While “hacking” used to have a negative connotation, in today’s give-it-to-me, and-give-it-to-me-now mentality, creating shortcuts by testing different growth hacking tactics is the fastest way to turn a profit and complete world domination.
While the biohacking industry booms, growth-hacking has taken over the startup world as an aggressive, analytical way for companies to grow their website traffic and customer base. It’s not enough to grow at a steady pace, investors want to see results, and the want to see them yesterday. (And by “results” we mean “ROI”, “cash”, “da money”.)
Through various simple tests, optimizations and improvements, companies can collapse the time it takes to reach their early revenue goals.
While some growth hacking tactics need to be run overtime to gain traction, there are a number of tools, tips, and techniques you can test and implement on your site and in your marketing practices in no time.
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1. Hacking happens fast
The first thing to keep in mind when you’re employing any of the growth-hacking strategies below is that the goal is to collapse the rate of growth. Experiment with different processes, and then accept them or reject them, and be on your merry way. Think of growth hacking like speed dating; you’re there to make judgments quickly and move on.
2. Use rich snippets & meta descriptions
Rich snippets are named such for a reason. Google thinks they have more value. If you go the extra step to include the appropriate text for the rich snippets in your website pages, you will be handsomely rewarded.
Meta descriptions (usually 160 characters or less) are often shown as part of the search result to influence user click-through rates. While neither meta descriptions nor meta keywords will actually affect your ranking, they can impact your page’s CTR (click-through-rate). And THAT can help you rank higher in the search results. The better your CTR, the better Google perceives your page to be.
Adding meta descriptions and rich snippets will only take a few seconds, but the value it adds to search result listings is lasting.
3. Build a pre-launch page
The best time to start building buzz for your new business is yesterday. Before you have your site live, get a pre-launch page up with a teaser about the company and a mailing list sign up to start building buzz and capturing potential users’ email addresses.
4. Capitalize on emotion
Don’t have the time or resources to create a content-heavy site? Try using large images that evoke your visitors’ emotions and immediately connect them with the brand.
5. Focus on testing just one thing
A/B testing is the best way to get clear results on what is working and what isn’t. If you’re testing too many things at once, you’ll be hard-pressed to identify which elements are actually impacting your growth.
Sure, it may take time and be a little daunting to test all the things on your to-do list, but you can more easily manage to identify one aspect of your site, sales funnel or onboard process and making a change to test just that one thing before moving on to the next.
Start with the most conversion-heavy areas of your website:
- Landing pages
- Ends of blog posts
- Sales pages
- Contact page
Focus on one variable area of each page at a time so you don’t skew your results. Again, adjusting multiple areas at once will make it impossible to know which impacted the outcome. Below we’ll highlight some specific components you can test on your site pages.
Unsure how to run A/B tests? Optimizely is a great resource for conducting experiments and testing conversion tactics, but for the budget-conscious, Google now offers a free alternative, Google Optimize.
6. Test your value proposition
You could run A/B tests on a million and one things on your website, from the background color to the font size, but there are only a handful of items that will really be important in affecting your business.
One is your value proposition – you want to make sure customers know from the get-go what they’re getting with your product and why they should choose it over your competitors.
7. Test your call to action
Additionally, your call to action, whether it is for the mailing list sign up or to buy a monthly subscription, is key in getting potential users to make a move. Test different placements and wording to see what resonates with your users and gets the most results. Additionally, button-size, color and other visual effects could impact click-through-rate.
8. Write a blog post
Don’t consider blogging a growth hacking tactic? Think again – content marketing is crucial to drive traffic to your site and position your company as an industry leader. While posts don’t have to be lengthy, they do have to be useful. The more content your business produces relevant to your industry, the more opportunities that Google has to show you in the serps when potential clients take to searching for your services.
9. Guest post
Along with blogging on your own company site, guest post on other relevant, influential sites to secure links back to your business and get in front of a new audience. The goal is to become a thought leader in your space – to do this, you need to actually get out in the space and share your thoughts.
10. Set up Google Analytics
Super simple, yet still really important. Google Analytics remains one of the best baseline analytics tools and it only takes a few minutes to set up and connect with your site.
Here is Google’s get started guide for familiarizing yourself with GA.
11. Add in sharing buttons
Make your product, services and content easy to share by installing obvious social media share buttons and encouraging interaction from your users. Sumo.com makes it easy to add social media sharing buttons to most website platforms.
12. Optimize for site speed
You snooze, you lose in Google’s eyes. Today, it’s not enough to just have the most relevant content; Google also wants to see that you can deliver said content at lightning speeds.
If your competitor’s site loads in 2 seconds, while yours takes 6, this will hurt your ranking in the serps. Spend the necessary time to optimize your site for load-speed. Run a speed test on your website to help identify what elements on your site are slowing down your loading times. GTMetrix is a great option because it gives you actual data to support their findings, so you can take action on what to fix.
