Growth hacking is no longer just a mere buzzword that sweeps through the world of marketing. Instead, this is something that must be considered an urgent interest for both you and your brand. However, despite being among the hottest buzzwords out there, it is still one of the most commonly misunderstood marketing methods. This is why today, we want to give you an introduction to growth hacking: Growth Hacking 101.
Born out of the constantly evolving world of mobile and online marketing, this shares several common denominators with conventional marketing. So, what is growth hacking all about?
Growth Hacking: What Is It, Really?
Hacking is a term which has become a commonly used buzzword in numerous facets of life, among the most famous of which is life hacking. Not like computer hacking, which is considered a criminal act, both life hacking and growth hacking offer you good alternatives to the traditional ways of carrying out everyday tasks but with better performance and efficiency.
Growth hacking basically pertains to the act of speeding up the growth of a certain brand, product or service with the use of metrics and innovative and creative marketing methods and state of the art technology. This entails streamlining growth and bypassing traditional approaches.
As far as growth hacking your brand is concerned, the main goal for your growth hacking 101 course is to experiment with several channels of marketing in order to identify quick methods of branding and boosting conversions. In many cases, it can be achieved through hyper targeted campaigns performed on less traditional channels such as online, mobile and social media.
While traditional media such as TV, radio and print may still be included in the equation, growth hacking is found to be cheaper, making it more accessible to every marketing budget, no matter how large or small it is. This doesn’t mean that major brands with more than enough marketing budgets should not or cannot growth hack. Instead, growth hacking formed a whole new avenue of growth and branding for mid-sized businesses and startups.
Infinite Possibilities in Mobile and Content
With the increasing number of choices in social media, mobile and online marketing, there are infinite possibilities in brand new methods to market your services or products. It doesn’t mean that all options are suitable but brands now have whole new ways to engage with their target audience.
One benefit of digital marketing is that this is combined with in depth analytics that not just measure the KPIs or key performance indicators but provide more in depth data regarding your consumers. As this is online, this can be accessed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Not all digital strategies are going to work for your business which makes it imperative to do some testing. The goal is to drive a measurable and immediate spike in traffic to your site, social media platform or sales page. It can be achieved in several ways, some of which include boosts in the following:
• Engagement on the social media profiles
• Open rates in email marketing
• Online sharing of content and videos
• Both return and new traffic to targeted posts and pages
• Views, followers and likes
• Time spent by consumers on your site
These are just some of the goals you might want to attain with growth hacking 101. Although not all performance goals mentioned can lead to conversions, these can still lead to increased brand awareness as well as word of mouth marketing.
Growth Hacking and Hyper-Targeted Content
All marketing campaigns have been designed to address the needs and speak to the main target audience. Thanks to growth hacking, this is brought to a whole new level. For instance, commercials can be very expensive so these are rarely targeted to a secondary audience. Even if a commercial has been geared to the main target audience, this is designed to suit the needs of average consumers. Although this is definitely effective, this remains to be limiting.
On the other hand, growth hacking is so much more affordable, which means that it is possible to come up with several content pieces, each of which is hyper targeted to a niche or subsection within every target audience. For instance, an infographic might be geared to puppy owners and a second meant for a specific dog breed.
Growth Hacking and Data-Driven Content
Growth hacking can be achieved through the development of marketing growth strategies by using data driven decisions. It goes beyond the general industry keywords to the keywords of the moment. For instance, a brand can look for a way to capitalize on the trending hashtag which will likely become hot for the next couple of weeks.
Or, with the content being cheaper to market and curate, more energy can be invested in the marketing for industry or seasonal trends which are usually neglected for campaigns that are more general. You can take things a step further and look for ways to link offline and online marketing. The objective is to provide consumers with that they consider appealing.
Social media posts and sponsored content are also a famous method to growth hack your brand. A good example is creating an article related to the product you offer and posting this an online publication frequented by your target audience.
Although your product will not necessarily be at the center and front, your content can always link back to this. For example, instead of writing specifically about facial moisturizer, you can write an article on beauty tips or summer skincare. All social media platforms have their own version of sponsored posts but in general, these are designed to have a good blending with the newsfeed. This is a great strategy to attract potential customers instead of looking for them: inbound marketing vs outbound marketing.
If there is one thing that you need to remember in this Growth Hacking 101 is that without data, you can't apply the growth hacking methodology.
How to Know if Growth Hacking is Going to Work For You
Content inspired by growth hacking is now available in numerous forms and some of the most famous ones include blogs, articles, videos, images and infographics. It goes beyond the simple creation or posting of the content and instead, it is about taking a strategic and creative approach and driving engagement and traffic with paid marketing.
People now operate in a digital world, which makes it important to know how you will get out there and form a voice even in today’s highly crowded space. With a strategy such as lean startup methodology or growth hacking, it can make a big difference between thriving and success or being left behind in the digital dust.
