First coined by Sean Ellis in 2010 to describe a unique job description, the term “growth hacking” elicits some pretty strong responses—everything from “it’s a scam” to “it’s just marketing.”
So, what is growth hacking?
To use Sean Ellis’s description, “a growth hacker is a person whose true north is growth.”
Born in a scrappy start-up culture, growth hacking is the process of implementing and testing ideas, while being analytical enough to measure growth and optimize marketing budgets. A growth hacker is basically a marketer with the sole focus on growth.
Growth hacking combines an artistic mindset with an engineering one. It can refer to both conventional and unconventional marketing methods and experiments with the goal of growing a business.
A growth hacker uses creativity, invention, analytics, software, APIs, databases, and related tools to grow the business. Growth hackers general work for startups, but they will eventually be a part of every marketing team.
One example of growth hacking would be the referral tactic Dropbox used to get from 100,000 users to 4,000,000 in just 15 months.
Businesses of all sizes should learn from the scrappy startup culture of testing, measuring, and optimizing.
But before we even think about marketing “hacks” to grow your business, it’s important to know a few things first:
Who are your customers?
This may sound simple, but if you don’t know who your customer is, you will struggle to get the right message in front of the right people, in the right places, at the right time.
Everyone is not your customer. You have to be as targeted as possible.
Develop an audience persona and be as specific as possible. Create your fictional ideal customer using audience insights, such as:
- Pains and Problems
- Likes and Dislikes
- Buzz Words
When you start advertising on AdWords, Facebook, or any other highly targeted ad service, you can save a lot of time by already having an audience persona(s) in mind. As advertising reports and analytics come in, you may need to tweak your persona to be more accurate. Use surveys, reviews, and other information to hone in on the ideal audience.
Most likely, you will create multiple personas. Just try to keep it under 8 to remain focused.
How do you reach your customers? What’s working?
Which platforms are bringing you the most return?
Growth hackers are obsessed with data and analytics. It forces them to face the truth.
Marketing is all about finding the right channels to reach and convert potential customers. If you are not measuring the success of your different marketing channels, you may be wasting your money in the wrong places.
One of the reasons why we created the VitalStorm Metrics platform is so business owners can see exactly what they are getting for their marketing money.
Do you know if your investment in search engine optimization or pay-per-click advertising is actually making a difference for your company?
As Peter Drucker stated, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.” With our Metrics systems, home service business owners can gain easy access to the numbers that matter most, such as return-on-investment (ROI), cost-per-lead (CPL), and booking percentage.
You don’t have to be a numbers person to clearly see if your ad campaigns are working or not.
And now that we have partnered with ServiceTitan, you can view real-time available dates and times for service appointments from the website or landing page.
Apply advertising metrics to your business!
Qualify Every Call – VitalStorm Metrics includes lead qualification, which involves listening in to every call to accurately determine which call are leads and which leads get booked. All calls are recorded and tracked to establish a true cost-eer-lead and booking percentage.
Monitor Campaign Performance – Access easy-to-understand ad campaign metrics all in one place—cost-per-lead (CPL), booking percentage, and revenue per campaign for each campaign.
Vital Tools – With our new partnership with ServiceTitan, the process from ad campaigns to bookings and follow-throughs is now seamless. For instance, the Online Scheduler allows customers to book appointments straight to the integrated ServiceTitan CRM, getting rid of any confusion between teams.
If you aren’t currently tracking your advertising and content creation metrics, you don’t know if you are hitting your goals. Goals and metrics inform and shape each other.
5 Growth Hack Strategies That Work
Use a 60/30/10 posting strategy:
- 60% of your posts should be curated content, pieces of content that target influencers in your industry. If you are posting around 6-7 times per week, 4 of those posts should be curated content. Repost and tag to get their attention.
- 30% of your posts should be original content, such as blog articles, infographics, customer/employee spotlights, and educational content. This is about 2 posts per week.
- Only 10% of your posts should be promotional or sales-oriented, such as a coupons and sign-up forms. This is about 1 post per week.
Use Hootsuite, Buffer, Edgar, or another scheduling app to preplan your posts in advance.
Facebook and YouTube videos sell well if done properly. They have really low cost-per-engagement rates.
Focus on the visuals. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a video is worth a million.
Remember, growth hackers use analytics and metrics to choose the best distribution chennels for the lowest cost-per-lead.
Without trust, no matter how many growth hacks you implement, nobody will want to do business with you.
This can be hard since people tend to make snap judgements. You only have about 7 seconds to make a good impression.
Use testimonials, trustworthy design, and awards and credentials.
Statistics on Reviews and Testimonials:
- Star rating is the number one factor used by consumers to judge a business.
- 90% of consumers read online reviews before visiting a business.
- 40% of consumers form an opinion by reading just one to three reviews.
- 88% of consumers form an opinion by reading up to ten reviews.
- Only 14% of consumers would consider using a business with a one or two-star
- 92% of consumers would use a business with a four-star rating.
- 88% of people trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
- 74% say that positive reviews make them trust a local business more.
- On average, a one-star increase on Yelp yields a 5-9% increase in revenue.
