Growth hacking was first coined by Sean Ellis in 2010, and this phenomenon is further explained by both Ellis and Morgan Brown in their book, Hacking Growth. The term itself applies to all efforts to instigate “scalable, repeatable and scrutinizable” growth - in this process, most traditional marketing strategies are put aside. As Ryan Holiday explains, the following points represent the differences between traditional marketing and growth hacking:
- Traditional marketing strategies include commercials, pursuing publicity, and focusing on monetary gain - they also include conversions, as well as focusing on budgeting issues.
- Growth hacking includes email campaigns, blog and guest posts, as well as pay-per-click advertisement, among other tactics - the focus of growth hacking is always, and only growth.
A lot of companies saw benefits from implementing the right growth hacks:
- Slack - when they opted for growth hacking, it upped their number of users from 16,000 in February 2014, to 8 million, as of May 2018.
- Tinder - the right growth tactics helped it rise from a college campus dating app to a world-famous giant, with 50 million users, in 30 languages.
To help you replicate these numbers, and experience an astounding growth for yourself, here is a step-by-step guide for growth hacking your online business to the top.
Identify what Growth hacking IS, and what it is NOT!
Growth hacking isn’t some magical formula only available to a select few - everyone can make use of it. It’s also not some easy remedy you can use once, and get lasting, extraordinary results - it’s a process driven by data, more strategic in nature. The primary focus of growth hacking is growth itself - all strategies, tactics, as well as short or long-term objectives, revolve around obtaining, maintaining and accelerating growth.
This is especially true for startups, that fail if they don’t have constant growth. And the reason for this is their lack of traditional resources. This pushes them to compensate, which again leads to innovations, that require constant growth, in order to be labeled as effective. Of course, growth hacking can be implemented by traditional companies as well - to do so, they have to strive for agility in a lot of areas, including teamwork and workflow.
Track time with timesheets online
Poor time management can lead to poor productivity, and poor productivity simply cannot lead to growth. This is why it’s important to track the time you spend on activities with timesheets online, to see where you waste time, and whether you can make improvements in your work routine.
As such, time tracking is less than a growth hack and is more than an instrument that improves your growth hacking activities, by making sure you allocate more time to it - in the light of this, it’s probably the most important step on the list. Once you start parsing your day into manageable tasks and filling in the time it takes to finish them in timesheets online, you’ll get a better picture of your day.
For example, you may find that you spend too much time on meetings, phone calls, and other low-value tasks - say, 4 hours every day. These 4 hours is the time you could spend on high-value tasks, tasks that instigate growth in your organization. If you clock in less than your norm, say, 40 hours per week, or 8 hours per day, this probably means you procrastinate before starting a task. The number of hours missing may point to the amount of time you spend procrastinating, instead of working and focusing on your growth.
Hire a specialized Growth Hacker
A marketing degree and marketing experience are beneficial, but it isn’t enough on its own - this is because growth hacking involves an innovative approach usually not obtained by any degree. Traditional marketers have important skills, but their focus is too wide for an early startup because they don’t need to:
- find and run a full marketing team
- run outside vendors
- a marketing plan and extensive strategy meant to lead the organization to its long-term objectives.
This does not mean you should forgo traditional marketers altogether - they have their own function within an organization, just like growth hackers have theirs, and it’s best to have them work together, by combining the traditional tactics with the innovative ones.
Traditional marketers pursue growth, but not to the same extent as growth hackers - growth hackers are much narrower in their activities, considering they focus solely on growth. These specialists use innovative procedures, techniques and tools, and are familiar with the ever-changing market and trends.
Recognize Growth Possibilities
Logic tells us that recognizing growth possibilities is about testing various tactics to see what works. And it’s true as you have to be open for new ideas and innovations. Have in mind that some of these ideas won’t work in practice and that it’s perfectly understandable if you fail from time to time - just don’t let your potential failures keep you from trying new things.
