Let’s face it—starting your own business is pretty darn tough. I’ve always likened entrepreneurship to diving headfirst off a cliff and building yourself a plane on the way down.
According to recent statistics with the US Small Business Administration, the failure rate for startups is between 70% and 80% in the first year.
To make matters worse, only half of those businesses which succeed are even estimated to remain in business over the next five years.
So, if you’re reading this because you’re one of the lucky ones still trucking along—cheers.
Now, let’s talk about the next step: growth
When it comes down to it, many businesses simply don’t have a boundless reserve of funds in place to properly implement a large-scale marketing campaign.
Lucky for them, the concept of growth hacking has exploded onto the scene, enabling businesses to leverage their creativity and marketing abilities to scale in insane and cost-effective ways.
So, what exactly is growth hacking?
Growth hacking is a process of rapid experimentation that combines marketing, technology and a boatload of creative and out-of-the-box thinking to transform business.
Growth hacking tactics are typically used by businesses such as startups, as a low-cost and effective solutions to gain a more desirable competitive position, spread brand awareness, and/or increase leads and sales.
The term was initially coined in 2010 by Sean Ellis after he used various strategies to help boost the growth of several companies such as Dropbox and Eventbrite.
Growth hacking differs from traditional marketing in that its primary and sole focus is—you guessed it—growth. This is the single main concept that differentiates it from traditional marketing—which often has a much broader focus.
In order for a growth hacker to be successful, they must inherently understand the potential that a product or service has to spread itself, and work in creative ways to make that potential a reality.
So, let’s say you don’t have the resources to bring a growth hacker onto your team. Well, you’re still in luck because who better to understand your product or service’s potential than you? All you need is a little guidance and that’s where this post comes in.
So, if you’re looking for some awesome and actionable proven strategies to growth hack your business like a pro, take a look at these next few strategies and tips and start implementing them today.
1. Get social
If you want to successfully scale your business, you’re going to have to roll up your sleeves and get prepared to put in work.
Gone are the days of blissful dreaming that customers are going to come banging down your door for what you have to offer. Now, I’m not saying that what you have to offer isn’t worth knocking down a few doors for. I’m saying that no one is going to do that, if they’ve never heard of you.
You have to push. You have to shout from mountain tops and you have to do it consistently to get results. The main channels that effective growth hackers harness to do this are listed below.
Increasing your social reach is one of the best ways to spread brand awareness and establish yourself as an authority. However, don’t make the mistake of trying to establish presence on any and every social platform you can get your hands on.
Not all are created equal when it comes to benefiting your business. Figure out which platforms your consumer base gravitates towards and narrow your focus to there.
It could be one—for instance, many businesses choose to spend the majority of their efforts on Facebook. If you’re a B2B business, chances are Facebook and LinkedIn are going to be your best bets.
Just take a look at the Dollar Shave Club, which, much like many businesses who find success on harnessing the power of social media, uses ads to effectively promote their brand and increase traffic and leads.
However, others, with more visually engaging services such as graphic designers and artists, choose to focus on more visual platforms such as Instagram. Again, it could be just one, it could be two, but keep your focus narrow so you can concentrate your efforts for maximum effectiveness.
Becoming consistently active on platforms such as Quora, forums or blogs are also great ways to spread brand awareness. Take the co-founder of Segment, Calvin French-Owen. This is the main way that he scaled his business and increased leads and sales of his insight software.
Other successful companies growth hacked their way into success using this very method as well. Tim Soulo, CMO at Ahrefs and Zapier co-founder Wade Foster both used niche forums and communities to tap into growth opportunities and promote tools from their businesses.
Traditional techniques for growth aren’t dead. Quite the contrary, reaching out to press, doing cold calls, emails, launch parties and attending networking events are all tried and true effective ways to growth hack your business.
Just ask Jamil Velji, head of growth at BuildFire. When discussing how they grew their company so efficiently and quickly, his answer was relatively surprising.
“It was old school. We tapped into some of the folks we knew. Specifically, our founders tapped into the local network of people…those connections and conversations led to other connections.”
