Ask any agency practitioner or even in-house marketer in the region, and you’ll often find that the percentage of proposals that translate into actual execution work is probably less than 50 per cent. Why is this so? Well, for one, there is a general fear of failure, as implementation budget has to be justified with ROI. Or it could just be that the head honchos don’t see the value of the proposal or idea coming from the marketing department.
There is now a line of thinking within marketing circles that champion the growth hacking approach, which ports the minimum viable product (MVP) approach used in software development and startup circles into running marketing initiatives. The belief is that true innovation, and hence success, thrives when there is a loose structure. Whether it's specific lean or agile methodologies, or a general prototyping approach, the key is to growth hack and achieve small wins - convince the business by showing success metrics based on small pilot projects, and extrapolate that into a much larger campaign.
It must be said though - many of the growth hacking principles are not new to marketers, but it’s more important to adopt the mindset of a growth hacker to be able to see tangible changes in a campaign. A growth hacker is growth focused, and must be at the heart of these three key things – creativity (think David vs. Goliath), data and curiosity.
Acquisition through creativity
You'll often hear growth hacker talk about product/market fit and how to get users to buy into a campaign while reducing the friction of becoming a user. Traditional marketing channels are far more expensive now than they used to be, so being creative is a key ingredient in getting more out of a tight budget. In this aspect, growth hackers are creative problem solvers and are nimble enough to simultaneously deploy various tactics to create tangible growth.
Many implement social media advertising tactics, Google AdWords, SEO and retargeting to grow their user base and attract new users efficiently and quickly at a cost. But the fact of the matter is that marketing budgets are always scarce and practitioners usually struggle to find adequate resources to execute one campaign, let alone multiple. Growth hackers are creative in finding inexpensive ways to deploy campaigns as effectively as, if not more than, big budget ones. Experiment more and try new ways of doing something. Your marketing campaigns should always be a testing lab for future ideas and before you know it your product will reach scalability quickly – proof of tangible ROI.
Growth hacking: know your data
A growth-hacker has to be focused on growth – growth in traffic, growth in numbers and overall campaign results. Growth hackers keep, store, and analyse all conversation and information to drive results. It’s all about knowing your customers by heart, and therefore measuring (almost) everything. It’s hard to turn a visitor into a member, but it’s even harder to turn a member into a user. Nurturing your visitors are important and hard data will give you insights into the best ways of doing this. A/B testing and automation platforms are a favourite with marketers, but it’s how you drill down the numbers to get the insights to improve your campaign performance.
As a start, look into the data coming in from your site backend with tools like Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools. Aside from your website, analyse other owned digital platforms and social media properties to see what works and what doesn’t. Always try to cross-apply insights gained from one platform to another. Equipped with these, you can begin to optimise your marketing efforts so more web visits convert. Your numbers should always be improving, or you’re doing it wrong. You should at least be improving month over month relative to your own historical performance.
Rich data opens up new possibilities for a growth hacker. The trick is to think differently and break every rule that you’ve known about marketing. Question and test everything to explore the unknown; dig a little deeper to identify the opportunities.
"Instagram changed their whole business based on real feedback and usage patterns."
The future of growth hacking
Growth hacking is the single best marketing decision that you can make for your business. Instead of thinking about new customers, why not turn the tables and think from a customer perspective. We should be thinking about selling the things customers truly want and they’ll do the rest of it for us – seems really easy doesn’t it? But many tend to overlook this crucial point.
A growth hacker is far more flexible about their idea, product or service than a traditional marketing. Think about what ideas your business can test to drive sign-ups. If it works, think how it can scale, otherwise pivot away and try a new approach. A good example is Instagram, which actually started as a geolocation service like Foursquare. How did it turn into a photo app? Because that’s what users wanted – a platform to share images (good and bad) instantly with everyone. As a result Instagram changed their whole business based on real feedback and usage patterns.
Christina Andersson is managing director at Hyper Island Singapore.