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Marketing / Business marketing

What on earth is Growth Hacking and where do I get some?

Growth hacking is a little understood marketing buzz word and Matthew White is a fan. So what exactly does ‘growth hacking’ mean and how can it help soloists?

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The first thing I need to do here is to define what growth hacking actually is.

Put simply it’s the marketing and growth strategies that start-ups use to grow their business quickly. It’s about analytical thinking. It’s about being focused on growth. It’s about marketing on a shoe string. It’s about understanding your marketing and sales funnel more thoroughly.

And I know what you’re thinking: “that’s just marketing isn’t it?”

So let’s take a step back, remove that thought (but not entirely) from your thinking, do some research and read a few of the many articles on this subject. Immerse yourself in a growth hacker’s world and I think you might just change your mind.

I’m not suggesting growth hacking has replaced or is replacing traditional marketing (whatever that actually means these days) or SEO for that matter. What I am saying is that you can learn a lot from start-ups likeAirBnB, DropBox and Uber.

"It’s about analytical thinking. It’s about being focussed on growth. It’s about marketing on a shoe string."

They are now all household names and they’ve all applied growth hacking techniques in one form or another to achieve their phenomenal growth.

So what do growth hackers really look at?

They look at the marketing funnel of a business; they understand and identify where people get stuck in this funnel. The role of the growth hacker is to develop strategies to move customers along and through the funnel more efficiently in order to:

  1. Increase the lifetime value of each customer,
  2. Get more customers, and;
  3. Increase referrals.

In essence, grow the business … fast.

They also look at conversion rates. So they spend a lot of time a/b testing and they make good use of apps that are available for use on websites.

Do you need to be a programmer to be a growth hacker?

I don’t think so. There’s a lot of discussion that growth hackers are coders or programmers and you need to be a software engineer to be one. But I don’t think this is the case. I think you simply need to understand the principles of growth hacking and be able to think outside the box.

Although you may not be developing or managing an app and striving for several million users by January (maybe you are?), we’re all trying to grow our businesses, generate sales, increase our profit and enjoy our lives.  This is why I think you can apply some of the principles to your own business.

What growth hacking strategies can I use?

Here are four tactics many start-ups use along with six web-based apps that will help you on your growth hacking way!

1. Encourage customers to share your content or your product

For example: Pay with a Tweet. Or the reverse of this: when sharing someone else’s content, raise awareness of your brand and generate visits to your website – e.g. Sniply.

2. Create high converting landing pages for your acquisition channels

You know how you’re driving people to your site via Google PPC (Pay Per Click) and  Facebook paid advertising? I hope you’re driving people to specific landing pages. It’s worth remembering that if you cannot create the landing pages yourself you can use someone like Unbounce. But make sure to A/B split test your designs as that’s what every growth hacker would do.

3. Email Marketing

Probably the most cost effective marketing channel of them all – if you are not using email, now’s the time to think about it seriously. Email is a great way to upsell, generate referrals and keep your brand in your customer’s mindset. Tools like SumoMe and Mailchimp will see you on your way quickly when it comes to email marketing.

4. Stimulate a call to action

A super-easy thing you can do is insert a Hello Bar at the top of your site. This is a call-to-action button within a horizontal bar at the top of your site.

There are literally dozens upon dozens of growth hacking strategies and tools that you can apply, with each one relating to a different part of the marketing and sales funnel.

Although there seems to be a love-hate relationship with the term ‘growth hacker’out there in Internet-land, I believe the term is here to stay and if you want to see your business grow faster than it is currently … it’s worth dipping your toes in the growth hacking waters.

Have you tried any growth hacking strategies? What’s worked well for you to date?

Matthew White

is director of Ergoflex Australia, an online retailer of premium quality memory foam mattresses. As well as helping Australians get a better night's sleep, Matthew is a marketer, sleep blogger, father of four and home renovator.

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