There’s a new buzzword in Silicon Valley: “Growth Hacking”. It’s a concept that’s spreading across the internet at a rapid rate, people no longer want to be a marketer – they want to be a growth hacker!
When you hear the word “hacking” you probably think of guys in darkened rooms, leaking secrets, or installing malware – but this kind of hacking has nothing to do with code.
So what is it? Simply put, a growth hacker is focused almost solely on one objective: the growth of a company. And this is growth achieved by being smarter – running quick and dirty experiments, building on insight from analytics – not spending more money.
To do this for a tech product requires a hybrid skillset – combining marketing, sales and engineering insight, often associated with start ups where resource is low and the need for growth is paramount.
In this article on Fast Company, Ryan Holiday explains that: “growth hacking is a marketing technique developed by technology startups which uses creativity, analytical thinking, and social metrics to sell products and gain exposure”.
It’s the reason why tech superstars such as Airbnb and Dropbox have risen to become multi-billion dollar empires. A quick visit to growthhackers.com will uncover 100’s of articles dedicated to helping you master it.
But how can this mindset, this laser-focus on growth, be applied to non-tech products – to real world marketing departments? In this post we’ll explore some examples of growth hacking, and some simple tips and tricks you can easily apply to your marketing today.
Building Growth into your Product
Dropbox – now worth more than $4 Billion – escalated the growth of their business through growth hacking, not traditional marketing. There are two hacks used by Dropbox to acquire new users that are worth focusing on.
The Network Effect
By giving customers incentives to publicise the product, Dropbox makes it really beneficial for users to tell one another about the product. For example, when one person who has Dropbox refers another, they both get a 500MB increase, pending signup. Referrals have increased Dropbox signups by 60%.
The sender has an incentive to spread the word about Dropbox – getting extra space. The referrer also has an incentive for signing up – more space than if they just signed up through the normal process
Dropbox also designed social amplification into their product upsell (see the graphic below). If a simple tweet bags you 125MB more space, why not share?!
Today Dropbox have over 3.62M followers on Twitter. Sure, not every single one of them is as a result of this hack but it’s certainly helped both amplify the brand, and build a substantial community to communicate with.
According to Forbes, 81 per cent of consumers say that recommendations from friends directly influence their purchasing decision. What’s more, the same study showed that 74 per cent of consumers would use social media to recommend products and services.
You can see why this strategy has worked for Dropbox.
Getting Started With Growth Hacking
So you’ve seen how one of the most successful tech start-ups have designed their business to grow through a series of ‘hacks’ – integrating social networks, and technology to get themselves nearer their goals.
But while not every offline business can easily integrate their product and service into social networks, the principles of insight, tech smarts and testing can can be applied to any business – start up or multinational.
What company doesn’t ultimately want growth? Growth of engagement, of sign-ups, of social shares, of sales enquiries? And growth with the most efficiency – no-one has endless resource, or money.
Here’s a few hints and tips that we’ve used that would help your marketing teams hack their way to success:
Optimising Your Social Media Activity
Anyone managing more than one social media account will know that administration can take a lot of time – and how do you know you’re getting the best results?
According to extensive research carried out by Buffer, while spreading out your posts throughout the day, as well as utilizing multiple platforms, is important, timing is everything. For starters (and while the numbers can differ between industries) social media engagement on workdays is typically highest on Thursdays and Fridays.
Weekends bring high engagement rates on both Facebook and Twitter, as much as 32 per cent. Buffer’s research indicated that tweets posted between Friday – Sunday had higher click through rates than those posted at other times. In addition, we’ve found that the best time to re-tweet is in the early evening, around 5 p.m.
Buffer’s auto-scheduling feature allows you to take advantage of the high engagement rates on Saturday and Sunday – without anyone coming into the office!
And the Buffer analytics tool will allow your marketing team to see how each post performs. We’ve even tried out different headlines for the same blog post to see which works most effectively.
Optimising Your Email Activity
Studies show that more than 23 per cent of emails are opened within the first hour after delivery, so choosing when to send them is pretty critical.
Unlike social media, email usage tends to stagnate on the weekends, and it’s generally recognised that the email “dead zone” is between 10:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. The best ‘open-hours’ tend to be between 8:00 – 9:00 a.m., when people first arrive at work, and in the afternoon, an hour or so before the workday is over.
We use Campaign Monitor to send out our monthly email Insights Newsletter (if you want to receive this you can sign up on this page!). The analytics within Campaign Monitor’s platform means we can assess when is the best time to send out emails, based on our customer’s engagement with the content.
We’ve found our most effective time to send an email is Wednesday at midday – we get 4.5% greater click-throughs vs other times in the week.
Optimise Your Website Using Heat Maps
Crazy Egg is all about helping you to improve how your web site performs. Maybe you have an email signup button, but nobody clicks on it? Or a report which no-one sees as they don’t scroll.
Their heat maps show where people are looking on the page, and even where they scroll. This is a great and simple insight into user behaviour, and whether your web design is actually working.
If you can get your site to work better, to optimise conversions, you reduce the need to generate more traffic, potentially reducing ad costs – or generating far greater return on investment.
Eye Tracking Technology
We recently bought ourselves a Tobii EyeX development kit: an eye tracking device. This was as part of a drive to get some ‘science’ into our design process, to improve usability and guide people to the right actions on the page.
The EyeX is a new generation of accurate eyeball tracking tools which quickly and simply connect to your computer – tracking exactly where your eyes are looking on a screen. It looks a bit like a long thin web-cam at the base of your screen!
You can quickly test a web design when it is still a flat Jpeg, by bringing it up on screen and asking the user to just look at it. If your main call to action is not even looked at….you need to redesign your site!
This saves a lot of time early on in the project, allowing a design to ‘fail fast’- getting data from which to improve the user experience even before we write a line of code.
Real-time Customer Feedback
Want to know what people really think when they’re on your site? What’s holding them back from buying? What they do and don’t understand? Customer feedback applications like Qualaroo helps uncover these insights.
You can target questions to visitors anywhere on your website – it pops up a small form at the base of the screen. These can be Yes/No questions – or small text fields, great ways to capture feedback from your site.
This is a simple and effective way to start to get some real qualitative feedback from your site users, in a way which can be tailored to specific pages. This can supplement your analytics packages, adding some authentic testimonial to cold stats.
Collaborate With Others To Create Content
While we genuinely enjoy collaborating with people and getting their insights, this approach has a number of practical benefits:
- We get differing perspectives which challenge our thinking
- We don’t have to do all the content generation
- These cool people share the post, driving high quality traffic to our site!
This has proven to increase both traffic to our website, and our Twitter following – and create great content people like to read. Average time on the page for our Office Soundtrack post is over 5 minutes.
Growth hacking is a mindset which offers great opportunities for the modern marketer. Which business doesn’t ultimately want growth?
Using some simple tech tools, your marketing department can better understand your customer (the foundation of any successful brand), and the performance of your marketing campaigns. Running tests, measuring them, “failing fast” and quickly moving forwards will allow you to continuously optimize your campaigns and designs.
This approach will be the basis of modern marketing, whether in a scrappy disruptive start up, or the FTSE 100. So get learning: we’d recommend starting with Neil Patel’s ultimate guide to growth hacking as a great starting point.
Do you have any hacks, hints and tips you’d like to share? Please do in the comments below!Find this interesting?