The concept of growth hacking is not new, but the name and the trend have picked up in the last y ear to reach untold heights in marketing circles. In essence, it’s simple; use creativity and agility to market in a way that works, without spending away a massive advertising budget. Anyone can dump money into a project to bring in sales; growth hacking is all about doing it without the money. Done properly, growth hacking brings in an insane return on investment. Done poorly and it’s a waste of everyone’s time.
1. Landing Pages for Everything
No part of your advertising, apps, widgets, incoming links or social promotion should link to your home page. Link to landing pages! Landing pages are perfect for completely customizing and shaping the experience of your users. You know where they come from, because you know which landing page is assigned to which campaign. You know how to shape their traffic towards a certain goal. You know their proclivities and their desires; put them to use by leaving a trail of breadcrumbs toward the solution to their needs. Even if you don’t think something can have a landing page – like a widget your company provides – experiment and see what you can get away with. You might be surprised at how effective it is to just tweak a few landing pages.
2. Target, Retarget
Retargeting takes advantage of tracking your users to convert more visitors into sales down the line. With retargeting, nothing happens to your initial incoming traffic. They do what they always do; browse around, read some content, check your products, convert or leave. If they leave, don’t worry! Just follow them. Track them with a retargeting pixel and find out where they live. Hit them at home – their Facebook page, for example – with advertising for your services. They’ll see your ads and be reminded of that purchase they almost made. Keep it up and you’ll draw them back in. Anyone who ever said “oh I’ll buy that later” and then forgot is a brand new conversion just waiting for your retargeting.
3. Offer DIY For Your Services
It sounds entirely counter intuitive to provide instructions on how to do what your business is selling. Indeed, you’ll surely lose a few conversions when a user sees that you’re willing to teach them how to do what you do without pay. On the other hand, there’s no one easier to convert than the person who tried and failed to do it themselves. Give them instructions – valid, useful instructions, don’t try to sabotage them – and track them. Remind them that you’re still there, to do it for them if they’re having trouble or think twice about what they’re attempting. This works best with tedious, time-consuming or difficult tasks.
4. Provide Excellent Customer Service
Sooner or later, someone is going to come to your company with an issue they need solving. It’s your job to support your customers in their use of your product or service. Sure, you’re not getting any more money out of it. What you’re getting is a great brand reputation and word of mouth advertising. Great customer service can be the difference between a viral conversion storm and a trickle of new, disinterested but curious users. Don’t be afraid to go the extra mile; as long as your ROI from new conversions is high enough, you can afford to go out on a limb for existing users in order to bring in new ones.
5. Don’t A/B Test: A/B/C Test
Split testing is a time-honored method of making small, incremental changes to improve a page. Take a page, change one thing, see which version does better. You’re a growth hacker! That process is just too slow. Add another page, a C, and go wild with it! Try something you wouldn’t normally do. Experiment. Go crazy. Your new C page might not work, or it might strike gold. You never know unless you try. Just remember: Always Be Creative on your path to success. Keep this up throughout your whole site and you’ll have a varied selection of advertising campaigns with enough wildcards to keep you rolling in new traffic.
6. Make it a Game
The term “gamification” has been reaching the spotlight right around the same time as growth hacking, and for much the same reason. Studies repeatedly show that making a simple game out of your product can be intensely powerful for retention. It can be as simple as a progress bar or a quiz, or as robust as a selection of badges and achievements with ranking boards and high scores. You’ll have to do a little legwork to determine how much gamification is enough for your situation, but you will guarantee a higher conversion rate if you succeed.
7. Promote Social Interaction Passively
As an individual, a user is an unconfident person. They are leery of new products, untrusting of new sites and they feel cold and alone. It’s your job to make them feel like they can be warm and comfortable at your hearth. Show them they are one of many. Show them they are not alone. Show them how many others have shared your page on Facebook, how many times your posts have been retweeted, how often you’re promoted in Google+ circles. Provide logos of companies that use your service. Bring in testimonials from other users. Post real time conversion statistics. The sky is the limit, as long as you’re trying to keep them from feeling alone.
8. Optimize your Home Page
Your landing pages are where users come in, and that’s where you hook them. That’s where you intrigue them enough to investigate your site. Almost all of them will take one of two paths; your call to action directly to a conversion page, or your navigation bar directly to your homepage. It’s that second one you need to consider. On your homepage, they’re looking for something to convince them to convert. You need to give it to them. If your homepage is thin and threadbare, spice it up. If it’s clunky and dripping with content, pare it down. Treat it more like a surgical scalpel than a ballistic missile of marketing.
9. Build Referral Loops into your Product
Make your product useful to everyone, but make it more useful to other who use it as well. A great example is Skype. Skype can interact with other networks and works outside of just other Skype users, but it works best when everyone you’re contacting also has Skype. The mere act of using it encourages others to invite their friends. Integrate some incentive for users to refer others, and not just a boring referral chain with a week of free service or some other low-value incentive. Make your product get better the more people who use it.
10. When in Doubt, Offer it Free
Virtually any subscription-based service can stand to offer a slimmed-down, restricted version of the program for free. Free content is the best price range for attracting new customers. It’s also incredibly easy to get users to upgrade when they see all the features they could be using to make their lives easier. Offer it free and expand to paid plans.