what is growth hacking? understanding growth hacking basics and best practices

what is growth hacking? understanding growth hacking basics and best practices

growth hacking starts with the business
model you’ll need to have a model that is easy to scale and this makes sense if
you’re going for aggressive growth you can’t let your business model slow you
down if you’re running an online business that might be making sure your
technology will scale to meet the influx of traffic but more importantly that
might mean making sure that you’re scaling technology costs aren’t going to
put you in the red and if they do put you in the red how does your model
handle that what’s the next step to put your business in the green if you’re
moving physical product it’s important to understand your fulfillment model put
a plan in place for scaling and know what you’re doing as you reach each new
level of customer growth with a business model in place you’ll shift your focus
to the customer now we’ll take a closer look at the customer in a later movie
but knowing who they are is pivotal in deciding how to improve your product and
where you’ll execute your growth hack from the customer it’ll be moving on to
looking at your product the focus will be to identify how to get the product to
do much of the work for you a great product is pivotal to success and your
customer is the one who ultimately decides that for you so building around
your customer with focused intensity is key and finally the part that feels like
growth hacking leveraging opportunities exploring unique marketing avenues and
putting your product in the hands of key influencers you might feel drawn to the
marketing efforts immediately but growth hacking is a comprehensive approach it
isn’t just the final stage and that’s for traditional marketing growth hacking
requires rewinding revisiting the customer in the product and building an
experience worth sharing you conversion funnels helped us see the
sales process or the specific route a user takes to arrive at a sale they’re a
visual representation of each step of the process they can be fairly generic
referencing sales in general or specific to an experience before we talk further
on the fundamentals of growth hacking let’s get on the same page about what a
sales funnel is and how we’ll use it an example of a broad sales funnel might
look something like this people enter at the top of the funnel and if we do our
job well work their way to the bottom it’s why to the top because that’s where
most of our users are in the process they’ve become aware of our product and
it’s narrow at the bottom where the actual sale takes place because we lose
people at all the steps in between will indicate those losses with arrows
leaving the funnel a funnel for a shopping cart might be a lot more
specific we’ll start with product page at the top
payment forum in the middle and completion at the last step there we
could track how many visitors saw our product page versus how many completed
the sale in this example a visualized funnel will show what steps might cause
problems if people aren’t reaching the payment page or if we have a high
abandonment right before checkout we have a problem but let’s move beyond the
traditional funnel with growth hacking our funnel might look a little different
we’ll start by building a broad funnel that has three pieces acquiring visitors
converting visitors and retaining visitors there are opportunities for
growth in each of those funnel areas and we can analyze at a high level which
areas are performing better than others the funnel will be helpful in
understanding how to prioritize if your funnel starts to get really narrow at
the top you’ll need to increase your acquisition efforts if you find the
bottom getting wider then you’re doing well in actual practice you’ll assign
values to these funnels we can use tools like Google Analytics to help us with
that or you can simply keep tabs on your funnel shape using a whiteboard drop in
numerical values for each phase of the funnel so for our growth hacking funnel
we might have 20,000 visitors 5,000 conversions this month and 1,000
retained or repeat customers a look at that funnel suggests I might want to put
effort into retaining or reconverting former customers all in all it’s
important to spend your effort in the area of the funnel that’s going to
provide the big growth impact to your business you
a pivotal component to growth hacking is understanding your customer it would be
a waste of time to pursue the wrong audience and doing so might cause you to
make product decisions that put you even further behind in addition to guiding
your product development your audience will provide you with the lens in which
to interpret your data you’ll need to put yourself in the shoes of your target
market when you review that data the reason a 20 is something tech savvy user
abandons a checkout page can be very different than why a 40-something parent
abandons the checkout if you’re seeing a particular pattern in your data knowing
who your customer is will help you decipher that information the best
audience is one that needs your category of product and they might not be
actively looking but you know that if they stumble upon your product it’ll
flip the light switch they’ll be engaged with learning what
you have to offer growth hacking is built around this type of audience it’s
easier to grow around a market that wants a product like yours than to
create demand for something people don’t need when I start any marketing endeavor
I like to outline the type of customer and targeting and you can do this by
creating descriptive personas there’s a lot of ways that you can go about
deciphering the personas of your users if you’ve got an existing customer base
