Growth hacking is a silly term. Growth hacking, growth marketing, performance marketing... they all mean one thing: Optimizing the marketing that brings in the revenue.
Growth (more revenue) + Hacking (higher conversion) = increasing conversion in the marketing that converts into revenue.
In no way is this an exhaustive list. In fact, it’s nowhere even being close. The fact is, making strategic tests to optimize your growth is going to be completely specific to your business. There is no playbook or step by step formula to help you do it.
The key to growth hacking is having a systematic way of choosing what and how to test. The tests themselves will be easy to perform. The trick is picking the right ones and being able to prioritize.
As I mentioned earlier, I highly recommend Growth Hacker’s ICE Method, which gives you a systematic way of quantifying a test so you can rank them in order of what you think will achieve the best results.
As a reminder, you will score a test from 1-10 in three categories and then combine the scores for a total score.
John Phamvan explains the definitions of each category below:
"ICE" stands for Impact, Confidence, and Ease.
Below is a description of each:
The possible impact the idea could have on the business if considered a "win". An example could be if you were able to reduce Churn from 10% to 3%; then give your idea an 8, since that would be considered a huge win. Another example is if you increased your twitter following by 2% = 3.
Use your best judgement, and focus on quantitative metrics that will help determine the potential win.
This relates to how confident you are in whether it'll result in a win. This is where the Growth Hackers Community can really come into play. Always link to your sources when defending your confidence score! If you've seen other industry professionals run similar tests that had a positive impact, that affects the score.
An example is if you have 3 documented cases of other people running the test, that could be an 8 or 9. If the idea is just something that came to you, and you have no records showing other people have done it, then you would give a 3 or a 2.
Be objective when setting your confidence level; just because you may have a good feeling about something, but no proof of the potential impact, give your idea a lower score.
This relates to how many resources, and what kind, are needed to implement the idea. If the idea would require both engineering and marketing resources, then you may want to give your idea a 2 or 3. If you can implement the idea with one person and no design, engineering, or other complex systems, then give the idea a 7 or 8.
Basically, the higher the number, the fewer the resources and the easier it would be to test.
If the overall score is high, there's a better chance it'll get tested.
It's generally considered a best practice to have the Growth Master set the recommendations for the "ICE" score within your business so that the team can be consistent when marking this option.
Here’s a list of some tests you could perform:
When creating sign-up/registration forms, especially for a SaaS platform / demo, having too many fields can actually decrease sign-up rate.
Optimize your forms to only ask for information necessary to the registration process. This decreases the amount of effort and attention a user has to invest into signing up and will result in increased sign-ups and form submissions.
Remember that you can also ask for the information in the fields you remove during onboarding or at a later stage in your relationship with that user/client.
Use a service like Clearbit to enrich contact data based on domain so you don’t have to ask so many damn questions.
Block all other actions in your UI until a new user has gone through your onboarding tutorial. You’ll be able to guide them through the proper usage of each part of your platform with a tour and demo.
Introducing your users to each major part of your platform at the sign-up helps avoid early churn. Mandating the process while blocking other actions ensures that every new user goes through the onboarding tutorial.
If there’s not already a CTA above the fold you’re likely not optimizing for most of your visitors … as most (say 65%?) never make it below the fold. You can confirm this yourself by running heatmaps on your website using HotJar or Sumo.
You’ll quickly see that a ton of your audience drops off before hitting the below-the-fold area. So have a CTA available up front to capture that bouncing audience more effectively.
Repeating your primary CTA in the middle and at the bottom of your landing page is a simple way to increase conversion. It prompts visitors to click through after they’ve had a chance to read your marketing copy and know more about your product/service.
Providing the extra options, especially when you have a long landing page, makes it easier for visitors to find and use signup forms, CTA buttons, etc…
Targeting leads with an automated email drip from a personal account to create the impression of one-on-one interaction to drive sales. This lets you build trust with your emails, so they don’t look too automated, and you can therefore book more meetings and demos.
When a user first registers, send them a welcome email explaining the first action they should take. This prompts them to immediately return to your platform and start using it in a guided manner.
You can combine this with a mandatory onboarding process for your platform to properly teach new users how to best use the service.
Easter eggs are fun little secrets, tucked-away in games, websites and... SaaS products.
Companies like Snapchat have developed a reputation for including hidden features and jokes in their products.
These fun little extras encourage people to discuss and share their product, and serve to create a sense of community around your brand - helping you to stand-out in an increasingly crowded industry.
If you want to attract more people to your product, make it fun to use.
Gamification is the inclusion of enjoyment-focused design elements into a product or service.
These are features that exist purely for the fun of using them, and many SaaS businesses have used them to great effect: like Treehouse's game design classes, and Mint's target-setting, goal-tracking finance app.
Link building is hard, but it's an important part of optimising your website for search engines. Without links, quite simply, your web pages aren't going to be showing up in Google's more competitive search results.
One tactic to attract links to your website is what's known as the Skyscraper technique, and it's amazingly simple:
It's amazingly effective, and an excellent way to win the links you need to grow your search traffic.
Whilst we're on the topic of integration, you can make efforts to integrate your SaaS product with other popular applications. Intermediaries like Zapier make this process relatively painless, allowing you to integrate and promote your product to the users of established SaaS giants like MailChimp, Trello and DropBox.
