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Any entrepreneur that goes above and beyond the call of duty to grow their business is essentially growth hacking.
That feature you just got on Forbes?
That Guest post on one of the biggest blogs in your industry?
Standing in front of a packed audience to deliver a keynote presentation?
Figuring out how to increase the lifetime value of a customer?
As you can see, growth hacking comes in many shapes and sizes and because of this has a lot of confusion surrounding it.
Not to mention the fact that more and more people are becoming interested in what it means and how they can use it for themselves.
This post is the first in a four-part series that’ll show you a guaranteed three step process to growth hack damn near anything. The three-step framework is as follows:
But first, we need to lay the proper foundation so you can actually get the results you’re looking for instead of concentrating on and growing empty metrics.
Growth Hacking is a term made popular by the Startup Genius Sean Ellis made popular by 2010 when he had trouble taking himself out of companies he’d help grow. “A person who’s true north is growth.”
The problem he was experiencing was very simple, he needed a growth hacker, but all he was getting were traditional marketers.
Nothing really, but early stage startups or any business that hasn’t found its sea legs doesn’t need marketing managers and the like. This is because the only thing they’re concerned with is building a user base, monetizing, and scaling. Fast.
Now, a marketer will do all these things, but not the same way a growth hacker would. A marketer would of course look at AdWords, SEO, and Social media to grow the business.
This isn’t what Sean was looking for when he coined the term in 2010; he needed someone that only focused on Growth. Period
While a growth hacker incorporates traditional methods, he also and digs deep into the product, data, and user base to create one of kind strategies that are scalable.
Dropbox, one of the most famous growth hacking case studies, started off relying on these traditional methods and were hemorrhaging money through adwords. A customer cost over $200 to acquire, but was only worth $99 to them.
They needed a better way.
Dropbox incorporated a viral loop into their product to make current users share it with their friends for extra storage space. It was simple, scalable, and very cost effective.
It worked, Dropbox is now valued at $4 billion and is one of the most well-known cloud storage services in existence.
So Again, What is Growth Hacking
Growth hacking is the use of data, product understanding, marketing, user psychology, and a ton of creativity to “pull” users into a product experience. It’s done in a framework that’s scalable and repeatable for as long as the company or product exists.
“Growth Hacking is the path of least resistance and maximum results.”
Growth Hacking encompasses a lot of things to a lot of people. You can read an exhaustive list of the definitions here
I’m sorry to have to be the one to tell you this, but it takes time to build a business. The only thing you can do is introduce an element that puts your growth in the Fastlane.
It thrives on you being able to gather and interpret your data. It triumphs on incorporating a bit of reactivity into your strategies so you can take action on what’s moving the needle the most and discarding the rest.
By now, you’re well versed on what growth hacking is. And hopefully, you’ve already thought about a few ideas yourself.
Growth hackers are a versatile group of people because they stand at a very important crossroads.
They’ve got to incorporate marketing devices, data, product, and a huge amount of creativity to achieve above average results. Each one of them has a few common characteristics that make them easy to spot.
This requires creativity.
Think about it.
A growth hacker needs to be able to deeply understand the product, usage data, and marketing to be able to do his job effectively. If they don’t have a decent amount of knowledge and in all of the required disciplines then they can’t perform at their peak.
Tunnel vision at its finest will allow you to do much more than dividing your energy between different activities.
Focus like this is hard to come by and it helps successful entrepreneurs from the ones still struggling.
Never for a moment make the mistake of counting hits on your analytics as opposed to measuring real engagement.
Multivariate testing, visitor flow, conversion rate optimization and a host of others are just some of the things they need to understand.
PayPal is a great example of a company that started off as something completely different from what we know it as today. They had to adapt to the changing environment they found themselves in and because they were tilling to change, they made it big time.
We’ll talk more about PayPal’s story in the coming posts.
It doesn’t matter if you have all of the characteristics I listed above or none. The most important quality is keeping the end goal in sight. Build a marketing machine that’s scalable without limit.
The simpler the hack the better.
To make this a reality, there are some tools you need to be familiar with to maximize your reach, measure your results, and iterate your product.
You don’t need the most expensive software or spend weeks learning how to use it. There a just a few powerful tools you should keep in your arsenal to equip you with the right technology stack to make your goals a reality.
Growth hacking can be done with relatively simple tools which I’ve divided into categories below.
Instead of recommending specific tools, I’m just going to give an over view of the type of tool you need. After that, you can research to find the one that best meets your needs and budget.
You can check out this guest post I wrote on SEOhacker. It should help you make an informed decision about some of the tools available to you.
Now, the need for analytics tools should go without saying; you need a way to measure the people coming to your site. Not only to get a feel for the number of visitors, but to find out what they’re doing while there.
What pages are they dropping off from the most, what content is the most engaging, did they download your resources, which channel is bringing in the most visitors, and are they actually reading the content?
The right analytics tool will help you answer all these questions and then some
This biggest challenge everyone is facing online these days is peaking their head above the noise. There’s so much content being created these days. A lot of it poor, some of it ok, and a very few of them are awesome.
The problem is that most people don’t have the time or attention span to give your content a chance to wow them.
Tools that’ll help you get your content in front of the right people, at the right time, and in the right context are a must have.
No point in trying out a lot of new things if you can’t test the results against a benchmark. Testing tools mixed with the data you’ve been able to gather make a beautiful combination. Testing tools can be anything from A/B testing software to survey and feedback ones.
These tools will help inform your decisions on how to better meet the needs of the people who’ve chosen to invest in you.
Email is still the world’s killer app. No matter how many people come out with the next email killer, it seems to keep chugging along.
Over 100 Billion emails are sent and received each and every day and that number is estimated to continue rising.
The most amazing part is that most of those emails are business emails.
Email is going to be your most important and efficient means of communication between you and your customers. Take the time to research and sign up with a service provider that covers all of your needs. It can be a real pain having to transfer large email lists from one place to another.
Remember, this is going to be your primary source of communication so make sure you choose wisely.
Growth hacking has be misunderstood for a long time, but more and more people are finally starting to get it. Whatever you call it, it boils down to doing some stellar marketing for your products.
In the next few posts, I’m going to take the time to outline the three step process that’s going to allow you to growth hack anything. As long as it can be sold, it can be growth hacked. Stay tuned.
In the meantime, don’t forget to share and let me know your thoughts in the comments.