Whether you’re a marketer at a Fortune 500 company or a small startup, limited budget and resources are probably one of the biggest challenges you and your team will face. So how you go about developing and executing effective marketing strategies on a tight budget that will help grow your business? One potential solution is growth hacking.
What Is Growth Hacking?
Sean Ellis, who coined the term, defines growth hacker as a person whose “true north is growth.” Growth hackers, above everything else, focus on marketing activities that have a direct impact on scalable, sustainable growth for their businesses.
Growth hacking focuses on relatively low-cost alternative tactics, like social media and viral marketing, rather than traditional marketing to raise brand awareness, engage prospects and ultimately convert them into sales for their businesses.
When thinking about growth hacking, it’s helpful to look at this funnel to help you understand the steps involved in growth hacking:
This phase is about finding the most cost-effective and impactful marketing tactics to help build awareness for your product or service, and making sure you get it front of your target audience.
AirBnB, for example, was an early startup that needed to build awareness around its product. Using Craigslist, AirBnB posted their listings on the platform to encourage people to visit their site and convert them into customers. This was a cost-effective alternative for spending big marketing dollars on paid advertising, which may or may not work.
Once your targeted consumers are aware of your product or service, it’s time to convert them into consumers by persuading them to try out your offerings. Once converted into a customer, you want to make sure you are giving them the best possible customer experience. Just because a customer signs up for your product or service, it doesn’t mean they are going to stay with you for life. 71% of consumers have said they ended their relationship with a company due to poor customer service.
When you have some customers onboard with your product or service, now you need to focus on building and maintaining those relationships. You can do this in various ways, and there is no right or wrong approach here since it is largely dependent on what your customers are most interested in as well as your product or service. For example, for some companies, it is about producing relevant, quality content that helps answer a customer’s biggest questions, to drive customer engagement and loyalty.
Leveraging the relationships you have built with your existing customers, you roll out programs where customers are incentivized to spread the word about your product or service and inviting their networks to sign up to help increase your customer base.
Dropbox, for example, launched a referral program offering existing users free 500MB storage by inviting their networks to use their product.
When you have acquired and converted leads into customers, you now need to focus on building a constant, sustainable revenue stream to keep your business running and growing. It’s about finding creative ways to monetize the quality leads you have by offering them something they want and need to convert them into actual customers for your business.
Growth Hacking In 3 Steps
So how do you get started with growth hacking? Marketing Masala, a digital marketing and growth hacking agency, outlines three basic steps on how you can hack the marketing growth of your business:
- Know Your Audience
Just like any other marketing approaches, growth hacking starts with developing an understanding of your target audience. You want to know where they are hanging out, content they are interested in or challenges they are trying to solve, so you know which channels or platforms to target and content to produce.
It’s tempting to try to target everyone so you can get as many leads and customers as you can. But when you’re targeting everyone, you will attract no one at all. In the beginning, you want to start with a small minority of people who will get the most value out of your product or service. Be as specific as you can about the target audience you are going after, and cater exclusively to their needs and preferences to establish a loyal customer base first.
- Build Your Plan
Once you have identified the channels and platforms your target audience prefers, the next step involves building out your strategy, selecting the channels you will focus on and developing a plan of daily and weekly tasks for those channels.
Growth hacking tools are no different than ones you typically use for online marketing. The major ones include SEO, SEM, content marketing, social media, email marketing and word-of-mouth, just to name a few.
The key here is selecting the channels and platforms your target customers frequently visit and use, and coming up with marketing activities and tactics that will add value to your target audience and help you achieve your marketing goals.
- Iterate, Experiment And Optimize
The reason why growth hacking is so popular among startups is because their businesses are constantly evolving, and so must their marketing strategy. Growth hackers love testing and finding out what works or not. In the course of experimentation, they may come up with new ideas for a specific marketing channel or to improve an existing tactic, which helps to achieve a greater growth rate.
Growth hackers are extremely analytical, and they are always looking at their data to identify trends and insights for the business. They are always evaluating and iterating their marketing strategy and tactics to optimize for greater success.
So what are the biggest lessons marketers can take away from growth hacking?
The first thing is about researching and understanding your target audience. You want to know what their biggest challenges are, where they are hanging out and looking to get answers to their questions, and the types of content and communication they prefer.
From there, you build out and document your marketing strategy, tactics and channels you will be using as well as the content topics you will cover to reach your potential customers.
And like growth hackers, smart marketers are relentless learners who are always experimenting, measuring, iterating and optimizing their marketing programs.
At the end of the day, successful marketing is about adding value to your customers, helping them with their needs and solving their biggest problems that are keeping them up at night.
Have you tried growth hacking? How is it working for your marketing strategy? Please share your thoughts below!
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