In doing so, you can harness the massive user bases of existing businesses to grow your own users. You'll make your existing users' lives even easier, and even be able to promote your product on the Zapier application directory.
The quicker you can get a visitor to start using your product, the quicker you'll be able to demonstrate your value. With that in mind, it makes sense to optimise your website for quick, efficient signups - and that means redesigning your homepage to promote a single signup form.
Use your homepage as a landing page: explain the unique value proposition of your product, include a hero shot and a testimonial, and channel your anonymous visitors towards a short but sweet signup form.
Ask for G2 Crowd, Capterra, etc reviews by bribing with amazon and Starbucks gift cards
A landing page is designed to channel all of your visitor's energy and focus towards a single call-to-action - be it a whitepaper download or a free trial signup.
Unfortunately, every link in your navigation bar represents a way for your visitor to exit away from your landing page. Your About, Blog and Contact pages present potential distractions which can prevent conversion, so it's important to minimise the number of navigation elements visible.
Crucially though, always leave one, making it easy to return to the previous page - allowing visitors that aren't ready for the landing page to hit Back, instead of closing the browser tab.
Social proof is an essential part of fostering the trust of consumers; allowing people to see how your products and services are being used by happy, satisfied people, to solve the same types of problems they have.
However, the efficacy of social proof lies in its use. Instead of creating a dedicated 'testimonials' page, it's a much better idea to incorporate social proof into your sales funnel. By including testimonials, reviews and quotes on your landing pages, product and pricing pages, you encourage potential customers to trust your brand at the one point it really matters - just before a sales decision.
Check out FOMO to put this into practice.
One way to increase your close rates is to experiment with reducing the length of your free trial. Most SaaS companies run free trials which are too long (14+ days).
This practice negatively impacts conversion rates because 1) people will rarely extensively try your software for weeks at a time, 2) long trials let customers think they have plenty of time, putting off usage and 3) long trials increase the length of the sales process, decreasing sales efficiency.
If you're currently running a free trial that's longer than 14 days, consider reducing it. The only exception to the short trial rule is if your software really locks people in.
For example, Dropbox. It's a whole load of hassle to move all your files to another storage company, so it benefits Dropbox to have a long free trial that locks people in as much as possible.
Direct comparisons between rival products is a crucial part of the buying process. Whilst many businesses choose to pretend these comparisons don't happen, and tout themselves as the only viable solution, it's far more productive to actually facilitate these comparisons.
By making direct comparisons between your software and your competitor's (like HubSpot do with rivals Marketo), you can highlight your own strengths, their weaknesses, and take control of a crucial part of the buying process.
Bonjoro is an amazing product that allows you to send a video to every lead, trial sign up, or new customer you get in the door.
Happy customers are the best possible advertisement for your business. Unsurprisingly, one of the easiest ways to earn happy customers is by giving away free stuff.
Companies like Dropbox and Uber regularly give away free file storage and journey credits, creating evangelical customers in the process. These free gifts are offered as referral incentives: in exchange for an awesome freebie, your users simply need to invite a couple of their friends to your service.
As well as creating a feel-good dynamic between business and users, you can use referrals as a serious source of growth.
It's a universal truth that people love free stuff. When you have particularly evangelical fans and especially dedicated users, it makes sense to reward their hard work, and reinforce their helpful behaviour.
To do that., it's as simple as sending them something free, personal and awesome.
I've been on the receiving end of a handful of free gifts, and they never cease to make me feel recognised and grateful.
You can experiment with:
• Branded postcards with space for a handwritten note
• Vinyl stickers to decorate laptops/folders/guitars/anything
• Specially branded beers
Help your users use your app by sending automated analytics emails detailing changes in a handful of key performance metrics. Whether it's 50 new Twitter followers gained, 2,000 new website visitors or 18 new payments received, regular emails will help them get the most from your product.
As well as guiding your users, these emails will also serve to demonstrate the value of your product, as it helps them to achieve their goals.
The growth of this storytelling approach has been tremendous. Podcasts are no longer the low-quality basement talks but shows that can influence your career.
1 out of every ~6 people you see on the street is listening to podcasts.
Search for “(your industry) inurl:/podcast/” on Google, pitch your brand and start scheduling the podcasts
Make sure they mention company’s name and/or your’s in the title and during the podcast.
Here‘s everything you should know about the podcast as a hack and how to use it.
One tip I have heard pretty much summarizes the “Youtube success” (if you can follow it 99.99% of the time you will succeed):
“Keep uploading!” – Casey Neistat.
Before he reached 3M subscribers, he uploaded a video for EVERY SINGLE DAY. For 3 years straight. That’s hustling.
Gather a group of 3-5 friends and make it happen.
There are 5 types of videos you can choose between – tips, product demos, testimonials, webinars & vlogs.
Having a video in your newsletter, blog post or facebook post facilitates engagement and CTR.
FYI: time spent on your page is an SEO ranking factor and videos usually increase that.
Ultimate guide how to create successful Youtube channel here but Youtube SEO is summarized in this Slideshare (the good stuff starts from slide 16).
While some of these tactics may seem gimmicky or like they don’t apply to your SaaS, building a discipline of testing and experimenting will help you unlock hidden potential. You might be leaving money (or leads) on the table, and using some of these tactics will help you make sure you’re doing everything possible to achieve growth.
In the final chapter, we’ll go over some recommended tools and tech to achieving this whole “marketing” thing.