If you have some digital marketing experience, you should be familiar with this term: Growth Hacking. This article will teach you what it is and how this strategy can seriously boost your business.
This concept was born in 2010 in the middle of startups and has now become democratized.
But for many, including small entrepreneurs or e-merchants, it is a barbaric and vague term. Yet, just like marketing automation, growth hacking is accessible and can do a lot for you.
What is growth hacking? That’s what you’ll learn in this article, along with some background and basic techniques that you can easily apply to your business.
Growth Hacking: definition
The term was coined in 2010 by Sean Ellis, an American consultant working for startups at the time unknown: Airbnb , Dropbox or Eventbrite. Mr. Ellis applied his creative, innovative and formidably powerful marketing techniques to it.
But when he was looking for replacements to embark on new adventures, it was impossible to find the right candidates. Because at the time, marketing professionals focused on budgets, expenses and conversions, but not specifically on growth, essential to the survival of a start-up.
He was desperately looking for profiles for whom “The true north is growth”. Classic marketing profiles did not meet his vision. So he coined the term Growth Hacker.
What is a growth hacker?
Since startups generally have little capital, they need to develop very quickly to establish themselves in a highly competitive environment. This is where the growth hacker comes in. He uses economic, analytical, creative and innovative marketing methods to boost the development of a start-up.
We study these growth hacking techniques further, but first break down the myths about the growth hacker.
First of all, the idea that you have to be a marketing pro to be a growth hacker is wrong. Marketing managers remain absolutely interesting for a company, but they do not necessarily have the entrepreneurial mindset that inhabits the growth hacker, nor his experience of the early stages of a company’s development.
You also don’t need programming or engineering knowledge to be a growth hacker. But the reverse is true: a marketing pro, a programmer or an engineer can become a growth hacker.
Growth hackers are very analytics-centric. While marketers try long-term experiences, growth hackers are constantly improving their tactics for more growth. They focus on the details and are super flexible.
Let’s see if you have what it takes to grow your business.
Growth Hacking KPIs
Since its inception in 2010, this profession has been able to develop its own methodology and analysis tools, like any other marketing discipline. Dave McClure, PayPal Mafia member and mastermind of 500 Startups, created the 6 stages of start-up development.
These steps have become the reference for anyone looking to do growth hacking. Analysis of each of these levels helps to assess the performance of the strategy.
Here are the 5 levels:
Together they form the acronym AARRR, the KPI’s of growth hacking (key performance indicators). These levels create a sort of sales funnel.
Think about the discovery stage in classic marketing. The acquisition metric represents your website or app traffic. This is the estimate of your reach. This metric allows you to measure the impact of your advertising and your SEO . Here you estimate the number of people who stay more than 30 seconds on your website and how many of them visit more than 2 pages.
Dave McClure calls this step the “happy first visit”. Activation refers to the number of people who return or engage after a first visit to your site. It could be someone signing up for your newsletter or the number of people who use your app, or even the time these people spend on your website or app.
After this first satisfactory visit, you must retain this customer. This step is often the most difficult. If your product is not a winning product, if the experience you are offering is not appealing, this is where you will notice. How many people can you retain after your first purchase?
Many e-commerce marketers believe that everything should be invested in the emailing list But growth hacking professionals think that the opportunities are in word of mouth: a happy customer who talks about it to those around him.
It is proven that a customer who made a purchase from you has a 27% chance of coming back, while a customer who made 3 purchases has a 57% chance of coming back. These numbers show you how important your loyal customers are. This means that at least a quarter of your marketing budget should be focused on your repeat customers.
This step is extremely important for growth. The reference or recommendation concerns your customers who communicate their satisfaction to those around them. It’s free advertising for you and that’s how some brands go viral. Your job is therefore to collect positive opinions from your audience and share them on your website or on your social networks.
This is obviously what we are looking for with a business: to generate income. It’s your cash.
How to initiate growth hacking?
At this point, you should be asking yourself how to implement growth hacking and how to apply it to your business.
The first important thing is to know your target well. When you create ads and your marketing strategies, knowing who you are talking to is essential.
Who exactly buys your products? Are they 25 to 35-year-old men working in tech? Or 20-year-old fashionistas? Finding your ideal client will help you run truly effective campaigns.
A great way to know your target while making sales is to do Facebook growth hacking. To do this, use Facebook ads. Indeed, this tool allows you to really precisely target your audience, to then act by iteration.
Start at the very beginning: are my clients male or female? Advertise, study the results. What age group? Take the test, then study. Continue until you identify the most profitable profiles for you.
According to Eric Ries, author of The Lean Startup, there are 3 methods for growth hacking:
Viral growth, captivating growth or growth that pays off. Since these strategies are different, you should test them separately to see which one works best for your business.
The concept of viral growth is popular now: it is about growing through the incredible power of word-of-mouth. But you can’t target just anyone, because not everyone will be interested in your products.
When launching a product or starting a business, you need to target two distinct groups: innovators and early adopters. They are people interested in new products, who like to take the role of prescribers and will not hesitate to test new products.
