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Growth hacker marketing

Success Hacks — 21 Feb 2022

The Guide to Growth Hacking

The Ultimate Growth Hacker Marketing Guide

Growth is vital to survival and success in an increasingly competitive business world. But traditional marketing techniques can consume a significant amount of time, money, and resources, especially for startups and small businesses.

This is where growth hacking comes in. It’s a marketing method that focuses on implementing the most efficient and cost-effective strategies. This makes it ideal for those on a budget, and why, in recent years, it’s become a powerful solution for rapid growth and goal attainment for all businesses.

But those who are new to growth hacking meet with a volley of questions: How do you get started? What skills does a growth hacker need? How do you come up with a growth hacking strategy?

In this guide, we’ll go over what growth hacking is, who growth hackers are, what steps to take to get started, and how to conduct growth hacking experiments. Finally, we’ll explore the strategies in which you should invest your time and resources to make your growth hacking successful.

What is growth hacking?

Growth hacking is an umbrella term for strategies aiming to realize and accelerate business growth. These strategies involve rapid experimentation and the implementation of primarily digital marketing processes. 

This enables gaps to be discovered in your current marketing strategy, identifying opportunities to facilitate faster businesses growth.

The difference between success and failure for a burgeoning business is rapid growth. But a startup often lacks the funds needed for large-scale marketing campaigns. This means they have to be creative to achieve fast growth quickly and inexpensively.

Traditional marketing strategies take time to grow a business naturally. With growth hacks, bottlenecks are spotted, and small-scale experimentation finds cost-effective solutions. This saves time, money, and resources.

Your goal might be to acquire more customers, boost revenue, or hit a similar benchmark. Focusing on growth leads to faster results. 

Growth Marketing
Source (cmosurvey.org)

The term “growth hacking” was coined by Sean Ellis in 2010. Ellis is an entrepreneur, angel investor, startup advisor, and current CEO of GrowthHackers, an online community that shares marketing techniques. Early in his career, he worked with several internet companies, like Dropbox, and gained a reputation for being the go-to guy for building user bases quickly.

Ellis helped accelerate growth for Silicon Valley startups but struggled to find anyone else to fill his boots. He had become a one-person growth-boosting machine, and although he had many applications for marketers, they weren’t the right fit. Their focus was on budgets, conversion rates, and expenses. Ellis, however, had one focus – rapid growth. Everything else was secondary. 

Since the term was coined, there’s been a steep rise in the popularity of growth hacking. This isn’t just true for startups in Silicon Valley. Larger companies, like Uber, have gone a step further than Ellis and invested in growth teams to supercharge their marketing tactics.

Growth hacking vs. Traditional marketing

There’s an overlap between growth hacking and traditional marketing. But, while they share some common strategies, they each have a different end goal. Marketers ultimately look to sell to customers, whereas growth hackers aim to build business growth as quickly as possible.

Traditional marketing focuses on selling products and services to target groups. Each marketing campaign can have multiple goals that are often broad and long-term, such as boosting brand engagement, establishing customer trust, and generating leads.

It’s also costly and time-consuming. A marketing campaign could take weeks or months to approve and implement.

Growth hacking, however, focuses on a single goal. It pushes for quick and inexpensive growth. Everything else is secondary. 

Take the case study of the Q&A website Quora. When they first started, they wanted to boost the number of users they had on their platform. As it’s their users who provide the responses to questions, they needed to ensure they had trusted individuals giving the answers.

They decided, therefore, to invite well-known, influential professionals with expertise to the platform and targeted their marketing efforts to this type of user. By doing so, they boosted user acquisition and became a platform for trusted sources of information.

This is an example of how quick growth hacking is. It doesn’t take months to approve. Strategies are tested immediately and implemented once they’re proved effective.

Growth hacking looks for and eliminates waste processes, helping to achieve a lean startup. 

Compared to traditional marketing, growth hacking:

  • Is data-driven

Traditional marketing may use historical data to improve future campaigns, but this often comes at the end of a long-term campaign. Growth hacking uses metrics for continuous evaluation. By measuring and tracking campaigns in real-time, the best shortcut to growth can be found and implemented.

Instead of continuing with ineffective tactics in long-term campaigns, growth hacking can make rapid changes to improve further growth opportunities.

Using data to inform decisions is thus vital to growth hacking. By continuing with successful hacks and eliminating ineffective processes, growth hackers are able to achieve maximum, cost-effective growth.

Automation is often used to boost efficiency further in the use of data- For example, to improve the effectiveness of a growth hacking strategy centered on partnership marketing, you could take advantage of Affise’s CPAPI tool. 

CPAPI automatically transfers and synchronizes data and analyzes the results of campaigns. Offers can be transferred without delay because of API integration between sources of offers and your system. It eliminates manual work, allowing businesses to scale and grow faster.  

Putting data and efficiency at the forefront of your marketing efforts, it allows you to work with thousands of advertisers and offers, and is thus an effective growth hacking tool.

  • Requires greater technical skills

Given that growth hackers need to be able to implement and iterate their strategies quickly, growth hacking requires technical skills more so than in traditional marketing. Growth hackers must be competent enough in programming, working with data, and web design that they needn’t depend on any other team members to execute these tasks.

