Don’t focus solely on lead conversion rates. Understand your actual acquisition cost across channels. Factor in hard costs like ad spend plus staff time.
Sometimes, low-traffic channels may be more cost-effective than high-volume ones.
Determine specific key performance indicators (KPIs) for each channel upfront. KPIs could include cost per lead, conversion rate, product demo rates, etc. Align on success benchmarks.
Beware of biases towards hyped new channels versus proven performers. Let data make decisions — not assumptions or gut feelings without experimentation.
Finding your unique traction channels is essential to accelerate growth. The Traction Bullseye provides a proven framework to methodically test and identify the marketing tactics that deliver results for your specific business.
Avoid the guesswork and wasting your budget on the wrong channels. Follow the four-step workflow to brainstorm, rank, validate, and focus on your bullseye tactics.
Traction testing takes work but pays back. With the right data, you can focus time and resources where they will have maximum impact.
Want an easy-to-use resource to help you run traction tests and analyze conversion funnels? Our printable cheatsheet details the 19 traction channels you should start testing.
Learn more about each channel and answer our key metrics questions like conversion rate, cost per lead, and lead quality. Track your test results to see which channels have the most potential for your business.