The term “hacking” sounds like technical voodoo that’s beyond the reach of ordinary mortals.
The reality is, the term “growth hacking” has kind of been ruined by people who don’t understand it.
I mean, even the word “hack” isn’t quite accurate in describing what most growth hackers do.
In the Definitive Guide to Growth Hacking, I laid out in full detail how growth hacking works.
If you want to get the skinny on what growth hacking is (and isn’t), that would be a good place to start.
This particular article is directed at those non-techies who don’t want to spend all day staring at a computer screen.
Because here’s the thing: Growth hacking isn’t just about coding, sneaky techniques, and secret plugins.
It doesn’t take an advanced engineering degree or high-tech computer skills to implement growth hacking tricks.
Whether or not you’re schooled in “growth hacking” techniques, I think you’ll be surprised by what you read below. To be completely honest, growth hacking is more about common sense, management, leadership, and innovative thinking than being able to write a line of code.
With the following eleven tactics, you can be well on your way to wearing a growth hacker badge.
1. Solicit outside contribution
Wait a second. You thought we were talking about “growth,” right?
So, what’s this about soliciting outside contribution?
In value-based management, operational decisions serve as the foundation for the rest of the business.
The more you can cut back on your operational expenses, the faster you can grow.
Content-focused websites, such as blogs, allow you to solicit free contributions from other bloggers in order to grow your content and subscriber base.
Content aggregators and user-generated content sites profit from this strategy as well.
What does this mean?
- It means getting people in your organization to buy into your growth vision. A growth hacker is essentially a person who’s obsessed with growth and can get others to join in the fun.
- It means getting user-generated content. User-generated content is a marketer’s dream come true. It has all the value of great content without much work. It’s scalable and powerful.
Launched in 2005, The Huffington Post used free aggregated and contributed content to transform itself into a multi-million dollar media empire by the time it was acquired by AOL in 2011.
Lower operating expenses lead to higher profits, which puts your business in a better position to continue expanding. Even in business, liquid capital rules everything.
If you can legally get free resources for your business such as manpower, products, or supplies, take advantage of it.
2. Crowdsource busywork
When it comes to the tasks you do have to pay for, instead of hiring a new employee, consider crowdsourcing.
Services such as TopCoder and Amazon’s Mechanical Turk are excellent crowdsourcing resources that can get jobs done faster and cheaper than traditional full-time employees.
And it’s not just for work; some companies have found success crowdsourcing ideas too. Toyota is famous for its employee suggestion program, and Starbucks found success asking customers to help come up with new ideas.
Over 150,000 ideas were submitted in a five-year period, and over 2 million votes were cast on My Starbucks ideas during the program.
The long-term benefits of crowdsourcing R&D ideas have helped keep Starbucks relevant in a tough market.
Of course, not everything can be crowdsourced.
But when you crowdsource more stuff, you’re creating a tribe of growth movers, people who can help you do what you want to do: grow the business.
3. Hire a solid team
You do eventually need to hire in order to maintain the growth acquired through growth hacking. Finding the right employees at the right price means scouting the right markets.
Here’s the most recent map of unemployment in the United States.
Areas like the southwest may be good places to find skilled workers to hire. If you’re not located in the area, consider a virtual team.
Remote work is growing across the board in every level of every industry. Here are some statistics about remote workers in the U.S.
By expanding your search to include remote employees, you can get better talent cheaper and optimize your staff for future growth.
4. Constantly post links
Backlinks are the backbone of any solid SEO strategy.
They act as breadcrumbs to lead people back to your website from anywhere around the web.
They’re also a part of search engine algorithms and are a factor in determining your site’s visibility for search terms.
Brands that have online success often achieve it using backlinks. Snack Nation used relevant backlinks through contextual keywords to raise organic search traffic over 300% within a few months.
SEO certainly isn’t the only growth-hacking method out there, but it’s an important one if you want to create sustainable growth.
5. Hire a PR agency
Sometimes, it’s a good idea to just hire a professional PR firm.
Getting your name out there is an important part of growth hacking, and PR firms specialize in amplifying messages throughout mainstream media, social media, online forums, events, and more.
In fact, with online marketing automation taking over the industry, PR and communications-related jobs are projected to outgrow the job market over the next few years.
Online content marketing has become so popular that websites like The Huffington Post often host more content marketing editorials than actual journalistic reporting.