So, how will you know if growth hacking 101 methods are going to work for you?
Well, to answer it bluntly, you will never be able to know it at all. Unless you got a magical crystal ball which tells you about how your audience is going to react to the changes before they take place, you will never be sure if a hack is going to work or not. The truth is, you can try as many tests as you can on your page only to discover that none of these work. But, there is nothing wrong here.
The best thing about growth hacking is that whatever the results you get from your tests, each test should provide you deeper insights on how your visitors interact with the page and digest the information they get from there.
Being aware of what does not work is almost as essential as knowing what works and can definitely change the way you run your tests in the near future. As any content marketer will tell you, there is no such thing as too much testing. Testing is the essence of growth hacking.
Gear Up for Your Growth Hacking Journey
Before you even start to look for the growth hacks you can try, you need to figure out first what issues should be fixed on your site. Keep in mind that the only goal of a growth hacker is to improve growth and they do it by relying on certain KPIs and site metrics, not just to measure if they are successful or not but also to find clues as to what requires fixing. A growth hacker will have at his disposition numerous growth hacking tools to help him/her along the journey.
For instance, if one CTA has low click to submission rate but high click through rate, a growth hacker knows that visitors are having issues with the landing page. If you fail to track and analyze the metrics of your site, you will never have any idea what needs fixing or if it will work the moment you try it.
Having said this, if you can picture several pages you will experiment with after you read this post, there are some things you should do before getting started.
In order to growth hack your brand, below are the introductory steps you need to follow in this growth hacking 101 introduction:
• Start with brainstorming.
A great way to have everyone’s ideas and suggestions out in the open, a hands-on white board session can be used to pinpoint what is going to work and potentially open up new and fresh opportunity avenues for your brand.
• Adding followers is not enough. Activate a participating audience.
Even if you have a million followers, all of these will be futile if none of them will engage with you. While it is great and all to have new followers, if you really want to experience and enjoy quick levels of growth which will make your brand shoot forward, you have to make sure that you activate them. You have to optimize your communications so that your customers will be converted into loyal advocates.
• Revamp your distribution channels.
It is very critical to get into the head of all your customers. It is an absolute must to understand how your customers move across the web. You also have to know where they go each and every time if you really like to accelerate the growth of your startup.
• Growth will lead to more growth.
When you speak of growth, this can lead not only to a mere uptick in the number of your followers. If you can successfully be several steps ahead of your competition, people will notice it right away. Investors will find it hard to resist your pitch if you will be able to showcase a highly accelerated growth.
There are numerous tools you can consider and use to assist and accelerate your growth efforts. But just like with other tools, these will need a bit of experimentation as well as a deeper understanding of your business model. You have to know exactly where your customers are to know which are the best tools you have to try.
Now that you got down all the basics, you are now prepared to take the smart move to growth hacking.
5 Phases of Growth Hacking Process
Here are the 5 phases often involved in the process of growth hacking 101:
1. Fitting your product to your respective market.
Back in the days, marketers are usually hired to promote or advertise an existing product, service or company after this was founded and finalized. Today, however, growth hackers are called upon during pre-launch phase to guarantee that the brand or product is optimized in advance for the audience it is geared towards.
It means that the very first step in the job of a growth hacker is to determine which adjustments and features will make the product more likable or shareable to give the campaign more chances to achieve its desirable results.
2. Conceptualization and implementation of a suitable growth hack
After the features or content of the brand or product are preliminarily optimized, the second step is for you to look for an actionable way to ignite the spark of word of mouth. It is a must that you distinguish the approach of a growth hacker from that of a conventional marketer in this aspect.
Although a traditional marketer will continuously focus on bringing in more users and effort with a continuous effort, the growth hacker will search for ways on how to start a chain reaction with the least investment of advertising budget or time.
Most of the time, it happens in the form of tapping into a bigger pre-existing platform such as Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter or other social websites.
The main difference between a social media marketer and a growth hacker is that growth hackers are going to focus on searching for exceptional ways to interface the site or product with other platforms with the use of their coding expertise while at the same time, incorporating some other schools of marketing aside from social media.
3. Search for opportunities for viral boost
After the growth hacker has started to optimize the brand or product content and has discovered a sustainable growth hack which will act as a source of potential users, the next step is to search for ways to get viral boosts anywhere possible.
It is during this phase that growth hackers think of how they can get the existing users to bring in even more users on top of improving the product itself.
This is often done with the combination of giving incentives to likes and referrals and making it much easier for the users to share the brand or product using their own social accounts.
4. Analysis and optimization based on data
The use of creativity to attract initial users is just the first half of the battle. In order to guarantee that all your effort will not be for nothing, growth hackers all have to be thorough and scientific when they analyze user behavior, conversion rates, traffic analytics and other metrics which provide a useful insight.
