Growth Hacking: What It Is And How Your Business Can Benefit

Growth Hacking – You’ve likely heard of it, but aren’t quite sure what it means, who uses it, and whether it’s something that can help you and your business.

In the rapidly-growing world of digital business, it can feel like a never-ending battle to stand out amongst the crowd to reach desired growth. Although the ways to grow an internet business are numerous, it’s overwhelming – impossible, even – to learn every trick of the trade. To make it just a bit more complicated, growth tactics are also ever-changing and evolving, which makes it difficult to gain an edge over the competition.

Additionally, business owners often encounter new terms along the way that are meant to help them, but instead, result in another way to make things more confusing. Growth Hacking is one of those things that several startup owners rave about, while others are left trying to figure out what, exactly, it is.

Like most things in the digital world, there are a few definitions and uses, but it’s something no digital business owner should ignore when attempting to grow his or her business.

What is Growth Hacking, Anyway?

Growth Hacking

You’ll find virtually endless definitions floating around the internet. They might use different terms, but they describe a similar process.

Simply, growth hacking involves various techniques to grow a business. Growth hackers have tunnel vision to a company’s growth. They use in-depth analysis to monitor a company’s audience and then create unique and tailored strategies to help the business grow from its current position.

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The term “grow” can mean various things, depending on the business and its goals. To some businesses, growth can mean more financial sales; to other businesses, it can mean more repeat customers or a larger audience through building an e-mail list. Growth hacking can work for any definition of “growth” that a business has, so long that the focus area can blossom in some way from pulling in a larger audience.

But…Isn’t Hacking a Bad Thing?

Hacking is often met with a negative vibe. After all, it’s “hackers” which can steal private information from even the most secure websites. But, growth hacking is a much more positive term. It’s taking tried-and-true methods of marketing and growth and tailoring them to meet the specific needs of a company.

Growth hacks, therefore, continuously monitor a business, what it’s doing well, and what it needs to improve upon to create effective solutions for growth. The “hacking” part comes from using what already works and making it better for the company’s needs.

How Does Growth Hacking Work?

Don’t think that, as a business owner with little to no marketing experience, you have no business utilizing this concept yourself. In a nutshell, if you learn various ways to gain valuable insight into your audience, where they’re coming from, and what you’re interested in, you’ve already started your journey as a growth hacker.

Additionally, free growth hacking tools abound on the internet. Numerous free learning resources and growth hacking tools that almost automate the growth process have made the process easier to conquer than ever before.

Is Growth Hacking the Same as Digital Marketing?

Growth Hacking Digital Marketing

Growth hacking is often confused with digital marketing, as either another term for the same process or a complete replacement. But, it’s neither one.

In fact, the two complement each other. You can think of growth hacking as an extension of digital marketing, and digital marketing as an essential foundation. Both are equally as important as the other to the growth of a digital business. In fact, people commonly refer to growth hacking as “growth hacker marketing.”

Those with digital marketing experience will probably have an easier time figuring out the ins and outs. Digital marketers already have the main concepts at their fingertips, like learning about a target audience and figuring out how they can appeal to them through advertising campaigns and other marketing tactics.

Growth hacking builds on these concepts, but for different reasons. While a marketer may focus on several areas of a company, from building engagement to promoting a re-branding of a company, the growth hacker’s focus remains solely on growth in some form. For the best results, a marketing team can, and should, work together to implement marketing and growth hack strategies cohesively.

Who Can Benefit from Growth Hacking?

Growth Hacking - Digital Entrepreneur Tools

The concepts are universal and can apply to a wide range of businesses and marketers, making it helpful to virtually any digital business owner, from startup to established companies.

To demonstrate this point, let’s look at some of the results Slack has seen since it launched in 2004. Slack is a handy communication tool for teams. It’s particularly useful for organizing communication between individuals on remote teams through a variety of channels, file-sharing tools, and notifications.

When the tool launched, it had just 15,000 users. A year later, it had over 500,000 users. What led to such a rapid success from a startup?

Slack nailed the “We know what you need, and here’s what we’re doing to help you” aspect that growth hacking is all about. When it launched, most Slack users probably didn’t know they even needed a tool like it. Then, they started using it and soon realized how ridiculously simple – and helpful – it was for communicating with their teams.

Slack focused on creating a tool unlike any similar ones on the market (and making it completely free!) and targeting teams of professionals who didn’t have an organized tool for communication. Previously, they relied on several tools, like e-mail or Skype, rather than one tool that could do it all. By super-targeting this group, Slack hacked its way into the heart of teams everywhere.

