Michiel Mulders

@michielmulders

5 Essential Tips To Get Started With Growth Hacking

Licensed image by bakhtiar_zein.

“Growth hacking is an umbrella term for strategies focused solely on growth. It is usually used in relation to early-stage startups who need massive growth in a short time on small budgets.”

In short, growth hacking is not an exact science. It is about experimenting with new and creative ideas to grow your product or onboard new users. It all boils down to using innovative techniques to onboard as many users as possible with a low budget.

However, every growth hacker needs a certain strategy. It is key to find out:

  • Who is your target audience?
  • How to reach your target audience?
  • How to get your audience hooked?

It is definitely not easy to find an easy answer for all of these questions. Therefore, every growth hacker should be aware of the following tactics which are commonly used to bootstrap the initial phase.

1. Gaining insights through web scraping

According to Andrew Medal, digital strategist, web scraping is a key growth hacking technique that even existed before the term growth hack was even invented.

Web scraping is a method of extracting data from a website. This can be used for a number of different reasons, including building up a sales pipeline to determining where your competitors are setting their prices. Even as it’s considered an age-old practice, it can also be an excellent way to spark growth.

The method of web scraping is not as difficult as you might think. In the early days, it required you to code the tool yourself, nowadays, excellent platforms like Octoparse exist that help you with scraping websites for specific keywords or prices of products.

Octoparse provides users with an easy to use graphical interface to automate web scraping. Using Octoparse requires no knowledge of coding and it supports infinite scrolling, dropdowns, and log-in authentication. By simply entering a URL, you can view the scraped result in a structured spreadsheet.

For the more advanced user, it is even possible to automate the usage of the results via the provided API or push the data directly into a database via a provided connection.

Scraping results can be processed via an API or immediately inserted into your database.

Besides that, Octoparse allows users to create specific scrape schedules to catch important updates that might be pushed at a specific time during the day. The combination of these features allows any user to achieve his web scraping goals. At last, for intensive web scraping usage, IP rotation is offered in order to prevent being IP blocked for a certain website.

If all of this sounds too difficult, you can use task templates that help you to reduce the learning curve and more easily get started with advanced scraping concepts.

If you still want to create something completely customized, you can go to Github where you find many open source solutions for scraping tools. One of the most popular tools is Scrapy, created for Python developers.

In short, a good web scraping strategy forms the basis for any growth hacking project as it gives you valuable data and insights to get started with.

2. Why social automation matters

It doesn’t matter if you run a small local shop or a big national company. Social media is an essential piece of your business marketing strategy.

Social platforms help you connect with your customers, increase awareness about your brand, and boost your leads and sales. With more than three billion people around the world using social media every month, it’s no passing trend.

On the other side, we don’t want to spend all of our precious time on selecting interesting content to share on our social media. Therefore, tools like IFTTT and Zapier gained a lot of popularity over the last few years. These tools allow you to connect multiple services. Here are a few interesting recipes to get started.

  • A new RSS article triggering a tweet.
  • You find an interesting article and save it to Pocket, this article is immediately added into the Buffer queue for scheduled sharing.
  • Add people talking about a particular hashtag on Twitter to your Twitter list or a Google Drive spreadsheet.

It is even possible with IFTTT to create custom recipes. For example, we want to get the latest content for several blogs, but filter for specific keywords in the title. You can create a custom trigger for this and link it with the Twitter applet.

3. The quest for backlinks

Organic search is a huge part of most business’s website performance, as well as a critical component of the buyer funnel and ultimately getting users to complete conversion or engagement.

As marketers know, Google owns a significantly larger portion of the search market than competitors like Yahoo, Bing, Baidu, Yandex, or DuckDuckGo. Therefore, Search Engine Optimization is an important part of your digital growth strategy. However, it is known to be a slow and painful process.

In the old days, SEO experts devoted their time to writing product reviews or comments on blogs in order to include a backlink to their product. A better technique nowadays is to create a catchy infographic about your industry with some interesting facts or data representation. People love infographics and tend to share it more easily. One viral infographic can generate you loads of strong backlinks.

Besides that, social signals are an important metric for search engines to determine how active your website is. This great visual created by NeilPatel.com shows the relationship between social network presence and the site his rank.

4. Free is the new money

It’s not an easy task to onboard users to a product that has just been launched. Mostly, loads of money are spent on long marketing funnels to engage with potential users and turn them into customers. Let’s take a look at how we can do this differently?

Many new products offer their tool for free for a limited period of time. It’s a good strategy as people get the chance to try out the product before actually buying the tool. Added to that, an invite-only signup system leverages the fear of missing out (FOMO).

Once you have grown your product to a couple of hundreds of users, it’s time to scale up. A well-used strategy is rewarding existing users for their efforts to grow the platform. A classic example is Dropbox who hacked its way to the top by rewarding existing users for inviting new ones with additional storage.

5. Tools matter

Tons of tools exist to growth hack your business ranging from social media to automated email marketing. Let’s take a look at a selection of the best tools in my opinion.

  • SocialSteeze: Some of the most useful Instagram growth tools are those that help you get real followers quickly. Getting followers can take quite a while. SocialSteeze does all of the hard work for you, letting you focus on creating perfect and alluring campaigns while they find and collect real followers who will want to engage with the content you’ve worked so hard to create.
  • Unbounce: Unbounce is an A/B testing tool that allows marketers to check the performance of their landing page using drag-and-drop features, without knowledge of coding.
  • Clicktale: Clicktale is a cloud-based analytic system based platform. It enables you to visualize your customer’s journey on your website from their perspective. You can analyze their behavior with the help of heatmaps and reports. There is an individual session replay capability too. It helps you reduce abandoned cart rates and increase conversions.
  • CrazyEgg: CrazyEgg is a heat mapping tool. It helps you improve the functioning of your website. You can test new ideas and improve on what has been working for you. You can fix the elements that hinder the growth. And you can track your visitors and find out the elements people click on and interact with.

Growth hacking is a powerful tool if used correctly. Be patient and see what works for your business. Be creative and test your approach before going all-in. A large portion of your time as a growth hacker is spent on optimizing your growth strategy.

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