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The Growth Hacking Guide for Every Marketer.

Authored by:

Alexandra Cote

Ever since Sean Ellis first coined the term, growth hacking’s been all about MORE.

More leads, more sales. Better user experience, better marketing campaigns. Results that are achieved over a short period of time and prove to be highly valuable in the long run.
There’s this false assumption people tend to make when they think of growth hacking though. They expect to maintain the same great results forever.

Truth is, growth hacking is all about experimenting, failing, and learning. Companies have been doing growth way before the concept existed. As a result, growth experts have different concepts and areas of focus when it comes to it.

Why we wrote this guide

This growth hacking guide is for all marketers or business owners who want to keep advancing. We believe that growth hacking is a vital piece of the entire business development process. 

But it shouldn’t look like it’s a complicated tactic to implement or is meant only for the “big brands.” We got in touch with all kinds of companies and top growth professionals to show you that growth hacking can work in all kinds of industries and business settings.

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What is “Growth Hacking?”

Growth hacking refers to a series of experiments, processes, and tools that are used to gain new customers, keep them, and turn them into loyal buyers who can recommend your product to their peers.

Growth hacking is a relatively recent field. But its multiple components have been around for a while. Thing is that it took a while for business to realize they needed more than just a marketer and a UX designer to ramp up their marketing outcomes.

Specifically, companies noticed an increased need for professionals who were able to successfully juggle marketing, creativity-based tasks, data science, and even coding.

Why?

Because these professionals understand the business market in its entirety. We’re talking UX designers who can see the value behind marketing and digital marketers who realize that data science and AI can only aid their projects and campaigns. No more award-winning website designs that can’t bring in leads or loads of data rusting in your archives because you don’t know how to use it.

For this reason, growth means different things to different companies and is present in multiple departments. If you will, growth hacking should be the overarching guiding force of all your business attempts.

The Growth Hacker’s Role

But if growth hacking implies so many things, does this mean a growth hacker does everything?

Kind of.

I’ve analyzed over 200 recent listings on Glassdoor to see what the current expectations for this role are.

Here are the top responsibilities of a growth hacker:

  • Own, define, and lead strategies for growing the user base
  • Measure the effectiveness of user growth initiatives and track KPIs/core metrics for all campaigns and communication strategies
  • Improve customer funnels
  • Find and create opportunities for organic and paid customer acquisition
  • Make recommendations for new product, pricing, and packaging strategies to improve UX
  • Be in charge of market research to establish new social media opportunities and analyze competitiveness
  • Conduct user research and define/refine the user profiles and personas
  • Implement and track A/B testing
  • Build valuable marketing strategies with the purpose of acquiring new customers through both online and offline channels
  • Communicate with the other teams to exchange ideas and make recommendations based on your own research
  • Manage budgets for different marketing channels and track ROI
  • Keep up with the latest changes in marketing and UI/UX as well as other industry trends and news
  • Initiate new projects to attract prospects, convert them into leads, and close sales


These responsibilities will differ from one company to another.

In smaller teams, growth hackers can partially take over the duties of missing team members to help with someone else’s workload. This means you’ll also see them in charge of other tasks such as content writing, customer communication, and even sales from time to time. But overall, creativity and problem solving are the two main traits that define a growth hacker.

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Getting Started With Growth Hacking

Before you jump into A/B testing and adding dozens of pop-ups on your website, you need to clearly think this through and establish what growth means to you.

For some companies, growth is strictly a matter of marketing, others get all of their teams involved, bringing in UX, support, sales, and development into the whole growth hacking picture.

Researching and defining your goals

I know a marketing audit doesn’t sound like the funnest part of growth hacking, but it’s certainly the healthiest first thing you can do.
If you’re just getting started, a full market analysis and customer research will do.

Already been around for a while? Have a look at where your current marketing techniques are failing but do not neglect what you’re doing right, like where most of your traffic comes from, what the best incentives have been, or how you’ve been converting leads into buyers so far.

“When getting started we talk to customers and take down data that we convert to metadata. The ultimate growth hack is to have phone or video calls with customers, hear what they think, and use their phrases and words in your sales and marketing copy. When customers speak to you, you’ll also notice common trends and pain points you can later aim to solve.