  • Obliges involvement in the product development process

Traditional marketers are tasked with finding buyers for products that have already been developed. They aren’t involved in product development. Growth hackers take a holistic approach, meaning they regularly involve themselves in different areas of the business, including product development.

While traditional marketers and growth hackers both gather insights into customer needs and desires, growth hackers often use their insights to assist product developers.

It makes growth hacking valuable to product developers when deciding on new products and features to implement.

  • Focuses on the entire customer journey

Traditional marketing focuses its efforts on attracting new customers. But, growth isn’t just about new customers. Current customers are essential for online reviews and word-of-mouth marketing. Maintaining customer satisfaction helps you recruit ambassadors for your business.

Growth hacking focuses on optimizing the customer journey, from making customers aware of your brand and providing smooth onboarding to encouraging referrals.

  • Involves the running of small experiments

Growth hacking was born from startups looking to make a penny stretch as far as it could. As such, small experiments are conducted to identify and implement successful growth strategies. 

Traditional marketing, however, uses large-scale campaigns, such as TV, newspaper, and billboard ads. This can be expensive, time-consuming, and risky. Returns on investments (ROI) are not guaranteed. This is unfeasible for startups.

Growth hacking overcomes these failings. Using small scale-experimentation before implementation increases the likelihood of successful strategies. For example, testing different landing pages to see which one collects the most email subscriptions before deciding on which to use.

This almost guarantees growth hacking strategies will lead to more significant ROIs. 

Who are growth hackers?

A growth hacker is someone whose sole focus is growth. Everything they do is fuelled by the potential to impact the growth of a business. 

A marketing background isn’t required for success as a growth hacker. These can be engineers or programmers.

What do they do?

Like computer hackers, growth hackers identify weaknesses and find opportunities to accelerate growth.

They look at how prospects think and what motivates them in their buying journey. They track critical metrics, like traffic, leads, and sales, using KPIs (Key Performance Indicators). 

This information guides them as they look for potential growth triggers and execute experiments to determine the effectiveness of different tactics to achieve their growth goal. If the results prove the strategies are successful, these can be repeated on a larger scale.

For example, they may test different email newsletter subject lines to find the one with the best open rates. 

Not only does this increase revenue, but it saves companies time and money instead of spending on large, expensive campaigns.

It’s not uncommon for companies to invest in growth teams to make efficiencies to their marketing tactics. These teams might include the following roles:

  • Growth master – Leads the team and makes final decisions
  • Growth marketers – Propose and implement experiments focused on KPIs
  • Growth analysts – Provide data analysis on experiments and implementation
  • Designers, programmers, and engineers – Develop products, tools, and software

The insights growth hackers provide can be valuable in other areas of a business where potential triggers for growth can be exploited, like sales or accounting. Thus, growth hackers can stretch across the company, assisting across teams, not just marketing.

Growth hackers can change the way a business does things, like, for example, migrating an in-house partnership solution to a SaaS platform. Hacks like these can be vital on the road to growth.

Investing in growth hackers can provide you with creative and results-oriented solutions. They won’t replace your traditional marketers. But, they’re invaluable for startups desperate to move upwards. 

What skills do they need? 

Growth hacking requires a set of skills and a specific mindset for success. These differ from traditional marketers. While both of them understand marketing concepts, growth hackers’ expertise extend beyond these.

Growth hackers need the skills to think outside of the box and come up with new, cheap marketing methods to achieve growth. Independence is key for this, as they have to be able to work quickly to achieve their goal.

While they don’t need to be experts, growth hackers use a broad set of skills to come up with and implement solutions. 

Digital Marketing Skills
Source (prophet.com)

Programming and automation result in faster, more efficient solutions. Thus, technical skills are vital. Some typical technical skills a growth hacker should possess include:

  • Building/designing/optimizing websites and landing pages
  • Designing branding elements, etc.
  • Competence in the basics of front end coding, including HTML and CSS, and programming
  • Knowledge of how to run ads on different channels
  • Ability to implement tracking tools
  • Ability to interpret and analyze data
  • Understanding of business and marketing concepts like conversion rates etc.
  • Understanding of other concepts and techniques, e.g., using AI and APIs for marketing and growth 

Growth hackers can be considered jacks-of-all-trades. Their expansive skill set allows them to bring fresh new ideas and growth hacks to the drawing board.

Besides the right skills, a growth hacker must have the correct mindset. Growth hacking is a way of thinking and working to attain goals. 

It’s vital that growth hackers work from the perspective of setting the goal above the means. For example, increasing conversion rates through email marketing would be the main goal. Deciding on the tools and techniques to use would be secondary to that goal. 

A growth hacker mindset involves a focus on :

  • Speed over perfection

Perfection takes time, and startups don’t have this luxury. To achieve a goal quickly, a growth hacker focuses on rapid experimentation and implementation. 

  • Data-driven decisions

Data can provide vital insights. A growth hacker uses data to inform their experiments and improve their effectiveness. This allows them to make better decisions. 

For example, using KPIs to identify where to spend time and resources for the biggest growth impact.

  • Constantly improving

There are always new growth opportunities and new bottlenecks to fix. A growth hacker is constantly optimizing current solutions and looking to the next problem.

