“Growth Hacking” (or GH) is one of the most interesting marketing strategies nowadays.
It’s also one of those terms that mean very little to most people.
However, it is a term that will become increasingly popular.
A bit like the infamous UI/UX. Only that UI/UX does not exist.
On the contrary, Growth Hacking not only exists: it will be fundamental for the growth of any business.
And when I say ANY BUSINESS I mean anyone without exception. Both online and offline.
But to understand how to work on GH strategies, we must first know what it is.
Definition of Growth Hacking
According to Wikipedia, the definition of Growth Hacking is as follows:
Growth hacking is a relatively new field in marketing focused on growth. It started in relation to early-stage startups who need massive growth in a short time on small budgets, but has since then also reached bigger corporate companies. The goal of growth hacking strategies is generally to acquire as many users or customers as possible while spending as little as possible.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Growth_hacking
And this is completely real.
Except for one detail that you will surely have already discovered.
Although the use of the term may be new (and it is, it dates from 2010), the strategies are not.
Many of the creative marketing strategies that have existed for decades are the same, only without that name.
For example, check these 14 brand stunts. Some of them online, some offline, some mixed.
So, as you can see, nothing new under the sun.
It basically means to bring more customers to a business, with as little money as possible.
Been there done that.
However, when we talk about Growth Hacking, we’re usually talking about its online application in our marketing strategy.
Websites, social media, mobile apps.
Or, if you want, the reign of analytics.
How to use GH in your marketing strategy
Now that we know what we’re talking about, we can define certain steps.
What to do. What NOT to do.
And then we can apply these steps to a more complete strategy.
And by following these steps and tips, we will surely achieve the goals and KPIs we’re looking for.
And the best part… you’ll see results very fast!
So… enough talking! Let’s go to the important part!
5 tips to add Growth Hacking to your marketing strategy
Tip 1: Define your goals in a bold and brave way
Like in any other marketing strategy, we need to plan. We need to set goals based on KPI, MBO or OKR.
At this stage, we’re not going for precision and accuracy. We don’t need to be realistic.
We need to be enthusiastic about results, delusional about goals, crazy about ideas.We need to be enthusiastic about results, delusional about goals, crazy about ideas. Click To Tweet
We’re not setting a strategy yet. So it’s your chance to go as creative as you want, because nothing is wrong at this point.
A good method is to take your KPI or whatever measurement you use and create a brainstorming session.
Try to have at least 5 people involved, and throw as many ideas as you want.
Write those ideas down, and see how many of them can interact.
And also, how many of them are realistic and doable within your budget.
Now you can start to plan!
Tip 2: Work with low budgets
OK, now you’ll say “if I have more money, I can do more”.
And you’ll be right… to some extent. But if you have budget, you can use more secure and safe strategies.
Remember: growth hacking is cheap. But also risky!
If you’re looking for quick returns and safe results, then go with more conservative methods.
On the contrary, if you set a low budget, you’ll also be prepared for more creative avenues.
After all… all the safe paths are closed for you now!
And believe me, that’s a lot of fun, so get ready for a good ride.
Tip 3: Low budget doesn’t mean FREE (nor that time is unlimited)
There’s people who believe that real growth hacking is achieved with no budget whatsoever.
And while the above is possible, we don’t want to wait for years.
We want results, and we want them in a reasonable time lapse.
We already ruled out SEM (maybe not completely, but it won’t be the core of our strategy).
SEM would bring quick results we could measure almost immediately (at a much higher cost, of course).
We will use SEO like mad. But it takes time to build, so we have to move things fast.
If we say “Oh, OK, let’s build innovative content and links and whatnot in a undefined period of time” chances are everything will fail.
Remember: this is a marketing strategy.
You’re not playing games here. This has to return results
So, be sure to keep in mind this: small budget, small time.
Tip 4: Make your users work for you
The goal of a good marketing strategy is to make customers share your product and values with their peers.
And the same happens with growth hacking.
Furthermore, it’s the core of this strategy.
In order to get as much traffic as possible with as less investment as you can, you will need people to share your content.
For this, you’ll need to shock them. Delight them. Make them say WOW! I NEED to post this on Instagram!
Remember the First Tip? Well, now you know why it was the first tip!
Did you go REALLY BANANAS?
Like in… “hey, what about building a hot air balloon with underwear?”
Tip 5: Create a story
This is very important: a marketing strategy based in growth hacking has different moments.
You’ll have peaks and valleys, and that’s perfect.
Let’s suppose you have this great idea.
Like… build a hot air balloon with green underwear!
This will be shared by everybody. Period.
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. Let alone media such as TV and newspapers.
So yeah, you had a great momentum, and it was sweet.
But… how does it follow?
I mean… why does it have to end here?
Just build your narrative. Make the whole thing a story.
Why is there a green underwear hot air balloon in the sky?
Who are the guys in that flying underwear thing?
What happens once they land? Where will they go?
Why did they do what they did? Is there a follow up?
Of course, you can keep the flame alive.
Bring the memories back every now and them. Retweet every few months.
Make this become a meme every kid will share.
Create a follow up. What about “pink underwear” meets greeny in the sky?
Let your imagination fly like a hot air balloon (which, again…. takes us to the first tip!)
Tip 6: Going crazy doesn’t mean going stupid
At all times, remember this is a marketing strategy.
You’re looking for results, and you use growth hacking as a method for this strategy.
But GH is not the goal. It’s a mean to an end.
As in any SEO or marketing campaign, you need to take a close look to statistics and analytics.
You have to study what happens with the campaign.
And research user behavior, what they do and how they interact with your site, app or social media.
More important: you’ll get a lot of fresh traffic. But… are you ready for it? What are you gonna do with that traffic?
Are your funnels ready? Did you test them before hand?
In short: be prepared. Otherwise you’ll waste your great opportunity. And there won’t be a lot of them.
Tip 7: Make Growth Hacking become the core of your marketing strategy
Once you discover the potential of this tool, you won’t want to get back.
Hey, we’re talking about heaps of traffic and user engagement for little money!
I bet you won’t find anything wrong about that.
So, make GH become part of your business philosophy.
You don’t need to launch campaigns every day.
But you need to think about campaigns every month.
Get back to our First Tip. Engage with your peers and dedicate a day to think new ideas.
As in “hey, first Thursday of the month is Growth Hacking brainstorming day”.
If you don’t get something useful, so be it. But with time, ideas will start to flow and you’ll get a lot of them.
And then… sky is the limit!
Growth hacking is here to stay. It’s simple (yet complex).
It’s affordable. It’s fun.
It’s a poor man’s tool to achieve rich man’s results.
You only need to be creative, get out of the box and embrace this as a philosophy.
Keep in mind growth hacking and branding usually go together hand in hand. So it’s really important to keep in mind the brand guidelines, the “voice of the brand”, the tone, and other aspects of such brand.
You have nothing to lose. But there’s a lot to win!
Or, in other words…
Be bold! Be brave!
More Growth Hacking Free Resources
If you want to delve further on what is Growth Hacking and how can you use it in your projects, we made a curated selection of resources and bibliography about Growth Hacking.
Growth Hacker Marketing: A Primer on the Future of PR, Marketing, and Advertising – R. Holiday (PDF)
Hacking Growth: How Today’s Fastest-Growing Companies Drive Breakout Success – S. Ellis, M. Brown
Growth hacking: Insights on data-driven decision-making from three firms – O. Troisi, G. Maione, M. Grimaldi, F. Loia (PDF)
Growth hacking as an approach to producing growth amongst UK technology start-ups: an evaluation – T. Conway, T. Hemphill
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