Another quick way to decrease your load-time is to optimize all imagery on your site. Run your images through a compression site like Tiny PNG before uploading them. Asking your site to load with full-sized images is like asking someone to run a marathon with sandbags around their waste. Don’t be that person.
13. Add an email opt-in
The blog posts are up, you’ve garnered some traffic from other influential sites in your niche, you’ve optimized your website, and low and behold, you’ve actually got some traffic!
Don’t squander this opportunity by letting them get away.
Most people won’t purchase the first time they come to your site, so it’s important to collect their email so you can continue to engage even after they’re gone.
Install a signup widget on your homepage and encourage users to join your mailing list. Most email clients will give you the optin to embed an opt-in form on your site, but tools like Sumo.com make it easy and integrate with many email list providers.
14. Create an email pop-up
Still not getting enough sign-ups or follows? Try implementing a pop-up opt in box, or a welcome mat directing users to fill in their details.
Since the goal isn’t to annoy your visitors with spammy pop ups…
Be sure to make the offer on your pop up irresistible. Popular options that make visitors actually want to give you their email include sign-up discounts, done-for-you templates, scripts, recipes, etc. Anything that saves them time or money, is usually a safe bet.
15. Write an autoresponder message
Creating a drip campaign to automatically be sent out to subscribers is a great way to get your name in front of them again and again.
If the whole campaign seems like too much to manage, start by brainstorming what you want each message in the series to say, then take a few minutes here and there to get the individual emails drafted.
16. Make sure your headline clearly features your UVP
The keyword here is clearly. Avoid being cute and clever in your headline, or using industry-words that the average person wouldn’t understand.
Your headline needs to grab your visitors’ attention and immediately hook them with your unique value proposition – double-check, is yours clear enough?
17. Brainstorm your customers’ personas
An important key to connecting with your users is by truly understanding their needs and speaking their language. Take some time to identify and write down your main customers’ personas to help visualize who you’re trying to reach. This can help guide your copywriting, positioning, product development and more. Digital Marketer offers a great free template for identifying your customer avatar.
18. Follow your competitors’ followers
Want to grow your Twitter or LinkedIn presence? Take a look at who is following your competitors on social media and start following them – chances are they’re interested in your field and business.
18. Caption your photos
Readers tend to read photo captions 300% more than a post or body copy – take advantage of getting your key messages in front of those eyes.
19. Automate your sharing
Of course, you should be sharing your fresh content and other relevant pieces across your social media channels, but save yourself some time – while also increasing the amount you share – by using scheduling tools, like Buffer, Hootsuite or any of the plethora of other social media tools, to automate social shares.
You mean I don’t have to post everything in real-time?
20. Highlight your customer feedback
Showcase customer testimonials by simply adding a glowing quote to your sidebar or footer, or sharing the praise on social media.
21. Add an ‘exit interview’ for unsubscribes
Don’t let people opt out without asking them why they’re leaving. Asking one simple question as they click on “unsubscribe” can help you gain valuable insight into what they think of your company, product and content so you can improve in the future.
22. Create a list of long-tail keywords
Search Google trends or its keyword planner tool to come up with a list of long-tail keywords you can go after for rising up in search results.
23. Check out some click map tools
Use a tool like Crazy Egg to create a heat map of your site and see where users are spending their time and how they’re clicking through your content for more insight into where to place information and how to organize your site flow.
24. Leverage your LinkedIn contacts
LinkedIn offers a simple way for you to download email addresses from your connections. Use them to loop your contacts in on what’s new with your company.
25. Set up Google Alerts
Set up Google Alerts for important keywords relevant to your business and competitors to help you keep an eye on where the industry and market is so you can better position your product. Get notified each time Google indexes a page matching the search terms you’ve set up.
26. Respond on Quora
Participating in industry forums or responding to questions on Quora can provide links back to your site, highlight your business and show potential users that you know what you’re talking about. (Psst, this is where the thought leader piece comes into play again).
27. Optimize your blog posts
Take ten minutes after drafting your blog posts to make sure they’re fully optimized. Check things such as your photo captions and titles, subheadings, focus keyword and meta description.
28. Know the best times to post on social media
A big thing with growth hacking is knowing where the slightest changes will make the biggest impacts. Different social media platforms see more activity from your users at different times so figure out when your target audiences are active and schedule your shares for those times. (See #19: Automate your sharing.)
29. Audit your sales funnel
Is your sales funnel as smooth as possible? Is there any point where you regularly see people dropping off? Take a moment to run through the process as a new user and see if you notice any areas where you can streamline the experience.
30. Identify 3 influencers
Building relationships with influencers in your industry takes time, but it all starts by identifying influencers you want to target and starting to get to know them on a more personal level. Do you have a podcast? Invite them on as a guest. Send them a DM, or show up at an event you know they’ll be attending. These days, anyone is accessible, it just requires you to think outside the box, and always make sure you’re adding more value than you’re asking for.