Leveraging Analytics
Source (www2.deloitte.com)

Growth hackers are creative, analytical, and agile in their approach, using data to test and prove the validity of their strategies. A broad set of skills and the correct mindset put them on the road to achieving growth goals.

Should you use growth hacking?

Whether you’re a startup or a large, established business, the answer is always yes.

Traditional marketing is risky. It’s an expensive, lengthy process, and there are no guarantees of a significant ROI. 

For startups with limited budgets, it’s a shot in the dark. Growth hacking is a faster and cheaper option, which is why these widely adopt it to grow their businesses rapidly and prove to potential investors that they can make a significant impact on the market.

Growth Hacking
Source (innovationleader.com)

Established large-scale businesses can utilize growth hacking to meet specific goals, such as boosting the popularity of a new product. While it likely won’t change their marketing budget, it will help them allocate their resources more effectively.

For example, if you’re launching a new product, you want to see the market response first. Then you can use this to decide on your investment in large-scale marketing campaigns.

With traditional marketing, you would start with a large-scale campaign to boost the product’s popularity. But this can be expensive, and it can take time to realize if it’s working.

With a growth hacking strategy, smaller investments can be made to see which tactics have the best market response. These can then be scaled up and used in a more extensive marketing campaign. The ROI will likely be higher as you’re using marketing tactics that have already proved to boost the product’s popularity quickly.

Unfortunately, growth hacking requires trial and error, something large companies don’t favor.

Growth hackers need the independence to assume a hypothesis and quickly conduct experiments. Startups are more flexible and have a flatter hierarchical structure. 

Thus it’s quicker to approve and conduct experiments and implement the proposed solutions. By using a flatter organizational structure similar to startups, large companies can incorporate quicker and faster marketing methods.

The three main benefits of growth hacking that apply across all companies include:

  • Quicker results than traditional marketing

Traditional marketing can be slow when it comes to making improvements. It focuses on several goals, such as boosting brand awareness and building online reputation. These campaigns can take months to put together, approve, and implement.

Growth focuses on hacks that can be implemented quickly to boost growth, like offering flash sales or discounts. It’s quicker to approve and implement solutions with the growth hacking mindset. 

  • Helps cut costs

Data analysis and small-scale experiments are cost-effective ways to achieve business aims, boosting your ROI.

  • Leads to big profits

Growth hacking supercharges short-term growth. It propels the potential of a business to make profits.

Rapid growth indicates that a business is scalable- a valuable quality that potential investors seek out. This can help companies make as much as possible during an IPO.

Growth hacking also boosts business capabilities, such as customer acquisition and retention. New and loyal customers will increase your revenue.

4 Growth hacking phases

If you asked a scientist about their experiments, they would provide you with a detailed process and methodology. 

The same applies to growth hacking experiments. There’s no point rushing into an experiment if you don’t have a method, process, or a clear purpose. 

There are four phases of growth hacking that enable hackers to gain faster and more cost-effective results if followed closely:

1. Consider product position

It sounds simple enough to create products people want to use. A good product is the basis of every startup and marketing campaign. 

But, there can often be a mismatch between the product and the market. It can lead to failure and the end of a burgeoning business.

To avoid this, growth hackers have to consider the product-market fit. Are the products being created something the market wants? Does it satisfy their needs?

Answering these questions requires understanding your consumer. Growth hackers identify aspects like their needs, desires, motivations, and buying journey. Data obtained from growth hacking can help contribute information for product development.

Once consumer needs and desires are identified, products can be developed to appeal to them. But, we’re not looking to create a revolutionary new product to change society forever. The vast majority of new products introduced today are iterations of previous bestsellers.

For example, candles are something consumers constantly use for decoration, celebrations, relaxation, and simply their aroma. Although in no way a groundbreaking product, they fulfill customers’ wants and needs. Indeed, the size of the candle market was valued at over $7 billion in 2020.

A simple method to determine if a product fits the needs and desires of the market is to use the 40% rule. It was created by Sean Ellis, the original growth hacker himself.

This technique uses a questionnaire to ask how customers would feel if a product no longer existed. If more than 40% of the responses are “very disappointed”, then growth hackers know they have a product-market fit and a possible bestseller on their hands.

Understanding people and the position of products in the market is an essential foundation to success.

Product Position
Source (brianbalfour.com)

2. Apply growth hacks

Once a product has a good market fit, it’s time to start applying growth hacks. It’s the phase where growth hackers assume a hypothesis and conduct experiments as the first users arrive. Remember, growth hacking identifies changes creating fast and cost-effective results.

To do this, growth hackers must first formulate a hypothesis. By using their intuition and knowledge of the business and marketing, they must look at the product and find growth opportunities.

They ask questions like, what would happen if we did something differently? What if we added a feature to our product? What if we used a different tool for promotion?

Then it’s a case of experimenting to find the best possible option.

Consider the case study of Airbnb. When they first started, they needed to drive people to their platform. At the time, Craigslist was the largest forum for people to rent a house.

Airbnb realized that was where they would find their target audience. So, they focused their marketing efforts by placing offers on Craigslist. The offers directed interested customers to the Airbnb platform. User acquisition increased for free. New monthly users skyrocketed from below 50,000 to above 150,000, as the chart above shows.

