Growth Hacking is as geeky as it sounds. It means placing priority on driving tons of traffic and converting those visitors into customers. You would be excused if you thought this was just plain-jane marketing with fancier packaging.
But growth hacking is the real deal and represents a fundamental shift in marketing.
The end goal of every growth hacker is to build a self-perpetuating marketing machine that reaches millions by itself. – Aaron Ginn
Growth hackers believe in building marketing into their product. They often use ingenious software tweaks to piggyback on the success of a rapidly growing host platform.
They point to AirBnB’s hijacking of Craigslist as an example of an exquisite Growth Hack.
Other notable growth hacks include:
Dropbox’s double-sided referral system that rewards users and their friends with storage space for sign-ups
Groupon’s initial success using group deals to spur viral word of mouth.
Zynga’s savvy co-opting of the Facebook community to grow a billion dollar gaming company
The success of these companies has encouraged startups to aggressively recruit growth hackers and make them a centerpiece of their business model. These growth hackers are creative, data-driven, and incessant tweakers and optimizers. They also embrace technology and see it as critical to their success.
Until now, Growth Hacking has been isolated to the Software As A Service (SaaS) industry including uber successful companies like Salesforce.com, Hubspot, Kissmetrics, Unbounce, Basecamp, and others. This niche relies on online marketing channels, generates reams of marketing data, and produces applications that can be quickly optimized and tested.
I’m a fan. And you know what that means…
Can You Hack Blog Growth?
I will be giving a talk on this topic at Social Media Examiners Social Media Marketing World conference in San Diego next month (March 26-28th).
I will bringing a laptop full of interesting tactics to share. If you haven’t already, you should do all you can to attend this conference. It’s well worth the price for the networking alone. Get your ticket here.
In the meantime, let me share some broad strokes with you:
You CAN growth hack a blog if:
1. Your Blog is A Product:
What many people miss is that your blog is an interactive information product.
People buy it by visiting your site. They can be upsold by offering different levels of personal access to you or your team’s ideas. They can defect by unsubscribing and/or relying on other blogs. Your blog’s brand can become a thought and market leader.
Shifting to a Blog As Product mindset opens opportunities to aggressively build a valuable experience for readers that motivate repeat purchases (i.e. repeat readers), shares (i.e. customer referrals), and leads (i.e. reader subscriptions).
2. Your Blog Can Be Tracked
Blogs with explosive growth are run by creators who value of analytics. During an interview on GrowthHacker.tv, Jimmi Soni, the Managing Editor at HuffingtonPost mentioned that his team of journalists believe in “creative informed by analytics”. For example, he noted that the health and lifestyle audience was extremely interested in Kale. This tidbit of information lead to popular articles on the health benefits of Kale.
Your blog is generating reams of useful data that you can use to build better content and hack higher growth rates. You can’t use the data if you ignore the numbers.
3. Your Blog Can Be Optimized
What test’s are you running on your blog?
Are you testing your subscriber optin form?
How about your blog tagline?
Growth hackers constantly tweak their products to boost conversions. In our case, our goal is to convert visits (strangers) into action takers (commenters, subscribers, repeat readers, and buyers). Almost every element of your blog can be tested and optimized to increase your conversion rate.
4. Your Blog Can Earn Revenue
Excellent blog posts position their publishers as authorities. People love doing business with experts who are personable and accessible. Generating demand for your product with concise, information-stuffed, blog posts pre-sells your expertise and keeps your offering top-of-mind.
Getting Ready to Growth Hack
1. Make the mental shift.
Your blog is a product. Treat it like a product that needs to excite and delight a specific type of customer.
2. Map out the key success factors of your Blog Product. They are:
Readers take 2 seconds to judge if your website meets their expectations. Is your blog ready for prime time?
Key metric: Time on Site
New readers should be directed to the information they need. They also need help with getting the most out of your blog. Effective Reader Onboarding is rewarded with repeat visits and readers sticking around to explore your blog.
Key metric: Bounce rate
Your blog should be continually turning readers into email subscribers. Once they are a subscriber, you can send them targeted content satisfies their needs.
Key metric: Email subscription conversions
Webinars, Google Hangouts, insider-access and bonuses communicates that you are committed to winning respect and trust. Use excellent content to make deposits in the relationship bank.
Key metric: Conversions and social shares
3. Build Your Dashboard
In Google Analytics adjust your dashboard to show average time on site, bounce rate, pageviews, conversions, and social referrals.
Use these pre-made dashboard reports if you already have a Google Analytics account:
Landing Page (Blog Post) Analysis : Review how well your blog posts are performing
Blog Post / Page Conversion Rate: Review which posts are motivating readers to take action
Keyword Analysis: See which keywords are contributing the most visitors
I suggest reviewing your numbers once a week to look for new content opportunities.
4. Run a Test
Start with a simple test of your blog update optin form probably located in your sidebar.
Create two versions of the opt-in. Concentrate on one element to test. I suggest starting with two variations of your headline.
Run one version of the test for 2 weeks. Keep track of the number of signups you get.
Switch to the 2nd variation for 2 weeks and record the results.
At the end of the month, review your results. Pick a winner and start a new test to beat the winner. This is a simple A/B test. You’ll be surprised by what you learn.
Neil Patel at Quick Sprout is absolutely great at explaining the power of A/B testing. Reference these articles to get up to speed:
Here’s another straightforward A/B testing guide:
That Little Voice You Are Hearing is…
Now we’re getting serious. We aren’t talking about skipping among the lilies hoping that somehow the benevolent god of abundance will shower us with readers. Instead we are taking control of our blog and making it meet our goals.
Ignore fear and go make things happen.
See you in San Diego 🙂