In 2010, start-up marketer Sean Ellis defined “growth hacker” as:
“A person whose true north is growth … Everything they do is
scrutinized by … potential impact on scalable growth.”
If you’re in digital marketing, odds are you’ve heard of growth hacking, usually referring to lean, low-cost viral and analytic strategies that powered exponential growth for companies such as Facebook, Twitter, AirBnB and DropBox. Many self-described growth hackers don’t identify with traditional marketers, who take umbrage at the perceived assault on proven practices.
No matter your position on the practice, we now know growth hacking has the same goal as traditional marketing: Gain new users and grow business. The process is simple, as outlined by Neil Patel and Bronson Taylor in The Definitive Guide to Growth Hacking:
1. Define actionable goals.
2. Implement analytics to track goals.
3. Leverage existing strengths.
4. Execute the experiment.
5. Optimize the experiment.
To simplify even further: strategize/create, test/optimize, repeat.
Strategize/Create: Content Is Product
When you get down to it, growth hacking is just agile, analytics-driven product marketing. Think of your content as a product — because it is — and apply these techniques to drive strategic growth.
Pull tactics, like blogging, e-books, white papers and webinars, ensure your message reaches as many potential buyers as possible. Conversion-focused landing pages and concrete calls to action encourage visitors to convert to leads and then to customers. If this wide array of growth-hacking tips feels like second nature, congratulations! You’re already thinking like a growth hacker.
Start-ups use growth hacking to maximize available resources, and you should do the same for your content. Every asset must be amplified across all relevant owned channels. Otherwise, why spend the time and money to create any content at all?
The trick is developing content that aligns to audience wants and needs for prime opportunities. Just as growth hackers continually search for ideal users, marketers should seek the perfect audience for content.
Buyer journeys, personas and touchpoint maps help determine what to create, when and where to deploy it, why your audience should care and whether they’ll engage. Creating content for content’s sake does not work, so define your objectives before you begin your brainstorm.
Test/Optimize: Don’t Be a Content Hack
Growth hacking relies on strategy, testing and optimization. Your content deserves the same if you want new leads and customers. Determine which pieces are downloaded most often, and then connect the dots as to why in order to guide new content development.
Growth hacking isn’t just coding and data sets, though. It requires creativity, curiosity and respect for users and their needs. To successfully drive demand, content should also be relevant, engaging, useful and, yes, entertaining.
Think about why you’re creating content and, more importantly, for whom. That’s a challenge for enterprise content marketers, especially for B2B. Companies and clients tend to focus on what content can do for their bottom line instead of what it should be doing for buyers.
One thing marketers can also learn from start-ups is that it’s OK to fail, as long as they learn from it. Content optimization is where the “hacking” comes in. Try to find what’s preventing content from achieving those set goals, and then find ways to fix it.
Repeat, Repeat, Repeat
In start-ups, if you set limits on growth, you’re not focusing on growth at all. Growth is an ongoing process just like content marketing. There’s no fixed endpoint — just evolving goals and ongoing conversations.
Growth hacking’s rise in digital marketing means you don’t have to be a start-up to use these proven techniques, however. You can apply growth hacking tactics — especially to content marketing — to set your brand apart and build better buyer relationships.
Growth hacking your content enables you to use technology and tools available to maximize your efforts and see real results. So strategize and create your content accordingly, test for success and optimize for growth (and then repeat).
Leigh Hoopes – Content Strategist, gyro Cincinnati
Leigh K. Hoopes is a content strategist/hacker at gyro:cincinnati. She has nearly a decade of experience in strategic creative marketing communications for clients across the IT, professional services, healthcare and food product industries.
At gyro, Leigh is involved throughout the content strategy, development and optimization process to ensure effective content deployment and demand generation for enterprise B2B clients such as Tyco Integrated Security, SAP, KitchenAid Commercial, and Tate & Lyle. In addition to content strategy, she has a secondary focus in user experience planning and design.
Outside the office, she is an avid reader and writer, fitness and yoga enthusiast, and a lifelong sci-fi movie and TV nerd. Follow her at @grrleigh.