At first, they tested this hack manually. When it worked, they automated the process.

It may take multiple growth hacks to identify the right strategy. Growth hackers may even need to change the way they do things to make use of different solutions.

Growth Hacks
Source (rjmetrics.com)

3. Implement and scale your strategies 

Once the experiments are complete and the results have been obtained, it’s time to look at the implementation phase.

A key aspect of growth hacking is cost-effectiveness. This means using as few resources as possible. One of the easiest and cheapest ways to disseminate any information is through word-of-mouth. 

Using customers to propagate your plan is an ideal way to utilize resources cost-effectively. Although virality isn’t guaranteed, growth hacks can be used to guide your project in that direction.

Scale Strategies
Source (smartinsights.com)

For example, many games offer free lives or extra levels if users invite their friends to play. This was an effective hack used in games like Candy Crush.

Another typical use was in email marketing. Take the example of Hotmail. The graph above shows the growth of users over a one-and-a-half-year period after Hotmail launched. At launch, they added the phrase “PS I love you. Get your free email at Hotmail” in the footer of each email. This rapidly grew their user base to 17% of internet users at the time.

There’s no need for traditional marketing tactics or investment here. Every new user would invite others to create an email account—users advertised to their network, boosting user acquisition and business growth inexpensively.

There must be infrastructure in place, though, to allow you to scale as you grow so rapidly. 

One way growth hackers can achieve this cost-effectively and by harnessing the power of automation is by using BPaaS. But, what is BPaaS?

Business Process as a Service (BPaaS) refers to the delivery of business process outsourcing services over the internet. To focus on their core business, companies often outsource non-core activities such as payroll or IT management to a service provider to save resources.

When these outsourced business processes are delivered using cloud computing, they can be accessed easily using apps. 

Therefore, when a business needs to scale up a business process, more resources can quickly be allocated to the server handling these tasks instead of implementing costly and lengthy in-house upgrades. Services are often automated, making operating a flexible business, like startups, much more manageable. It’s a good option for growth hackers to implement and scale business processes rapidly while saving resources.

4. Optimize your strategies

Finding out why customers use and keep using your products and services will help you optimize your hacks.

Optimize Strategies
Source (decibel.com)

Growth hacking is a data-driven process involving continuous improvement. It’s not a set it and forget it method. So with more data, further optimizations and improvements to the user experience can be made.

There are no stop signs when it comes to growth hacking. Once one experiment is complete, it’s time to move on to the next. There are always new problems, solutions, and growth opportunities.

Key elements of business to understand for growth hacking success

Understanding and investigating the following aspects of business will help you to build a solid growth hacking strategy. 

Human behavior

Understanding marketing depends on understanding human behavior. The better your comprehension of consumers’ motivations, the more effectively you can predict and influence their decisions and spot opportunities for maximum growth.

This will help you to develop more popular products and engage your audience with your marketing efforts. 

Human Behavior
Source (statista.com)

Branding

Branding is the bedrock of successful marketing campaigns. It defines who your customers are and why they should care about your product.

Take Instagram, for example. When it started, it targeted its app at photographers. It wasn’t a stock photo app or image selling platform. It was for all photographers to share the images they had taken. 

It was through branding they gained much of their early success. Instead of just being another blogging site, they branded themselves as a convenient way to share photos with other people online.

It differentiated Instagram from other social media platforms who had always put images second to words. Their users trusted and identified with the brand, which led to their growth.

When it comes to growth hacking, think beyond logos and URLs. Investigate what makes you vital to your customers and why they should care about your product. 

Understanding this will help you build the foundations of your growth hacking campaign.

Market

The best way to attract new customers is to identify who your product is for and focus single-mindedly on targeting this demographic.

For example, you should find out on which platforms your potential customers spend their time. Are there any popular online communities that fit your niche? What other products and services do your customers use?

Discovering the answers to these questions will inform your growth marketing tactics.

If your target demographic is women aged 25-34, you might consider focusing on Instagram as the platform on which to launch your growth hacking strategy. 

You could benefit from establishing ecommerce partnerships to increase brand awareness and boost growth. By partnering with an influencer, you’ll gain access to their audience and the credibility of being approved by a trusted source in your industry.

For example, imagine you’re selling activewear. Partnering with a popular and trusted Instagram influencer who focuses on lifestyle, health, and well-being can help you build your audience and brand image, increasing conversion rates and growth.

Market
Source (blog.frac.tl)

Analytics

One of the benefits of statistical analysis is that this helps you make effective marketing decisions. Making analysis part of your business strategy will help you determine where your successes and failings are. 

Understanding your analytics is vital to delivering better products, services, and customer experiences to increase customer acquisition and retention. 

Beyond allowing you to identify how and where to target potential customers most effectively, it gives you an insight into what products your customers may want in the future and the direction of the market, giving you a product development edge. 

Implementing an option like Affise Analytics and Business Intelligence tools will enable you to measure your marketing performance, find growth areas, and forecast risks. You’ll also be able to integrate other analytics tools, such as AppsFlyer, and create reports with data from various sources.

Testing

Testing is where the insights derived from data analysis and your knowledge of business concepts are combined. Instead of looking and learning, you’re making decisions and taking action. Growth hacking involves constant testing.