It is this pivotal step which marks the start of a continuous optimization of all aspects of the site or product to promote higher referral and retention rates.
This means that unlike most marketers who just give you leads on a platter, a growth hacker is expected to stay by your side and continue to play the role in retention and sustained growth alike.
5. Rinse and repeat
Among the most exciting parts of growth hacking is the chance of repeatedly looking for new approaches to generate additional growth. The hacking will not just stop once you reached the first round of success. The truth is, after you gain some momentum, you are going to enjoy more industry and financial leverage and more metrics where you can base the next moves you will make.
This is the reason why growth hackers are known for being a group of relentless marketers which uses the rinse and repeat technique to scale up the results they generate through repeating the first four steps continuously.
Best Examples of Successful Growth Hacking
Through the years, the world has seen notable and great growth hacking examples which made a big difference in numerous industries and fields:
• Embed Feature of YouTube
Among the biggest reasons why YouTube has successfully and quickly spread all over the internet was the embed feature that was first introduced in 2005. This is currently regarded as among the most famous growth hacks of all time.
Simple as it may seem, the hack made it possible for the users to embed YouTube videos on web pages in just a few clicks and just copy and paste the embed code that is automatically generated.
• Get Free Email Signature Link by Hotmail
In one of the earliest growth hacking examples, Hotmail has added phrases such as Get Free Email with Hotmail below all emails sent using their service.
This move was suggested by the very first inventor of the company and it ended up igniting word of mouth around a product during a time when the internet and email were just starting to gain a widespread commercial recognition. It is also listed as among the most iconic growth hacks that were ever created.
• Facebook Integration of Spotify
Back in 2011, Spotify launched a landmark growth hack when they partnered with Facebook to become the default music service of the social megasite. Since then, the company has attracted over 50 million users, over 25% of which pay for the service’s premium version.
• Post to Craigslist Feature of Airbnb
In a remarkable move, Airbnb has made it possible for their users to post their rentals directly into the Craigslist site from the website of Airbnb using the Post to Craigslist feature. This technique was reverse engineered by Andrew Chen and published the findings in a comprehensive case study.
• Public Profile Feature of LinkedIn
LinkedIn managed to become the most famous social networking site for professional with the use of the concept of the peer pressure and transparency for coercing users into interacting and inviting with their fellow workers, clients and former employers in order to have a more convincing and complete public profile.
• Initial Exclusivity of Facebook
Despite the fact that Facebook has been the favorite platform for most growth hackers, it is worthy to note that this social website also used several nifty tricks of its own in order to stay ahead right from the get go which include the fact that it started out as a closed network exclusively available to the college students alone. It is this perceived exclusivity that helped in generating a sizable following of students which desperately yearned to become a part of the club.
• Extra Referral Storage of Dropbox
After identifying that paid advertising costs more than the real value of every new customer, Dropbox was able to hack growth through offering a storage of 500MB for free for each referral. This resulted to the company going from around 100,000 users to as much as 4 million in just 15 months.
Why Hiring a Growth Hacker Makes Perfect Sense
Whether you like it or not, an average marketer will never be able to come up with much less implement the majority of the creative solutions that were stated above.
Now more than ever, gaining a competitive edge means that you have to think of and do something that has never been done in the past by anyone.
Growth hackers have the ability to facilitate this kind of revolutionary moves in marketing on a regular basis through leveraging their skills in task automation, data analysis, coding and platform integration.
Even if you have an existing marketing team in charge of all your promotions and outreach, adding a professional growth hacker to your team will further improve your ability to promote growth with the use of cutting edge technical strategies.
Having a growth hacker in your team will help you substantially. On the other hand, if you want to become a growth hacker, of course, you need to check this Growth Hacking 101, the growth hacking definition but you also need to try by yourself some growth hacking techniques. The best way to learn is by doing. So, to learn growth hacking, create a website about something you love and start to growth hack it.
What Should Learn From This Growth Hacking 101?
You need to understand that growth hacking is not a magic potion or formula that you apply to your business to get millions of users. Growth hacking is a process where you focus on growth. What you can start with is thinking about a North Star Metric: it's really important for your business growth. If there is 1 thing you need to remember about this growth hacking 101 course is that you need to follow a process, a plan, a strategy when applying growth hacking.
You need to start by defining your goals and KPIs (Key Performance Indicators). Then, you should define your target audience and personas. Once you have those, then you can start testing many different marketing channels. It's important to track all your channels in order to check what works and what doesn't. Without data, you cannot do growth hacking.
Then, depending on the data you collected, you can optimize your channels, remove what doesn't work, focus on what works and start testing other channels. The goal is to have fast iteration, quick testing in order to grow your metrics fast (Note: you don't want to choose vanity metrics like number of followers but rather important ones like the number of users, number of sales or conversion rates).
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