Growth hacking, as much as it relies on dedication to rapid, short-term growth and a degree of technical know-how, is also about creativity. The great startup success stories of companies like Tinder and AirBnB all involve growth tactics that very few people knew about at the time.
Your own success will be determined, in part, by your ability to think up unorthodox promotional strategies and, to use the technical term, test the hell out of them! All of the tactics suggested here will provide you with plenty of feedback and an opportunity to leverage huge audiences beyond the reach of your own.
Let’s dive in…
Content marketing has grown increasingly popular over the last few years. And it’s a trend that’s showing no signs abating. The graph below, which showcases the results of a survey conducted by Smart Insights, indicates just how much weight marketers are placing on this strategy.
The trouble with content marketing, however, is that it takes time. It doesn’t always have a prominent place in a growth hacker’s arsenal. Building an audience of readers, generating rankings in search engines (with the possible exception of very low-competition keywords) and creating the kind of social and sharing network needed to properly promote posts are all things that you can’t achieve overnight.
Fortunately, there’s a way to overcome this obstacle. By focusing on publishing the same content to third-party platforms – Quora, LinkedIn, Medium etc. – you can take advantage of their internal promotion mechanisms. The importance of testing in regards to this “hack” can’t be understated. Post to as many B2B-themed sites that allow you to do so, monitor the results, and hone in on the top performers.
Before it became one of the world’s best-known dating apps, Tinder started out by promoting itself to college students. The idea was simple: they hosted big campus parties and only people with the app installed on their phone were allowed entry. This simple strategy effectively acted as Tinder’s launchpad and it’s a strategy that any startup can replicate.
By bringing together groups of people that represent your core demographic, you can encourage sharing to all of their associated networks. When you organize events for those most likely to use and talk about your product in the early adoption phase, in Tinder’s case college graduates, you increase the chances that it will be seen by a broader audience.
Giveaways are ten-a-penny nowadays, but large events, which bring lots of people onboard, can quickly grow a mailing list. They’re also a valuable “linkable asset”. This is the strategy that Authority Hacker used to launch their B2B blog. Over a relatively short period they generated 1626 leads and thousands of shares.The strategy is also a great way of reaching out to established companies in your space. By including their products in a giveaway you give them a strong incentive to promote, and link to, your site across their own mailing lists and promotional channels.
The other dimension is to make sure that you include your product in third party giveaways. Find sites that offer regular giveaways and ask to be included in their bundle. This is particularly relevant for black friday offers, where bloggers will often be happy to promote your product in exchange for a few free licenses.<
In October 2012, Glen Allsopp of ViperChill launched a one page site imploring Google not to kill of feed burner. The result? It went viral, generated over 10,000 hits in 24 hours and received over 500 backlinks. Unwittingly, Glen had created a “side project”. By mirroring his process, you can generate tonnes of exposure for a new product or service yourself.
Side-projects that tie in with current, time-sensitive issues can quickly gain publicity and be used to drive traffic to your main website. They’re good to pitch to journalists too. The key word here is current. How can you create a one or two-page site that makes a time-relevant statement that ties in with your ethos?
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past year, you’ll have heard of the ‘Will it Blend’ series of Youtube videos by BlendTec. For those that don’t know, the videos involve trying to blend various household items – everything from iPhones to marker pens. It’s a wacky, silly idea, but it allows an otherwise serious company to craft pure viral content. Most people will buy a blender at some point in their lives. When they do, Blendtec will be at the back of their mind, with all the associations of being able to slice through an iPhone.
You can try this with your own company. Can you come up with an idea – something that could be framed as just a bit of fun – with a high chance of going viral? You can then showcase your own product alongside it. And if you’re wondering about stats, Blendtec’s sales grew by 500% over the course of their video campaign.
Guest posting is still a killer strategy for growth hackers. The key is in choosing the right blogs, pitching the right people and then designing your post for virality. In the early stages of your startup, you won’t have the appropriate channels to give your posts the best chance of going viral, so you’ll need to leverage the audiences of other sites.
Jon Morrow, who published this hugely successful post on Copyblogger, is a good example. It achieved over 1,000,000 hits and helped launch the site as one of the premier copy writing resources for writers and business owners. By targeting only the highest performing sites and structuring your posts for virality, you’ll be giving yourself the best opportunity of wide reach.