Every passing year, millions of new businesses, or startups as they are commonly referred to in the entrepreneurial world, are launched. As a matter of fact, The Telegraph has it that 80 startups are launched every hour – do the math.
The competition has never been fiercer – you either shape up or ship out. Of the several techniques, innovative entrepreneurs have sought to grow their startups in a record time, growth hacking tops the list.
Even big brands like Airbnb and Pinterest leveraged the power of growth hacking to climb to the enviable position they sit now. The message here is simple – if you have been brainstorming marketing ideas to position your next startup at an enviable spot, growth hacking must be one of them.
Before going further, let’s pause and have an overview of the topic at hand. At its basics, a growth hacker’s job is to use unconventional strategies and, of course, hacks, to grow a business quickly.
A growth hacker, as Sean Ellis, the godfather of hacking growth, defined it is “a person whose true north is growth”. Simply put, a growth hacker is laser-focused on growth, everything else is by the way.
You are probably getting bored with the whole growth thing, right? I mean, all this while, all I have done is to talk in abstract terms without any substance. To that end, let’s now see Airbnb were able to hack their way to where they are right now.
The Airbnb Story
The founders of Airbnb, an online service which connects accommodation seekers with homeowners who have extra space in their home to rent out to strangers, at the launch of their baby had one major goal in mind; to grow their user base to millions in the possible shortest time.
It was a daunting task some marketers, at that time, thought was impossible. Airbnb’s team, realizing what they were up against, devised devilishly simple technique – to tap, or in a more intrinsic sense, steal the audience of their competitor; Craiglist.
All they had to do was to go to Craiglist, retrieve the email address of renters, and then asked them in an email to advertise on Airbnb – it worked, magically.
Now, you don’t have to copy whatever anybody did to hack the growth of your startup. A little bit of creativity, determination and a willingness to do something out of the ordinary will do.
Before hacking a startup’s growth, bear this in mind
How possible is it to start building a house without first counting the cost? Very unlikely. The same is applicable to growth hacking. Below are important facts that must be borne in mind even before a startup idea is conceived:
1. Sustainable growth, not just growth
So, you were finally able to pull 50,000 visitors to your website, by, maybe leveraging the power of social media advertising, just a few weeks after it was launched. Exciting and exhilarating isn’t it?
But wait, are you getting traffic for the sole sake of getting traffic? Certainly not, unless you are doing it for the ego. Conversion is all that counts, and if only, say 0.05% of that traffic is converting, you might have to so some rethinking.
2. Be ready to experiment
At the core of growth hacking is, yeah!…experimentation. A strategy is only as good as the result it yields.
If you are the sit-tight kind of person who shivers to the bone at the thought trying new stuff and discarding stuff that doesn’t work, you might have to try other business growth strategies.
That taken care of, let’s now consider some actionable strategies you can use to hack the growth of your startup.
1. Set clear goals
There is a popular saying that goes thus:
“You can’t shoot at what you can’t aim”
Whoever said this most likely knew a thing or two about goal setting.
Goals that read something like: “I will grow my new company” or “I will get more fans to like my Facebook page”, are not goals but mere wishes.
How many influencers do you want to reach out to within a particular timeframe?
How many contents will you be creating and promoting on daily basis?
The answers to these questions and many more like them should constitute your goals.
2. Leverage the power of content marketing
In the digital world, there are basically two forms of marketing: outbound and inbound marketing. While the former boils down to nudging potential customers to the desired point via advertising, the later requires using content, epic and valuable content at that, to attract leads.
Customers oftentimes have a hard time making up their mind as to whether to purchase or not. Educating them and answering whatever question they may have is the best thing you can do, hence they need for frequent creation and promotion of valuable content.
3. Grow an email list
It’s been said that the money is in the list – the truth couldn’t be any farther. Statistics say is all; every dime invested in email marketing yields 4300% return on investment.
As you may know, the best way to start growing an email list is by offering visitors to your site a freebie; free pdf, free data or free course, in exchange for their email.
Alternatively, leverage the email list of others, ethically. It’s all part of growth hacking.
How exactly do you know if a strategy, no matter how brilliant it may seem at first, is working? Paying close attention to Analytics, most certainly.
Like earlier said, growth hacking is an iterative process which requires sifting through a bunch of stuff to find what works. Without analytics, the iterative process is incomplete.
What keywords are bringing in searchers to your site?
What demographic of email subscribers are responding well to your emails?
Which social media platform gives your brand more outreach?
Believe it or not, growth hacking is happening right now, and you don’t necessarily need to be a coder or experienced marketer to tap into it.
A note of caution: hacking a new business to growth is no easy feat – just like everything meaningful adventure in life, it needs time, dedication and a lot of smart work.
But here is the thing; it is very much doable.