The Internet space is becoming quite crowded, and it’s progressively getting more difficult for a business to be seen and reach a target audience. With the growth of the Internet, digital marketing channels have emerged with a focus on:
- Content marketing,
- Viral marketing,
- Email marketing,
- Online advertising, and
- Social media marketing.
All of these methods are designed to drive traffic and conversions to a business.
The newest kid to the online marketing block is referred to as growth hacking, a term coined by its originator Sean Ellis, founder of Startup-Marketing.
What is growth hacking?
Tech Beach sees growth hacking as a “marketing technique initially employed in tech startups that uses creativity, social metrics, and analytical thinking as well as tools to sell products and gain exposure”.
This is a high level definition that needs to be converted into actionable goals. What’s unique about the marketing aspect of growth hacking is that it focuses on business growth.
Growth hacking focuses on one single objective at a time, and that objective is translated into strategies and actions that will yield tangible business growth. Inherent in the action plan created to achieve growth is the inclusion of analytics, measurement, and testing.
A typical growth hacking objective and action plan may be designed with the following steps:
- Identify a specific growth objective. This could be items like increased traffic, lead capturing, increased sales, improved conversions, or higher return on investment.
- Identify the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for achieving this goal.
- Define and implement the tactics required to achieve the specific goal.
- Set up Google Analytics so as to measure the performance indicators.
- Create reports to measure progress and use split testing to improve results.
Business owners and marketers can design creative strategies and tactics in pursuit of goals that will yield business growth.
How does growth hacking differ from inbound marketing?
Inbound marketing essentially aligns specific marketing strategies to a particular target audience. Growth hacking, on the other hand, relies more on the ability to create new ideas or strategies, or on strengthening an existing strategy in pursuit of better results.
As mentioned earlier in the article, each idea should be aligned to a specific growth objective, and the key performance indicators associated with that goal. Creativity, analytical thinking, and social metrics are key ingredients in successful growth hacking.
Specific tactics often involve SEO, website analytics, content marketing, and split testing. Social metrics involve the use of social media marketing and viral marketing in place of traditional advertising in print media, TV, and radio. These tactics used are less expensive, which is particularly important for startups.
If you look closer at social media channels like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, you might notice that they all use growth hacking as key strategies.
Growth strategies and tactics
The strength of growth hacking relies on creative ideas that focus on one major metric related to growth. Growth is, of course, not an actionable goal; the action plan needs to be specific. Hence metrics need to focus on a company’s sales funnel. Finally, analytics are a crucial part of growth hacking.
The targeted metric
The first task is to select a goal and the associated metrics to monitor. Actionable tactics that relate to the growth objective can include:
- Conversion rates,
- Organic traffic growth,
- Paid traffic conversion rates,
- Churn rate, and
- Opt-in rate.
The metrics listed above are components of a company’s sales and conversion funnel. Yet Hubspot research reveals that 68% of B2B organisations have never defined or optimised their sales funnel. This is difficult to believe as it’s a critical part of an online marketing strategy. The objective of a sales funnel is to attract visitors, engage with visitors, and convert visitors into buyers.
When choosing a metric for growth hacking, it’s advisable to focus on the top part of the funnel. This is where you attract visitors. You can do this by increasing organic traffic or buying traffic. Because direct response advertising has suffered a serious decline due to ad blindness, the better method is to attract visitors with unique and valuable content and/or free giveaways. Use social media channels to share posts and attract visitors to this content.
The next requirement is to engage with visitors and motivate them to sign up to your email list. There are many suitable tactics available for improving opt-rates, primarily high-converting landing pages.
Finally, the conversion funnel should have actionable items and metrics for turning visitors into paying customers, and retaining these customers. A content strategy that satisfies client needs with useful, unique, and informative content is one solution.
A suitable reference is Neil Patel’s post titled “How to Build a Conversion Funnel That Will Triple Your Profits”.
Google Analytics is a suitable tool for traffic and conversion analytics, although there are other tools which may provide more details, particularly in regards to traffic sources. Google Analytics, however, will do the job required and is user friendly.
Google tutorials are available for those unfamiliar with the world of analytics. The idea is to:
- Track daily traffic,
- Set up conversion goals and track these too,
- Monitor visitor’s time spent on page and their bounce rate,
- Track events like sign-ups, and
- Set up specific goals for tracking the metrics defined in a growth hacking action plan.
Small business enterprises, and new business ventures in particular, have a difficult time competing against well established companies that have the resources to dominate traditional marketing channels. They need to innovate and change the rules of traditional marketing channels in order to reach their target audience and acquire visitors to their sales funnel. This is what growth hacking is all about