When opting for a growth-oriented strategy, make sure to prioritize and recognize what is most likely to work for your organization or product. What worked for a different company, may not work for your own company - so, even if you’re copying another company’s strategy, make sure you tweak it so that it fits your needs. Once you’ve identified your growth opportunities, set your priorities, and aim at promoting a growth mindset in your organization. This doesn’t have to come from the company’s leaders - once any department instigates growth tactics which ultimately prove to be fruitful, the entire company, including the leading personnel, is likely to take on the trend.
Expand your product’s influence through content
Quality content about your product or service may be the best way to rank well with Google and become visible to a larger number of people. For this purpose, you can:
- Include a free eBook - your blog audience is likely to follow your blog because of the knowledge it provides them, so it’s best that you expand on that knowledge with a free eBook, to really please your customers. You can offer these free eBooks to new subscribers, or send them out at regular intervals, say, once a year.
- Guest Posts - There are probably a lot of thematic websites with a large audience that could potentially be interested in your product so guest posting on these websites could bring you new customers. When pitching a blog, make sure to write a convincing outreach email. Once your pitch has been accepted, craft your post carefully: you’ll want to link back to your own blog, but don’t make the guest post too promotional.
- Pop-ups - once potential customers visit your website, it’s important that you encourage them to buy something before leaving. Always include a pop-up window to appear just as the customer is about to leave your page, citing reasons to stay. This can be a message showing the discount the customer will get for a limited offer in your repertoire of products - 20% off for buying two products, or some other similar encouragement.
Make the most of satisfied customers and clients
Satisfied customers and clients are your biggest recommendation, one that is likely to bring you more new conversions, if you follow these growth hacks:
- Personalized “Thank you” cards - we live in a world that strives to make everything automatic, so, a handwritten, or otherwise personalized message, goes a long way with customers. Make sure you promise a coupon or some similar reward in the card, for spreading the word about your product on Social Media.
- Giveaways - From time to time, introduce a giveaway to your repertoire, but make sure it’s something that will attract your audience. This may be sample products, free new products, and rewards given to loyal customers.
The entire purpose of the mentioned tactics is eliciting customer recommendations - there’s nothing quite like word-of-mouth recommendations, because people place great emphasis on social proof when deciding on a product to use. To up your sales, you can aim to elicit reviews and testimonials from your satisfied clients and customers.
Because of the number of possible growth hacks, it’s vital that you test them out real-time, to see what works or what is missing. This is especially true about your online business card, i.e. your webpage promoting your products and services.
For this purpose, you can try out the A/B test: make changes to your website’s design, tweak the text, include new images, improve the old ones, and see whether these and other changes, affect your sales:
- Change up the color of your “Add to Cart” button - red and green are popular choices, but make sure the color of the button doesn’t blend in with other dominant website colors. You’ll want the button to stand out.
- Include “limited offer”, “limited supply” or “only 1 item left” messages, to see whether they boost your sales for these limited items.
- Include a search field, with a “Call to Action” message, to see whether you’ll increase page views, as well as the number of conversions
- Test various taglines and slogans - include variations on why your product is different and necessary, and see what works best
- Personalize your content to mimic previous website behavior in terms of audience - if a survey shows that most of the audience on your clothing website are expectant mothers, then you are advised to set the default page to show maternity clothes. So, you’ve given precedence to your predominant audience - now, wait to see whether your conversions and revenues per visitor will increase.
After a preset time period for testing these tactics expires, make the verdict on what was successful, and what was not - then, include the successful tactics in your regular repertoire.
When done right, growth hacking can skyrocket your online business - the trick is to implement, test and choose the right hacks. Tracking the time you spend on activities with timesheets online is a great way to clear the path for the activities that instigate the biggest growth.
Apart from that, you should also differentiate between growth hacking and traditional marketing, hire a growth hacker, expand on your content, recognize your growth possibilities, as well as turn to your customers and clients for recommendations.
Author Bio: Marija Kojic is a content writer at COING, the company behind Clockify. She frequently writes about business topics, and is a productivity enthusiast.