What Is Growth-Hacking And How Can It Help Your Business

growth hacking mike hale

Building a strong online presence is key to growing your small or medium-sized business. It all starts with launching your website but goes on with managing it effectively, generating traffic, and growing your audience and customer base. Whichever stage of the online journey you’re in, we have tons of tried-and-true practical tips on how to set up your online presence for greatness this year - both from our team and from guest authors.

The second installment of our Successful Online Presence for Small Businesses series is a guest post by Mike Hale, the owner of a boutique digital marketing and website development agency. He also happens to be one of SiteGround’s WordPress Ambassadors. He's written an intro to growth hacking where he shares practical tips that can help your business succeed, faster.

In the last few years, avoiding the topic of Growth Hacking has been nearly impossible. Some make it out to be marketing's silver bullet or the secret key to success, while others dismiss it as all hype and no substance.

So what exactly is Growth Hacking and is it something you need to be doing?

If you think of a "hack" as a shortcut or clever (or unintended) use of something, it starts to make a bit more sense. In general, a growth hack is a tactic that is small-scale and low-cost, in terms of effort and money. It also needs to be measurable, repeatable, scalable, and aligned to an actual business goal.

Growth hacking is a process of rapid experimentation across channels to identify the most efficient ways to grow a business.

What are you trying to grow? Your Audience? Conversions? Sales? Referrals? All of the above? Choosing the right tactics, and when to implement them is key to any growth marketing campaign.
A few of the most famous examples are:

  • Dropbox grew their user base by 3900% with a simple referral program that awarded additional free space to users for every referral that signed up.
  • Airbnb found a way around Craiglist's limitations and was able to cross-post their property listings to Craigslist.
  • Gmail and Pinterest both started out as invitation-only platforms, using a scarcity trigger to get users to sign up.
  • Hotmail's "Get your free email at Hotmail" tagline was included at the bottom of every email sent.

But none of these examples were flukes or just luck. Companies run dozens, or even hundreds of tests, before finding one that works. Growth hacking is a process of rapid experimentation across channels to identify the most efficient ways to grow a business. I've never been a fan of the use of "hacking" in the term. I prefer to call it growth marketing, but when you get right down to it, it's really more of a science.

Think back to elementary school when you learned the scientific method:

  1. Make an Observation
  2. Ask questions about the Observation
  3. Form a Hypothesis
  4. Run experiments to test Hypothesis
  5. Measure and analyze the results
  6. Prove (or disprove) the Hypothesis

Let's suppose you have a popular blog that gets a lot of traffic. The traffic to your website has been growing steadily, but you realize that signups to your newsletter are growing at a much lower rate. Congrats, you've just made an observation!

Now, obviously, you want the growth of your email list subscribers to grow near the same rate as your overall traffic. At this point, you start to ask yourself: "What could be causing subscriptions to be growing so slowly?", and more importantly, "what can I do to fix it?" Your hypothesis becomes "If I move the newsletter subscription box from the sidebar to the bottom of each blog post, my subscriptions will increase".

Now that you have an idea to try, you set up a marketing experiment to A/B Test the location of your subscription call-to-action, and track the results of which option performed better.

After a while, you'll have gathered enough data to analyze and make a decision on if your experiment validated your hypothesis or not. By running several low-cost and rapid experiments at once, you haven't wasted a lot of time on a single test.

If your experiment proved you right, then continue to optimize what worked. For example, try different button text or colors in your call-to-action now that you know which location on the page converts best. If the results did not prove your hypothesis, do another round of questions and experiments until you find what works. No magic required, just some basic science!

Easy Growth Hacking Experiments to Get You Started

A/B Testing
Google Optimize is a free and easy way to add A/B Testing to your WordPress website just by adding a few scripts.  

 Start an Affiliate Program
If you sell digital products on your site, AffiliateWP is a premium plugin that lets you manage your affiliate marketing with easy setup and detailed reporting.

Repurpose Older Content
Drive more traffic to your site by going through old content and creating update posts, or repurpose content by making an infographic.

Live Chat
Most of the bigger Live Chat platforms provide plugins to easily integrate into your WordPress site.  

Lead Magnet
Create a lead magnet, or "upgrade content", like a checklist or cheat-sheet that you provide to people that sign up for your newsletter.

Webinar
Hosting a free webinar is a great way to build traffic and conversions. Again, there are several Webinar platforms to choose from that let you easily embed signup forms within your WordPress site.

Other tactics are you can try are:

  • Running a contest
  • Creating an Influencer Marketing campaign
  • PPC campaigns to drive traffic to your landing pages
  • Curate a weekly newsletter or round-up
  • Develop interactive content, like a cost calculator or wizard
  • Implement an Onboarding system to walk new users through your website

And don't stop there… Let your imagination run wild!

Growth marketing isn't magic, and it isn't always easy, but by trying new ideas and measuring the results carefully you'll start to see the growth and conversions you are looking for.

Please share your favorite "growth hack" in the comments!

Mike Hale is the owner of a boutique digital marketing and website development agency that combines growth-driven design, brand identity, and strategy to help clients reach their goals. He's been developing and working with WordPress since 2011 and has 20+ years of experience in all aspects of software development working with startups to Fortune 500 companies. He also happens to be one of SiteGround’s WordPress Ambassadors.

2 Comments

  1. Reply April 4, 2019 / 10:21 Samantha EllisSiteGround Team

    Such great information you have shared through this article, Thank for sharing. Keep up the good work

  2. Reply April 6, 2019 / 15:57 Amaury GilSiteGround Team

    Great Info!

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