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Growth Hacking

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What is growth hacking?

Coined by marketer Sean Ellis back in 2010, growth hacking describes a job role that focuses on one thing only: growth. Growth hackers are responsible for finding unconventional, low-spend strategies to supercharge marketing growth for companies. 

They pull all the levers to help brands grow rapidly, and everything a growth hacker does should revolve around that one focus.

When Sean Ellis was looking to hire replacements for his own role at a startup, he was frustrated with not being able to find the right description for the job spec.

He thought he was looking for marketers, but realized that growth hackers were a different breed. 

What startups really needed was a person who could ignore constraints and instead just be innovative in helping them grow. Startups need growth hackers.

Is growth hacking important?

Of all the buzzwords used in startup headquarters, ‘growth hacking’ is one that’s important to remember. And, if you’re an entrepreneur, it’s a term you really should get familiar with.

Like anything new and revolutionary, the term ‘growth hacking’ has been criticized by some.

After all, it’s a role that revolves around using shortcuts to achieve success. Growth hackers aren’t slowing down to develop a detailed marketing plan. 

Plus, there are negative connotations with the word ‘hacking.’ For some people, it doesn’t equate to doing business in an ethical way.

But there are some really clear benefits to having a growth hacker at the heart of your growing business.

Low cost

Growth hacking is a resourceful role. It is intended for rapidly growing businesses, so the work has to be economically viable.

The techniques used by growth hackers to attract users should be innovative. Rather than orchestrating a big ad campaign, they’ll be thinking about free or low cost promotion.

Low resource

The beauty of the growth hacker role is that it is for one person focused on one huge thing. 

Rather than employing a larger team to deliver a step-by-step marketing plan, your business will be able to achieve more dynamic growth with a single employee.

Of course, continued growth is a team effort and it will take the engagement of your whole company to start growing in the right direction.

High return-on-investment

Growth hackers use data to inform all of their decisions, so their work is efficient and effective.

Although it’s a creative role that delivers ingenious solutions, growth hacking relies on accurate analysis of data to achieve success.

Real examples of successful growth hacker strategies

Although growth hacking sounds like just another trend, there are plenty of companies who have embraced it and have ended up celebrating real, tangible results.

Here are some examples where a growth hacker has made a success of their strategies.

How Gymshark mastered social media to gain $70 million in a year

Founded by Ben Francis back in 2012 when he was only 19, Gymshark is now a globally successful fitness apparel company. 

Gymshark is a great example of low-cost growth hacking. The brand was fixated on building relationships with fitness influencers to market their products. 

They sent free Gymshark outfits to a select group of people they admired, who then promoted the low-cost, stylish clothing to their followers.

Pursuing this marketing growth strategy with resolute determination paid off. In 2018, Gymshark’s turnover grew from $50 million the previous year to $150 million.

It’s now valued at over $1 billion.

How Monzo grew from 0 to 250,000 users in two years

This game-changing mobile bank used social psychology as a growth hacking technique to rapidly boost user numbers.

The Mozo team needed to implement a waiting list as a practical way of managing early demand for their prepaid cards. 

Implementing a queue jumper tool for new signups, they let potential users see the number of people both in front and behind them in the waiting list.

Customers could jump the queue if they invited new users, a marketing tactic that ended up supercharging Monzo’s customer acquisition.

How Airbnb creatively reached a $35 billion valuation

Now a household name all over the world, Airbnb started out with two guys trying to squeeze some extra money out of their apartment.

The company’s founders were creative. To fund their website, they designed limited-edition cereal boxes to sell during a presidential campaign – this story is worth Googling. 

Once the website was up and running, the founders approached investors for funding. With considerable determination, their tiny website grew exponentially.

It’s the creative hustle of the founders that pushed their growth. Who would have thought that custom cereal boxes would kickstart the success of Airbnb?

How Dollar Shave Club used humor to gain 300,000 customers in a year

Knowing that they were entering an oversaturated market, the founders of Dollar Shave Club decided to be unique. 

Their growth hack was humor. Shaving is kind of boring, so the company’s approach to marketing was completely unconventional.

Releasing a hilarious, honest video advertisement online, Dollar Shave Club went viral. They had hit their target audience.

With 12,000 customers signing up to their subscription service in 48 hours, the company hit immediate success through growth hacking.

How to do growth hacking for eCommerce businesses

There isn’t a defined set of rules to follow if you want to use growth hacking.

The most effective growth hackers are innovative. If anything, they bend the rules. But if you’re intrigued, there are some easy steps you can take to grow your business.

1. Attract as many (targeted) visitors as possible

You can do pretty much anything to hook new users in.

Gaining a core audience is an essential first step in accelerating growth. Your first users will help lead your business towards success, so it pays to attract as many people as possible.

Don’t forget that growth hacking isn’t just for startups. If you’re keen to scale your business, focus on reinvigorating your user base.

Here are some marketing ideas for attracting targeted visitors to your business:

  • Create a viral video advertising campaign. Use or become a growth hacker who dedicates their time to finding the formula for viral success.
  • Use content marketing to promote your products. Capitalizing on social media is a known growth hacking strategy, and it takes determination.
  • Incentivize people with a deal they can’t ignore. Offer perks to new users who encourage their friends to sign up to your business, too. 

