“Strive not to be a success but rather to be of value” – Albert Einstein
Good News – After reading this wiki you’ll know what Growth Hacking is.
Bad News – You’ll realise that some of the core approaches are not all that new.
What Is Growth Hacking?
Growth Hacking Might Be Defined As
“Hacking social media, SEO, incentives, product features, traditional marketing techniques and anything and everything as part of a singular focus on Growth.”
growth hacking is picking one (and only one) growth metric (visitors, registrations, check outs, downloads…whatever) and doing anything and everything possible TOF (top of funnel) to BOF (bottom of funnel) to grow it.
A Growth Hack Might Be Defined As
A growth hack is something that delivers growth but is cheap, can be edgy, and ideally is quick…
Real World Example…an online gaming company decided to force players to share the game at least once to get to the next level…users increased by 1,000%
Where Did Growth Hacking Come From?
Sean Ellis (IPO’d LogMeIn and Uproar.com, first marketer at DropBox) coined the phrase Growth Hacking in 2010 and it really started to get traction in 2012.
What Does Growth Hacking Mean?
To Growth Hack is attack Growth in a x-functional way using skills traditionally found in Marketing, Sales, Product, Digital/Online, Technology and so on…
To Growth Hack is to address the whole customer lifecycle from Top Of Funnel to successful Conversion.
The Growth Hacking Funnel
Inbound TOF activities such as competitions, email, social media, content, SEO, referral schemes, paid advertising, white papers, free trials…
Conversion MOF activities such as minimising friction, guarantees, testimonials, stating benefits, one time offers, forced virality, layout…
The Growth Hacking Triangle
The x-functional and edgy nature of Growth Hacking means it might not be usable by everyone but it can deliver spectacular results and change business trajectories…
But…Growth Hacking is a hungry beast – it devours content…
∇…an online Gambling company had a very comprehensive but complicated navigation structure to get to the particular thing the users were interested in. One of the team had the idea of putting a search box on the home page…revenue increased by 30%…∇
Top Tip – At the time of writing https://interim.team are Google UK #1 #2 #3 #4 for “Interim Growth Hacker” and have Growth Hacked successfully for a number of organisations…
The art of growth hacking is…targeting ←→ relevance…
The reason that growth hacking can be so much more effective than “traditional” marketing is that it focuses on putting interesting/useful things in front of very carefully targeted audiences..
Growth hacking is to put the right things in front of the right people at the right time to deliver GROWTH
More Good News
All we need to do is put something interesting/useful in front of potential customers.
How hard can that be right?
All we need to do is Target –> Influence –> Interact –> Convert.
B2B growth hacking is hard. Really hard. There is probably a relatively small number of people you need to talk to in a B2B marketing context and they are probably difficult to reach. In B2C growth hacking the addressable market may be millions or even billions of people. In B2B growth hacking we may be targeting only thousands or tens of thousands of people. To reach them we’re going to need to use laser guided bombs rather than the blanket bombing approach typically applied in B2C growth hacking. A lot of the “go to” approaches in B2C growth hacking (such as competitions/referral programs) don’t work so well in a B2B context when people are normally procuring on behalf of their organisation.
Definition – We’re mostly going to be talking about what is now called “Inbound Marketing” in this wiki. In inbound marketing we “earn” a potential customer’s interest by demonstrating that we have something interesting/useful to them. This is opposed to old-style Outbound Marketing that involved a one way push to an untargeted audience.
Top Tip – Don’t be afraid to challenge any orthodoxies and try things that may not be “fashionable”.
For instance – As the number of advertisers in Yellow Pages style directories is falling the value delivered to remaining advertisers is going up and up. Good ROIs (Return On Investments) are possible if your target demographic includes people over 50 in particular.
∇…an e-commerce company “accidentally” put the “buy now” button right in the middle of the head of the brand’s animal character logo…a lot of people complained that it looked stupid…revenue increased by 27%…∇
Before We Start
Design your product/service
In an ideal world we would start with clearly identified customers and needs and then design the product/service to get product-market fit and an optimum growth hacking strategy. We can then think about optimum SEO/content/URL/referral approach before we build anything but in the real world we tend to get called (0800 246 5735) after the MVP has been built and customers are needed – now!
OK so you have a B2B product/service you need to growth hack and you know who your target customers are so let’s do the first things first…
What you’ll need
A responsive HTML5 web site that can be edited/changed as we test and learn. (Responsive is another way of saying that it works well on a mobile phone). WordPress is a very fast and easy way of getting a professional looking responsive web site up and running quickly and cheaply. The WordPress CMS (Content Management System) makes it easy to create and manage content – which will be very important to us.
