The idea behind growth hacking is that marketers don’t need to reinvent the wheel every time they want to find a new and effective strategy. Innovators look at what’s working for other brands, creatively tweak it to suit their own business, then try it in their marketing efforts.
One of the primary benefits of growth hacking is how quickly a brand can implement new ideas. The more time a marketer spends researching and planning the execution of new strategies, the less time they can spend carrying them out. Growth hacking cuts out a significant amount of the planning stage. Entrepreneurs know that it often takes multiple failures to reach massive success; growth hacking can help brands figure out what doesn’t work more quickly and discover what does work as soon as possible i.e. the 'fail fast' approach. The final result? Each piece of content serves multiple purposes. It brings in readers and potential customers from the target audience while serving as a testing ground for new marketing techniques.
What does growth hacking look like? There’s no perfect formula but the following ideas help build a picture of how growth hacking leads to successful marketing campaigns.
Creating shareable content
Social media is an unavoidable part of content creation and marketing. If the content a brand is producing isn’t getting shared, it’s time to figure out why. Perhaps the content itself isn’t inspiring a strong enough response to motivate readers. Companies in some niches have experimented with giving visitors a small discount code in exchange for sharing a piece of content.
Visitors are more likely to share content that:
Is longer than average
Features eye-catching images
If the content itself is solid and generates discussion among the target audience, perhaps the mechanics of sharing needs to be modified. Many brands have found success by testing out different locations for the share button.
For instance, putting it at the top of the article will make it easier for viewers to share content to their page for later reading, or this could decrease share rates if people don’t want to scroll back up to share after reading. A share button at the end of an article will help viewers share while the content is fresh in their minds, or it may be too low to catch viewers before they bounce off the page.
Testing is the only way to find out what works for a specific audience.
If potential viewers scroll past content without clicking on it, you have lost the chance to connect with potential customers; a big part of growth hacking involves finding ways to draw in readers and keep their attention. Headlines are the only opportunity to secure the reader's attention.
The first part of growth hacking is figuring out what’s working for other creators. A great start is to look into articles in your industry that are sparking conversations and getting lots of shares. What do the headlines have in common? What feelings do they spark in the viewers? How can these traits be used in your content?
Finding the ideal headline formula means determining exactly how much information to give away. Give away too little, and people won’t know if the content is relevant to them; give away the bulk of the story, and they have no need to click.
An intriguing headline inspires a question in readers: a question that can’t be answered unless they keep reading.
One technique that brands use to liven up their headlines is the use of numbers. This blends seamlessly with the listicle format, which provides information in bite-sized pieces for readers who skim. In fact, research, conducted by Conductor and reported by Unbounce, indicates that 36% of readers prefer article titles that start with a number.
Be a guest and likewise invite guests
Guest blogging is great for content creation. It benefits from the rapid testing methods of growth hacking. Those who love writing and producing unique content can use that passion to bring in viewers from other outlets, build backlinks that strengthen their site’s link portfolio, and build up their image as an expert.
Where does growth hacking come in? User analysis is essential when guest posting. For instance, if one publication produces an average of five new visitors per post and a post produces an average of 100 new readers, you can decide where to focus your efforts.
Furthermore, guest blogging works both ways. Consider inviting connections to post feature pieces on your site as well.
Take a chance on bold CTAs
Creators, who have intentionally avoided the use of strong and sales-focused language, tend to shy away from bold CTAs. Replacing a weak call-to-action with one that visitors cannot refuse entices readers to act, bringing more users into the sales funnel.
One excellent example is Groove, a startup that added over 5,000 subscribers to their list in just over a month with an exceptionally engaging call-to-action. Their pop-up encouraged readers to “learn how we went from $0 to $28,000 in monthly revenue.” Readers could enter their email address and choose “Send Me Lessons on Growth” or click “No thanks, I don’t want to grow my business.” Even viewers who naturally click away from pop-ups are forced to consider the message when clicking the exit link and this was the key to their rapid subscriber growth.
Producing multiple pages of content is the perfect way to test new CTA styles.
Try different phrasing, lengths, and structures. If one style leads to a massive increase in subscribers or click-throughs, build on it to find the right CTA formula.
Test lead magnets
Lead magnets are the best way to convert casual visitors or one-time readers into subscribers and potential customers. Different types of lead magnets work in different industries, so instead of doing what’s already been done, create several lead magnets and test them out on different pieces of content.
Some of the more popular ones are:
E-mail courses spread out over several days
Workbooks, worksheets, and templates
Lead magnets get business owners started on their #growthhacking in no time. It’s no more work than the other content being produced, it’s just repackaged in a different format meaning your existing content can be quickly edited and reformatted.
Growth hackers also experiment with various ways to introduce lead magnets to viewers. If a mid-page blurb or end-of-page CTA produces lackluster results, what about a pop-up? Find the right lead magnet for your audience and you will discover the best pitch for your product or service.
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Apply the concepts of growth hacking to every content iteration
Growth hacking can be used in every content campaign by following these five steps:
Get an overview of what’s working: check your other content; identify content that keeps getting shared, content that inspires multiple comments, likes, and shares.
Identify the broader patterns across successful content.
Figure out how to utilise these patterns for future success.
Test your theory. Be mindful that failing provides extremely valuable insights. Make sure to identify these before moving on to the next iteration.
When your theory begins bringing in traffic and converting users, you’ve identified a new tool to promote your brand, product, and services.
It’s important to note that success doesn’t mean that a business hits its marketing or readership goals overnight. No matter how many growth hacks creators use, content marketing is still a long game that requires time to produce results. If creators are too quick to toss out something that doesn’t produce quick results, they could be disposing of a great future growth opportunity.
The bottom line: start with one or two hacks that can likely make a difference to your company’s success and put a solid effort into them. The results you get will inform your next step in the growth hacking journey.
Published 13 September 2019