To put it bluntly, businesses that don’t grow, don’t last. And it doesn’t even matter how long the business has been around or what stage it’s currently in.
20 percent of small businesses fail within their first year, 30 percent within their second year, 50 percent after five years, and 70 percent in their tenth year.
The reasons for such poor success rates are many:
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- financing problems
- poor management
- insufficient/inadequate business planning
- poorly executed marketing
All these problems, however, lead to one fundamental business problem: lack of growth.
The good news is there are a variety of solutions to boost stagnant and declining business growth. These solutions involve a set of strategies and business tactics known as ‘growth hacking’.
What is Growth Hacking?
The term, growth hacking is relatively new and was coined back in 2010 by an entrepreneur named Sean Ellis when trying to recruit talent who focused on accelerated growth instead of traditional marketing metrics like budgets, conversions, and expenses.
Growth hacking refers to growing and scaling small businesses and startups as fast as possible.
But isn’t growing and scaling what most businesses focus on anyway?
Sure, but the responsibility of growing and scaling a business, according to growth hacking, is in the hands of anyone within the business and not just upper management, the marketing team, and the sales department.
Even programmers and designers can contribute to the growth of a business according to growth hacking principles.
Typically, growth hacking will involve less non-traditional methods of marketing to increase brand awareness, revenue, and a large customer base.
Instead of television, radio, and newspaper ads, a growth hacker will utilize the following marketing alternatives:
- social media marketing
- email marketing
- content marketing
- product marketing
- viral marketing
- paid advertising
- innovative technology
While growth hackers are more concerned about increasing customer base than about how much it will cost them to do so, they still try to keep their advertising spend to a minimum.
To do so, they use optimization strategies and tactics to ‘hack’ or create shortcuts to get better and faster results from their funnels.
Growth hackers use the following stages in their funnels to make them more effective:
It should be noted that growth hacking strategies and growth hacking tactics are not the same.
Growth-hacking strategies are more long-term and focus on the bigger growth picture. In contrast, growth-hacking tactics are short-term tricks and techniques which typically utilize tools and technology that can ramp up growth and bring in more customers and revenues in the here and now.
Both are necessary to produce a funnel that increases a business’s customer base now and well into the future.
Growth Hacking Prerequisites
Since growth hacking can involve all members of a business, once you learn its core strategies, you can easily teach them to all the members of your team to further increase business growth.
Before learning the five core growth hacking strategies, however, you need to understand that they will not work unless you’re offering a product or service that your market wants.
To find out if your product or service can fulfill your customers’ needs, you need to know who they are, what they want, and what they already know.
You should take the following three actions to uncover the information mentioned above:
- Create a customer/buyer persona (avatar) to find out who your audience and customers are.
- Understand the different stages of the customer journey to know what your customers already know.
- Set SMART growth goals – what you want to achieve and when you want to achieve it.
Once you know who your customers are and what problems they are facing, you will know if your product or service is a good fit for them.
If it is, you are ready to learn and implement the following five growth hacking strategies to get more customers and sales in the shortest time possible.
5 Growth Hacking Strategies Every Business Should Use
To kick-start your business growth, here are some proven strategies you can use:
1. Build a Value-Driven Lead Magnet
A lead magnet is a “free offer” given to a prospect in exchange for their personal information like their name and email address. There are two major reasons why lead magnets work: they help build trust, and they are free.
Most people will not make a purchase the first time they come into contact with a brand, product, or service. 96 percent of consumers don’t make an initial purchase upon their first visit to a brand’s website.
It can often take consumers anywhere from 90 days to 18 months to make a buying decision after their first contact. This is way too long a time-frame for most growth hackers.
To shorten the buying process, a relationship built on trust can be established right from the point of initial contact by offering some valuable information that is actionable and easily digestible.
So, by giving your prospect some information in the form of a PDF, checklist, or cheat sheet, you establish trust between yourself and the potential customer and become an authority in their eyes, all of which help shorten the buying process.
Some business owners, marketers, and advertisers feel that ‘free’ means ‘no-value’ in the minds of their customers.
The data proves otherwise: a concept called ‘Zero-Price Effect’ is a real phenomenon that creates a belief within the human mind that there are zero downsides to acquiring something for free.
Of course, ‘free’ doesn’t automatically translate into value but it also does not translate into something not valuable.
A lead magnet is a means to offer value first before asking for a purchase. Lead magnets are a foot in the doorway so you can create trust, authority, and value and obtain your lead’s permission to continue to market to them in the future.
To make sure that your lead magnet is value-driven consider the following questions:
- Does my audience care about it?
- Does it solve my audience’s problem or give them some particular information they need to help solve their problem?
If the answer to the above two questions is yes, you can be sure that you have a lead magnet that will be valuable to your audience, which will help them move along the purchasing process a lot quicker.
2. Use an Email Sequence to Nurture Subscribers
Once you have delivered your lead magnet to your new subscribers, you should continue to nurture your relationship with them to transform them from free subscribers to paying customers.
According to research, it takes around eight touchpoints to create a conversion.
An email sequence (a.k.a., Drip Email Campaign) will generate multiple touchpoints with subscribers so that your business or brand stays fresh and relevant in their minds. It will increase the likelihood that you will be the first one they think of when they are ready to make a purchase.
Automated email sequences can increase sales opportunities by 20 percent. Your sequence can be as long as you need it, but, usually, the longer, the better.
