Growth hacking isn’t just a new field in marketing. It isn’t just some Silicon Valley buzzword for new age marketers. It has nothing to do with hacking websites either.
It is the marketing game-changer. Companies are now interested in cold, hard figures that translate to revenue, which, at the end of the day, is the goal of any marketing campaign.
But, what exactly is growth hacking and what can it do for your business? How do you choose the best growth hacking agency? Is there a formula you can use to separate the wheat from the chaff to get you the results you want?
This guide answers all these questions in great depth. Read on to learn more.
Before getting into the textbook description, take a look at these figures. In 2008, Facebook had fewer than 100 million active users. Today, the platform boasts over 2.3 billion monthly active users.
Airbnb exploded from having about 21000 guest arrivals in 2009 to a staggering 200 million guest stays cumulatively to date. But, what do these two companies have in common?
Both were startups that experienced massive exponential growth in under a decade of existence. This is every startup’s dream. To grow ridiculously fast while acquiring millions of dollars in revenue.
The secret to doing that lies in growth hacking. “Growth hacking” is a phrase that was coined by Sean Ellis in 2010. He is the industry’s OG (Original Growth hacker).
Traditional marketing has quite a broad focus. As much as it is fundamental to business growth, its particular skill sets are not required in a startup’s life. For instance concepts like “building and managing a marketing team” or “managing external vendors” are completely unnecessary for startups at that point in their life cycle.
It is a concept that tosses the traditional marketing handbook out the window. That is not to say that it is better than traditional marketing. It is just different.
Growth hacking is the use of marketing strategies that obsessively focus on the singular goal: Growth. It ignores almost everything else at that early point. It gives rise to numerous tools, methods and best practices that don’t exist in the traditional marketing realm.
While traditional marketing often describes a “product” as a physical item, with the rise of the internet, this term now includes intangible goods like software. This includes digital platforms like Facebook, Airbnb, and Dropbox run on.
The internet has also led to redefining the term “distribution”. In the online sphere, you can think of distribution channels as online roads. Much like their physical counterparts, they direct people to digital businesses.
Some of these include search engines and social media channels. This is the infrastructure that provides the digital highway for product distribution.
You’ve likely come across the word “hacker” in various contexts. The first thing that comes to mind when you think of the term is a “software hacker.”This is another term for a software engineer someone who provides technology-based solutions to solve a myriad of problems for businesses.
While growth hackers may possess programming skills, it is not mandatory. They do however use software, databases and application programming interfaces (APIs) to spark company growth. Nevertheless, having an in-depth understanding of technology is the cornerstone of growth hacking.
“Hacking” can also denote the process of gaining unauthorized access to a system. Growth hacking isn’t illegal.
However, it does push the boundaries of what is deemed to be the convention in marketing. Growth hackers look for weakness in the system and exploit them to achieve growth.
A growth hacker has a team which comprises the hacker, a front-end developer, and a back-end developer. The growth hacker (who may or may not be a programmer) steers the ship. They use a set of tools come up with event-based analytics.
This means that all interactions with a product such as signups, referrals, etc., are tracked and resulting data presented. This data is then used to build a good funnel with objectives for the various stages of the conversion process. Growth hackers take analytics very seriously for the simple reason that, they can use them to replicate past successes and predict future growth.
A good growth hacking agency should be able to come up with a clear metrics model based on five main funnel stages. These are:
Getting accurate metrics for each stage of the funnel process will give an aerial view of how the digital marketing strategy is paying off. A growth agency must, therefore, be able to devise a strategy that delivers on these metrics.
This is the key indicator to look out for while choosing a firm to go with. Here are some key factors to consider:
A growth hacking agency needs to be able to use every possible tool at their disposal to promote your business. No medium is off-limits.
They need to be creative experts who can think outside the box to target a very specific audience. Sometimes the most unlikely ideas deliver the most surprising results.
Remember, unlike traditional marketing methods, growth hacking doesn’t focus on developing a brand in the long run. Growth marketers are time constrained. Meaning, clients need to see tangible and measurable ROIs within a couple of days, weeks and months.
