The GrowthMinds guide to growth hacking

We’ve all heard of start-ups that have grown rapidly. Many of the largest global brands and companies came into being in this millennium.

Rapid growth is possible, and growth hacking puts together the experience, tools, and processes many companies have used to achieve it.

What’s it all about?

If you’re a new start up, or a smaller to medium sized company that’s looking to expand, understanding what growth hacking is, and how growth hacking works is really important.

Growth hacking is all about growth, growth, and more growth! Growth is THE driving force. Growth comes from getting new customers, and retaining existing ones. We’ll look in detail at how you can do that, and the techniques growth hacking adopts to get you ahead of your competitors.

You might be questioning: isn’t growth hacking just marketing voodoo? A new fad term to help digital marketing firms create some buzz? What makes it different to marketing? This guide clearly explains why growth hacking gets results, and how.

Digital growth from email content and targeted keywords

Growth hacking v marketing

New startups, and smaller companies looking to grow rapidly often look to traditional marketing companies for help. They’ll typically try to develop a strategic marketing plan, recommend a range of services, and set up a marketing team. Traditional marketing companies have their role, but when it comes to startups and SMEs looking to simply expand, they don’t have quite the right approach.

What you need is growth, and help working out what’s going to achieve it, fast. That’s a growth hacker. Growth is their one and only goal, and they’ll focus completely on achieving that. Not being distracted by fancy reports, or costly schemes that might not pay off. They are wholly interested in you growing as a business. At GrowthMinds, we measure success by your increase in sales.

This obsessive search for growth has spawned a new range of tools, methods and approaches that differentiates growth hackers from traditional marketing.

Try multiple approaches. You can’t expect your one big idea to work, or for each idea you have to come off – it won’t. Get used to failure. It’s normal. Determination is the key.

Gina Edwards - GrowthMinds Head of Client Growth

Growth hacking: in steps

growth hacking essential steps

 

 Define your goal

At the start of any growth hacking project: define your goal. If you don’t have a goal, you won’t know whether you’ve achieved it, or be able to measure progress towards it. It’s like setting sail without a destination – it might be a nice trip, but is it taking you where you want to go?

The goal needs to be measureable, and actionable. If the goal were: ‘grow my business’, is this a target that actionable? Not really: how much do you want to grow by? What steps will make that happen? What things need to change to bring it about?

Breaking down the end goal into simpler actionable substeps makes the overall goal achievable. You can measure progress by task completion, and the impact on the overall goal measure.

 Prepare to progress

To track progress, growth hacking obviously needs the right infrastructure in place. You’ll need all of your sales and marketing systems working in harmony to see what traffic exists, how people navigate around, and where any bottlenecks are or dead ends, and most importantly where sales are coming from.

Are you monitoring and analysing not only your site and communication channels, but what the public is saying about your brand and products on social media? Are you monitoring the impact your actions have on this?

Analytics might also cause you to rethink an approach: for example, the problem might not be generating content, it might be how it’s consumed, or one form of content might be more effective than another. There any many types of analysis and useful diagnostics we use to growth hack what works for each of our customers at GrowthMinds.

Analytics provide powerful insights to help hone our approach, and get closer to a more effective solution. This is an ongoing process, and what works can change over time.

 Action

Before making any course of actions, you must define what you expect to happen. You can then compare what really happened to your initial intent. Do the results confirm your thoughts? If not, why?

Take time to do things properly. Get the resources in place to execute your strategy, and do it right. Quality content, executed correctly is better than half-baked copy which will cheapen your brand with target users.

Try multiple approaches. You can’t expect your one big idea to work, or for each idea you have to come off – it won’t. Get used to failure. It’s normal. Determination is the key. Growth hacking is just that: plugging away with multiple approaches, but also learning from failures and successes.

 A/B Testing

Ever heard of A/B testing?  What difference would a slightly differently worded email have on site visits? Splitting up your target audience, you can monitor how effective different approaches are: giving greater insight for what works in the future.

Refine

Learning from mistakes and successes through careful monitoring and analysis enables you to refine your approach on future campaigns. Keep going: determination works in this game.

Almost everyone that uses your site has their own network of contacts, who have their contacts… Your customers are potentially a fab way to spread your message.

Tim Hanson, Growth Hacker

Driving sales growth

To generate revenue growth, growth hackers need to drive traffic to a site/app, and convert this interest to sales. Even better, is retaining regular signed up visitors that keep returning. So getting them to visit is clearly an extremely important task.

Maximising your own reach

Improving your website ranking through SEO, and regular activity on social media, blogging, and issuing whitepapers all help generate traffic. It’s important to have quality, engaging content and offers to lure visitors in when they do visit.

Several tools are available to help engage with your audience and optimise their activity.

  • KISSMetrics lets you analyse visitors for greater insights.
  • Unbounce is useful for creating and testing great landing pages.
  • BuzzSumo helps inform the kind of content you should be creating to drive traffic.

Leveraging other people’s audiences

You’ll also want to reach people who haven’t chosen to view content you have generated. Generally this costs money: so you’ll need to do the sums over the cost/benefit of increased revenue for the increase in sales it brings. You might use AdWords, preloaders on videos, paid ads on social media, or even partnerships to access receptive audiences.