you can conduct surveys and mine your data for patterns but if you’re just
starting out you’ll have to make some educated assumptions to do that let’s
start with a simple exercise we’re going to outline three desired or typical
customers of yours so pull out a piece of paper and then close your eyes and
picture three different customers interacting with your product now write
down the three names that come to your mind when you see their faces
next describe each person at a broad level how old are they what is their
gender and what type of education do they have next write down some career
facts about these people what is their profession how long have they been
working there and is their career motivating them to use your product from
here let’s talk about the technological traits of this customer what technology
do they use daily how do they access the web how much time are they dedicating to
the Internet now you’ll write a short biography for
each of these people you can also pretend that you’re introducing
them to a friend what would you say what things will you highlight so at this
point you’ve got a rough sketch of these people but you’ll want to take it even
further and put yourself in their shoes assume their identity imagine their
day-to-day and then answer these four questions
what are they motivated by where do they spend most of their time why are they
interested in your product and finally what will convince them to buy at the
end of that exercise you should have some very clear personas as you collect
your data you can tweak the personas to align with your findings you’ll use
these personas to build a better product and to establish the right method for
your growth hack the worst marketing decision you can
make is trying to promote a product nobody wants or needs you’ll do yourself
a huge favor by being honest with yourself and conducting a true review of
what it is you’ve built or our building that can be a hard realization
traditional marketing suggests that when we fail we try a different marketing
technique right a better ad target a different audience and so on and so
forth growth hacking it has us going back to
the drawing board we need to figure out how to build it better that might mean
you need to pivot scrap the project or innovate in a new direction and that’s
not a bad thing it’s a valuable lesson a common problem when pivoting however is
spending too much time focusing on what the competition is doing if you happen
to be in a competitive space it’s easy to follow traditional norms and
replicate what they’re doing no it’s okay to keep an eye on your
competitor but the winner in today’s business world isn’t the biggest brand
or the one with the most bells and whistles or even the one who necessarily
got there first the winner is the company who aims for market fit you want
to win at having a product that is a perfect fit for your audience and to do
that you need to really understand your product I recommend that every startup
or anyone looking to undergo refining their product aim to build a minimum
viable product or MVP this is a product that has just enough features to support
the early adopters of the business since you’ve done your homework and vetted out
your customer it should be easier to decide what they actually need out of
the product an MVP lets you get to market faster and it allows you to scale
to fit the needs of your market without having to guess at all the features
upfront an MVP doesn’t have to feel like a
prototype it should have a high level of fit and finish it just doesn’t need to
solve every problem immediately you can slowly roll out new features and test
out how they’re received you can use your initial customers as a foundation
to learn from conduct research make the necessary enhancements and build the
next iteration of your product offering but be careful with customer feedback if
you put all their ideas into your product you’ll end up with something
that feels disjointed and built to make everyone happy
you’ve got to stick to your core audience and your core focus understand
what you’re trying to build and do it well if you pull that off you’ll have
less of an uphill battle to climb when it comes to your marketing efforts you growth hacking doesn’t follow up
gnorm it’ll look different for each person and each business the key to
building a winning strategy is to build your efforts around your personal
strengths every marketer is different as a growth hacker you’ll be wearing many
hats you’ll dabble in understanding customers
social media email marketing and so on you can be pretty good across the board
but there’s a set of skills that you’re great in these define skills are where
you have a lot of experience and are extremely comfortable maybe you’re a
talented programmer artist or copywriter you want to Center your growth hacking
around these core skills stick to what you know because it’s much easier to
leverage an opportunity when you understand the effort required so a
programmer might develop technology to automatically distribute emails based on
key triggers a creative might design impressive visuals and use those as part
of a larger campaign start by working within your core skills as time goes on
those strengths might shift but there’s no reason you have to learn something
completely new to execute an impressive growth hack if you’re unsure of your
core skills start by taking a look at your current job description what do you
spend most of your time doing if you had to write a description for someone to
replace you what skills would you list from there take a look at your hobbies
and interests what do you do when you aren’t working think about a project
you’ve completed whether it’s at home or at work what skills did you use to do it
a final option is to sit down with a friend or co-worker and ask them to