To grow virally, there are many techniques. A great example of growth hacking is Dropbox: they offered a free storage solution to those who would recommend the product, as well as to those invited.
They thus increased their subscriptions by 60%. They offered even more storage to those who recommended them on social media.
Another good technique is to use integration. Set up registrations through other apps, like Facebook or Gmail. This simplifies the process to your advantage. In this regard, here is an example of Facebook growth hacking: Spotify, the music platform, created a feature that allowed you to share titles or playlists on Facebook. This allowed both more interactions and sharing on Facebook, but also to gain Spotify ambassador users.
Ease of sharing is also an element to always favor. For example, YouTube’s growth hacking strategy has been to make its videos super easy to share in all possible and imaginable contexts. This is what made them famous. They then introduced the autoplay feature and let’s admit that it made us spend quite a few hours on the platform.
To be successful with your viral growth, you need to create the buzz, get everyone talking about you at the same time. For this, you must therefore focus on the social networks most suited to your business and launch growth hacking operations on Instagram, Facebook or Linkedin, according to your needs.
Instagram growth hacking
Here are some tips to quickly increase your Instagram follower base:
Follow the influencers in your niche, then the people who like those influencers. If they like the same type of content that you offer, they will likely follow you.
Like content from accounts in your niche multiple times.
Post daily at optimal times. On this subject, follow our detailed guide to Instagram growth hacking to increase your followers.
Use the right hashtags.
Growth Hacking Linkedin
Doing growth hacking on Linkedin can be particularly interesting for freelancers, self-employed people or for B2B companies.
LinkedIn offers a suite of marketing tools tailored to its platform, such as inMails, which allows you to canvass people you don’t know through messages. But these tools come at a price. But remember, you are now a pirate.
A LinkedIn growth hacking technique would therefore be to bypass this tool by publishing a post in which you will ask your audience to send you connection requests. Why would they do this? Because you are giving them something in return. For example an ebook or an infographic. Offer them value.
Another Linkedin growth hacking strategy is to highlight your targets. Share their content, recommend their products, explain how you use them yourself. No matter what you are trying to sell, you should always talk to your customers before you talk to yourself.
That said, optimizing your LinkedIn profile is very important. Make sure you have a professional, high-quality photo, make smart use of your cover image space, and showcase your experiences and accomplishments well.
Sticky growth hacking
A strategy that could be translated into captivating growth.
It is the strategy of companies that capture your attention and make sure that you always want more. Facebook growth hacking is a prime example. They started by targeting only certain educational institutions and then made it so that everyone wanted to access them. They create demand. Today, Facebook has over 2.6 billion users.
Companies opting for sticky growth have a very low abandonment rate and keep their users coming back.
One of the key elements for developing a sticky growth strategy is the customer benefit: points or loyalty cards, gifts… whatever the type of benefit.
A branding based on exclusivity is also very effective. Indeed, sticky products are not necessarily products that are necessary, but that are desired.
Sticky and viral strategies are often exploited by start-ups.
Paid growth hacking
This strategy is a bit more difficult for start-ups that don’t have a budget, but it can really be the best option for companies that sell a product, for example a kitchen gadget.
This section contains everything related to advertising. Whatever the medium or the campaign, you pay to grab the attention of your future customers.
This can be done in the form of coupons, gifts, contests, or other more traditional advertisements, on Google for example or via advertising networks.
Either way, the rule of thumb for growth hacking advertising is this: A customer must earn you more than what you spent to bring them back, and the difference must be reinvested in more advertising.
Growth hacking: techniques
Use low-budget growth hacking marketing techniques, such as blogging (including guest posts), social media, email campaigns, contests, affiliate marketing, phone marketing, SEO, search engine marketing, among other options.
According to Mc Clure, these are the most effective and economical techniques.
It is in this category that you will find many growth hacking tools, for example scrapping tools, which are used to extract company names and contacts from directories.
There are also specialized emailing and follow-up tools for Linkedin growth hacking. After scraping the contacts, you can automatically send personalized message sequences.
Later, you can test different landing pages and see which ones are the most effective. McLure says about it: “Make as many mistakes as possible and change them quickly.”
Keep producing blog posts. Of email campaigns can help you to inform your customers of promotions, balances or raise in shopping cart abandonment.
For recommendations, ask your customers for ratings. A common growth hacking technique is to do it automatically. It is also possible to run campaigns or contests for this purpose. Of course, try to only ask for reviews if people have had a great experience with you.
Finally, to generate income, all you have to do is adjust everything you have discovered during these different stages. Optimize growth hacking techniques that work, change those that don’t.
To guide you in this quest for rapid growth, keep the mindset of the growth hacker: test every idea to the limit, squeeze it like a lemon to make sure you get the best out of it or throw it away if it doesn’t give anything.
You also have to know how to recognize your failures: if you don’t get anything out of an idea, admit that it is just unsuitable for your business. What may work for some will not work for others.