Sam Hodges is Growth Director at Numan, a digital health clinic for men.
He spoke to Econsultancy about his role and why technical skills and rapid execution are key, which metrics he uses to measure success, and his favourite tools for getting the job done.
Please describe your job: What do you do?
Sam Hodges: I’m Growth Director at Numan; I’m responsible for new customer acquisition and growing the overall active customer base while improving unit economics and reducing CPA’s.
Whereabouts do you sit within the organisation? Who do you report to?
Sam Hodges: I’ve been reporting to the CEO on our key growth metrics; organisationally we are quite a flat hierarchy. As a startup, we want to keep reporting lines short and localise decision making as much as possible into the hands of those doing the work so we can be as agile and quick-moving as possible.
What kind of skills do you need to be effective in your role?
Sam Hodges: My role is very varied; as a leader in the organisation, management skills are key, but since we are in a startup, technical skills and rapid execution are equally important. My background is in Performance and Martech, so I’m often directly managing campaigns, making code changes, as well as modelling long term business performance, all in the same day.
Tell us about a typical working day…
Sam Hodges: Varied! We are still a small team for the amount of work that we’ve done and the number of patients that we are treating per month. Typically my first actions of the day will be to provide an overall update to the business on the previous day’s/week’s performance metrics, catching up with email and Slack messages and making sure all previous work from the day before is complete.
Outside of these repeated tasks, the work is very different on a day-to-day basis. One day, I might be building out a deck for investors, the next constructing and launching email campaigns. So, every day is different.
What do you love about your job? What sucks?
Sam Hodges: I love building something new from the ground up. Previously, I’ve worked at, or on behalf of larger organisations like T.M.Lewin, Microsoft & Nokia, so being in a small startup and building a business from £0 to £MM revenue is an exciting and rewarding experience.
In terms of negatives for the role, it has to be prioritising what to do and leaving projects that you want to do sitting on the shelf because we don’t have the resources to be able to do them properly. As Numan grows and we hire more team members this will almost certainly give way to another frustration!
What kind of goals do you have? What are the most useful metrics and KPIs for measuring success?
Sam Hodges: We’re primarily concerned with two things: the cost of acquiring new users (CAC) and the value of the users once we’ve acquired them (LTV). Marketers are always in a battle to minimise the CAC while maximising LTV and we’re no different. We’ve managed to make dramatic improvements to both and it’s having a big impact on the businesses bottom line.
In most organisations, there is a focus on a huge number of metrics (CR, Bounce, CPC, CTR, ROAS amongst others) but the key to success is maximising the CAC:LTV ratio to a 3+ number that indicates a healthy program. Everything else is great to see going in the right direction but they are indicative, ultimately success is driving the most customers for the least spend!
What are your favourite tools to help you to get the job done?
Sam Hodges: I’m a Martech geek, so I’m never happier than when I’m working on a complicated problem that requires data processing and some code work, so my favourite tools are ones which help to simplify complex data in multiple sources to a clean, easy to use single system.
I’ve recently been using Stich Data (stitchdata.com) to replicate all of our Google, Facebook and analytics data and Google’s Cloud data prep to process our data. This allows us to normalise all our performance data without spending thousands a month on complex ETL systems – and more importantly, I don’t have to manually run cost reports anymore.
How did you end up at Numan, and where might you go from here?
Sam Hodges: I joined Numan directly from T.M.Lewin, via a recruiter I had an existing relationship with, and met with our founder Sokratis – a few months later I was in the business. In the future, I’m looking to continue growing as a marketing leader and further widen my skill-set with a view to eventually running my own business.
Which marketing or experience has impressed you lately?
Sam Hodges: I’ve been quite impressed by the UK launch of The Athletic: their influencer selection has been on-point and the advertising placement and creative optimisation through performance channels have been really good.
What advice would you give a marketer starting out?
Sam Hodges: Always test a hypothesis, and never accept an untested opinion just because someone says it with authority. I’m never happier than when I say something to someone working in one of my teams and they question it. And, I think that performance in particular now highly values people who can question their own biases and come to a decision impartially based on the data.