Customers will explain these with much of the same language. This might be because they all encounter the same problems, come from a similar area, hail from the same socioeconomic background, or are used to a particular industry. Once you collect their language, take note of what broad swaths of customers are saying. Map it out on a spreadsheet and use that info on your marketing and sales copy. The likely result is that more prospects will convert to customers.”

– Jason Patel, Founder @ Transizion

By now, you probably already have a couple of attainable [very important] goals in mind. Growth hackers though have a main target they want to achieve and can even obsess around. Usually this goal is either bringing in new users/customers or increasing sales.

Having a growth hacker on your team at this point already helps you leverage their research and analytical skills. Particularly when it comes to prioritizing your goals.

This is important because, with so many things that need to be tweaked and tested, you simply won’t know where to start.

Setting your key metrics according to your funnel channels

At this point, you’ll also want to establish the majority of the metrics you need to track. Sure, growth marketers do experiment a lot so new metrics will add up in time, but going in without any idea of what to measure will make you aimlessly play with the growth strategies.

And growth hacking is no game. 🤯

Goals and OKRs included:

Put good, smart effort into establishing great OKRs no matter your team or company size, but don’t overthink it. The goal of OKRs is to enable the team to make the right decisions for the business in a vacuum. When done poorly, your team may lack focus, work on non-impactful projects, or not know how they’re contributing to business goals. When done well, your team will say “no” effectively and can put more effort into impactful projects. Do them, and do them well – it’s never too early to start.”  

– Scott Hanford, Former Director of Digital Marketing @ InVision

The one sustainable way to set your first metrics is to track each stage of your funnel. Also known as AARRR metrics. 🦜

Goals and OKRs included:


Acquisition

As a potential customer first gets in contact with your website, your main growth hacking goal should be to attract the RIGHT traffic.

How to tell apart good from bad traffic?

Good traffic is easy to get. All you have to do is find the relevant websites and tactics to be present on based on your ideal audience.

Let’s say you’re selling a book on software development. Clearly your efforts shouldn’t go into promoting it in fashion groups or even marketing websites. You need to BE where developers are, SPEAK their language, and MEET their needs.

If you’ve been sharing your content left and right without analyzing the platform you’re putting yourself on, stop right now. This can be largely detrimental to your image [plus spam score 🙄] and bring no real value.


Activation

So you’ve got loads of visitors, but you’re not making any profit?

This stage of the funnel is where a huge part of a growth marketer’s efforts lie. Now, you’re looking to finally reap the benefits of the time you invested during the previous stage by converting your visitors into leads. The most common tactic for this is to get them to share their email with you and willingly accept to receive regular updates and newsletter from your company.

The process works much like a purchase. You give them access to unique content or offers and, in return, they pay by offering you their contact details.

Beyond this exchange, you’re also going to focus on nurturing your leads so you can help them make decisions. It’s now that you should redirect your efforts towards showing value, putting your best social proof forward, and offering excellent customer experience.


Retention

What about returning visitors or product users?

During this stage you’ll focus on why people are coming back, why they’re leaving, and if there are any opportunities for you to upsell and cross-sell your products.

Retention can be something as simple as a person coming back to read your blog on a regular basis, engaging with your content, or just buying the same product several times.

To prevent leads from slipping away and forgetting about your brand altogether, you’re looking at all the ways in which you can stay relevant and useful. 56% of consumers remain loyal to companies who understand them. Use their feedback and keep engaging with any new and existing leads to reduce your churn and your average Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC).

 

Referral

Most businesses don’t do promotion alone. Their customer base provides solid referrals that bring a steady flow of new leads or, ideally, customers. That’s why so many growth marketers invest their time into affiliate marketing and companies are starting to hire managers specifically for this.

Shares, likes, word of mouth, reviews, and testimonials are just some of the ways in which your customers can bring new buyers. Marketers are also starting to turn their attention to micro influencers. That’s any person who has a couple of friends or colleagues who follow him/her regularly and can consider their suggestions, ultimately becoming customers of the same product or service. But more on this later in the guide. 😉


Revenue

Many entrepreneurs who are at the start of the journey always bump into this same problem: How do I make money out of my idea?

