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Learn how to prioritize your growth hacking strategy
Lucas HamonDec 26, 2022 3:15:00 AM4 min read

Why ICE is the Gold Standard Prioritization Framework for Marketing

Objective prioritization is key to the success of your growth marketing strategy

Need a way to prioritize your endless supply of ideas for the future? Typically known for its applications in product development, the ICE scoring methodology translates visionary ideas into objectively prioritized actions.

In this article, I'm going to show you why ICE is the agile prioritization framework of choice for Growth Marketers and how to apply it to your current slate of open tasks.

Let's start with some important jargon.

The Jargon

When executing against your growth marketing strategy, it's easy to get caught up in the day-to-day and lose sight of why you're making the investments you're making. As you navigate the ups and downs of growing your business, having a well-articulated North Star will provide the ability to determine which way is forward (so it's important you choose a good one). Before you run through the ICE scoring model, you're going to need to have a clear vision of this term for your business.

Growth is measured in stages: Acquisition, Activation, Revenue, Retention, and Referral. The stage you invest in is going to play a role in how the following methodology plays out.

  • Experimentation cycle

When you first start investing in growth, you're going to be setting a lot of benchmarks, which is stage 1 of the experimentation cycle. Optimization is stage 2. Validation is stage 3. Standardization is the 4th and final stage.

The Method:

(I)mpact 
(C)onfidence
(E)ase of execution

Whenever we're considering running an experiment of any kind, we put it through this grading system to determine how to prioritize. They should be ranked on a scale of 1 - 10 (10 being the best, 1 being the worst).


CHECK OUT OUR LESSON ON ICE IN OUR GROWTH STRATEGY COURSE


IMPACT

This refers to the impact we anticipate the experiment will have on the North Star. The North Star is a critical consideration in this.

INFLUENCING FACTORS: Funnel and context. If you're investing in something that is designed to generate leads (Acquisition), how realistic is it to suggest that it will have a "10?" Not very... unless, of course, you've established a connection to the subject of your experiment to the North Star. For example, we have a couple of blog articles that generate some of our best leads, which have a history of turning into customers. So, by increasing traffic from sources where there's an already-established record of success, we should be able to directly impact the North Star. Still, I'd say MOST Acquisition-based experiments land somewhere between 1 and 5. Activation tends to be between 4 and 6. Revenue between 6 and 10. Retention between 9 and 10. Referral between 5 and 10.


CONFIDENCE

This refers to your level of confidence that the experiment will succeed, NOT how much it's going to impact the North Star (we already have that covered).

INFLUENCING FACTORS: Experimentation cycle. When you're first starting an experiment, you have very little context, so that should be embedded into your score. Benchmark experiments should rarely be above 5, but can go higher when previous experiments that led to this one have compellingly enough data. "Optimization" means we're improving an already successful outcome, so our confidence should start to creep up higher and higher based on how successful the previous outcome was--3 to 8 should cover it. "Validation" means we're proving a highly successful experiment is scalable, so 7 - 10 should work. "Standardization" means we've proven something so strongly that we are making it evergreen and/or expanding into other channels with it. 8 to 10 should work here.


EASE OF EXECUTION

This refers to the amount of resources and time your experiment is expected to consume. 10 should still be the best result, because the ICE score is an average. Executing 10s often means capacity for more experimentation.

INFLUENCING FACTORS: Experimentation cycle and content type. If you're benchmarking something, that means you're building it for the first time, so that's going to take more energy than optimizing (in theory). If you're setting up an ad campaign, that's going to take considerably less energy than an ebook... and less time given the smallness of it all.


PRO TIP: When you rank these different categories, do it as a team.

Take the average score of the three, and use that score to determine how to prioritize your resources. It's a good idea to engage in a mix of high and low resource experiments, and I definitely recommend applying a rigid experimentation cycle (2-week increments) to keep the pacing of your growth marketing strategy optimal.

CONCLUSION:

Using the ICE ranking methodology will help address misconceptions early, establish trust with your stakeholders while making them feel heard, and prevent uncomfortable conversations later. Most importantly, it will help you steer your growth program more effectively, since key decision-makers with mountains of ideas will be forced to reckon with WHY they think those ideas are game-changers to begin with.

I can't tell you how many cliffs I've been able to talk us off of because I asked "why are you so confident in this idea? Where is the data to support it?"

Learn more about applying ICE framework to your experiments in our Experimental Marketing Strategy course:

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Lucas Hamon

Over 10 years of B2B sales experience in staffing, software, consulting, & tax advisory. Today, as CEO, Lucas obsesses over inbound, helping businesses grow! Husband. Father. Beachgoer. Wearer of plunging v-necks.

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