Before we start speaking about Growth Hacking, we need to address a common misconception amongst people when thinking about the phrase ‘Growth Hacking’. The word Hacking is misleading as it immediately makes you think this is a quick win, an easy solution that will push your campaign or product into the stratosphere before lunchtime.
Of course it really isn’t that easy. There are no shortcuts. Instead, the secret of good growth hacking actually stems from two of the biggest trends in the last couple of years. Content Marketing and Big Data. Growth Hacking is born out of a zone where these two elements collide, with spectacular results.
Data is the MoneyBall of the industry. You need to take time to understand the dry stuff and not just your Google Analytics (GA). You need to understand costs of acquisitions, viral cycle time, etc., all of which are essential building blocks of a scalable business. Then you need to go a step further and try and understand the people behind the numbers. Who are they? What are their motivators? What happens if I push them with this stick? Test the hell out of them across multiple sets so that you can predict behaviour… and then, and only then, can you pick up a pencil to work on the creative.
You need to understand where your audience is and are you as a brand a natural fit there? If for example, I’m a fashion brand and I’ve noticed my core audience hangs out on YouTube and are constantly looking for practical fashion tips then I should be creating videos out there that show them ‘How to tie a tie.’ You already know there is an audience for that content. Your job then is to take all the data above and figure out a way to tell the story of the video and make it clear you have a legitimate reason for being there. You become the best answer to the most common questions in your industry, and Wham! You immediately inherit an audience that are being pulled into your ecosystem.
And this is where it really starts to become fun. You now know your audience, so you already know the stories they are likely to fall in love with. Now you have to find compelling ways to do this. Brand storytelling is an entire other subject that I won’t get into right now, but if you can harness the emotive power of that and couple it with your data then you’re onto a big winner.
And don’t be afraid to use platforms adjacent to those where you are already successful. Or even run innovative offline campaigns in a way that seems natural but newsworthy. For example, before Salesforce became the colossal, um… force that they are today – they hijacked a rival’s overseas sales conference by renting all the taxis at the airport so that delegates had to take them. Covered in salesforce branding, the delegates were then pitched to about Salesforce by staff who took the role of cab drivers for the day. Or Tinder, who needed a user base and knew their target audience were young, college 20-somethings… so they hosted huge frat parties and people, could attend only if they had downloaded the app.
These are all medium to large campaignable hacks which will result in huge uplift but there are other smaller ways which a lot of people ignore, but can be very successful using the Big Data/Emotive storytelling route. Blogs (often overlooked), good SEO writing and smart UX is also keen. And allowing content creation to be available to everyone is vital – even something as simple as comments under articles will boost your search/EdgeRankings.
So, while Growth Hacking needs insight, thought and planning, it’s not necessarily that hard. Sometimes the simplest ideas are the powerful ones and can carry your brand a long way.
By Rob Remington Drake, Director and Head of Content Strategy at Brave Spark Media.
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