This makes perfect sense if you think about it since the original idea behind growth hacking was to focus on growing startups which didn’t have money to invest in the traditional marketing methods. A good agency is one that can deliver customers in a quick and affordable fashion.
The focus of growth hacking is primarily in the digital realm. This includes everything from social media and search engine optimization (SEO) to videos and gaming design.
It is for this reason that the marketing approach used by your growth hacking agency of choice needs to not only be technologically-driven but, data-driven as well. The team needs to have the ability to extract extremely specific data to steer the process in the correct direction. Guesswork is out of the question.
They have to be able to analyze data in real-time and make the necessary tweaks to optimize the client’s ROI.
It goes without saying that this is the most important part of growth hacking. Content is king. It is the driving force behind every successful marketing campaign.
Whether the content is in form of blogs, videos or audio podcasts, all mediums should be algorithmically tested, highly targeted and optimized for search engines if you hope to make any headway in growing your business. The growth agency that can deliver on this is your best pick.
This is a no-brainer when it comes to choosing a growth hacking agency. After all, these are the people you’ll entrust with the all-important task of taking your business to the next level and quickly at that.
Therefore, ensure you do your homework. Ask for their credentials and references from past companies they’ve worked with.
If it’s a credible firm, you should also be able to easily find reviews online. This is the stamp of approval you’ll need to ascertain that your company is in excellent and experienced hands.
If your company has an existing marketing team, does your chosen growth agency intend to work hand in hand with them or do they prefer to work independently? If so, are you okay with that arrangement?
Ironing out these details from the get-go is a must if delivery time is important to you. If the growth team has to work with your company’s internal structures, you should know it will slow down the process significantly.
However, it may be a necessary part of the process especially during the experimentation and implementation phases. A good growth agency is one that runs continuous experiments at each stage of the funnel.
It is called an experiment since no one knows the actual outcome of the growth strategies put in place. For instance, if the hypothesis of a given experiment is to show that sending customers more than 1 email a week decreases the click-through-rate of your website, the results have to be backed up with evidence in the form of actual results from an experiment.
Look for growth agencies that have the right mix of professionals with a variety of strengths.
Aside from growth strategists, it should also have SEO and CRO (Content Rate Optimization) specialists, marketing automation experts, data scientists, technical and content marketers. All these different individuals should be able to work together to develop a business growth strategy and a marketing plan that complement each other.
Any growth agency that is worth its salt should be able to apply these core hacking techniques to virtually any business of any size. They are reliable and proven techniques that can be used to scale customer acquisition.
The tricky bit is figuring out which of the 3 is suitable for a particular type of company. They are:
In this model, a company achieves growth by people referring your business to their colleagues, friends, and family. It involves targeting your customers in all the different platforms at your disposal. It requires the company to incentivize the user to introduce more people to the brand.
In this model, the agency needs to come up with a way of creating an experience that’s so irresistible, customers can’t help but keep returning for more. Think Facebook for instance.
This model requires your business to invest a bit of money to land a customer who will eventually be worth substantially more to your business in the long run. This can be seen in long term ROI from highly targeted ads like Google Ads. The cost of customer acquisition (CAC) should be lower than the customer’s lifetime value (LTV).
Growth hacking is a precise science. You need to define suitable KPIs that the agency needs to deliver if you’re to move forward with it.
For instance, when would you consider the project a success? When you meet the target revenue in digital sales within 1 year while adhering to the allocated budget?
Is it when you enter a new market? The growth agency you decide to go with should be able to do all reporting with these KPIs in mind.
Choosing the ideal growth hacking agency to work with can be a daunting task. In order to get the best results, you need to find a company with a wealth of experience under its belt.
Use the tools in this guide to find a company that will give you a worthwhile return on your investment. If need to scale your customer base fast, then you need a capable team of scientific marketers to help you do that.
At The Growth Agency, we use data-driven as well as tech-driven growth hacking strategies to help your business reach its goals. Talk to our team of TGA strategists today to see if you qualify for a free growth audit.
In the meantime, read about common PPC mistakes that you’re making that could be costing you thousands of dollars.