A Google account so we can use the Google suite of free tools like Webmaster Tools, Analytics, Adwords …
Google analytics installed on your web site (some people will say GA aggregates data too much but it’s free and we can work around its limitations).
A way of managing, sending and tracking professional looking emails. Tools like MailChimp are easy to use and effective.
What is the SEO (search engine optimisation) strategy? In other words what phrases typed into Google would we want to rank highly for? The Google KeyWord planner tool here is a great place to see what people are searching for (and how competitive those words are).
The content strategy. It has been the elephant in the room and now I’ve said it.
If traditional (“above the line”) marketing involves spending lots of money mostly talking to people that don’t want or need your service then growth hacking is much more targeted but there is no such thing as a free lunch and it needs content rather than money to fuel its engine. Growth hacking is a hungry beast – it devours content. Content can be anything from short blog posts to status updates on social media – but you will need a way of regularly producing relevant, interesting content. The more authentic the better.
Nice to have
Some kind of “freemium” proposition that means the product/service is free to start using with money changing hands when more customer benefit is taken.
The first thing you need to do is to decide who your potential customers are – and it’s not as easy as it sounds. interim.team will be working with a cool new start up called Workteam (who provide SaaS HR software that is actually really easy to use and is designed to improve employee engagement rather than irritate employees) so in a B2B growth hacking context who will be “target market”? CEOs/MDs? HR Directors? IT Directors? Employees? (It all comes down to who is accountable for the benefit the new product/service brings but more on that another time…)
OK so you have a B2B product/service you need to growth hack so let’s do the first things first…there are some things we need to know and some things we need to do…
B2B Growth Hacking Task List
- What is your primary geography – The UK? USA? Needless to say this affects the growth hacking approach needed. Google is very dominant in the UK with an 86.94% market share according to statista.com but is much less dominant in the US with a market share of 63.6%.
- What is your target company size – 1-10 employees? More than 1,000? Smaller companies tend to have low barriers to purchase but can be very price sensitive whereas big companies will have the resources but can be very difficult and bureaucratic to transact with given their approval cycles…
- What is the target “subject area” if there is one? Google Analytics talks about in market segments like Travel/Hotels & Accommodations, Software/Business & Productivity Software, Employment/Career Consulting Services…
- What is the target customer role? CEO? Head of? Manager of people? Don’t make the mistake of assuming that your B2B service will only be purchased top down. A lot of products/services can be adopted by teams/individuals bottom up.
- What is the target customer persona? Is there a demographic that your typical customers fit given the nature of your product/service?
- HTML5 responsive web site – we need landing pages and a funnel. Can be existing or new.
- LinkedIn individual/company page – an effective LinkedIn presence is very important in a B2B context.
- Facebook company page – depends a bit on target customer persona but Facebook can be an important weapon in our armoury.
- Twitter page/account – should probably be part of the toolkit but results can be underwhelming.
- Instagram/Pinterest account – nice to have and generally underused in B2B growth hacking.
- Has a Google account been created?
- Has the interim.team Growth Hacker been added to the account?
- Has a goal been created? An alternative is to set up a funnel in Hotjar (see later).
- What is the daily/weekly/monthly session and conversion baseline?
Visitor behaviour (usage heatmaps, session recording, conversion funnels)
- Has an email list management list tool such as MailChimp been implemented?
Search Engine Optimisation
Ten’ish target keyword phrases to generate search engine traffic need to be selected.
- Using the Google Keyword Planner or similar tool the optimum search phrases need to be selected.
- 2 – 4 word phrases will probably be optimum. Single words will be too generic and competitive.
- Ideal phrases take the form <actions><product/service key benefit> For example interim.team is working with Workteam which is SaaS software that helps companies and managers improve employee engagement. A good keyword target phrase for Workteam might be “increase employee engagement”.
- Optimum keywords are the ones that deliver maximum traffic at minimum competition levels. The Google tool will tell you the average search volume and AdWords Cost Per Click bids which is a good proxy for how competitive the phrases are.
- One of our other posts here shows you how to track your keyword positions for free (the best known web site charges $150/month).
A draft content creation and publishing plan needs to be created.
- What kind of content will be created and what “voice” will it use?
- Who/how will the “foundation” content be created?
- Who/how will the “front of mind” content be created?
Dipping Our Toe in The Water
We are going to need three things to get going;
1. To have an optimised destination for our growth hacking traffic.
2. A blog.
3. An initial idea of who our target market might be…
Once we have those three things we can start to test and learn on how to communicate with our target market most effectively.