Making changes and observing how these affect behaviors or metrics is vital to understanding how your business works.

Just like branding is the bedrock of a marketing strategy, testing is the bedrock for creating positive change as a growth hacker. It enables you to take data analysis one step further by proving which insights work and which don’t.

Let’s look at how you might test a strategy within one of the biggest ecommerce trends of the year – mobile shopping.

Testing
Source (financesonline.com)

For example, your data analysis might show that the majority of your customers visit your website using a mobile device. 

You could conduct a test to see how optimizing your website for mobile devices changes the number of views your website receives and your conversion rate. 

Another option might be to use A/B testing for your landing page to see which of two options has a lower bounce rate. 

Identifying the areas where you can perform testing and what you can test is essential for growth hacking. 

Being able to see real-time results will further enable you to implement rapid improvements. This will expedite growth.

How to get started on growth hacking?

Create a product that consumers want

No amount of growth hacks can make a bad product shine. Nor are there any tactics to make selling to the wrong market successful. 

The first step to getting started with growth hacking is to create a product that consumers want. To do this, you must understand your consumers and create a product they will buy. 

Using questionnaires and carrying out market research before product development will give you a step-up in creating the right product. Using data insights from previous experiments will help guide product developers.

This can be a tricky step. You don’t want to spend months looking to develop the next big thing or choose the first product you can think of. Look for gaps in the market and gather feedback from consumers about product ideas.

For example, data from your questionnaires and previous experiments might show that your consumers are increasingly environmentally conscious. You look at the market and realize that you can adapt your product to fit this demand. 

Taking the activewear example from earlier, you might decide to use sustainable, recycled fabrics and avoid the use of chemicals in their treatment. 

Digital Channels
Source (marketingcharts.com)

Strategically target your buyers

Startups don’t have access to the large-scale operations of traditional marketing. Thus, being strategic with how you deploy your resources when finding buyers is vital.

For example, if your aim is to increase conversion rates, targeting 100,000 people to convert 100 is ineffective. It’s a poor use of your time, money, and efforts. 

Consider this: How do you get in touch with your buyers? How often do you talk to them? Where do they spend most of their time? Does an online community or forum exist for your industry?

Understanding people and using data collected from market research is crucial to driving growth.

If your product has a place in a niche market, target forums, and online communities. Look to influencers or other entrepreneurs you could partner with for campaigns.

For example, imagine you’ve developed a new tea strainer. Using ads on social media will likely be less effective than posting the product on a tea-making forum. The same product would be ideal for promoting in partnership with a specialty tea manufacturer.

A tool that could help you to achieve this is a partnership marketing platform, like Affise Reach. It provides a place for brands and advertisers to build relationships. You can reliably find and recruit valuable partners to drive traffic to your website, increase brand awareness, generate leads, and promote your products. It’s also easier to automate and scale partner relationships using the service.

This saves you time and money, supercharging the productivity of your partnership program and advertising efforts.

Customer Targeting Strategies
Source (criteo.com)

Identify the bottleneck in your marketing strategy

No business or product is born perfect. There are always weaknesses holding these back. Identifying these bottlenecks and addressing them is vital for success.

Diagnosing a bottleneck allows you to treat the deficiencies in your marketing strategy preventing your growth. This requires a thorough examination of your data. Remember, growth hacking is about finding data-driven solutions to eliminate growth-limiting processes from your business. 

Study the channels customers interact with at each step of their journey. Observing metrics like customer churn and bounce rate will help you determine where your business growth is being affected.

Once you find out where in the customer journey the bottleneck is, you need to figure out the reasons behind it. Why does this bottleneck exist? How is it limiting your growth? 

At this point, go back to your data. Examine customer surveys, negative reviews, and polls to discover patterns that might explain precisely why your growth is being limited. 

Often, you’ll find yourself with a few different bottlenecks. Target them one at a time, starting with the most severe first. This will be the bottleneck limiting your current growth most.

Remember, identifying and understanding the obstacle is the way to fix it. Through this, you can tailor your growth hacking strategies for maximum effect.

Study the channels and pick which is the best for you

The key to nailing down an effective growth hacking strategy is to identify a marketing channel that isn’t operating at its potential.

Different channels might be more or less effective depending on the stage of the sales funnel you want to devote your attention to.

We’ll recommend the channels to pick based on these stages:

  • Acquisition

This stage describes customers’ first contact with your business- how people find you and take the first step toward becoming customers. It could be through organic search, social media, or ads.

It’s a crucial part of any strategy as it’s right at the top of the funnel and, therefore, a vital foundation from which you can gather data and use this to build a robust growth hacking strategy.

You should track metrics such as your number of website views, the number of people who interact with your content, or referrals from partnership programs.

The best channels on which to engage with prospects and monitor your metrics at this stage of the funnel include your website, blog, social media channels, search engine ads, and partnership marketing programs. 

Acquisition
Source (paldesk.com)
  • Viral marketing

Once you have a pool of prospects, you need to get the most out of them. Viral content is one way to disseminate your brand message and an awareness of your products effectively.

Virality is measured through likes, comments, and shares and applies mainly to social media. Keeping track of these metrics can illuminate trends in content that goes viral and the platforms they go viral on. This will allow you to tailor your growth hacks to specific platforms and the type of content that their respective audiences respond to best.