2. Convert them into customers

Once your business is attracting an audience at a rapid rate, you’ll need to focus on getting them to stick around.

Converting people from intrigued visitors to paying customers might take more effort than attracting them in the first place.

That said, it’s easy when you know how. Focus on a few key steps to up your conversion rate:

  • Identify the desires and pain points of your target audience. You already know who it is you’re targeting, so find out a bit more about them.
  • Build a great message about your business. Tell the story of why it exists, and devise impactful marketing strategies to get people engaged.
  • Make the purchase process seamless. Enable shoppers to complete purchases quickly and with minimal form fields or signup rules.

3. Make those users attract more users

A true growth hacker won’t stop at paying customers. In order to keep growing, your business needs to keep finding new users.

Providing an exemplary product or service won’t drive growth as quickly as using incentives to get your users to recommend friends.

Here are a few ways you can encourage people to attract new users:

  • Offer a premium service. Show users that they can access a bigger, better product if they get a friend to sign up.
  • Offer a discount or reward. Businesses will give away anything from free delivery to a cash prize to users who help on-board their friends.
  • Double up the reward. Go a step further and reward both your existing customer and the friend they recommend. The chain will continue.

4. Retain customers and keep them happy

There’s a lot you can do to hold onto your new customers once they’ve made their first purchase.

Your priority should be keeping the line of communication open. Like any relationship, you need to build trust, so ensure your users know they can talk to you.

Here are some easy growth hacking methods to use for retaining customers:

  • Personalize your communication. Automate a sweet thank you email after each purchase. Send newsletters that use peoples’ first names.
  • Maintain high standards of customer service. It’s inevitable that your product won’t work for everyone, so make sure your users are able to resolve their issues.
  • Regularly update and refresh your products or services. People are attracted to new things, and their excitement will help your business grow.

5. Continuously optimize what matters

Let’s stay on that last point for a minute.

You’re statistically more likely to get a sale from an existing customer than a new one, so focusing on product updates will always pay off.

Not only will newness generate excitement for your customers, but it will also show that you are listening to them. After all, you should be using customer feedback to innovate.

Whether it’s redesigning a physical product or implementing new features in an app, there’s loads of growth hacking you can do to improve your offer. 

6 proven growth hacking techniques and strategies

Inspire yourself with some tried and tested growth hacking examples that have led other businesses to success.

1. Crowdsource your funding

If you’re a startup, this strategy will help you grow in more than one way.

While you will definitely need funding to get a business off the ground, what you could also benefit from is a ready-made audience.

Using crowdfunding is a really impactful growth hacking technique to build a community around your business. 

You’re asking several individuals to invest in what you’re doing, and they will want to stick around to see how you grow.

As with any potential users, try to incentivize them to spread the word and generate excitement.

2. Ask early adopters for feedback

Capturing unbiased opinions about your product early on is one of the most valuable growth hacks.

Either run a beta test before you launch, or reach out to your first users to gain feedback that could help your business improve.

Feedback from early adopters could be pivotal. 

These are people who are willing to take a risk on a business that isn’t well-known or trusted yet. Chances are they will have smart, balanced views on your product.

You could even invest in a third-party service like Erli Bird to run your focus group for you.

3. Be search optimized

If you’re fixated on rapid growth, you’ll need to optimize your website for search engines before you go live.

Pool keywords that you think are relevant to your business and product offer, and test their popularity on a keyword planner. 

If you have a keyword pro on your team or contact list, set them the task of optimizing your website for search. 

The more prepared you are with search optimization while growth hacking, the easier it will be to capitalize on all the traction your promotional activity will generate.

4. Feature on Product Hunt

This isn’t the most straightforward technique.

With Product Hunt, you’ll need to get an existing user with influence to submit your product. Use the site’s Twitter to find a member who recommended a product like yours, and reach out to them.

A feature on Product Hunt can drive a big chunk of traffic to your website in a short space of time. 

Remember to engage with the Product Hunt community once your product has been featured, and make sure that what you’re offering is worth the fuss. 

A bad product that receives great marketing is still a bad product.

5. Get into people’s inboxes

We’re not talking about actual hacking.

You should be sending out emails consistently. Not constantly, but consistently.

This is a key method of maintaining customer engagement. As long as the emails are engaging and lead to benefits for the reader, this content marketing technique is great for growth.

Bear in mind that you’ll need to create a mailing list, first. 

It’s unethical to send marketing emails to people who haven’t signed up for them, but it’s so easy to find contacts in the right way.

Use a holding page on your website to generate email sign-ups. Don’t forget to give people the option to increase or decrease communication.

6. Incentivize your audience

This point cannot be emphasized enough.

For a growing business, this strategy might feel like giving something great away for little reward. 

But incentives can optimize growth in a big way. You can devise a plan to incentivize your customers and potential customers in a way that costs your business nothing.

Consider what you have that is easy for you to generate, but is valuable to other people. 

Is it more storage space? Free delivery? Think about what would appeal the most to your target audience.

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Olivia is a writer for Zyro and an eCommerce know-it-all. Having spent many years as a retail buyer, she loves writing about trend forecasting, brand building, and teaching others how to optimize online stores for success. She lives in London and spends a lot of time exploring the city’s parks with her whippet.

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