describe what they see as your core skills what you find might surprise you
you can always grow your skills and become more proficient in other areas
but to get started in growth hacking it’s easiest and often most advantageous
to start with what you’re good at there’s opportunities for every skill
set the data you collect on your website
your campaigns and even within your actual product will determine both the
success of your growth marketing and also help you identify opportunities to
explore the data is your map without it you’re flying blind you’ll be using your
data to improve your experience listen for untapped opportunities and pull the
plug if you have to on any failing ideas the amazing thing with online marketing
is we can track just about every action a user takes whether you have a
software-as-a-service or an e-commerce store front there are a
number of tools available that help marketers understand both the
qualitative and the quantitative we can track what’s happening now and even
model what is likely to happen in the future the easiest place to start is
with a resource like Google Analytics you can sign up at analytics google.com
and follow the steps to install a tracking code on every page of your
website from there you’ll have a goldmine of data to leverage segment and
correlate for example if you made a change to your website’s design and
noticed on that day web traffic dropped dramatically you’ll have a sense of
where to start looking for the problem if you roll out a new landing page you
might see an increase in conversions resulting from that specific page or you
may see a sudden spike in traffic and by drilling into it you can identify a
source say a social media post or a mention on an online blog as you dive
deeper into your growth hacking efforts you might be interested in a company
called KISSmetrics you’ll be using Google Analytics to
indicate what’s happening but KISSmetrics
will give you key insights on who’s doing it what’s great about KISSmetrics
is they bridge the multiscreen issue even when people use multiple devices or
browsers they’ll connect all that data to a single person because you’ll
understand every touchpoint from start to finish you can better understand your
user and build strategies around the findings many growth hackers also turn
to crazy egg which provides you with a visual heat map of where people are
clicking on your site at a glance you can see if people are interacting with
the areas you intended and this lets you make changes with confidence the more
data you can collect and interpret the better
chances are at succeeding in your growth hacks there’s many other data providers
out there some might be more specific to your industry than the ones I recommend
investigate them against your needs and keep a system in place that provides you
with the necessary checks and balances you before you begin exploring growth
opportunities I recommend setting up remarketing tags on your website with
remarketing you’ll have the opportunity to show advertisements to people who
have visited your site before and you do this by adding a specific tracking tag
to your website each time someone visits your website they’ll receive a cookie
which essentially adds them to a remarketing list from there you can
leverage this list as a targeting option within a platform such as Google Adwords
typically you can add additional filters within your remarketing campaigns for
example you might want to target a specific demographic people who took a
particular action on your website or you might even want to exclude a list of
existing customers from being shown your ads remarketing can help deliver
customized and high performance ads you’ve already worked hard to get your
traffic to the website so there’s no sense in letting that effort go to waste
and because a visitor is often already familiar with your offering the ads tend
to see a higher than average click-through rate at a lower overall
cost now I won’t be going into the specifics of setting up remarketing you
can dig more into remarketing within Google Adwords or you might be
interested in exploring products such as adderall or perfect audience remarketing
is a great tool so it’s worth experimenting with and if you don’t plan
on remarketing right away it’s still a worthwhile investment to add the tag now
this way you’ll have that list of customers populated if you do decide to
explore this Avenue in the future you earlier I touch on the importance of
building a great product but growth hacking goes beyond the key features of
the product your entire brand experience will benefit from being incredible
everything the user comes in contact with is an opportunity to impress them
understanding your customer allows you to decide what will make them happy and
what might excite them the right elements delivered at the right time
will motivate your customer to share your company with others by building an
experience you’re essentially earning customer loyalty and turning them into
an advertising vessel think about your own interactions with companies did a
particular brand do something that impressed you did you experience an
unexpected moment perhaps you’ve used an online product that went above and
beyond in solving your needs what happened to then it’s very likely that
you shared that moment the truth is people share incredible moments as we’ll
do in all of our growth hacking let’s look at science to understand why in
2012 Harvard University neuroscientists
conducted a study using brain imaging experiments they discovered that about
40% of everyday speech is devoted to telling others about what we feel or
think they also determined that sharing information triggers the same sensation
in the brain as eating the feeling is so rewarding
we can’t help but share what we think armed with that knowledge you can