The most effective channel for viral marketing is social media. Using social media platforms and video-sharing sites, you can share viral content relevant to your brand instantly across the world. With the interaction data social media provides, you’ll be able to measure metrics with ease.

  • Activation

Activation is the stage where visitors become users. It’s the first experience they have with your product or service. 

It’s in this step they decide to try your product. This can be measured through several metrics, including trial customers, app installs, and newsletter sign-ups.

Channels you should consider using to achieve the highest conversions possible at this stage in the funnel and measure valuable metrics include your website, email marketing, and in-app reminders. Chatbots or a live chat on your site may also be helpful to guide visitors to try your products.

Understanding how your users take this step shows you how you can convert prospects into customers. You can then develop a growth hacking strategy to supercharge your customer activation.

  • Retention

Retention is the stage where customers see the value in your product or service and continue to invest in this. It’s where acquisition and activation turn into growth. This stage is crucial for business success.

You can measure this by looking at how long your customers use your products and your customer churn rate. 

Channels that will be useful here include email remarketing and onboarding, apps, in-app feedback, live chat, over-the-phone customer support, and chatbots.

  • Revenue

Without revenue, a business wouldn’t survive. This is the stage where your users finally decide to buy your product.

Measure this by looking at sales, but also where those sales are coming from. Is it referrals? Is it through discounts and offers?

The channels that will be effective here depend on your business model, but they will include: in-app purchases, your ecommerce site, online marketplaces, partnership sales, and online ads.

For example, you may find that customers are abandoning carts and not completing purchases. You might, therefore, look at implementing an email retargeting strategy to increase your conversion rate.

Revenue
Source (medium.com)

Experiment and implement

In the previous steps, we’ve found not only our bottleneck but the channels and metrics on which to focus. These metrics form a vital focal point for growth hackers. Every hacking task must contribute to the growth of this number.

If an experiment doesn’t work, then there’s no need to invest in that solution. If it does, then it can be explored further and implemented. 

  • Gather ideas

Come up with a list of experiment ideas for solutions. It could be anything. There are no wrong answers in this step.

Look for inspiration in case studies. Conduct interviews with customers and have brainstorming sessions with your creative teams. Even looking at companies from other industries or your competitors can provide possible answers to hack your growth.

  • Rank ideas

Once you have a long, intimidating list of ideas, it’s time to whittle them down. This is where the bad and impossible ideas are eliminated.

Focus on the ones with the greatest chance of success, use the fewest resources, and take the least time to see results. 

  • Outline experiments

How long will the experiment last? Do you have the right tools? What staff do you need, and what skills are required? What metrics do you need to track? How will you know the experiment is successful? 

Growth hackers need to manage their time efficiently. Plan your experiments thoroughly so that you can limit resource wastage.

Answer the vital questions to determine how you want to test your ideas and determine their success. 

Online Experiments
Source (sciencebuddies.org)
  • Perform experiments

There’s nothing tricky about this step. Conduct the experiment you’ve planned. Work as a team and use organizational tools like a scrum board to complete them efficiently.

  • Study outcome

This is the business end of the cycle. Look at the data you’ve collected and decide if you can draw any conclusions. 

Translate the data into insights to boost growth. When explaining your results, think about how best to present the data. You may need to use graphs or videos to get your point across.

Sometimes, it can be challenging to see the link between an idea and benefits to a business, no matter what the data says. 

You may come up with ideas for new and improved experiments after seeing your results. Add them to the list of ideas you have for your next set of experiments. Be prepared to go through this cycle a few times before you implement your solution.

Analyze and evaluate

After implementing a few solutions, it’s time to analyze and evaluate these to see if they’ve worked.

Making sense of a large amount of data can be difficult. Tools such as Affise BI can integrate and manage unstructured data from various marketing channels. By integrating with other solutions, you can cut down on analysis time by monitoring data from various sources in one place. 

Affise BI also gives your team access to data, allowing them to gather valuable, actionable insights. Through predictive analysis, you can identify market trends, giving you a competitive edge. 

Look back at your hypothesis and the bottleneck you’re trying to fix. Does your data analysis prove your solution works?

For example, if you’re trying to increase conversions by providing free trials, does the data suggest this has had an effect?

Benefits of Analytics
Source (microstrategy.com)

If the answer is yes, then you can move on from small-scale experimentation. Add the insights to your business processes to implement them on a larger scale.

If it’s failed, then move on to your next experiment idea. Growth hackers accept failure as part of the process. 

It might mean going back to the beginning and restarting your experiments. Except, this time, you have more data and ideas to put to the test. 

After you’ve implemented the best possible solution, it’s time to go through the process again. Each round of experiments provides more data about people, products, and growth bottlenecks. 

This is how a growth hacker uses data to drive their decision-making. Identifying and eliminating wasteful processes is crucial if you want to become a lean startup.

10 growth hacker marketing strategies

Growth hacking requires lots of trial and error before discovering the best strategy. But knowing where to start can be tricky.

Below you’ll find a list of strategies to put you on the right track to growing your company:

1. Repurpose your content

Content can be difficult and time-consuming to create, but it’s often only used in one place.

