Growth Hacking (GH). Have you heard this term yet?
It’s probably not what you’re thinking…
Contrary to the concept of ‘hacking’, which immediately brings to mind Julian Assange or a teenage Matthew Broderick in “WarGames”, Growth Hacking is more about marketing than mayhem. It’s a holistic marketing approach that uses scalable, innovative digital techniques to optimise viral potential and provide rapid growth of brands online.
Companies like Dropbox, GoPro, Pinterest, Slideshare and Mint have used Growth Hacking to grow massive business success with the use of traditional advertising.
So is this a new trend at all? Not really.
Before it was coined, growth hacking was used by progressive digital agencies to leverage ideas such as loopholes in social networks, automating Application Programming Interfaces (APIs), maximising availability, mobile versioning, a/b testing and most importantly, simplifying user interfaces.
Basically helping campaigns and brands to go as-viral-as-possible with hybrid strategies to achieve ambitious growth targets.
The ever-increasing changes in consumer behaviour, coupled with online capabilities, demands that the digital marketers explore new and underutilised channels to create out-of-the-box marketing strategies and digital tools. Why? One reason: better return on investment.
Sound a bit far fetched? Take a look at GoPro.
Founded in 2010 by avid surfer Nick Woodman, GoPro produces small, “wearable” waterproof and shockproof cameras, ideal for people wanting to capture video and images of their extreme sporting activities. Perfect for surfing, skiing, mountain bike riding, skydiving and snorkelling.
In only their second year, GoPro had revenues of more than $250 million. So what’s their secret?
They owe their rapid success to taking advantage of their greatest resource: their fans. From the beginning, GoPro challenged their customers to post their GoPro adventure videos on YouTube. These videos have since been viewed tens of millions of times. It was a highly effective marketing strategy because the customers did all the work and in the process, validated the product. Essentially, it’s free advertising for the GoPro brand.
At AndMine, we’ve been Growth Hacking for a long time – long before it was even a term. Here is an example we did a few years ago for OJAY clothing.
With the retail marketing in free-fall, OJAY had an ambitious target of gaining viral success for its new campaign and business model “The OJAY Evolution”. In a nutshell, this involved delivering more garments to stores more often at around half the price of their traditional model.
We were given a very limited budget so we knew traditional advertising was off the table. So we turned to social media, but in a way that would ultimately see Facebook change their terms and conditions to close out the viral potential of brands trading off their massive platform growth.
We knew the Facebook and Twitter APIs well and leveraged these to create the “OJAY Evolution Competition” that relied on likes (and shares at the time) and re-tweets on Twitter as votes for entries. Entries took place around one of the new OJAY garments arriving in-store. Obviously it was a much larger programming task than your typical digital advertising campaign, but we were confident in the benefits. It’s important to note this was soon after Facebook restricted using its “like” functionality for promotional purposes.
Growth hacking equals results.
We took a $10k spend and turned it into over 40,000 users engaged. More than 5000 entrants signed up for the competition, with tens of thousands of unique visitors browsing the OJAY website. The in-store return did wonders for OJAY’s bottom line, turning on their new business model with confidence. The cost per engagement was just 23 cents per user, less than a quarter of the cost of a single click at the time.
The top 5 Growth Hacking Strategies you should be getting from your agency:
#1 Creative Guns and Programming Gurus
This is the most important tip. You need a firm that is well versed in creative campaigns and back-end programming. If they don’t have an excellent background in results-focused, consumer ideas and technical capabilities, their ability to deliver a great growth hacking result for your brand will fall short.
# 2 Determine Better Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
Work out what your campaign budget is. Let’s say for example you’re going to spend $10k like OJAY did on idea + development + advertising.
Work out what your baseline advertising results and conversion goals would be without Growth Hacking. For example, if you spent $10k with a smart agency on Facebook or Adwords, average clicks will cost about $1-2 each so you can generate between 5000 to 10,000 unique clicks for your campaign or website.
Your growth hacking strategy needs to return a better result than this. For instance, aim for 20,000+ engaged users.
#3 Clicks aren’t the goal
The goal is conversions, sales, signups or engaged users. Clicks are never the target. Buying traffic is easy. But converting it is the whole game. Look up vanity metrics and be aware of good traffic and bad traffic.
You can’t just outsource hundreds of thousands of followers, likes or clicks and expect anything but negative bottom line results.
# 4 Play the long game
Growth Hacking is reliant on taking creative risks, combined with technical skill across a combination of many detailed digital factors, then implementing, testing and reviewing the strategy against converted success.
It isn’t easy. Be critical of the outcomes.
And be careful of agencies offering unbelievable results. If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.
Play the long game, because once you find a growth hacking partnership that bears fruit; you should have on-going success.
#5 Stay True to your Brand.
A great campaign can also move away from your brand equity. Be careful of this. You don’t want to create an amazing growth hacking campaign that degrades your brand equity.
For example, don’t just run a slash price competition for the sake of it. Think about how it will affect your brand in the eyes of your consumers or clients and make sure this is in line with your business essence.
Growth Hacking is a commercially savvy idea delivered using slick programming in a simple and engaging creative wrapper. Basically, get people to get “it”. Done well, it will significantly boost your brand trajectory and market share, even if you’re a startup.
While there are some significant hurdles to overcome for success, we believe this is the obvious future for all online marketing. So the time to start hacking your growth is now.