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But, established businesses can use these techniques to expand what’s already there. Take Facebook, for example, which started as a network for college students in 2004 and began accepting anyone with a registered e-mail address in 2006. It was already an established network with a solid number of active users. Still, it wasn’t gaining as many new members as its creators had hoped, and in came the growth hack tactics.

Facebook implemented widgets for websites to connect website visitors with the site’s Facebook page, which brought more users to the social network. Facebook also employed several advertising campaigns that targeted the users it wanted most – 20-somethings who would be most likely to want to engage with friends and family on the network.

Content, B2C, and B2B marketers, alike, can also benefit. These guys are all in the business of appealing to a particular type of business or person. So, growth hacks can help define, and close in on, an ideal customer or client to better target a company’s growth through the customer or client.

Growth Hacking for Startups

Growth Hacking Startups

How can a startup company use entrepreneur growth hacking tools and resources effectively?

When it comes to starting a business, the most important venture is creating a solid foundation. You want people to understand and connect with your brand in a way that they can find helpful to them now or in the future. This concept can provide a level of brand awareness combined with trust, so the only place left for you to go is up.

As a startup business owner, your biggest focus should be on acquisition growth. Without a solid support system from a loyal audience, your business won’t continue to grow. Early traction – or fast growth after your business’s launch, much like Slack experienced – is a fundamental element to a startup’s success.

The process can start even before you begin your business. In fact, it should start months before! Think about an e-mail list. If you created attractive ways to convince people to sign up to your list before your business launched, you could have thousands of people interested in your product as soon as it goes live.

From there, you’re likely to gain traction quickly since you’ll already have plenty of eyes on your business. Those who love what you do will already talk about and share your information with others. Your pre-launch list is a good example. You’ve used the list to create excitement over what’s to come.

Once your business launches, you’ll then want to focus not only on reeling in a larger audience but also on keeping your current audience happy. A referral program is an excellent place to start because it targets both current and potential customers.

Offer your current customers an incentive to refer others to your business, and you could watch your growth soar. Amazon Prime, for example, offers its current Prime customers $5 for each friend they refer to Prime who makes a $5 purchase.

Amazon wins because it gets more Prime memberships, customers, and sales. Its Prime members win because they get a free $5 to spend at Amazon simply by referring someone. And, its new customers win because they’ll be eligible for all the awesome perks Amazon Prime has to offer. It’s no wonder Amazon is a leading online retailer!

Focus on whatever you think will create buzz around your business to get your name out there. But, make sure it’s creative and laser-focused to your business to accurately target your ideal audience and stand out from the crowd.

Growth Hacking for Established Businesses

Growth Hacking Business - Digital Entrepreneur Tools

Don’t think that because your business has already been around for a few years that you’re exempt from this. The concept will still have perks for you.

Enterprise growth hacking tools and tactics focus more on researching current customers, rather than an ideal audience, to learn how to target them and appeal to more people like them. Let’s look at two examples from businesses that were already well-established before they pulled out all the stops: Ticketmaster and Twitter.

Ticketmaster, an online company that sells tickets for events and concerts all over the world, uses an excellent technique that you probably didn’t even realize was growth hacking.

When you click on the ticket you want to buy, you get pulled into a page that displays a timer. The timer shows the time left in which you must buy your ticket before someone else can claim it. Part of the reason for adding this feature was to prevent bots from buying all the tickets before real humans could purchase them.

But, this is also a sneaky strategy to urge people to purchase tickets without thinking about it too much. In other words, adding this small timer to its ticket pages leads to more sales for Ticketmaster.

Twitter arrived on the social networking scene in 2006 and grew to over 100 million users in just six years. The network was already growing rapidly for three years before introducing the ‘Suggested User’ feature, in which Twitter suggested some accounts to follow for new sign-ups.

Why, then, did Twitter add this feature? The network analyzed how much-registered users interacted with Twitter. What it found that those who followed at least 30 people were much more likely to engage with the social network through replies, retweets, and more.

Therefore, growth hackers at Twitter believed suggesting accounts that matched the likes and interests of new users would make them more likely to begin following people. In turn, this would create a snowball effect leading to more interaction and active users. It worked, and Twitter has seen massive increases in active users every year since.

Growth hacking an established business relies on your ability to analyze your weaknesses, just like Ticketmaster and Twitter did. Once you learn where you can improve, you can focus on that area to growth hack your way to success.