For this, we need to focus a bit on vanity metrics. All of those likes, shares, and social interactions that make us and our clients think the company is doing great and enjoying its profits.

Vanity metrics refer to any stats that don’t guarantee profit or real result in the long run: page views, newsletter subscribers, trial users, number of leads, etc. The fake metrics are often tricky and you can’t measure everything that’s behind them.This is why you should never make a decision based on them alone.

Say you’ve got an article that’s been trending for a month now. The 8,000 visitors/day tell you nothing if the majority of your readers are just people scrolling around, marketers looking for backlink opportunities, or competitors spying on you. The real metric to watch for in this case would be an increase in your conversion rate. Like how many of the people who read your article ended up buying a product on your website.

In reality, these metrics are only worth considering when you can prove you’re earning money out of them. All previous funnel stages lead to this point. The growth hacking expert on your team comes in with new and compelling ideas for you to monetize your product. From basic monthly subscriptions you see with SaaS companies to freemium plans, in-app purchases, advertisements, and paid downloads.

Create your growth hacking plan

Take all of your goals in order of their importance and put down your first ideas in a team-wide brainstorming session. No matter how crazy they are. 😄

Here are the key points to pay attention to:

  • What your main priorities are
  • What your current marketing strategy lacks and where its weak points are
  • If you’ve been neglecting any part of your marketing campaigns
  • Which social media networks you haven’t been present on
  • If you have any ideas for growth hacking strategies you want to implement [see the next section of the guide for inspiration]

Start your experiments

An experiment is, in the simplest possible terms, an idea you want to use to promote your business, gain leads, and sell more. In other words, experiments are all the actions you take to reach your business and marketing goals.

At the base of all experiments, there’s a hypothesis. For instance:

Our best performing landing page is the homepage. By adding a CTA on it above the fold we can redirect users to the next service we’ve launched and increase our traffic by 5%.

Each experiment should have:

  • A single goal
  • A description complete with the timeline of the experiment
  • A deadline so you don’t run the experiment indefinitely


Go into all details at this point. Here’s a brief example:

We want to increase our number of leads. ← this is the general GOAL for your business

By collecting relevant contact data. ← this is the strategy you’re going to use
We’ll create more ebooks and ask people to share their email address as a way for them to receive the ebook. ← the details of the process

We’ll increase the number of leads by 10% in 3 months. ← a specific goal that’s chosen strictly for this experiment

We’ll use A/B testing on the form’s length. ← always include how you’ll measure the results of the experiment

Best practices for running growth hacking experiments

So many things can go wrong at this point. But as long as you use common sense and avoid overcomplicating things, all experiments should prove significant and accurate.

  1. Don’t test multiple things simultaneously. There’s a reason why A/B testing [also known as split testing] is so commonly used in growth hacking. With it you’re testing one single element. Like having a red button for variation A versus a blue button for variation B. Multivariate testing, on the other hand, can’t give you real results because you’re literally comparing buttons to images and text or other variations without knowing exactly which improved [or lowered] your results.
  2. Choose your testing tools wisely. For simple A/B tests on links and traffic, this can even be done via Google Analytics. But you don’t want to run only simple experiments. So turn to platforms such as Google Optimize or their Recommendations AI tool to run A/B tests on your recommender systems.
  3. You NEED a timeline. Decide from the beginning how long you’re going to keep your experiments going. Do try to keep the experiments for at least 2-3 weeks if you want statistically significant outcomes and data to use. Avoid huge holidays and bank days [or whenever you expect your potential customers to not be online as much] overlapping with your timeline to keep consistent results.

Analyze the results of all experiments

Yes, ALL!

If you’re going to change one CTA in a blog post and not check the outcomes of this action, you’ll end up assuming it had some kind of impact and not making any progress. Consequently, you’ll be back at square one: Why doesn’t my strategy work

Examining your results should be all about USING your findings.

Growth hacking’s purpose is ultimately all about getting to a conclusion and being able to adjust your strategies accordingly. Have a clear plan for analyzing your stats and steer clear from vanity metrics.

In the next section of this guide I’ll get to the fun and actionable part. Read on to discover the best growth hacking methods you can apply to your product or service.

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