2. Dish out rewards
Who doesn’t love a freebie? Offering up something valuable to your audience is the best way to gain their trust, spread awareness and build a base and loyalty.
Marketing guru Neil Patel discussed how one of his clients used a viral landing page to offer their users rewards for referring friends after signing up. What was the result? 100k pre-launch sign-ups in just a week.
Side-project marketing is also another great tactic in the giveaway strategy. Take Snappa.io, for example, a company which touts quick and easy graphic design software.
Before the founder, Christopher Gimmer launched the product, they first launched a side-project called StockSnap.io, where they gave away free stock images.
Obviously, this offer-up attracted a lot of their target demographic and once they officially launched Snappa, they simply started cross promoting it to visitors of their channel. Genius.
3. Build your email list with gated content
It’s no secret that email is the most cost-effective way to promote your products, communicate with your consumers and achieve growth.
Hands down it delivers the best ROI when compared with other marketing efforts.
Making use of gated content is a great tactic that works to effectively build an email list.
So, publish case studies, create white papers, infographics, webinars, podcasts, or blogs with high-quality and valuable information your audience will find useful and shareable.
Promote snippets of it on your social platforms, website, blog or in various online communities and then provide full access in exchange for an email sign-up. I can’t even begin to tell you how many businesses have growth hacked their way to success with this strategy.
Take for instance Larry Kim, founder of Wordstream, who cited email as one of the cheapest and most effective “early stage customer generating activities” that he made use of in the beginning stages.
4. Grab up some micro-influencers
The micro-influencer marketing trend is catching on and leveraging them to growth hack your business is a great strategy to take into consideration.
So, what exactly are they?
Well, first and foremost they’re consumers. However, what differentiates them from the average, everyday consumer is that the micro-influencer typically has anywhere between 1,000 to 10,000 highly-engaged followers.
This is a general range; however, many micro-influencers have a follower base in the hundreds of thousands and even millions.
Recent research has found that leveraging the influence of this consumer base provides an even higher reward than using traditional major influencers such as celebrities.
For one, they’re much cheaper. Also, they also tend to specialize in certain niches and as a result their follower base tends to be highly targeted.
This means that by leveraging the influence of these individuals, you are able to get your brand in front of thousands, if not millions of high quality leads and thus, generate higher levels of engagement and greater conversion.
So where do you find them?
Well many work with agencies such as Cooperatize, however if you do a little research, you can easily find them on various social platforms and most of them list their contact information for business inquiries. All it takes is one email.
Having a variety of tools in your arsenal to help optimize your growth strategy is absolutely necessary. Point bank.
Tools help optimize the growth strategy by creating a more efficient and polished process that can be reviewed and tweaked for performance.
When you’re looking to rapidly scale your business and experiment with different strategies, tools that can help with automation, analytics, SEO for growing organic presence, email marketing and more will absolutely make or break you.
CRM tools help increase conversions and customer retention. Email marketing tools help streamline your email process, social media management tools can automate posts and lead generation software can be a lifesaver.
The options are practically endless. So don’t get stuck in a rut by manually running every aspect of your marketing and growth strategy. Optimize and automate where you can and you can so you can focus on the more important and pressing aspects of your business that absolutely require your time, attention and personal touch.
Since bursting onto the scene in 2010 via a simple blog post by Sean Ellis, the concept of growth hacking has consistently gained more and more popularity.
This process of rapid experimentation via multiple channels has transformed some of the biggest businesses from tiny startups with no IPO into successful and prosperous companies.
But not everyone can afford to bring a full-time growth hacker on board to scale their business.
With entrepreneurship comes the need to wear multiple hats and when it comes to effective growth hacking strategies and tactics, all it takes is a little guidance and creativity.
No one said it was easy—but if you use these proven strategies, you’re sure to see measurable results and returns on your investments. So start growth hacking your way up the corporate food chain and implement these actionable tactics today.
Tell us about some creative ideas you’ve used or heard of to growth hack your business!