Top Tip – start small. We want to be as targeted as possible as we start to test and learn so we need to break our problem down into manageable chunks.
For example…when Workteam started rather than starting with “SaaS software to increase employee engagement” (which it is) it picked one element of its’ offering, which was managing employee time off, and started with that. It was a much more manageable problem.
Top Tip – a blog is very, very important. It will be a great place to publish interesting/useful content 2-3 times a week and you can easily add a plugin to capture and add email addresses to your email list.
For example…when interim.team started we used SumoMe to automatically capture and add email addresses to MailChimp on our blog . The Pro version of SumoMe (which is needed to integrate to MailChimp) isn’t cheap at $29/month and they will bill you a year in advance.
B2B Growth Hacking – Setting Up A Landing Page and Goal
We need a landing page on our web site optimised for the search engine phrases we have chosen to point our traffic at that has the tags for Google Analytics and ideally Hotjar installed so we can see what happens when they get there.
We also need to define a goal in one or both of those tools so we can measure success.
We will eventually need a page per phrase but one page across all the initial phrases will be good enough to get going.
Once we have these things in place we can start to post some content and start testing…
B2B Growth Hacking – Finding Your Target Market
If you don’t have have existing content then you will need to create a post that says something interesting/relevant/useful/funny around the “need” your product/service is designed to fill.
Top Tip – video is very effective content and using sites like GoAnimate they are much easier to create than you might think. Make the soundtrack first and re-record until you’ve nailed it in one take. Then put the animation to the words. It will take about a day per minute to create great videos like this one from Workteam.
Remember to have a call to action (“CTA”) on your content and link to your optimised landing page. Once you have your content post it from your company page on Facebook and LinkedIn.
Top Tip – publish your content as an article post on LinkedIn rather than sharing it as an update. It will appear in your connections’s notification feed and you will be able to access enhanced analytics about its’ reach.
Definition – Reach is usually defined as the total number of different people exposed, at least once, to a something (usually a piece of content) during a given campaign time period.
If you are starting from scratch you may need to spend £50-£100 on Facebook boosting your content to get enough reach. If so don’t target the audience – yet. Let’s start off with an unbiased sample.
Now we have content out there that should be relevant to our target market we can start to use the analytics capabilities in Facebook, LinkedIn and Google Analytics to learn about the reach and effectiveness of our content, and who and how people are responding to it.
Creating, Testing And Learning With Growth Sprints And Channels
What we need
At this stage your product/service needs to be in MVP form at least, a blog, an email management tool and you need to have set up the conversion goals (see aove) so we can measure success.
Top Tip – if you are going to change any URLs or move to SSL (https:// …) do it all now before we start. We don’t want to change anything once we have started acquiring links back to your site (known as backlinks).
Before we start you need to decide, estimate or measure a few very important things;
Growth Metric – The first thing we need to do is to choose our Growth Metric. To Growth Hack is to have a pathological focus on one and only one thing and do anything and everything necessary to grow it. What is the one thing we want to grow? Something like revenue is too high level to accurately establish cause and effect as we measure-act-measure so things like landing page visitors, web page conversion, registrations, subscribers, check outs, and cart abandonment all work well as they are very important but focused enough for us to influence and measure accurately.
CLV – the customer life time value needs to be measured or estimated for your product/service. This sets the parameters of our growth hacking because the customer acquisition cost (CAC) needs to be lower than the CLV. (If CLV < CAC we aren’t growth hacking – we’re buying customers and that isn’t the road to business success…)
Top Tip – In simple terms CLV can be calculated as the monthly sum of all the revenue you expect a customer to give you x the number of months you expect to keep that customer. (Other less simple ways of calculating CLV are described here). For example – if the average customer will earn you $12 per month and you expect that customer to pay for your product/service for at least 18 months then your CLV is $12 x 18 = $216. If you have a “freemium” product/service then you will need to estimate the anticipated conversion rate from free to paid subscribers to calculate a CLV. If it is a new product/service then it is very much “finger in the air” at this stage but don’t worry – we have to start somewhere and you will be able to refine this number based on real data in the future.
CAC – the customer acquisition cost per channel is easier to measure as it is simply total cost of the customers acquired through a channel/number of customers acquired through that channel.
For example…if we acquired 200 customers through AdWords at a cost of $670 then our Adwords CAC is $3.35
Choosing your initial search keywords
If you are growth hacking an established product/service you can use Google’s Search Console to see what phrases are driving traffic to your site. See https://interim.team/how-to-track-google-search-engine-keyword-ranking-for-free/. If it is a new product/service you will need to use a paid for service like Google Adwords to test and learn.
