Growth hacking is a different approach to marketing. It focuses on scalability. As your marketing efforts are designed to bring in more customers to grow your business, you can continue to put more into marketing while serving the growing customer base. Instead of traditional marketing, it focuses on using a series of shortcuts to drive growth. It’s about creativity and finding underserved ways to market your business.
Take for instance the way Airbnb engineers developed a way to post their listings to Craigslist (a site that at the time had way more traffic, thus getting them exposure) even though there was no API. Though Craiglist now doesn’t allow this sort of thing, it helped Airbnb get 11 times more listings in three years. Or, how Reddit first used fake users to populate the site, to make it look socially active. I mean after all, it’s a social site, and if there’s no content there, there’s no reason to stick around, right?
1. Break Goals into Smaller Attainable Goals
It’s super easy to focus all your attention on getting in with a new audience or releasing a life-changing product. But, to achieve growth hacking, either as a team or an individual, you’re better off focusing your attention on a series of short term, actionable, and achievable smaller goals, working on them one at a time.
- Drive 10,000 people to product pages on your website.
- Generate X leads from an email marketing blast, social media marketing, advertising, and influencer marketing before the end of the month/quarter.
- Increase blog traffic by X% by X date.
- Increase conversions of X site visitors using remarketing by the end of the month.
All of these goals contribute to business growth, but don’t get so overwhelming you shut down, or lose track of where you’re supposed to be going and what you’re supposed to be doing.
2. Measure Everything
If you expect to know when you’ve reached those goals, you’ll need to measure and know your numbers.
Once you know what domain name you’re going to use, setup Google Analytics as soon as possible. Learn your way around it with Google’s tutorials. Go beyond looking at the basics, and look at everything from demographics to time spent on the page, and events. Setup goals so you can see how well you’re meeting them. If you notice halfway through your time period you’re not on track, it can help you change strategies instead of falling short at the end of the month.
3. Use Facebook Lookalike Audiences
Take your email list and use it to create a Facebook lookalike audience. This allows you to target people who are similar to those who are already on your list. You can target them across both Facebook and Instagram, and ensure the people who respond to your ads are interested in what you have to offer.
4. Exit-Intent Popups Are Your Friend
Exit popups determine when someone is trying to leave your website and display a last minute offer. This strategy works particularly well for e-commerce companies. It directs your visitors back to whatever you’re asking for – a newsletter signup, an eBook download, or something else, before they leave on the off chance they’re never to return again.
5. Automation, Automation, Automation
CRM automation makes it easier to nurture your leads. Create a drip campaign to respond to users after they sign up – with whatever bonus you promised. Encourage them to take the first action necessary to move down the funnel. Then, add other email triggers to encourage other behaviors.
If they’ve abandoned their cart – send an email to remind them they left something in the cart. Or check and make sure nothing went wrong on your end that stopped them from completing the checkout process.
If they’ve been dormant a while – poke them and say hello. Offer them something to encourage activity or action.
If they’ve made a purchase, follow up with them and thank them. Then, give them time to use the product and ask them to submit their feedback. You’ll want those reviews and testimonials.
Social media automation helps save time because you can take an hour or so once a week and schedule out some tweets and Facebook posts. While it’s not a good idea to completely automate your social presence, you can use a tool like Buffer to make sure your social doesn’t go quiet. The optimized posting scheduler determines the best times to post throughout the day to get the best engagement. I do recommend you check in throughout the day for a few minutes here and there to respond to any tweets, and to show your audience a real person is behind the keyboard.
Bonus tip: Use Buffer to find out which tweets were the most popular, and schedule those again. It helps keep that old content alive and a steady flow of traffic coming it. But, don’t over do it. I wish I could give you a magic number, but it really depends on how much you’re tweeting, and how many followers you have. If you’re only tweeting three times a day, then clearly you don’t want to clog your feed with old stuff too much.
6. Send Weekend Newsletters Featuring Older Content
If you’ve been around as a startup long enough to have a relatively decent sized content archive full of evergreen content, you can capitalize on that mailing list by sending out newsletters on the weekends. You won’t have any extra work to do since you’re using older relevant content – and you can still drive a lot of traffic to your blog.
