I don't know about you, but lately, my Facebook news feed has been full of ads for growth-oriented tech tools, promising everything from customer acquisition to revenue lift and more.

As a founder and partner in several tech companies, I'm lucky enough to have co-founders and developers I can turn to when I need specific functions built outside of the tools and suites I already use.
But if you're new to growth marketing - or if you're trying to up the growth game at your company - I can't imagine how difficult it must be to figure out which tools to choose from in today's crowded marketplace. That's a big problem, according to to Susan Su, Head of Marketing at Reforge.

Recently, I interviewed Susan about what it takes to become a high-level growth executive, and one of the things we kept coming back to was the use of tools to drive growth. To her, fluency with off-the-shelf tools and the ability to make the most out of the data they provide is one of the two most important skills growth executives need to develop to remain competitive over the next 5-10 years.

Choosing Growth Marketing Tools

Although many growth execs think they have to run out and build their own tools to address their own growth marketing needs, Susan argues that off-the-shelf tools have a lot to offer.

"There's the data, the ability to sort and understand the data, and - very importantly - the velocity, because you don't have to go build your own proprietary tools," she says. "If you're early- or mid-stage and you're running experiments, it's often much cheaper to buy, rather than build. You need to understand the ecosystem of off-the-shelf tools and to be fluent in what those tools are. Products like Intercom, Mixpanel, advanced Google Analytics setups, and landing page tools all allow you to test faster without having to rebuild the wheel from scratch."

Of course, knowing that growth marketing tools offer all these advantages is one thing. Actually choosing the right tools for your company is another challenge entirely.

To help navigate this issue, I asked Susan to share the questions she advises Reforge cohorts to answer. Here are three of her suggestions:

What size and scale do we need?

Susan is quick to acknowledge that the investment requirements for different marketing tools vary widely, from small, single-function tools to all-in-one suites that handle multiple needs. At the end of the day, your company's operating financials will dictate, to a large degree, which different options you can consider.

What's important, growth-wise, to the business right now?

That said, money shouldn't be your only consideration. You also need to take your business's current needs into account, being careful not to fall into a common trap Susan describes:

"Are you focusing on acquisition? Retention? It's easy to say 'I want all of the above,' but in reality, you never work on 'all of the above' in tandem. You have to pick and choose your battles, or at least sequence them."

I see this a lot when I'm working with other marketers. It's really tempting to sign up for an all-in-one suite, thinking that you'll use all of the features it provides "someday." But even if you do, you have to think about the fact that you're tying up resources in a tool that could be better spent on other marketing campaigns that'll actually move your business towards the point of needing those extra features.

What's most important to our business?

In addition to thinking about what you're working on now, with regards to growth, think about how you want to position your business. Having this understanding will help you answer another question growth marketers have to deal with: do you invest in a more expensive, but easier-to-use all-in-one suite, or do you tie several smaller tools together, spending less but limiting your ability to scale?

Susan shares that, "We prefer not to stitch together too many things. If there is a one-stop-shop for what we need, then we'll try that. But on the other hand, we're also very interested in being top-notch. That's where you have to think about what's most important to your business. If it's email, your email tool can't just be ok. It has to be best-in-class. If we have to go with a specialized tool that's the best at email, then we'll go with that - even if it means we have to integrate with another tool."

Working with Your Chosen Tools

Once you've worked through the questions above and made your decisions, how do you actually get started? It's a common problem: marketers these days are more likely to struggle with having too much data than too little.

For Susan, using growth tools successfully comes down to being laser-focused on goals and asking, "What's your 'north star' metric? What's the one metric that's most responsible for the overall growth of your business?"

She goes on to explain the downside to focusing on too many things at once: "There's a common pitfall that's the 'track it all' syndrome. If you're a startup, the resources and cognitive load that comes with the 'track everything' mindset is a cost. You have to know which are the most salient one, two or three pieces of data I have to know to grow my business."

When it comes to choosing growth tools, answer the questions above and make the selections that are right for your business. But then, focus in on what those tools tell you about your company's key metrics - not what they can do in general.

Have another suggestion for selecting marketing tools? Want to share what your tech stack looks like? Leave me a note in the comments below: