Growth hacking for startups ensures you reach the right people, through the right message, to meet your startup goals — quickly. Growth hackers, using their knowledge of product and distribution, find ingenious, technology-based, avenues for growth that sometimes push the bounds of what is expected or advised.
Think of them as marketing scientists.
Growth hackers use data and strategic experimentation to streamline marketing efforts. These targeted tactics are the secret formula behind some of the world’s most successful startups, most notably Airbnb.
What are some growth hacker techniques that can benefit your startup?
Let’s break down some strategies to help you maximize growth right now:
Use data to verify who your online audience is
The most important aspect of growth hacking is research, especially when it comes to locating where your target audience is spending their time online. You may have come come with an ingenious growth hacking strategy using Facebook ads, but this strategy is doomed to fail if your audience is spending most of their time on other social media platforms.
Luckily for growth hackers, there are many tools we can use in order to track where our potential clients are spending their time.
One of the most important tools in any growth hacker’s arsenal is Google Analytics. Analytics allows you to see the location of visitors to your website, where they are being driven from, and how long they spend on your website. The Analytics audience tab, also allows the option to segment visitors by pre-set “affinities”. These affinities break down the viewers into demographics such as “TV Lover” or “Social Media User”.
Google Analytics Affinity Categories
Under Acquisition > All Traffic, the Source/Medium tab shows you where site visitors are coming from, segmenting social media networks, search engines, referral websites and paid advertising platforms.
Google Analytics Source/Medium
This shows you how people land on your website, which reveals the most advantageous platforms to secure attention of customers, clients, or even investors. In the marketing landscape, a common trend is that less total site visitors will come from LinkedIn, but they spend the most time on your website than any other source.
Have a Weekly Blog, Podcast or Live Stream
Providing relevant content such as blogs, podcasts or live streams to your target audience is one of the best ways your startup can fuel growth. Creating quality content isn’t about trying to sell your product or service — it’s about generating value for the viewer. While making a weekly blog or video may not directly lead to sales, it establishes your company as a thought leader within your industry and this direct relationship creates a bond of trust between you and the viewer that builds your sales funnel.
Having relevant content on your website is also important for search engine optimization (SEO). Each page you add to a website is one more page that Google can index and rank you for, which means more opportunities for potential customers to reach your firm. By developing a content creation plan targeting specific keywords relating to Google searches you have the potential to reach every person conducting those searches.
One of the most renowned examples is Moz’s fantastic thought leadership on SEO. Their blog, with articles being posted every couple days, is the ultimate informative resource for all things relating to Google’s algorithms and obtaining high organic search rankings.
Video is the most engaging medium — accounting for 74% of all online traffic. This is most beneficial for startups because it creates a personalized brand through showcasing your founder, team members, while also explaining how to use the product. Explainer videos is an effective tactic because people are more inclined to purchase (or even just believe) in a product when they’ve seen it in action.
Way back in 2013, Airbnb launched its first video crowdsourcing campaign on the now-extinct platform Vine. The startup collected user-submitted videos to create a short film called “Hollywood & Vines.” This campaign used 100 clips and was developed in conjunction with Airbnb’s 2013 sponsorship at the Sundance Film Festival.
In 2014, they took a slightly different approach to their campaign, utilizing Instagram to collect video contributions. Users submitted 15-second videos with the hashtag #AirbnbShorts that summarized why travellers should visit their hometown. This was an attempt to spotlight less popular travel locations. The winner of the contest gave the world an inside look into the city of New Orleans. His prize including receiving a complimentary flight to London where he stayed at an Airbnb property and attended the Sundance Film Festival.
A more recent example is a viral Kickstarter campaign from Mindset for smart headphones that increase your concentration.
Go to Conferences
While most people probably think of digital strategies when it comes to growth hacking, the reality is you don’t need to be sitting at a computer to drive growth. Attending conferences and meeting people face-to-face is still one of the most effective ways to network with other business professionals, including potential clients.
