Trends come and go quickly in marketing. What worked last year may not work today—particularly in the fast-changing online space, where customers rapidly shift their browsing and media-consumption behavior.
One trend that’s created some buzz recently is “growth hacking”—not just another buzzword, but something worth paying attention to. Growth hacking—even for companies that are far out of the startup stage—has some principles worth incorporating into any marketing strategy.
Before we go into some practical ways you can apply growth hacking principles to your marketing strategy, let’s define it. In this context, growth hacking refers to finding unconventional ways to market a business and connect a target market with the product. Marketing is a big part of it, but growth hackers look for new, innovative or unique ways to push adoption, experiment, and above all, influence growth.
The beauty of growth hacking is that it requires the team to set clear goals, which then guide all other actions. The method to achieve the goals can and should be a fluid process, but an overarching theme in growth hacking is to define clear metrics.
Set your goals using the SMART method:
Defining your goals is the first step, but then make sure you clearly know what you’re measuring. The HubSpot platform is a great tool that provides transparency and metrics across various online marketing methods.
A defining feature of growth hacking is that it encourages experimentation. A classic growth hacking story came from Airbnb. Before the company was a behemoth in the sharing economy, the marketing team posted rental listings on Craigslist with a link to Airbnb’s website. It was perhaps unconventional from a traditional marketing playbook, but it worked. Resoundingly well.
Think outside the box—it’s OK to use non-traditional marketing tactics in growth hacking, but put your strategy within your marketing framework goals (outlined in the SMART goal-setting model). Try novel ways to market, and be sure to give your experiments ample time to work.
Once you have set up your growth hacking experiment, remember that it’s not set in stone; tweak and iterate as you go. Incorporate A/B tests to see if one email campaign works better than another. If one tactic gets traction, optimize it and see how far it goes. The idea is to keep stretching your imagination with novel ways to get your messaging across and engage your audience.
Growth hacking is a natural fit for inbound marketing strategies (blogs, infographic downloads, webinars, SEO, social media) because these are easily measurable and easily tweaked marketing methods. But growth hacking doesn’t need to be limited to inbound methods; put the power of growth hacking behind other marketing tactics, including outbound marketing (paid advertising, press releases, trade shows) and even into your product development strategies (integrations, building buzz-worthy products).
See what happens when you use the same principles of thinking outside the box, setting clear goals, carefully measuring and running experiments. You may just stumble on an entirely new channel to drive and convert leads.
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