Growth Hacking For Businesses
Growth hacking is a process of rapid experimentation across marketing channels and product development to identify the most effective, efficient ways to grow a business.
Growth hackers are marketers, engineers and product managers that specifically focus on building and engaging the user base of a business.
These kind of growth hacking specialists often focus on low-cost alternatives to traditional marketing, e.g. using social media, viral marketing or targeted advertising, instead of buying advertising through more traditional media such as radio, newspaper and television. Below are three examples of startups that have utilized the most amazing growth hacking strategies our world has ever experienced.
Dropbox is an example of a startup that utilized the potentials of growth hacking, Dropbox gained tens of thousands of users in just days by releasing its famous explainer video. Airbnb’s early growth happened thanks to its publicity stunts at the 2008 Republican National Convention. This growth hack gave Airbnb the early traction it needed to stay in business. Uber built up its supply of drivers early on by partnering with black car companies in each new launch city. Black car companies made extra money and Uber got tons of drivers with relatively little effort.
Now that we have seen these examples, let’s learn about how we can get the traction your business needs to grow it in the shortest possible time.
With this comprehensive guide on growth hacking and digital marketing, you’ll learn how to get the traction your startup needs, this guide would give you 19 customer acquisition (traction) channels which your businesses can use for growth, these channels are tried and true ways to grow any startup.
Below is a brief description of each traction channel with an example of a business that growth hacked each channel to success.
Growth Hacking Techniques
Targeting blogs —Finding blogs in your market that resonate with your business is an effective method of creating awareness for your brand. All you need do is discover blogs in your market, pitch them on how your business will help their readers, and ask for them to write about you. Noah Kagan used this strategy at Mint.com to help the company get more than 1 million users in six months.
Sales— If your products or services are B2B, then you definitely need a sales team and process to close deals. Sales is a proven way of getting out information about your products/services to specific targeted audience. It is also a very effective method of growing your business.Startups that have used sales as their main growth channel are Zuora, Qualtrics, Tanium, Docker, ConvertKit, and more.
Content marketing— Content marketing helps you provide free education and entertainment to potential customers about your business and industry, it also helps to build a valuable audience over time. As your audience begins to trust your brand, thanks to the free and valuable content you release, they become your customers. Companies like Buffer and Groove have used content marketing as the backbone of their startup growth strategies to great success.
Public relations— The media loves to talk about exciting companies that are changing the world. Make your startup so exciting that the media can’t refuse to write about you when you ask them to. When online media companies cover your business, you’re doing them a favour because you’re giving them fodder for more page views. Startups that have used PR to ignite huge growth include DuckDuckGo, Tinder, and Snapchat.
Email marketing — Email marketing has the best conversion rates. It is more targeted and the potentials are limitless. People buy stuff in droves over email. Building up an engaged and loyal email list is a great way to grow your product and increase sales. Companies and startups that got traction using email marketing include Jackthreads, Groupon, and AppSumo.
Existing platforms— There are a few enormous platforms like the App Store, Facebook, Google Play, Stripe, and more that you can build your business on. If your business gets featured and promoted by one of these platforms, it will grow fast and furiously. Evernote used the App Store as a platform when it launched to quickly get millions of users.
Unconventional PR —Who wants to see a video of a famous CEO skydiving from mount Everest. Startups have used publicity stunts, viral videos, and acts of customer appreciation to fuel rocket ship growth for decades, who says you can’t use them too for your business?
Richard Branson is famous for using publicity stunts to launch new lines of business at Virgin Group. Josh Kopelman persuaded a town to rename itself as his company, Half.com, which helped propel him and the business to huge heights.
Engineering as marketing— Releasing free tools that help your customers do their jobs better is an excellent way to grow your business. This approach is wonderful growth hacking technique if your business delivers services through these tools, releasing one of them for free that would help customers is a great way to display the efficiency of your product and this creates a freeway for the rest of your other products.
These tools should be valuable, well-designed, and easy-to-use. HubSpot released its Marketing Grader tool for free early on and it has generated more than a million leads. More recently, companies like Crew and Runscope have used engineering as marketing in the form of free tools to turbocharge their growth.