Consumers have always looked to family and friends for help finding the best products and services. Now, people also read online reviews before making a purchase decision. In order to maintain your reputation as a trustworthy business, you will need to generate positive reviews, manage negative reviews, and create a credible website.
Be very careful when responding to negative reviews. Instead of going on the defensive, see it as an opportunity to display your excellent customer service. If you are too emotionally involved to respond, ask for assistance (contact VitalStorm for professional online review management as part of our Social/Local Plan).
When you are feeling calm, offer an apology and make an effort to remedy the situation. Show your potential customers that you are personally involved and listening to customers. Many times, when a business offers a discount, refund, or another remedy, the customer will revise their review to let people know. This is how you can turn a negative review into a positive result.
When responding to negative reviews, think about:
- Ways it could have been prevented. Do you need to change your process or train your team? However, try not to make any sudden and drastic changes that could damage your business. Stay true to your goals and objectives. You may not be able to please everybody.
- Understanding where the customer is coming from. Instead of reacting from a place of pride and ego, listen first. If you don’t understand something, don’t be afraid to ask: “How did we disappoint you?”, “What could we have done differently,” etc.
- Taking responsibility. Don’t ignore negative reviews. They aren’t going away. Instead, read the review, get in touch with the person privately first, and then thoughtfully respond without fear of admitting fault. The more honest you are, the more customers are willing to do business with you in the future.
- Being appreciative. Nobody likes to receive negative feedback, however, if you think about it, they are actually doing you a favor. If you didn’t know what your customers were actually thinking, you might never see any of your faults or flaws. A negative review gives you the opportunity to strengthen a weak point and display your excellent customer service to the world.
You have heard the complaint. Now fix it.
If your team doesn’t have a review management system in place, contact VitalStorm. We provide Call Center Feedback Solutions and Reputation and Review Management.
Google has always said, “Content is king.” Keep your content high quality and you are on the right track.
Although growth hackers are dependent on numbers and analytics, they must also have an active creative side.
Blogging is a no-brainer. Write really good content—content that will still be good and useful in 5-10 years. That’s what we call “evergreen content.”
- Blogs are keyword rich and the most important part of your SEO strategy.
- Blogs are great for educating your customers, making it more likely that they will move through your funnel.
- Blogs position your company as a thought leader, an expert if your field.
- Consider guest blogging on relevant sites as key component of your link-building strategy.
Write long-term actionable content. Although you may not see fast results right away, by focusing on the content first, the search traffic starts to add up. Keep updating the content to make it better and it will have a greater chance of showing up higher in the search results.
Throw in some humor. Pretend you are writing to a 5 year-old. Start a conversation.
Write short sentences and short paragraphs.
Content marketing includes:
- White papers
- Presentation Slides
Promote the content:
- Referral traffic from social media
- Referral traffic from email
- Email influencers and important bloggers in the industry
- Add easy share buttons on your site
- Comment on related blogs and articles (participate in the community)
- Comment in Facebook groups and Twitter chats
- Guest blogging on relevant websites
If you are a content creator, check out these 2017 tools and resources to create and promote your content.
Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Advertising
Create a landing page with a deal, referral program, or special. We can set it up for you.
When you send an email or create a pop-up or landing page, it’s important to know which version gets the most success. Before you test anything, make sure your analytics are in place.
If you purchase ads without a strategy, that’s not growth hacking. If you can gain an edge, however, paid advertising can be a powerful growth hacking technique.
One of the cheapest and most successful marketing channels continues to be email.
An online newsletter is a volunteer-based means of acquiring customer names and emails.
If you are already gathering emails from customers, include a checkbox to sign up for your newsletter.
Newsletter Success Tips:
- Give a reason why. On your pop-up, landing page or website sign-up forms, clearly explain the benefits. For example, “Subscribe to our newsletter for tips and tricks on keeping your home or building in top shape.”
- Put the sign-up form above the fold. Make sure the call-to-action is upfront and clear.
- Create a unique offer. The best way to convert email subscribers into paying customers is to identify their pain points and then hit them with a lucrative offer. Consider offering a time-limited offer to capitalize on the psychological principle of scarcity. People value something more when they believe it is in short supply.
- If you don’t have an email list, start one!
- If you don’t have a social media following, start one!
- Get your friends, family, and colleagues involved first.
- Once you have found a writer, designer, or marketer to create content for you, don’t forget to promote it. Go where your customers are.
- Use images and video whenever possible. If you are writing a blog, great! Just make sure you use short sentences, bullet points, and integrated media to create skimmable content of high value.
- Add pixels to your website (Facebook, Pinterest, etc…)
- Used pay-per0click advertising and direct marketing to get super targeted leads and traffic.
- Read growthhackers.com, inbound.org, and other relevant digital marketing blogs and content to stay up-to-date.
- Post content to niche-specific forums and message boards.
Best User Acquisition Channels:
- IRL (In Real Life)
- PPC and Remarketing
- Content Marketing
- Social Media
- Email Marketing
- Website Design and Strategy for Increasing Calls and Conversions
- Your Guide to Responsive Web Design
- How to Generate Reviews for the Home Service Industry
- What You Need to Know About Google’s Phantom 2 Update
We offer two services that will help you accomplish your online marketing goals: Website Design (which includes original content) and Social/Local (which includes original blogging on your site once a week).