So you’ve heard the term “growth hacking”.
Especially if you frequent the typical haunts like Forbes or Business Insider who’ve jumped at the chance to tell you exactly how to grow your company in just couple hundred words or less…
Not that all of the advice is junk, but you get my point.
People often marvel at the star examples of growth in the tech sector (software, SaaS, B2B), but those case studies don’t always connect with established companies and startups that aren’t part of Tim Ferris and Reid Hoffman’s network of VC’s.
Most execs know that true consistent growth can be achieved without a gilded knight from Palo Alto riding in with media attention, but how?
By adopting a growth marketing strategy. It’s easy to admire a flat line that seemingly miraculously started going up at an exponential rate, but in reality that line is propped up by active experimentation, goal setting, and detailed tracking.
Hopefully, that’s why you’re here.
How To “Hack” Growth Marketing, Step-by-Step
The term “Growth Marketing” is essentially a constant process of experimenting with multiple marketing methods with the sole purpose of producing business growth. If done well, it will result in consistent and reliable growth.
As promised; here’s how.
Step One: Gather, Focus, and Commit
To experience true growth results it takes a mental shift of your whole team. This step is the key to it all (journey of 1000 miles and all that), so it’s the most in depth.
After you have your head straight, it’s time to gather together the team and brainstorm which area(s) will have the most impact on your company’s growth. Write a list of things that could have tangible results as well as items that can be tracked. Once you have your list, you should choose the item that could make the largest impact. Next, you’ll outline out your process. After you implement the first item, you’ll set up systems to continue its progress, and move onto the next item poised for growth. (Continuing the growth marketing process is the key to that sustainable growth everyone wants.)
Here’s an example of how to move forward once you commit to your first target:
Example: A SaaS for HR consultants has a free course (available on their site in exchange for a valid email). The course does an awesome job of warming up new leads, but both conversions and the overall number of subscribers are low.
Your Focus: Increase conversion percentage (number of visitors who give you their email) and the overall number of subscribers to your list (which in turn should raise sales if your current data remains intact).
Timeline: You should be able to have your tests ran within a month or so, but if it’s your first rodeo just do it right and get faster over time. As long as you’re meeting consistently to go over metrics and implementation you should be good to go.
Set Goals: Now that you’ve selected the focus (email subscriptions), it’s time to set goals. It’s time to be like goldilocks and have a few different ideas of what you may see. Brian Balfour came up with the idea of having three. One that you are 90% likely to hit, another that is 50/50, and a “stretch” goal that is only 10% likely to happen.
So, sticking with the SaaS example, some hypothetical goals could be: Double opt-in rate, hit 500 subscribers in a single month, and reach 10,000 subscribers before the end of the year.
The goals get harder, but if you’re constantly experimenting and tracking results they should keep getting better.
Key Pointer: The only focus during your initial meeting is to identify the key areas of your growth.
Step 2: Put On Your Thinking Caps…Again
Now that you’ve picked out your first target, it’s time to list all of the changes to your focus that could have a major impact toward your goals. You can do a little bit of research, talk with a growth marketer, or ask your UX/UI guy (if you have one).
Write down all of your potential experiments and list them in order of their priority based upon their potential effectiveness with the intention of testing them all within that 30 day timeframe from step one.
The key to success in this step isn’t picking the single best method (like it was in step one). Instead, it’s the speed at which you can determine whether or not a particular change is yielding results. Testing things at a high tempo (without getting sloppy) will generate a better curve in your own growth case study.
Example Continued: Here are a few techniques that our SaaS may want to try:
- Try a pop-up appearing in the center
- Pop-up in the bottom corners (all other iterations, including one’s that only appear to new traffic, different pages, etc.)
- Full page offer
- Copy surrounding the offer
- Colors and sizes
- Run a contest
- Place more opt-ins (about page, below posts)
Key Pointer: Everything you do should be done quickly, but trackable (we’ll get there in a minute). Metrics are the only thing that separate growth marketing from the wild wild west. If you want continued results you have to get really good at determining the experiments that work.
Step 3: Get to Work
All of those experiments you just listed have to be written, designed, and scheduled. Now is the time to start. Once you have a few of the elements constructed, it’s safe to start putting web traffic to your first experiment. Set it up and track it. Depending upon the number of experiments and the level of traffic, you’ll want to set how long you’ll test each change.
Key Pointer: You don’t want to run 1000 visitors over 3 days to one change and 500 over 2 days to another. Don’t get hung up on this, but too much disparity could skew results over the long haul.
Step 4: Eyes of An Eagle
All of your changes should be easily tracked. There are no shortage of tools to do this (Google Analytics, your email provider, heat map tools). This step may seem like the most “hands off”, but you should be ensuring the data is being documented in an easily shared and digestible format.
Key Pointer: While software does most of the work, it’s no time to take a break. Work on other elements and circle the date you’ll go over the data with a big fat red marker.
Step 5: Time to Look at The Results
It’s time to call a meeting and go over the results of your experiment. This step is all about asking yourself questions about the experiment, the overall focus goal, and your processes for all of the above. Here are a few to ask yourself and your team:
- How was the improvement compared to what we initially thought?
- Did everything (setup and implementation) go as planned?
- What errors can we correct going forward?
- Is There a Model We Could Derive for Future Use?
Key Pointer: You should see positive results quickly, but don’t base the entire growth marketing strategy on a number that is written down. Your success is attained by hundreds of data points and experiments over time.
It’s Time to Set Up Growth Marketing Systems
While this process is fun and can have a great impact on your team’s morale, that’s not your overall goal. It’s too easy for a company to see results and give themselves a pat on the back before losing the momentum that could have been harnessed for lasting change.
In order to set up those teams and systems, you’ll need tools and potentially the help of a growth marketer (like us). There are some awesome resources to get you started all over the internet, but some of our favorites are here, here, and here.
What are you doing to ensure your growth?