For example, a marketer might create a compelling live stream video. The content is only available as a video. While anyone can search for it, it’s only available in one medium. People who don’t like watching long live streams will never see the content.

This is where content repurposing can be a crucial tactic for growth hacking. Reuse old and existing content for new purposes to fit a variety of new needs. 

A growth hacker looks at this as an opportunity to repurpose content for a new medium. The video can be turned into a transcribed blog, podcast, or thirty-second video clips for social media.

Repurpose Content
Source (semrush.com)

You could repurpose old blog posts for email newsletters or create interactive guides from videos.

Content repurposing does more with less. Revamping the content you have without using extra resources is a growth hacking win. It increases the chance of content virality and is cheaper than creating brand new content.

2. Leverage SEO

Getting your website or landing page as high up in the search engine rankings is vital. Without this, potential customers will struggle to find you, which will affect your growth. Using growth hacks can boost your online presence.

That’s where SEO (search engine optimization) comes in. The better optimized your website is, the better your search engine ranking and visibility. 

It’s a free way to drive organic traffic to your websites. So, what growth hacks can you use to improve your SEO?

Well, start by doing keyword research. Use keyword research tools to determine popular and unique words to target users. 

Focus on underutilized keywords your competitors aren’t using and local SEO, which is more specific to you. Don’t forget to use backlinks when creating your content. It’s an effective SEO strategy to direct more traffic to your site and improve your online reputation.

For example, imagine you have a SaaS business. Implementing SaaS backlinking strategies will push your rankings higher. It will increase your visibility and awareness of your brand.

As with anything, don’t overdo it. Stuffing keywords together can be detrimental and diminish your optimization. As readers and search engine crawlers are discouraged, your search engine rankings can take a hit, and your growth can be affected.

Leverage SEO
Source (backlinko.com)

3. Engage in referral marketing

Word-of-mouth marketing is very much still alive. 84% of consumers consider purchasing products because of family, friends, celebrity, or influencer endorsement. Thus, referrals can be the fuel to boost growth dramatically, making it a potent growth hacking strategy.

With referrals, you can turn your customers into brand advocates. To give your most loyal customers an incentive to spread the word about your brand, you could offer them a reward or discount. 

You may already have loyal customers promoting your products and services to their friends and family. Combining your loyalty and referral programs would be a perfect way to get the most out of both marketing strategies.

Take the case study of Dropbox. They offer an incentive of free storage for every referral. Their current customers are incentivized to refer as many people as possible. By leveraging their customer base, Dropbox quickly and cheaply boosted company growth.

You could use similar growth hacks to increase your business growth. Discounts, free subscription months, or extra features would all be incentivizing options. Use landing pages or email marketing to make your customers aware of the program and invite them to share it with their networks.

Affise can help you adopt a partnership marketing strategy like this. With its offer tracking feature, you can create time-limited offers, track clicks and sales, and measure the effectiveness of promo codes and specific partners.

Experimenting with different options will allow you to find the best growth hack for your referral marketing.

4. Create exciting onboarding

People can quickly become frustrated if they don’t know how a product works. The same happens if they’re struggling to learn to use a new app. It can lead to new customers not adopting your product.

Customer Onboarding
Source (blog.hubspot.com)

By revamping your onboarding process to be more enjoyable, you can improve growth opportunities.

For example, some ecommerce platforms use checklists or progress bars to show customers what they need to do. It’s a subtle and less intrusive way to get customers to complete the necessary tasks to get up and running. 

Another method involves gamifying the onboarding process. 

Everyone loves to play games. Combining it with onboarding can be an exciting way to engage with and motivate your customers. 

An exciting onboarding process is a great growth hacking strategy to assist you in retaining customers. It can lead to referral marketing as a result of making an excellent first impression.

5. Make use of the scarcity principle

The fear of missing (FOMO) out can be a powerful tool to incentivize customers. When the supply of a product is running low, or it’s restricted to a handful of people, customers get nervous. They don’t want to leave empty-handed, so they immediately make their purchase.

Groupon and Amazon use this tactic. Through time-limited discounts and offers, they can influence buying decisions.

The principle is based on the idea scarcity makes products more valuable. It’s a mental trigger used in growth hacking to incentivize customers to buy products quicker. 

You could take advantage of FOMO out by offering time-limited discounts or limited editions of your products. For example, you could offer a discount for the first 1,000 customers.

6. Build and connect with your community

Engaging with customers is essential to every aspect of a business, but more so for growth hacking. Today, people want engagement to be easy, immediate, and online. 

Connect with Community
Source (blog.gwi.com)

Building an online community is a great way for your brand to nurture and generate leads and connect with customers. It’s an ideal place to answer queries about products and reassure cautious buyers about their purchasing decisions. It could be a forum, dedicated website, or social media group.

A strategy to establish an online community is to attract influencers as they will bring their followers with them. Through influencer marketing you can promote products to your target audience and grow your community, enabling you to connect with more people. 

Online communities provide prospective customers a platform to research your products and brand. Current customers can act as brand advocates, writing reviews and suggesting products to potential buyers.

