Growth Hacking, rather than an actual strategy, is a marketing method and approach, which uses various tactics and tools to facilitate the rapid growth of your business. Here is explained what they consist of.

In the last article (you can find it here) I introduced you to the concept of Growth Hacking, explaining what it is and what the main differences are with traditional marketing.

Well, now I guess you are wondering how this fantastic process is applied. in practice.

What tools do you use? What actions can enable you to grow quickly, leanly, and cost-effectively?

Well, maybe you will be disappointed, but the truth is that there is no always good check list or strategy that can be considered perfect: every time it is a matter of invent and reinvent oneself, to differentiate themselves from competitors and quickly gain market share.

Indeed, as renowned and vaunted as it is, Growth Hacking per se is not a simple magic formula: growth in your business is not something that happens overnight (especially if it is exponential).

But then why does it work? Because with it your decisions are made conscious by thedata analysis, while continuing to apply creativity and curiosity to every step of the marketing and product development process.

You read that right: it is important to remember that Growth Hacking is not a substitute for the web marketing, but is complementary to it.

That said, there are some simple actions you can implement to leverage it for the benefit of your business, as well as the tools that help you in identifying goals to focus on to further your growth.

Read on to find out! 

Growth Hacking: how to get started in 4 steps

The Growth Hacking process varies depending on your goal.

Okay, I think already the question mark on your forehead that says, "But didn't you say the only purpose is growth!"

Well, yes, indeed it is!

Growth is the main and most important metric; but what does "growth" mean to you?

And no, it's not enough to say that you want to earn more money-that's too vague and undefined a statement.

Instead, you need to identify a specific goal, and then properly plan how to reach it.

How?

Here is 4 key steps to follow getting started:

#1 Check if your product is suitable for the market

Before you want to push your business beyond its current boundaries, you have to be aware that you have all the cards to play and have a good chance of winning. 

In other words? You need to ask yourself whether your offer meets the demand, that is, whether your audience actually needs your product. How do you figure that out? Through surveys and feedback that allow you to understand the leads, the retention rates and abandonment, and so on. You will then be able to get a general idea of benefits and opportunities for improvement (by the way, if you want to know how to offer a solution that reflects the needs of your audience, you can use the Value Proposition Canvas, I have talked about it here).

#2 Create a database

Because Growth Hacking is a data-driven approach, you must have a wealth of information at your disposal to move in the right direction. That is why you should collect as much data as possible, considering all the KPI That are fundamental to you.

Think about how you will collect this data, where and how you plan to store it, and what tools you will use to analyze the information.

#3 Identify the metric North Star.

Have you ever heard of it? It is a concept devised by the same Sean Ellis, the inventor of Growth Hacking (or, more accurately, the one who named this innovative approach). It is a term that stands for the single metric that a company uses as a focus for its growth.

Remember how I was explaining just now how important it is to define a specific goal? Here, this is exactly what I meant! This metric will be your only goal and is known among growth hackers as "One Metric That Matters" (OMTM)..

You should choose your North Star metrics based on your growth model and the value you intend to provide to customers. A practical example? Facebook aims to increase the number of daily active users. In your case, if you work on a subscription model, the metric could be the number of premium subscribers or customer lifetime value; or, if you have an eCommerce business, it could be the number of purchases per month.

#4 Improve your pirate metrics.

To successfully grow your North Star metrics, you will also need to keep an eye on "pirate" metrics.

No, I swear I didn't make them up and I didn't give them this name!

Pirate metrics, or AAARRR, are a framework designed to help startups understand the customer journey and optimize a sales funnel. I will tell you about them in very little detail, but in the meantime, know that, briefly, such metrics allow you to find ways to experiment, with the goal of:

  • raise the awareness of your brand by the public (Awareness);
  • Use multiple channels to attract customers (Acquisition);
  • Ensuring that a customer's first interaction is positive (Activation);
  • Encourage customers to return again and again (Retention);
  • Turn customers into brand advocates (Referral).
  • Monetizing customer behavior (Revenue).

With defined data and metrics in hand, you can start thinking about how to grow your business; remember that the key word is experimentation. Run tests, carefully monitor their results, and replenish your thinking based on the new data you get. Finally, don't forget to automate all those processes that lead you to desirable results.

Growth Hacking step by step: the AAARRR funnel

Okay, as I told you, there is no sort of formula that is always valid: what you need is the courage to experiment based on the information you have and the ability to analyze the results to correct your aim if necessary.

So while Growth Hacking is primarily about knowing how to take advantage of opportunities, this does not mean, however, that there cannot be a series of planned actions behind it.

In this regard, there is a very useful tool, called the "pirate funnel".

Haha, no, actually it has nothing to do with those rascals who used to raid the sea!

The name is derived from the acronym, which is precisely reminiscent of the verse of a pirate: AAARRR.

But what exactly is it?