PR people even outnumber journalists these days by a three-to-one ratio.
The public relations industry has more influence, generates more revenue, and attracts more practitioners than the rest of the media combined.
Trust in the power of the dark side, and hire a professional PR agency to help you meet your growth goals.
PR agencies aren’t in conflict with growth-hacking principles. They work in concert with them by allowing you to build greater brand presence.
6. Implement analytics
No growth hacking or any other business implementation works without proper analytics to quantify its success.
Growth hacking is synonymous with obsessed-with-metrics.
Anyone with a website should at least be familiar with analytics, which look like this:
Knowing who your customers are, where they come from, why they’re here, what they bought, and what they enjoyed about the experience are all important factors to ensure you can replicate the experience and encourage growth.
In the case of marketing automation (which is essentially what growth hacking is), there are seven important KPIs indicated by marketers in a recent survey:
Focusing on raising these metrics can help optimize the customer base you have to increase ROI.
Growth hacking requires a solid structure in place that can eventually be sustained, even if individual efforts aren’t.
7. Automate everything
Automation is the key to growing as quickly as possible.
And growth hacking is all about growing as quickly as possible.
Act-on, developer of a popular marketing automation platform, touts case studies such as Adaptive Computing, a company that was able to increase sales by $150,000 in the first month after implementing their platform.
This isn’t just a one-off case—as many as 29% of companies realize financial benefits within only three months of automation implementation.
Of course, implementing marketing automation is easier said than done. Staff need to be trained on new processes, and there’s a period when everyone gets used to new policies and procedures.
Lack of time and lack of budget are the reasons most often cited by companies for why marketing automation isn’t implemented. Don’t let this deter you.
Investing in technology makes difficult processes simpler and repeatable while maintaining quality. This is how growth happens.
8. Scout the competition
Uber not only disrupted the taxi industry but revolutionized the entire transportation industry, creating a two-sided marketplace.
Facing heavy competition from Lyft and the rest of the industry it revolutionized, the company started looking at ways to optimize the driver experience to maintain its lead.
Now, the average driver is spending much more time actually driving and earning more per shift, incentivizing them not to jump ship and go to a competitor.
Uber’s operating costs remain well below that of most other forms of public transportation, but the company still keeps an eye on the competition to ensure it maintains its competitive advantage.
Most growth hackers can only dream of replicating the once-in-a-lifetime success of Uber.
9. Reward customers
There’s no better way to attract business than to compensate customers for being customers.
Rewards programs make customers 85% more loyal, increasing retention rates by 5% and overall profits by up to 95%.
Since the cost of keeping a customer is often much less than the cost of acquiring one, it’s important for your growth to sustain returning business.
10. Build exclusivity
When Facebook was first created, MySpace already existed. There’s no reason anyone should have joined the social network, but over a billion people did over the past decade because the company created an air of exclusivity.
Once the buzz was created and a solid user base existed, the company was able to sustain high levels of growth, adding nearly 800,000 users per day during its peak growth period in 2011.
By that point, Facebook was more focused on connecting its API to as many website and app login services as possible to offer incentive for its exclusivity.
This same growth hack can be applied to your business without needing to code the next Facebook.
11. Hustle and grind
Want to know my secret sauce to growth hacking?
I didn’t title my new book Hustle that way for no reason.
Hustling is the key to growth.
At the end of the day, many small businesses fail, especially in the first four years when more than half of businesses shutter.
The difference between failure and success is your hustle and grind. Those willing to put in the effort will reap the rewards.
Not all growth hacking is marketing, and not all marketing is online. Sometimes you need to get a street team out there to get the word out about your business.
While online data analytics, focused targeting, and measurability make online marketing attractive to many businesses, there’s value in old-fashioned viral marketing that built businesses older than the Internet.
Although you may have a ton of automated work happening through a computer, you can’t rest on your laurels.
Instead, continue feeding an insatiable hunger for growth.
Growth hacking sounds like it’s complicated, but it’s more common sense than anything else.
It’s not that companies like Uber and Facebook are doing something nobody else is doing. It’s that they continued doing multiple things at a faster pace to demolish the competition.
If you’re focused and use the right tools, growth hacking is within your reach even if you’re not technically inclined.
Startups have historically seen anywhere from 300-2,000% increases in business, scaling during the digital age like never before, using growth hacking techniques.
What growth hacking techniques have you used successfully in your business?