Continuously staying in touch with your subscribers and offering more of what they want over several months will increase the chances of them buying something from you.
Don’t make your email sequence impersonal or uninformative. Being friendly, clear, and concise will help build a stronger bond between you and your audience.
Here are some other suggestions to consider when building and utilizing an email drip campaign:
- Send a welcome email that delivers the lead magnet and introduces you and your brand to your audience.
- Space your email autoresponder sequence out over time – if applicable, send one email every day for the life of the sequence.
- Use quick tips, case studies, and answer common questions your readers may have within the body of your emails.
- Personalize your emails with the names of each subscriber – very easy to do with most autoresponder platforms.
- Don’t be afraid to be real and showcase your personality.
- Educate your subscribers. Education, besides building awareness and trust between your brand and your audience (i.e., leads, subscribers, customers, businesses), can also be used as a methodology to influence a purchasing decision.
- Don’t sell in every email. Although your email sequence’s end goal is to sell more, your subscribers are more likely to stay subscribers and become customers once you have built a long-term relationship with them.
- To sell more and faster with your email sequence, utilize stories. Stories sell better than any other marketing method or technique.
An email autoresponder sequence is one of the most effective growth hacking techniques there is.
The above suggestions give you a solid foundation from which to engage your subscribers so that they know, like, and trust you, which will lead to them buying from you sooner rather than later.
3. Encourage Social Shares with Discounts
It doesn’t make sense not to ‘hack’ social media to spread the word about your brand, products, or services. After all, in 2019, there were 3.48 billion social media users worldwide.
However, just asking social media users to help share your ‘stuff’ will most likely not yield adequate results – most people only do things when there is something in it for them.
When human beings receive a tangible reward, their brain fires off chemicals that give them a biological reward. Therefore, offering social shares for rewards is a good way to entice people to promote your brand and offers.
You can reward social shares by doing the following:
- Offer savings on your products or services for social shares.
- Offer an exclusive item or unique gift that is not available to other customers when someone shares your content on social media.
- Give public credit to social sharers – people love to see their name boosted across social platforms just as much as you like to see your brand name being mentioned on various social media accounts.
If you are using WordPress for your website, blog, or eCommerce store, you can use the following plugins to help with your social shares discount rewards:
- Social Coupons
- Sumo Reward Points
- WooCommerce Social Rewards
- MWB WooCommerce Social Share Discount Coupon
- WooCommerce Social Share Discount
- YITH WooCommerce Share For Discounts
- Social Sharing Discount – WP Social
Rewarding people for sharing your content and products with their following and friends on social media is a great way to boost your brand growth in a short amount of time.
4. Run Contests
Running a contest on social media is not only good for getting the word out about your business but also good for those who win the prize.
If the prize happens to be a product, service, or account, you are guaranteed to gain a new customer or member who will continue to rave about what they won well after the contest is over.
The three most popular social media platforms today are Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. To run a contest on these platforms, you need to follow their contest rules, such as communicating the contest terms, acknowledging that the network is not liable for the contest and is not sponsoring it, not using personal timelines (e.g., tagging, sharing, etc…).
Decide on which type of contest you wish to run. Some contest ideas include:
- Answer/Caption contests
- Photo contests
For contests on Twitter and Instagram, you can create a hashtag for the contest and request participants to mention it to their followers.
Filter submissions with an RSS Feed along with a relevant Hashtag for your competition. The RSS feed will allow you to sort through every submission, even if your hashtag brings in thousands of them.
When running your contests, consider using an app like Woorise to help you easily collect leads and contacts that enter your contest and giveaway.
5. Evaluate Your Analytics
Don’t just look at your analytics; carefully analyze them. Digital analytics is important to a business because it gathers key performance metrics that help measure goals and identify strategies that lead to growth.
Before considering what metrics to analyze, you must be aware of the reason for analyzing them. In growth hacking, evaluating analytics means seeing where the funnel breaks down.
Once you have a good idea of where your customers are dropping off, you can then optimize that area to retain them and move them along the funnel.
Before deciding on what key metrics to analyze, you need to consider which ones are most important in measuring your growth hacking funnel.
Of course, knowing what constitutes a growth hacking funnel is required to decide which analytics best measures it.
Below, you can see a brief definition of each stage of a growth hacking funnel.
- Awareness: how many people are visiting your website or viewing your products and services.
- Acquisition: gathering information about your leads so you can better market to them while they travel through your funnel (e.g., name, gender, location).
- Activation: viewing the actions your visitors and leads are performing when they visit your site or read your emails, for example.
- Retention: learning how to keep your leads as subscribers and your customers as customers.
- Referral: turning your customers into brand ambassadors to get more customers without having to advertise.
- Revenue: how much money is left over after acquiring a customer – helps to determine what needs to change in the funnel to grow the business further.
Measuring the above areas helps you evaluate who your customers are, where they are coming from, how long they engage with your site, what pages they visit, what content they consume, which products they buy, and how much it costs you to acquire them.
All this information is needed to boost business growth to the next level.
Facebook and Uber used growth hacking strategies to reach a $50 billion evaluation in less than 10 years.
Now, you may think that those were exceptional cases and very different from your business model and so growth hacking will probably not work for you.
But growth hacking works for every business because it is not a fixed strategy but a group of fundamental strategies that can be altered to fit any business at any time in their growth cycle.
Therefore, use the above five core growth-hacking strategies to increase your sales and business growth at a record pace.
Who knows, your brand might just become the next Facebook or Uber.