It’s 2017 and marketers are concerned about making a progress more than ever. Traditional marketing approaches are dying out, as professionals focus more on low-cost alternatives as social media, guerilla marketing, and targeted advertising. Growth hacking, a term coined 7 years ago by Sean Ellis, who incited huge growth at companies like Dropbox, has become one of the biggest trends today.
Growth hacking is about creative and cost-effective steps that any entrepreneur should take to build an extensive customer base. Businesses often see growth hacking as a secret sauce or magic solution, but it actually needs to be a strategic, data-driven process. Whether you are a promising startup, or a company wanting to get the word out there, here are a few growth hack ideas that any business can implement.
First of all, stop trying to make everything perfect. Seize opportunities and don’t wait for the perfect moment. One thing at a time could just give you that positive change that gets your customers going. Have you thought about writing a blog post, calling a customer personally, creating an event, or being a speaker?
Before going viral, do some research. Find out what drives your target audience, when they are online, what their needs are, etc. Speak to customers and define your message. You should try to understand the needs of your potential customers and test your messages in several variations. You can do this by calling a customer personally. Not only is an existing customer worth more than a potential one; after some practice, you will create the perfect pitch because you know exactly what’s going on in the mind of your customers.
When you know what interests your target audience, try a blog. If the idea of writing a blog post is scaring you, don’t despair. The key point here is sharing content. Your customers want to see interesting content, whether it’s on a blog, on Instagram, through infographics, or something else. You can even think about writing a guest blog post. This way you use an already existing audience. Be sure to make a contribution to the blog where you will be posting in this case because another blogger has put a lot of effort into it.
The main goal is to make your content remarkable and appealing. Think about creating a trending topic on Twitter or do something crazy that will stick with your audience. If your post is worth reading and worth making a comment about, or worth sharing, you’re doing a good job.
Don’t forget to also share your content on social media channels. Be careful though, make sure to find out where your potential audience and users are because not everyone needs to be on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. On top of that, be sure to post your content at the right time. Do some research to find out when your target audience is most active online.
Your main goal will be email traffic. Email is the number one lead generation technique. It’s much more effective than Facebook and Twitter, so be sure to build up a good email list.
Go to a conference. We know that not everyone feels comfortable enough to take the stage as a speaker, but don’t forget about the importance of public speaking. Going to conferences and networking with investors, executives and media might be the most important thing you’ll have to do to get your business out there. So even if you don’t take the stage to present your business, make sure you mingle to get your story out there and make sure to take some samples of your business with you.
A big tip on this front: know your audience. A lot of conferences have their partners, speakers, and media on display on their website. Do a little background check. Second tip: Do not talk about growth hacking with investors. Your company should stick with them as a promising interesting investment, not a young unprofessional looking for money.
Hunt for media and influencers at conferences. They are the ones that will make or break you, so be sure to build a good relationship with them. There are a lot of ways to prepare yourself for this first real contact. You can follow media and influencers on Twitter, for example, commenting on their posts (not just by liking and saying “good article”, but by adding some interesting comment) until they notice you.
Analyze your efforts and understand your data. Don’t rely only on Google Analytics for data. It will give you information on visits and page views, but it won’t give you anything substantial. Try to find out how many subscriptions you’ve had over the last weeks, look which content and actions generated most buzz and analyze this data to create new content for the future.
To give you a better idea about growth hacking, a few examples:
- Whenever a Hotmail user would email another user, the email would have a message at the end saying “This email was sent with Hotmail, Join Hotmail now” and “Get your free email at Hotmail.” No money was spent. A huge customer base was built.
- Dropbox designed an easy to use referral program that awarded 500MB of free Dropbox storage space to everyone signing up. This 500MB of space was a lot cheaper than paid advertisement and referrals from friends are also much more trustworthy than anonymous ads. They ended up growing their customer base from 100k users to 4m users in a little over a year.
- You could say Facebook is already big enough, but that doesn’t stop them trying to grow. They made sure that Messenger continuously asks users for permission to sync their address book to find other Messenger users. This means their users can even invite Facebook friends that aren’t using Messenger. This might be the best growth hack of these examples since it isn’t a one-time thing.
These are just a few practical action steps. Remember, growth hacking is the most effective way to make your company grow. However, there are no techniques that would 100% work for everyone. Don’t copy other companies, but rather try to apply their growth mentality to yours. In the end, growth hacking is not a toolset, but a mindset.