It is a framework designed by venture capitalist Dave McClure to help start-ups identify where they should optimize their marketing and sales efforts with 6 metrics to focus on: Awareness, Acquisition, Activation, Retention, Referral and Revenue.

growth hacking

It is a most useful tool for all companies, precisely because it is based on the measurement and analysis of very specific metrics that have growth as their ultimate goal.

Be sure, however, not to confuse it with a classic marketing funnel: while the latter usually stops at sales, the pirate funnel takes you to measure what is happening in marketing and product development within a single path. More than a funnel, it is an approach and a process of analysis.

Okay, now let's look at the various steps one by one in detail.

#1 Awareness

Let's talk about your brand: the first thing to monitor and evaluate is how people become aware of your brand; the goal of this phase is then to think of new ways to present your offering and attract more customers.

Consider how many people visit your website and how much time they spend on specific pages. Whenever you get a new user, try to understand how they found out about you (Google, social media, etc.) - you can do this, for example, in your welcome email by including a multiple-choice question.

#2 Acquisition

The goal here is to determine how people become your actual contacts: you then need to understand the performance of your various marketing channels (ads, email, blog, social...). Find out which one brings in the highest volume of users, which one generates the most valuable traffic, and which one has the lowest cost. Keep track of the impressions, website traffic, conversion rate, and the average time it takes a person to click.

Remember that the content marketing is still one of the most powerful tools for attracting the attention of new users: target valuable, free content to the niche in which you want to build your business and, of course, harness the power of all social platforms to make it go viral.

#3 Activation

This step assumes that you track the number of people who stay on your site after visiting it for the first time. This is to make you aware of how positive the user's first experience with your offer is and how quickly a potential customer realizes its real value.

Yes, because after acquiring new contacts, it is important to turn them into active users, who will use your services in a real way: you need to create a real relationship, pushing people to do something (precisely, to "get active"). You therefore need to find ways to optimize conversions, simplifying some steps and making them more streamlined (for example, when registering or signing up for your newsletter). Don't forget about the user interface: a lot depends on the ease of use of your Web site and the speed with which your potential user gets to the call to action (to learn more, I recommend reading my article On the importance of graphics in web marketing).

#4 Retention

At this point, the goal is to make new users into loyal, repeat customers.

Retention is probably the most difficult, though extremely important, phase: it is much less expensive to retain existing customers than to acquire new ones (I also discuss this in my article on the retention rate).

To improve it, try different methods and find what works best for you: send regular e-mail alerts for new products or events, have limited-time sales, and create special loyalty programs. Try to figure out how many of your customers you retain and why others they leave. Also, think about combining communication channels effectively to increase the reach of your campaigns and the ROI.

#5 Referral

At this stage, you should think about how to make your customers brand ambassadors, who will tell their friends and colleagues about your company and product.

You can start with something typical, such as asking them to invite their friends and get a discount or extra features, or reach out to influencers. Contests and challenges on social media are another good way to motivate people to tell a wide audience about your brand.

To learn more, read my article on Referral Marketing here.

#6 Revenue

This is the monetization phase: the moment when the user becomes a paying customer. Profit generation is obviously crucial because it determines the actual success of your business, but it depends very much on the actions that precede it, which must be optimized for that purpose.

The goal should always be to provide a unique and exceptional customer experience: look at the entire framework to see where to intervene to find innovative solutions.

Growth Hacking: Best Practices

Okay, I guess you can find plenty of tips and practices to help you develop your business on the Internet...

Why then specifically Growth Hacking?

In itself, it is not that it is miraculous, but it is true that it has a whole series of advantages: it is a targeted investment and allows you to grow quickly, even if you have a limited budget.

As always, however, what matters is taking the right steps.

What are they?

First of all, you must always focus on the product, from various perspectives (accessibility, engagement, retention) and make sure it is a valuable offering for your audience. 

Then you need to understand your base customers: only then can you develop an effective plan (as you would for any other marketing strategy). You have to dwell on who they are, what needs they have, what their habits are, and develop accordingly a whole set of tools to engage them. You must aim not only to capture their attention, but also to solidify your brand's reputation.

Third, simplify your strategy: reflect on your positioning and always target a well-defined niche. This is essential to channel all your efforts and resources in one direction, saving effort and budget.

Finally, choose some KPI precise: I know you would perhaps feel instinctual about measuring a whole range of metrics, but that would be a waste of time. After you've identified the key ones, start testing the best channels and finding the solutions that will guarantee you rapid growth.

And remember: the experimentation phase is crucial in Growth Hacking!

Conclusion 

So what do you think?

As you can see, it's nothing too complicated: you just need to start off on the right foot, be clear about your goal and not be afraid to expose yourself and try. 

Growth Hacking can give your business a real boost, increasing your visibility and turning potential customers into loyal users. To do this, it is important to consider all elements: data, marketing and product development, always in line with the characteristics and needs of your target audience.

My advice? Don't be afraid to experiment: only by testing tactics and strategies can you know what works and what doesn't for you; so take action and from there, grow.