As an experienced marketer, you’re probably not that easily distracted by hyped terms and buzzwords. If you’re anything like me, you know the huge amount of work to go into attracting new leads, staying competitive and just doing good marketing. That’s why, when I first heard the term “growth marketing” I was skeptical, to say the least.
In my mind, nothing worthwhile comes easily; hacks are shortcuts. As I learned more about the origins of the term and the correct way to use it, I realized that it’s actually a very scientific, pragmatic approach to doing marketing in the age of technology.
Sean Ellisis the “father” of growth marketing. In 2010, he introduced this new concept, in which he defined a growth hacker as "a person whose true north is growth. Everything they do is scrutinized by its potential impact on scalable growth."
What started out as a digital marketing approach that would map customer acquisition to technology advancements is now a mindset that can be applied to any marketing strategy, regardless of company or industry.
Is growth hacking only for startups?
If you’ve paid attention so far, you probably know that the answer to this is “it doesn’t have to”. Customer acquisition can make or break a startup (assuming they’ve already established product-market fit). Because of this, growth marketing tactics have mainly been explored and developed by startup marketers and founders.
Startups have a growth mindset, by their very nature. They need to get traction fast, they need to secure investments and they operate with limited resources. Cutting through the noise is not an easy task for any business, especially a new one with a small, over-extended team. These premises make growth hacking the perfect marketing strategy to start with.
Back to the question, cultivating a growth mindset is a smart move for any business, in any stage.
Translating growth hacking
Growth hacking should be a way of thinking rather than a strategy in itself. You can apply it to any part of your marketing strategy.
Here are some of the ways in which you can do that:
- Understanding your customers
- Offering value
- Using data to test and try
- Keeping SEO in mind
- Diversifying your customer acquisition channels
- Conversion rate optimization
- Encouraging sharing
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Understand your customers
Part of a growth mindset is keeping up to date with the latest strategies and frameworks. Putting the customer at the center of your business strategy is one of these strategies.
From a marketing perspective, you’ll want to make sure that you know and understand who your customer is, what his pain points are, how a day in his life looks like and how your product or service can help improve his existence by solving one of those pain points.
Use surveys, social media, polls, email workflows or community outreach to get to know your customers and tailor your marketing strategy and overall unique selling point to their needs and expectations.
Once you’ve captured that data, incorporate it into your product or service development. In growth marketing, it’s important that all aspects of the business communicate with each other to provide value. Salespeople need to know what marketing promises. Customer success needs to know what was promised and sold on, to understand how they can retain and upsell that client.
Create valuable content that can serve to pull customers towards you rather than pushing your message towards them. Using inbound marketing tactics, you can connect with leads at the right time and offer value for each stage of their buying journey until they are ready to convert.
Content volume is another important aspect to keep in mind. The more quality content you create, the easier it will be to map it to the buyer journey and improve your search rankings. If you already have valuable content created you can easily repurpose it. If you’re not sure about content repurposing or need help getting started with it, download the pdf with our free Guide to Repurposing Content here.
Use data to test and try
Growth hacking is built on capturing and using data. All sort of data. From the very first interaction with a possible lead, you can use a myriad of digital solutions to track consumer intent and translate it into marketing actions that can increase your chances of conversion.
Find out where your potential customers are spending their time, what type of content or products they consume, what steps they take in researching solutions to their problems. Every information is an opportunity to connect (and ultimately convert).
Keep SEO in mind
Search is the best way to harvest demand. Make sure you’re easily found by prospects by constantly optimizing your online presence. You’ll notice that all the steps so far connect and converge into a digital marketing strategy that enables you to build a relationship with your prospects.
The more valuable content you create, the more you try and test keywords and the better you understand your customer, the easier it will be to optimize your online presence to get featured on the first page of search results.
Diversify your customer acquisition channels
The transition from traditional marketing to growth hacking is easiest to illustrate here. Take a minute to step away from the channels you’ve always used to communicate and examine the new things you’ve learned about your customers. Perhaps they spend a lot of their time researching answers to their problems on Quora. Or perhaps they only read reputable publications such as Forbes magazine.
Once you’ve figured out their behaviors, new channels will appear on your marketing radar. Explore those channels further and connect with your prospects where they already are. All that’s left to do now is to deliver the right content to the right channel and target your prospects accordingly (ex. Facebook social targeting).
Conversion rate optimization
Growth hacking is all about acquisition. Which brings us to the marketing funnel. If diversifying your communication channels can bring a lot of prospects into your funnel, you’ll also need to be ready to guide and convert them down to the bottom of the funnel, avoiding bottlenecks.
This will require trial and error. Valuable content and data will be your closest allies in optimizing conversion rates.
Speaking of valuable content, make sure you make sharing easy. People will always want to look smart and informed in their circles. They want to share your content (if indeed it provides value). But if your website has no sharing buttons, no optimized pages and no social media accounts, that’s going to prove problematic.
Building relationships with influencers and doing community outreach is another great way to get your content shared. You’re not the only marketer targeting that well-defined customer. Connect and team up with brand and publications with the same audience.
One last piece of advice
Growth hacking has another essential aspect to it - learning from others. Read about other companies’ journeys and connect with fellow marketers to find out which tactics performed best in which situations.
You can start with this amazing presentation from Dropbox. (You’re welcome!)