Other ways to use communities to engage prospects include: 

  • Providing regular updates
  • Telling your brand’s story 
  • Offering exclusive discounts

For example, ink companies have collaborated with the r/fountainpens subreddit to develop new inks. Because users chose the ink’s properties, its popularity was guaranteed, leading to increased sales. 

This growth hack brings together loyal customers, gives potential buyers a research platform, and allows you to promote products to your target audience directly. It’s a valuable resource for building growth and engaging and retaining customers.

7. Improve your PR

Large-scale companies focus heavily on PR, understanding its important role. People want more than just a good product from a company. They want a story.

They want to know what the company stands for, its ideals, and its beginnings. This is a crucial element for startups who are looking to gain quick growth. Getting awareness and recognition is only part of the struggle. The other is getting people to like you.

Improving your digital marketing is more than promoting your products. It’s about promoting yourself and sharing the story of your company in a personable way.

Improve PR
Source (marketingcharts.com)

Quick growth hacks to do this include using content marketing, like writing press releases. 

Building media relationships will help to get your story out into the world. Social media sites like LinkedIn will be invaluable to your networking efforts.

Using AMAs or live streams is an additional way to put faces to names and connect with individuals and communities. Reddit’s AMAs draw in an audience of hundreds of thousands of consumers who ask questions and stick around to find out the answers. 

These types of growth hacks are cost-effective methods that will get you the attention you need to attract customers. 

8. Use social media wisely

Social media has become the go-to place to find out about news, current events, and companies. 

It’s one place where growth hacks can be used in lots of different ways to promote your products and improve your growth potential.

For example, you could set up a social media competition. Each person who uses a specific hashtag is in with the chance of winning a prize. The hashtag could be about a new product or your brand in general.

You could also launch challenges or offer discounts when customers post about your products and services. 

Since these strategies improve online awareness of your business, they improve online visibility. This means new followers, more likes, comments, and shares.

But social media can be a tricky place to navigate. Brand reputation can die in an instant with the wrong message. Savvy online consumers will actively criticize companies if they think they embody the phrase, “trust me, I’m lying”. Avoid giving this impression. Be authentic above all else, even if it means acknowledging your flaws.

9. Try interactive content

Greater customer engagement leads to increased brand loyalty and ultimately greater growth. Increasing audience interaction, therefore, makes for a very effective growth hacking strategy.

Using interactive content, such as live streams, webinars, and quizzes will help you meet your growth goals. It can be the factor that persuades customers to choose you over your competitors.

Interactive content can additionally provide information and data about your customers, their needs, and behaviors. This data can further drive your growth hacking strategies.

Take the example of Twitch streamers. Once you find a streamer you enjoy, you’re more likely to watch more of their live streams. You’ll engage more with them through comments, likes, and shares. They also see data about their viewers, which they can use to create popular content. This leads to increased growth for their channel and brand. 

Try different interactive content and see which ones have virality. Building an archive of content and having regular streams, like on YouTube or Twitch, will give new customers more opportunities to engage with you.

Interactive Content
Source (marketingcharts.com)

10. Test constantly

In growth hacking, experimentation is used to find solutions to achieve goals. A culture like this requires constant testing to determine how to reach those goals most efficiently.

For example, you might test different email newsletter designs. You might find one of them has the greatest open rates but has the lowest conversion rates.

If your end goal is to increase the open rate, then you’ve found a successful method to achieve this. But, if it was to gain more conversions, then it’s not the solution for you.

Growth hacking only cares about your specific goals, and that’s where your focus should lie. Thus it’s essential to define the variable you want to assess and the result you want to obtain. Without having a goal, testing like this is useless.

Don’t feel constrained to just one type of testing, like, for example, A/B testing. It’s one methodology for growth hacking, but you can apply any experiment you want. 

Wrapping up

Now that you have a solid grasp of growth hacking, you should understand how to apply it to benefit your business. Remember, growth hacking isn’t a magic trick. Don’t expect an explosive reaction to each hack. 

Unlike traditional marketing, it provides opportunities for accelerated growth. But, it requires the correct mindset and skillset to succeed. Growth hackers are curious, creative, and analytical. They use small-scale experiments and data analysis to drive their processes. 

Their strategies rest on experiments that provide scalable, repeatable, and sustainable solutions. This means growth hackers think outside of the box to find opportunities for business growth no one else has thought of.

There are no specific tools for growth hacking. Any tool or technique can become part of a growth hacking toolkit, so long as it achieves your main goal- Partnership marketing platforms like Affise can help you implement your growth hacking strategies effectively, pairing you with other brands, agencies, and advertisers with ease.

Growth hacking has the greatest impact on startups and small businesses where resources and budgets are limited. But, it also improves the practices of larger companies, like American Apparel and Uber, so long as they are willing to change. Slow, plodding organizational structures can be detrimental to growth hacker marketing.

Growth hacking is a process that requires trial and error to succeed. Always make sure to test and verify the impact of your growth hacks.

Follow the steps and trust the process to imbue your business with the opportunities for accelerated growth. 

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Nick Brown

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Nick Brown is the founder & CEO of accelerate, a SaaS digital marketing agency who exclusively partners with enterprise tech companies to scale their SEO and content marketing. Nick has launched several successful online businesses, written and published a book and grown accelerate from a UK based agency that now operates across US, APAC and EMEA.