To get the most out of attending professional conferences, it is important to develop a strategy before you go — 90% of conference preparation should be completed before you go. One of the biggest advantages to attending a conference, is the opportunity to create warm leads. This means it is crucial to do research into who is attending and make a list of the individuals that your firm would get the most value from meeting with.
Before you attend the conference, make two lists of the people you want to make a connection with — high value, must-meets and nice-to-haves. Once you have created these two lists send out some emails to see who might be interested in grabbing coffee while at the event. After that first email blast, make sure you call the high-value, must-meets to try and arrange a meeting during the event.
If you feel that your business is not developing enough traction organically, a widely used strategy to give you a much needed boost is media buying. As the name implies, media buying refers to the strategy of spending money to have your ads featured in desired locations for specified lengths of time.
When you are trying to growth hack your startup, there are several media buying tools that will help you succeed.
Being shown on the first page of Google search results is one of the most valuable assets to a business. Unfortunately, many startups lack the resources to go toe-to-toe with larger enterprises using experienced SEO experts.
By using Google AdWords, you can pay to have your companies ads shown in highly visible locations when people search for certain keywords. You select the various traits of your target audience to ensure that your messaging is being viewed by the correct people. Once you have enticed a viewer to click on your link, it is then possible to retarget, meaning that when you get a visitor to your website, you can then track them once they leave, advertising on sites visited subsequently.
Keep in mind that it requires strong data to fully utilize the power of Google.
Your startup may not have a product or service where popular keyword searches are relevant. Even if they are relevant, chances are you will be facing stiff competition from rival companies, resulting in a high cost per click. Before you begin an Adwords campaign for your startup, be sure to research the costs involved in bidding on relevant keywords to your brand. If the cost is outside of your budget, you may wish to find a different platform for your media buying.
Facebook & Instagram
For startups striving to compete with competitive keywords on Google AdWords and ever-increasing cost per clicks, the answer is Facebook/Instagram ads. The reason is due to the granular targeting options.
For example, after completing competitor analysis your team has identified any parallels between other brands and yourself in order to differentiate your product or service. If you do have strong competition that utilizes Facebook or Instagram as one of their main marketing efforts, you can use this to your advantage.
You can showcase Facebook or Instagram ads on the platform to people that have liked your competitors’ profile. This ensures you are maximizing your budget by showing ads to people that are already qualified, seemingly interested in your product/service and offering a better alternative to win them from your competitor.
Helpful Growth Hacking Tools
Growth hacking your startup may seem like a challenging task, and for good reason. Luckily, there are many tools that provide services to help you with your growth hacking efforts. Here are some of the products that we find helpful.
Hunter – Do you know who your target audience is, but have no way of contacting them? Hunter has you covered. Their software allows you to find the emails associated with websites, giving you access to a company’s decision maker. Hunter comes with a handy Chrome plugin as well as a generous free trial.
Buffer – Buffer makes scheduling your social media, easy. It allows you to add content, schedule your posts, as well as track the effectiveness of your social campaign. Buffer also comes with an extension, allowing you to share articles you are viewing without leaving your current screen.
Growthbot – Growthbot is a marketing chatbot that allows you to inquire about the digital marketing efforts of any domain. By asking questions such as ‘What does airbnb.com spend on ppc’, or ‘What software does Hubspot use?’, you get insight into industry standards.
SimilarWeb – SimilarWeb is a tool that allows you to take a deep look into your competitors website. It tracks engagement, website views, view source, as well as other useful stats such as bounce rate and time spent on page.
Rebrandly – Rebrandly is a handy tool that gives you the ability to create branded links when sharing a URL. Instead of having some long, forgettable URL, you can change it to something that viewers will remember and share.
These strategic experimentation examples can help you streamline your marketing efforts to get the word out about your startup, scope out qualified sales leads or find new investors. If you have any other questions on the right growth hacking techniques, we’d love to chat!