31. Comment with your company name
When you comment in forums or blog posts add your company to your name for added exposure. For example, instead of just commenting as “John”, comment as “John @ YourCompanyName” and be sure to include your website address. While some communities have strict anti-spam rules, most forums will allow you to identify yourself in this way.
32. Create a sense of urgency
If people don’t feel compelled to buy, they won’t. Simply adding one line to your call to action that creates a sense of urgency among potential users to sign up or buy can make a big difference in the number of signups and sales you see. This can look like early-bird pricing, a countdown clock, a limited number of spots, quicker shipping if they order within a certain timeframe, etc.
33. Launch a one-question survey
Get to know your customers better by running a survey – it doesn’t have to be long, just one-question focusing on if they’ll share your product will do the trick.
34. Retweet your users
Show your users you care and appreciate them, while amplifying your content and brand awareness, by retweeting or sharing interactions and successes they’ve had with your brand. Even big brands have “personalities” associated with them, and the more you can bring the “person” into your brand and connect authentically with your users, the more loyalty they’ll develop for your brand.
35. Boost your launch page
36. Make sure your sharing options makes sense
Are you seeing a lot of referral traffic coming in from Pinterest but don’t actually have a Pinterest account yourself or allow users to easily pin your content? That doesn’t make sense.
Make sure your social media presence and sharing options are in line with your users and traffic. If your target customers are hanging out on LinkedIn, be sure to include the LinkedIn share button. If your content doesn’t make sense for instagram, omit it.
37. Determine media targets
What media outlets would you want to secure coverage in to really increase awareness about your company and spur sales? Start making a list…
Remember to pick outlets that are relevant to your industry.
38. Identify one thing you can automate
The more you can automate both the backend of your site or business and your customers’ experience, the better. Go through your site or product and see what can be streamlined.
39. Turn a blog post into a PDF
Make full use of your existing content by repurposing it into a PDF that can then be used as an incentive for mailing list sign-ups or content for your email marketing. Checklists and Case Studies make great PDF reports that incentivize users to give you their email.
40. Get inspired
Sometimes it takes stepping back to get a new perspective on the business. To get new ideas and strategies that we couldn’t see when we were in the thick of it. Set aside some time to search for new trends and new growth strategies and bookmark what you find for later reading.
41. Set your first Google Adwords campaign
Google Adwords can take a lot of trial and error before figuring out what works for your business and target audience. Start small and let the testing begin.
42. Create a discount code
Boost sales and create urgency with a discount code available for a limited time. Why is Black Friday so successful? Because it offers shoppers massive discounts for a very short amount of time. While you don’t want to operate your business from a place of consistently slashing prices, a temporary promo code could get you the boost in revenue (and exposure) that you’ve been looking for.
43. Limit user options
Picture this, it’s Friday night, you’ve ordered dinner in and you’re excited to settle in with your honey for some Netflix and chill. But after an hour of browsing the latest documentaries about the meat industry, standup specials and made-for-TV dramas, the only decision that’s been made is that you’re now too tired to watch anything, let alone chill.
Your decision-making reserve is depleted and the paradox of choice has rendered you choice-less. Don’t let your company produce this same experience for your users.
The more options your users have means more chances where you can lose them. Go through your offerings and start thinking about what you can cut back on or bundle together. It should be obvious what your users come to you for; if you overwhelm them with options, you lose out on positioning yourself as the go-to-source for the solution to their problem.
44. Force virality: run a giveaway
How can you get your users to share your product and content with their friends? Incentivize them to do so.
45. Resend mailing list confirmations
It doesn’t matter how many people sign up for your newsletter if they don’t activate their subscription. Take a look at your mailing list and send reminders to those who still need to activate.
46. Use Abandon Cart Emails
Are you following up with people who bail before buying? Why not? By not using abandon cart follow ups, you’re basically saying you hate money.
We’re going to assume that’s not true…so take advantage of the myriad of abandon cart software available and create a follow-up email to reach out to those who forget to complete their purchase.
47. Link your blog to your sales site
This seems like an obvious one, but make sure your blog is clearly linked to your main sales page to encourage the flow of traffic. Ideally, each blog post is educating and entertaining your visitors right into your shopping cart.
At the bare minimum, your blog posts should contain a freebie offer which gets people into your sales funnel.
Come up with a new incentive that’s easy to implement and appealing for new users to hit the buy button or existing users to upgrade. Can you add an up-sell? Does your offer come with any bonuses? Make sure the user feels like there’s really something in it for them.
49. Try something totally new
Growth hacking requires patience and persistence, if something you’re doing isn’t producing the results you want, don’t be afraid to go in another direction and try something new. (Growth Hacking Rule #1: Hacking happens fast).
50. Say thank you
Often simple politeness goes a long way. Make sure to thank your website visitors, social media followers and loyal customers. Are you collecting mailing addresses? Hand-written thank you notes go a long way. If you don’t have the means to send out branded, hand-signed mail, a simple email could do the trick.