7. Enable One-Click Webinar Registration from Email
This little trick will pass the information along via URL once they click on the CTA link in your email. You’ll have to make sure your landing page is setup to receive the parameters. When this happens, the person will automatically be signed up for the webinar, so they don’t have to enter their information again. It’s all about making it as effortless as possible for users. Check this out for more details about how to set it up yourself.
8. Work Human Error into Your Email Sequences
When you’re building your automated follow up emails, you may want to think about adding human error into the sequence. You can send one email with a missing link or file – and then send another email within the next five minutes that includes the information that’s missing from the first email, as well as apology for the mistake. This really only works if you’ve already got links to other content in place throughout the email.
It makes it feel less automated, helps humanize your brand – we all make mistakes, after all. Open rates may not change much, but conversions tend to go up on the second email. You can’t use this trick too much, so consider saving it for an email you’re really hoping converts well.
9. Test, Test, and Test Some More
Run split tests on everything. You can test everything from a blog title to email subject lines, CTAs, site colors, site layout, text placement, copy…and more. If there’s an element of online marketing, it can be tested. Avoid running multiple split tests on the website at the same time, so you can tell which element triggered the higher response. You can however, run a website element test at the same time you run an email subject line split test. There are many platforms out there to help you with this, such as: Optimizely, Omniconvert, and Visual Website Optimizer.
As you figure out what works, test it again to see if you’ve found something better. When you see the winner, use it in your site full time, and move onto another test.
Test your headlines with a headline analyzer tool like CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer. This way you can see improvements to make to the headline before you even publish your content.
10. Wait to Fill Positions You Think You Need To
Employee salary and hourly wage is a big drain on your startup budget. If you and your co-founder can’t get the work done, hire freelancers or other contracted workers before you hire someone else to work full-time.
11. Turn Your 404 Page Into a Landing Page
Sometimes people get lost on your site – clicking a mistyped link, getting linked to something you’ve sense removed, or typing the wrong thing the in address bar. Whatever causes them to get lost doesn’t matter, as long as you’re capitalizing on it. You can offer something of value and include a CTA so that even though they’re not where they need to be, you can still connect with them. Give away an eBook, a cheat sheet or checklist, or encourage signups for a course you’re offering.
12. Engage in Online Communities
Spending time on Reddit, LinkedIn, and Quora, as well as in other online communities where your audience can be found is highly useful. When you’re answering questions and providing useful material to the community, it’s a great way to get more website traffic.
13. Use Google Customer Match
You can target your best leads across the entire Google network (YouTube, Gmail, and Google Search) through Google Customer Match. All you have to do is upload your list of contacts, and you can target those users specifically across the various platforms.
14. Highlight Top Customer Testimonials on Your Landing Pages
Credibility is everything in sales, and if your visitors don’t trust you, they’re not going to buy from you. In some cases, it could be the only thing that separates you from the competition. Featuring some of your best customer testimonials on your landing pages will help increase trust, and as a result, conversions.
15. Keep Your Social Media Ratio in Check
Your ratio of following to followers is important. If you want to see what’s going on with your Twitter and Instagram audiences, you can use StatusBrew or Crowdfire to see who’s following you, and who’s not following you back. It makes it easy to unfollow accounts that aren’t active anymore, and keeps your list clean and organized so you can get the most out of your social media experience. Statusbrew also works for Facebook.
16. Growth Hacking Gets You to Your Destination Faster
It’s often said you should focus on the journey rather than the destination. And while it’s true that there are valuable lessons to learn along the journey from startup to enterprise, we all know when money’s involved, we want to make more of it as fast as we possibly can. And when traditional marketing methods are played out – or you’re in a completely saturated market where you have to do something different to make it, growth hacking is the answer.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of all the growth hacking techniques that are out there – just a few of my favorites. I’d love to hear some about what’s worked for you. What are your favorite growth hacking tips?