quickly see why creating shareable moments is in itself an opportunity to
grow with little effort beyond designing the experience the key to a great
experience is authenticity do things that are genuinely in the best interest
of your customer avoid nagging them to share by interrupting their experience
instead let them discover and share under their own motivation as you pursue
developing growth hacks build in a must have experience put that experience into
the hands of the right customer and you’ll be on your way to obtaining
natural and viral growth you before you shift your focus to growth
you’ll need to explore how well your product fits into the market you’re
attempting to capture we’ll call this your product market fit it used to be
that getting your product to market first gave you the upper hand that first
mover advantage coupled with a good enough product was often all a company
needed to secure meaningful revenue but if you want to experience impressive
growth that’s not going to be enough instead you’ll want to pursue being the
first to have a product market fit and if you can’t be the first then you’ll
want to have a product market fit that exceeds that of your competition this
fit means that you’ve solved an important need you’ve filled a gap and
alleviated a pain point a quick way to see where you’re at is to survey your
current user base Shaun Ellis suggests that achieving product market fit
requires at least 40% of users saying they would be very disappointed without
your product finding this fit has to be your first step it might require going
back to the drawing board several times but there’s nothing worse than launching
out of the gate prematurely if you don’t have a small user base to draw data from
then you’ll need to start by recruiting some early adopters once you have an
existing set of customers then you can leverage a survey to determine your fit
take a look at survey i/o it’s built for this exact scenario the
goal is to determine not only how upset they’ll be if your product did not exist
but what alternative they might use if any depending on the loyalty of your
user base you can get some other qualitative data such as what they find
to be your best feature or even things you might be lacking another approach to
evaluating fit is to write up a hypothetical product announcement share
this with your co-workers colleagues or friends and gauge their response
Werner Vogel’s the CTO of amazon.com suggests writing a frequently asked
questions document for the product you’re developing the exercise can help
you understand any hurdles users may have when using your product or as they
learn about it that FAQ can provide you with some insights into whether or not
you’re solving the problem well enough to achieve a product market fit at the
end of the day it’s your customers that will determine if you’ve achieved a
solid fit just don’t end up in a situation where you’re working
tirelessly to growth hack something that isn’t a strong Finn if you’re already fortunate enough to
have a customer base you can prepare for growth by intentionally leveraging that
base before starting on the path to growth I’m going to encourage you to
achieve three goals with your current customers the first is to gather
insights the second is to make them believers and the third is to build them
into advocates let’s take a closer look at our first goal your early users are
an excellent resource every action they take or don’t take is meaningful and
measurable in addition to their usage data you’ll have access to any
correspondences with your company take a close look at what features they’re
using and which ones they aren’t what additional offerings are going unnoticed
do you receive a lot of correspondences from them why or why not you’ll likely
have high-level goals for your customers what is it that they must experience for
you to feel like they really got the best value out of your product are they
finding it now is the time to pour over your data beyond that you can conduct
user surveys and ask key questions to identify any areas of weakness remember
your current customer is key in locking down your product market fit
once you’ve milled over this data and use it to make decisions about the
direction of your company you’ll want to shift your attention to turning these
customers into believers the early stage of customer adoption is often filled
with doubt your job is to remove doubt and work to turn them into believers by
improving their experience listening to their needs engaging with them via email
and constantly listening if your customers are on social networks show up
if your customers are reaching out to you via phone always answer as we
touched on earlier everything they see and interact with has to be incredible
and finally turn your current customers into advocates we’ll talk more on
specific ways of doing this in a later chapter but at a high level this means
being consistent and always following through once a customer ships from their
doubt stage to their belief stage they’re still not confident enough to
advocate for your brand they’re in a good place
but now you have to prove out that the experience isn’t a fluke with enough
time you’ll have an advocate after enough time has passed with a customer
you can spark this advocate staged by giving them something special
or worth sharing your existing customers are worth pouring energy into their your
most profitable source of recurring revenue according to the White House
Office of Consumer Affairs loyal customers are worth up to 10 times more
than their first purchase to gain that value you’ve got to turn them into
advocates but it all starts with their first interaction with your product you


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