The Google AdWords tool (here) will suggest 50-200 potential keywords for you. Filter out the ones that obviously aren’t relevant to create a starting search space.
For example…with “interim” as the seed word AdWords suggests 157 phrases. I would filter out phrases like “interim in English”, “interim pronunciation” and so on. The suggested bids range from $16.64/£14.20 for “interim finance” downwards (gulp).
Top Tip – the thing to bear in mind when choosing keywords is INTENT. You need words that imply that the person typing the words into the search engine has the need your produce/service meets. For example “buy umbrella” is much more interesting than “umbrella by Rhianna” if we sell umbrellas.
Search, Display and Paid Inclusion Advertising
There are lots of legitimate ways of paying for web traffic but they can be broadly classified as Search, Display and Paid Inclusion.
Search – paying to be displayed before and alongside the “natural” or “organic” search results on search engines. What makes it so important is that the people typing the phrases have intent. They want to read, find or do something. That is not necessarily the case with Display Advertising although it will be interesting to see if Facebook search ultimately becomes more like Google search…
Display – paying to be shown amongst other content on web sites, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter or whatever. Not as valuable in growth hacking as Search advertising because people looking at what their friends are eating (or whatever) are much less likely to want to buy a product or service than people searching for something relevant to your product/service. What makes Display advertising very interesting though is just how hyper targeted it can be. You could literally target a single individual with Facebook advertising.
Top Tip – if you are producing video content don’t forget to include sub titles so people can “watch” the video with the sound turned down.
Paid Inclusion – paying to be included in a directory or some other content.
Setting Up Your Growth Hacking Channels
By now hopefully we have a landing page on our web site optimised for conversion, a blog, an email list management tool and a large collection of search engine phrases we might want to try. The tags for Google Analytics (and ideally something like Hotjar) are installed and success goals are set up so we can see what happens when people get to our site.
Top Tip – we should be aiming to convert more than 33% of the people we send to our optimised landing page. We’ll probably be nearer 10% at the beginning of our growth hacking journey though.
Sprints And Retrospectives
The optimum way to manage growth hacking is to choose a set of channels and test and learn on them during two week or monthly sprints. At the end of every sprint the performance of each channel needs to be reviewed in a whiteboard session known as a “retrospective”.
The number of customers acquired per channel and the CAC for that sprint needs to be compared with the other channels and LTV. Everyone in the team should be included in the retrospectives, growth is critical for any business and everybody in the team will be able to contribute insight and ideas.
During the retrospective you should look to increase spend in the successful channels, adjust or pause unsuccessful channels and launch new channels.
Top Tip – if you want to hit the ground running with email you could ‘seed’ your email list from your LinkedIn connections. In LinkedIn click on My Network –> Connections. Click on the Settings cog in the top right and you’ll see “Export LinkedIn Connections” in the top right. Don’t change the suggested Microsoft Outlook (.CSV file) format and you will have downloaded a file of email addresses you can easily upload into MailChimp or other email marketing platform. Getting an unsolicited email from you like this will irritate some people but as long as you allow people to unsubscribe easily then they will only ever receive one email. We generally see very low un-subscription rates as long as you don’t spam people and only send things of genuine interest or potential value.
A Starting Set of Growth Channels For Sprint #0
A good set of growth channels for Sprint #0 might be
- Google AdWords
- Bing Ads
- Paid Inclusion e.g Capterra
Once we have started to get some learnings from Sprint 0 we can start to think about adding in other channels like SEO, guest blogging, referral and so on.
Top Tip – write your own Blog content. It should be an authentic communication channel for you to communicate things of interest/value to potential and current customers. If you need help with it make sure that the outcome is still very much communicating your ideas, thoughts and opinions in your voice.
Top Tip – wait until you have some real data before setting your SEO strategy. It will be one of the most important channels in the future but it takes a fair amount of work to make it effective and a bit of analysis before you start could save you a lot of time in the long run…
Ready to growth hack?
Need a hand? How much does interim growth hacking cost?
Not that much actually. It depends on what the singular growth target is but to double/treble traffic, sign ups, customers or whatever we would need to do a one-three day deep dive with you followed by a campaign execution phase of one-ten days a month until the target is reached. That normally takes 2-6 months depending on the start and end points.
We won’t take an engagement unless there is an #highROI up for grabs and you will end up “hugely up on the deal”…after all we really think that the more people we help become more successful the more successful we become…
At the time of writing interim.team is #1,#2,#3 and #4 on Google UK for “interim growth hacker” and we have lots and lots of happy clients we can tell you about…