The term that's spreading like a wildfire in the dense forests of marketing, isn't another short-lived buzzword.
In fact, it was coined in 2010 by a tech startup entrepreneur named Sean Ellis, while looking for a better job description.
Who exactly is a Growth Hacker?
Let me give you a more comprehensive definition of a growth hacker, courtesy of Andrew Chen, a Silicon Valley entrepreneur.
By expanding on Sean’s existing description, Andrew defined a growth hacker as “a hybrid of marketer and coder.”
In other words, the person with the crucial responsibility of getting customers and leads for a product or service.
This person isn’t your average marketer.
In fact, he/she possesses a set of skills that exceed the spectrum of sole marketing managers and programmers.
Growth hackers dabble with creative ideas, volatile tactics, high-pressure growth, technical optimizations, audience-focused advertising strategies and low-budget marketing ideas that can grow exponentially.
So What Happens During Growth Hacking?
Growth hacking involves extensive research, rapid experimentation and multiple testing steps within any discipline (such as UI, sales, marketing, product development) to make improvements to a product or service.
Whether it’s about creating viral marketing tactics or tweaking existing business practices, growth hacking has one true purpose:
The term is widely used in the context of start-ups and tech companies that need to grow very quickly and efficiently without burning a hole in the investors’ pockets.
Having said that, growth hacking, if practiced correctly, can be used to grow any type of company.
By using growth hacking tactics, brands not only reveal new market opportunities, but also make use of even the smallest budgets to drive explosive growth.
For those who don't understand the significance of growth hacking, it's quite easy to dismiss it as another marketing buzzword with an impending demise.
But for those who live by it, growth hacking is that one thing that can make or break your business.
Ever since its introduction into marketing vocabularies and conversations, the term "growth hacking" or "growth hacker" has made its way into countless articles, job descriptions, LinkedIn titles and even books with the same name.
Real-life Applications of Growth Hacking
If you haven’t been living under a rock, you must’ve witnessed hundreds of brands using the “Invite your friends to earn rewards” tactic.
Brands like Uber have achieved their initial growth by using this growth hacking technique.
Regardless of how simple the tactic looks, its practical application is definitely a masterstroke.
The idea is to make the product/service as well-known and viral as possible, at a minimal expenditure.
Not only does this technique generate new customers, it also creates word-of-mouth awareness, automatically.
Could it get better than that?
While we’re at it, let me give you a couple of examples when real companies growth-hacked their way to generate millions of users.
Instagram’s “Quick Transformation”
Here’s a lesser-known fact.
Instagram was previously called Burbn.
It started off as a location-based app allowing users to make future plans, hang out with friends, and post pictures.
Although it was getting famous back then, the app was slightly complex for new users.
It had to be de-cluttered in order to avoid user frustration, or simply risk shutting down.
Burbn’s founders, Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, didn’t give up so easily.
They analyzed Burbn’s data and found that people loved posting pictures after running it through some photo filter apps.
So they saw the opportunity, transformed Burbn into Instagram, and growth-hacked it into a photo-sharing app with in-built filters.
And the rest, as we know, is history.
This is one fine example of reviewing your company’s data, feeling the pulse of your customers and making that bold move that’ll propel your growth like never before.
Airbnb’s “Cross-posting into a Larger Community”
For those who don’t know, Airbnb is a platform that lets people rent out their empty rooms to complete strangers by posting a listing.
With traveling becoming people’s latest hobby, Airbnb has become one of the most preferred medium for booking rooms and living spaces.
Just like most innovative start-ups, Airbnb too implemented a growth-hacking technique to increase online bookings and achieve growth in its early stages.
They utilized local classifieds website, Craigslist, to gain visibility among people who used it extensively.
That’s because, Craigslist had a massive user base - that one main element that Airbnb lacked.
Through extensive market research and experience, Airbnb concluded that Craigslist was exactly the place where people who wanted room rentals, looked for listings.
In other words, Craigslist was home to Airbnb’s target market.
To take advantage of this newly-found user base, Airbnb offered their users a seamless opportunity to cross-post listings on Craigslist as well.
I’ll skip the more technical details of how they got that done.
But in a nutshell, Airbnb built a bot to visit Craigslist, grab a unique URL, insert the listing details, and forward the final URL to the user for publishing.
With a one-click, cross-posting of Airbnb listings on Craigslist, there was a tremendous increase in brand awareness and room rentals - both of which were solid KPIs for Airbnb in its early years.
You see, It’s not necessary to make drastic changes to your business to get new customers.
Sometimes, it’s just about knowing your customers well enough to be discovered in their spheres of interest.
Inbound Marketing vs Growth Hacking
As different as they may sound, inbound marketing and growth hacking eventually have one goal - business growth.
They’re not really synonyms nor a direct competition to each other.
In fact, they can be used to compliment each other.
Inbound Marketing emphasizes on creating solutions to problems your prospects may have, using content to help them before eventually helping them buy your product or service.
This is done using blogging, content creation, website optimization, content promotion, search engine advertising and so on.
Growth hacking usually focuses on the first stage of users’ online journey.
It uses marketing techniques, clever offers and sometimes, shortcuts to promote the product/service, build a loyal following and retain them for as long as possible.
It wouldn’t be wrong to say that Inbound is fueled by content, while growth hacking is fueled by data.