Trade shows— As a growth hacker trade shows are a good avenue to network with your industry and business stakeholders. Companies can also network and promote their products in person at trade shows. Startups like RJ Metrics have successfully gotten big sales and started relationships with important partners at trade shows.
SEO (Search Engine Optimization)—For your startup to leverage on SEO you must have great, insightful and compelling content. SEO is also free, so it’s a must have asset for your startup. Websites, articles, and videos that get to the top of Google, Bing, Youtube, and other big search engines receive tons of traffic and customers.
Often, companies can also use additional traction channels like content marketing, publicity, or an unconventional PR strategy in order for SEO to work. Companies that have used SEO to grow and become successful are Moz, RetailMeNot, and Wikipedia.
SEM (Search Engine Marketing) — Using paid ads in Google, Bing, DuckDuckGo, and other search engines to promote your product are all examples of SEM. If you need to scale up sales of your product, and have no time for organic methods like SEO SEM can be a good way to do it. Using SEM effectively and profitably takes time and thousands of dollars of test ads. But, once you get it right it can lead to huge profits. Startups and companies like Constant Contact, Bigcommerce, and Groupon have used SEM to grow in leaps and bounds.
Business development—You can leverage on partnerships to increase your business growth. It’s very hard for companies to close partnership deals, but they can be invaluable. Google got its initial burst of traction by partnering with Yahoo to power their search engine. Standard partnerships, joint ventures, licensing, distribution deals and supply partners are different types of partnership agreements that can benefit your startup and add great value to your bottom-line.
Offline events— Everyone loves to attend conferences and get-togethers where they can network, learn, and have fun. As the host of an offline event, your company will have countless opportunities to grow its brand, talk with customers, and close key deals. HubSpot’s annual INBOUND conference brings 10,000 marketers together with HubSpot and its various products at the center of it. Finally, you can throw a party as a way to schmooze with leads and promote your business. Uber is famous for throwing big parties in all of their launch cities.
Social and display advertisements— Your business can advertise on blogs, Facebook, Twitter, and other large social networks which can be very effective at getting cost-effective leads and customers. Brands like GT Bank, Jumia, Konga have all used social and display advertising as effective traction channel.
Affiliate programs— When someone receives money or some other compensation in exchange for promoting the successful sale of a product, an affiliate program is at work. With affiliate marketing you can have tens to thousands of influential bloggers and people promoting your product in exchange for a cut of each sale. Startups like WP Engine, Bench, Dropbox, Uber and more have used affiliate programs as an important traction channel.
Speaking engagements— Speaking at conferences and other live events can be a great way to build business relationships with future customers, partners, and friends. That said, most of the time conference talks won’t lead to any tangible business results in the short term. Be mindful of this fact when looking for speaking gigs. Speaking at conferences is often a product of success, not a cause of it.
Viral marketing (customer invites and viral loops)— Any successful social network or company that allows users to join for free most likely used viral marketing. Gmail, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, and other sites used viral marketing to create explosive growth. With effective viral marketing you create a system where each new user invites at least one more user after they sign up.
The average number of users each new user refers to a product is its viral coefficient. If you use the viral marketing traction channel, your goal should be to have a viral coefficient greater than one. Viral marketing is much tougher than it looks, which means you should be careful when using this traction channel.
Community building— Some products like Stack Overflow, Product Hunt, and Reddit have communities at their core. Ryan Hoover wrote an excellent article on how to start and grow an effective community-based product. If you want to build a community-based product, use Ryan’s article and the chapter about community-building in Tractionas your starting points. Communities can be built and fostered to grow other products too. Y Combinator’s brand has grown directly in line with the growth of its Hacker News community. Another example is Qualaroo’s customer base and revenue growing as its GrowthHackers.com community has grown.
Offline ads— Purchasing remnant advertising can be an inexpensive way to show your business to lots of people. Remnant ads refer to advertising space that a media company has been unable to sell. Depending on the medium it could be ad space or time; often it can be bought at a steep discount.