You’re all done setting up your startup and now it’s time to make some real money. Where do you start? Where do you get your first customer from? This phase needs to be carefully managed. If you’re following any of the top startups from the last 12 months all signs point to one single high ROI traction method – growth hacking.
‘What is growth hacking?’
Growth hacking is a hybrid strategy of marketing and coding where the growth hacker looks at answering ‘how do I get customers for my product?’. His answers are usually with A/B tests, landing pages, email deliverability, viral factor and Open Graph. Growth hackers emphasize the discipline of direct marketing, with a strong emphasis on quantitative measurement, scenario modeling through spreadsheets and a ton of database queries.
Growth hacking is being worshipped as the go-to marketing strategy for startups as now startups have access to over 100 million consumers. This makes it possible for new products to reach millions of users in a short time.
Here’s a few hacks to get your startup going:
- The Fake It Hack
Pay attention to the pufferfish. This small and unintimidating member of the underwater world has developed a simple defense mechanism versus bigger predators. In order to compensate for a small size and lack of scary hooks and horns, the pufferfish fends off predators by filling its elastic stomach with water to appear larger than it actually is.
When attempting rapid growth, plenty of startups appear larger than they are in order to get more users. After all who wants to head to an empty party?
Pipetop is a Danish startup that harnessed the pufferfish hack to buy several phone numbers and display them on their homepage. This gave investors, customers and the media the impression of them being a big company instead of a small startup.
Lyft adopts a similar Fake It Hack in which they drive growth by maintaining equilibrium between the drivers and passengers. Too many/too few of either would make for a very rocky boat. So they faked it by inflating the supply side. They hired and paid a number of drivers an hourly rate to just wait around for passengers. When passengers found out the number of readily available drivers, repeat customer numbers went through the roof.
- The Community Hack
Successful marketing is a lot more than communicating with customers. Engagement plays a massive role. Engaged customers react positively to your product. The evolution is fueled by peer connecting and communicating with brand reps. They help integrate your product and its values into their everyday routine.
The easiest way to maximize customer engagement is building communities around your product. Unbounce, works by simplifying A/B testing around your landing page. They growth hacked by creating the Unbounce Community, a forum where digital marketers connect with each others. Now Unbounce is a reliable source of information for marketers instead of just a page.
- Exclusiveness – the hack
The things we want are the things just out of our reach. Creating airs of exclusivity creates urgency and importance which startups have used to their advantage.
Our one common insecurity has led to this hack being successful. The fear of missing out means consumer buying behavior can be made more logical and controllable.
- The twitter hack
Another cool and effective growth hack is the Twitter Hack. This makes it easy and effective for startups to find potential customers.
For example, you sell beard oil. To find more beard oil customers, you need to get on a competing brand’s Twitter account and follow their followers. However this lands you plenty of spam accounts. Another strategy is to search Twitter for keywords like beard oil. Here the result would become just tweets and talks about beard oils from beard oil companies and would take ages to sift through.
The twitter hack worked by targeting people who are looking to buy beard oils and is very simple to execute. All you need to do is search ‘need beard oil’ to land a list of tweets from potential customers asking for beard oil.
- The integration hack
The integration hack works wonders in incorporating another business’s service, product or API as your own. For startups this can mean leveraging other business’s user base and piggybacking on their credibility.
The Facebook login is the easiest example of the Integration Hack. Upon Facebook making its API available to developers, many site started integrating Facebook’s login API into their own platform. This not only streamlines onboarding but empowers sites with legitimacy by associating itself with a powerful brand.
- The pretargeting hack
Creating a large customer email list is a key step towards acquiring new customers. However if users are not used to being ‘sold to’, a cold sales email could turn them off. This pretargeting hack introduces your product and warms them up with email blast #1.
Pretargeting services are one of the core services both Twitter and Facebook offer. Once you sign up you can upload your list of emails. Each platform then populates the contact’s social media feeds with your product’s ads.
- The landing page hack
After blowing plenty of marketing dollars driving traffic to your landing page, it’s time to see some returns. Your landing page needs to incorporate elements proven to convert customers. These include catchy headlines, consistent design and simple CTAs.
There does not exist a 100% effective landing page. In order to grow conversions you could build a landing page which adapts according to customer awareness level.
Diving into product benefits could be ineffective without explaining what the product is. However explaining your product to someone with high awareness could make them lose interest.
How does one determine awareness levels of their customers?
Using Heat & Scroll Maps tolls such as CrazyEgg help you visualize the most and least engaging parts of your landing page. Analyzing where users spend the most time and if one section gets more attention than the other can help you now draw customers. Perhaps the majority of visitors arriving to your page through Facebook ads are new with high bounce rates. They could be bypassing the content and just looking at the headline. It is safe to presume most Facebook visitors have low awareness levels.
Conclusion: is growth hacking just a myth?
One could consider growth hacking to be creative marketing. In most experts minds growth hacks are easy and time efficient. However none of the above hacks were cheap, easy to execute or time efficient. Growth hacking simply helps you do something your competition isn’t doing – thinking outside the box.
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