Using certain “growth hacks” in your inbound marketing strategy will certainly help you get better results and escape the online rat-race.
Now comes the most anticipated part of the article.
In the next section, you’ll find a handful of tried and tested growth hacks applied to inbound marketing campaigns, that many real businesses & bloggers swear by.
All these hacks are actionable and require little-to-none technical expertise.
Just remember the formula, once again.
Growth Hacking + Inbound Marketing = Exponential Business Growth
Let’s do this.
Applications of Growth Hacking into Inbound Marketing
1) Get FREE social shares of your content while collecting leads
If you’ve spent a great deal of time creating a premium piece of content, make sure it gets the attention it deserves.
Instead of just collecting contact details of your leads, tweak the download form to necessitate social media sharing to access your content.
In other words, along with submitting their email address, your leads will have to share that content on their social media channels for unlocking it.
This helps you penetrate the social media lists of your target audience and find more like-minded leads.
If your website is built on WordPress, it's very easy to download and set up a plug-in to enable this.
2) Gain access to the audience of established thought leaders in your industry
If you’re tired of publishing countless blogs as part of your inbound marketing strategy, try this for a change.
Write a piece of content (blog or ebook), that contains quotes and thoughts from actual thought leaders in your industry.
Here’s one example:
The reason this tactic is so successful, is because the people you’ve interviewed take pride in sharing your content with their fans.
In fact, this tactic has a two-fold effect:
It helps you get material for your content, and also lets you benefit from free promotion by thought leaders.
So simple, yet so effective!
3) Have a customized call-to-action that shows on any website link you share
Did you ever imagine that your call-to-action could be featured on websites like entrepreneur.com?
Growth hacking has made that possible.
Sniply, a nifty little tool, is a life-saver for creating customized call to actions on any websites of your choice.
When your prospect clicks the link you’ve shared on your social media after “snipping” it, your call-to-action message appears on the external web page.
Here’s my example of using sniply to get website design leads.
I shared Hubspot’s article and added a call-to-action, inviting readers to get in touch with me if they’d like a beautiful website built for their own business.
The tool is very helpful for getting segmented leads from any blog articles that you share.
Just a small note:
The call-to-action will appear ONLY if the prospects click the link YOU’VE shared. It won’t be visible to people who have landed on the page from other sources.
4) Distribute your content offer in pieces to reinforce brand recall
The best example of this will be a 100-day content challenge, or an ebook that you’d like to share with your subscribers.
Instead of sending the entire chunk of content in one go, split it over a number of days and send out regular emailers.
India’s digital marketing guru, Digital Deepak does this seamlessly, as shown below
He planned a 100-Day Blogging Tips Challenge and sent subscribers 1 tip per day, everyday!
This tactic helped reinforce his credibility in the minds of his subscribers, as they began to get acquainted by his expertise.
In the context of ebooks, you can email your prospects one chapter everyday, until the last day where you then present them the consolidated piece for future reference.
5) Use Heat Mapping to track users’ behavior on your website.
The age of assumptions is over.
In fact, the worst enemy of marketing is assumption.
To survive and thrive, your business must rely on data that helps you make better decisions.
With tools like hotjar, you can record user behavior on your website to track the movement of their cursors and how they behave on certain sections of your website.
By doing so, you’ll understand what areas of your website are getting more attention and which ones are being ignored.
So, if your content offer isn’t getting enough visibility, you might have to shift its position to a more visible area.
Once you get that data, tweak your website and enjoy more conversions.
6) Retarget your Facebook ads among an interested audience to increase conversions
Content promotion is an integral part of your inbound marketing strategy.
If done poorly, even the best content will stay hidden from the world.
That’s why, I’ll show you a Facebook advertising growth hack that I use for my agency.
Did you know?
You can target ads to people who have visited your website or watched some parts of your video?
By utilizing this tactic, you wont have to worry about your ad seen by unknown prospects that have potentially zero interest in your company.
In fact, a research by Invesp states:
Retargeted customers are 3 times more likely to click on your ad as compared to people who have never interacted with your business before.
Another research states:
26% of customers will return to a website through retargeting.
So what are you waiting for?
Set up your Facebook retargeting and gear up for more leads!
If you’d like help with that, simply get in touch with us.
7) Get more blog subscribers from your email signature
Did you know?
An average office worker receives 121 emails a day and sends around 40 business emails daily (Source)
What I'm trying to say is - simply add a blog subscribe link into your email signature.
In fact, get your entire company to amend their email signature and add one extra element to it.
Here's how we've done it.
What you see below is a snippet from our email signature.
It's a great hack to get the attention of new prospects who might not yet be ready to buy from you.
8) Enable live chat on your website
Think to yourself, "How long do I take to respond to leads?"
Are you still relying on email and social media to your leads?
That has to change now because more than 30% of customers expect live chat on your website.
Here's a graph from SuperOffice's 21 Reasons Live Chat Can Help you Grow Your Business
In fact, a research by Emarketer suggested that 63% of customers were more likely to return to a website that offers live chat!
Now that's one staggering statistic most businesses are unaware of.
Although there are many live chat softwares out there, we prefer Hubspot's Live Chat Tool.
It even includes bots that can be customized for each page!
And the best part - It's FREE!
Since we're HubSpot partner agency, you can give us a shout to install it on your website.