Again, there are multiple tools out there to help, such as NinjaOutreach, for finding influencers. For an insight into what your competitors are doing, there’s SpyFu, to see which AdWords are being bid. FameBit helps reach new audiences, and Invite Referrals to automate lead generation on social media.

Leveraging visitors

You may be able to use your product itself to growth hack. Almost everyone that uses your site has their own network of contacts, who have their contacts… Your customers are potentially a fab way to spread your message.

Contacts

How could you persuade them to invite their contacts via your website or app? This could be via email, social media, or phone. Just making it easier to let their friends know by posting something on Facebook might be enough.

Are you making it easy for people to share articles and blogs with their contacts? All this functionality helps raise your profile and improve traffic into your funnel.

More sophisticated growth hacking approaches also integrate connectivity to other platforms into their own products. This may or may not be relevant, depending on what your product is.

Promotions

Any communications are an opportunity for links to promotions too. Don’t ignore the power of referrals either.

Overall then, growth hackers have many techniques and tools to attract traffic, including via their product itself. But there’s no one answer that fits all. It takes a mix of experience, ideas, development, monitoring, and adjusting, based on the data, to unlock what works for each company or product, and remember this can change over time too.

Build the reputation of your scale up

  • By maximising website visibility
  • By creating a social buzz
  • By sharing quality content
  • By partnering with people who have access to your target audience
  • By networking with your contacts
  • By offering referral incentives to existing customers
  • By experimenting with promotions

Learning from mistakes and successes through careful monitoring and analysis enables you to refine your approach on future campaigns. Keep going: determination works in this game.

Kate Fairhurst - GrowthMinds CEO and Co-founder

Nurturing customers

Once you’ve successfully converted visitors to signed up customers, who have purchased your product, you’ll want to build on this with great service, to encourage repeat business and recommendations. The most appropriate approach will obviously vary depending on your product.

Great product + great service = happy customers

Encouraging repeat business is extremely important: it’s easier to retain happy customers than recruit new ones, and happy customers are also valuable in themselves as a referral tool to their own contacts. Growth hackers need to know what makes customers happy, and keep pressing those buttons. Engaging with customers is useful to both remind them of what you do, and to find out what they feel. You need to know where it’s going well, and where you could do better, and take action.

When you make improvements to the service: let people know! How better could you support customers? Making it easier to use, adding features based on customer feedback, and keep spreading the word about what you’re doing on social channels. Providing a great service and nurturing happy customers is fundamental to delivering organic growth.

Don't forget the importance of retaining clients

  • Prioritise giving the best of service so clients are happy
  • Have regular discussions and listen openly to feedback
  • Be creative about ways to develop
  • Keep testing, pivoting and learning as you go. You never know it all!

Meet the growth hackers

What sort of people make good growth hackers? We ask GrowthMinds Chief Growth Officer Kate Fairhurst what it takes…

What skills do you need to make a good growth hacker?

Kate is Chief Growth Officer at GrowthMinds“Good question. First of all, I’d like to say it’s not a one-person job really. It takes a team, with a set of different mind-sets working together to pull it off best. Yes, of course we have the techies – that’s essential. We have programmers with front and back end development skills who can create code to track each stage of the customer journey. We also need people with a thorough understanding of the sales process, and converting opportunities into sales, and copywriting expertise, to engage the target audience.

Putting it together, it’s rare to find all that in one person, so that’s why it works best as a team of experts. We bounce ideas off each other, use our experience and specialisms to make it all happen, and have a lot of fun doing it too.”

 

How do you know what approach works?

Kate is Chief Growth Officer at GrowthMinds“We’re completely data driven. Analytics are essential to what we do. When we start out, we might think we know where a problem lies, or what’s going to bring the biggest results, but the data shows us. We let the data do the talking.  

That’s why having great systems in place, so we can track and monitor user journeys is really important. We want to know where people are dropping out of the funnel, or which point they’re converting to sales. It shows us what works, and what doesn’t work. We want to find what leads to success, and follow it.”

 

So is growth hacking just about trial and error?

Kate is Chief Growth Officer at GrowthMinds“Absolutely not. We do have processes and techniques which we apply. Part of that is being agile though, and data driven. We need to do the groundwork, like making sure all the systems are linked up, and we can see what’s going on, and where.

And there’s also no substitute for experience. We’ve been there and done it before, and learnt the lessons. That saves our clients time and money. So we’ve got both technical depth, breadth of skills, and experience. A number of us have successfully grown our own startups, and are invested in others. We get it. We understand the bigger picture, and why we do what we do, and it’s always exciting to see it come together and deliver results.”

What’s the magic ingredient?

Kate is Chief Growth Officer at GrowthMinds“I’d say it’s our inquisitive nature. Thinking what if? Looking at things in a new way, or dreaming up promos or schemes to attract interest. Working as a team we can kick around ideas, then make them happen: even if they’ve never been done before, and monitor how they perform: now that’s exciting. Not all of them will work, but the ones that do more than make up for the others. And that approach is at the heart of growth hacking. We all focus on growth, at GrowthMinds!”

 

 

Is there a Eureka moment then?

Kate is Chief Growth Officer at GrowthMinds “Not always, no. Sometimes there is, and that’s great. We’ll hit on something that is a killer idea and works like a dream. But often, we have lots of smaller successes.

It’s a case of building numbers steadily and sustainably, targeting and finding the right people, gaining traction, and building on that base, compounding success, rather than 0-100 in two seconds.”

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