Growth Hacking for Social Media

Growth Hacking Social Media

As a digital business, you should also be focusing on social media. If not, your business probably isn’t going very far. Social media has been one of the leading ways to market a business for years, and that’s not likely going to change anytime soon.

Since each social media network is best for different factors of growing a business, there are different strategies to implement in each.

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Twitter

Growth hacking Twitter isn’t all about increasing your followers, although that’s an important part. But, if you get wrapped up in numbers rather than engagement, you’ll create a recipe for disaster. To find success in growth on Twitter, you should focus on the meaningful interaction between yourself and your audience.

One of the best growth hack tactics for Twitter is analyzing your tweets. Twitter has its own analytics tool that measures your tweets’ activity, including replies, likes, retweets, impressions, and more. You’ll get the perfect picture of what you’re doing right and wrong in your tweets based on their engagement.

Twitter Analytics also helps you learn more about your audience, so you know who you need to target when you create tweets. It provides you with basic demographics, like your audience’s top interests, most-used languages, and what type of device they most often view your Twitter page from.

Once you’ve homed in on your audience and what causes people to interact with you, you can start hacking your tweets to give them what they want. Create images that appeal to your audience, share relevant content from top accounts in the niche your followers are interested in and use the most relevant hashtags to draw in more followers who might be sifting through tweets using those hashtags.

Additionally, don’t forget the power of the Twitter list. Not only is a list an excellent way to organize your Twitter experience, but it also shows people you follow that you value them enough to add them to a specific list.

Twitter users can even subscribe to your lists, so don’t forget to add yourself to them, too, for more exposure. Twitter allows up to 50 lists, but make sure they’re unique to the users you add.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn isn’t a social network that every business chooses to use, but it’s one that you should consider using if you don’t. Although it’s particularly useful for B2B companies, it’s a good place for any professional team to market themselves as a team and as individuals.

After all, the more connections and valuable posts your employees make on LinkedIn, the more awesome exposure for your company. So, have your team set up individual accounts, build them up by connecting with each other and others you know in your business niche, and start hacking your way to LinkedIn success.

LinkedIn is the epitome of networking. It’s all about maintaining relationships with your existing contacts and expanding your reach to industry influencers. Growth hacking LinkedIn, specifically your profile, will help you network with influential people in your industry and help establish you, your team, and your business as authorities within that industry.

The best thing you can do for your LinkedIn strategy is to create a thorough profile. You’ll want possible connections to view your page, immediately know what industry you’re in, and see you as a professional in that industry. If they get this vibe from you, they’re much more likely to connect.

When you set out to make connections with others, give them a valuable reason to add you. You know your industry well, so include a tidbit about what you, as an authority, can do for them. In other words, make your connection requests about the other person, not yourself.

Facebook

Facebook is like Twitter in that engagement is key to growth. The difference is that whatever you post to Twitter shows up in the feed of all your followers; on Facebook, only a handful of your audience sees your posts in its feed. If you have little to no likes, comments or shares on your posts, less and less of your audience will see them.

Therefore, growth hacking Facebook relies on targeting your audience through amplifying your posts. You must know what your audience loves, so they’re more likely to interact with your statuses and photos, which will increase how much they see your posts in the future.

This brings us to Facebook Analytics, which works similarly to Twitter Analytics to help you define your audience and create posts they’ll love based on their interests.

Not only does this tool help you gain reach on Facebook, but it also follows your audience from Facebook to your website, sign-ups, or purchases so you can get a complete picture of how many of your fans are doing what you want them to do and how to make them do it more.

Conclusion: Getting Growth Hacking to Work for You

Did you know that there are dedicated growth hackers available if you’d like to outsource the job to professionals? Hiring one is a smart move if you don’t feel confident enough in your analysis skills, or what to do with the information once you have it to grow your business.

But, with a little research – and a lot of patience – it is a skill that novices can learn. There’s plenty of free resources available on the internet, from tools to knowledge bases, to get you started.

A winning strategy for growth is what will propel your business forward and keep it on the edge of the competition. Remember, though, that growth isn’t all about how fast you can gain new customers or a larger audience; it’s also about finding ways to keep your current ones happy and having them grow with you.

Growth hacking makes you stand out in your industry, and the proof is in your audience engagement. Find out ways to increase engagement, and you’re sure to have a winning strategy that can propel you to a top spot in your niche.

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