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Growth Hacking techniques to grow your business

23 November 2021Reading time: 6 min.

With Growth Hacking you can achieve exponential business growth. Want to know the strategies to use? Read the article for tips on the best way to implement them.

Growth Hacking helps you gain an overall vision of your business and can make the difference during activation, retention, revenue and referral, whether your company is a startup, an SME or a large corporation. 

Every company needs to grow, and this type of approach can be really useful because it’s based on experimentation – fast, agile processes in other words – and because it targets a fundamental goal for any type of business. 

What is Growth Hacking?

Growth Hacking is a marketing method that enables companies to expand their user base fast and affordably, with a series of techniques and strategies whose sole purpose is growth; more specifically, exponential growth.

Using the approach developed by Growth Hacking creator Sean Ellis, companies test new solutions on a reduced scale and then allocate budget only if the tests deliver positive results. This makes Growth Hacking perfect both for small businesses with limited resources, like startups (which it was originally intended for), and for large companies.

The Growth Hacking funnel

To identify the best Growth Hacking techniques and strategies for your business, you need to understand your target audience and the process that leads them to buy what you’re selling.

In other words, you need a sales funnel. In marketing, a sales funnel is the process that leads the potential customer to make a purchase. It begins with awareness and ends with conversion, and may also include post-purchase activities. 

The Growth Hacking funnel is a framework developed by Dave Mcclure. He called it the Pirate Funnel because the first letters of each stage spell AAARRR, an onomatopoeic word used by pirates in children’s stories.

The stages of the Pirate Funnel are:

  • Awareness,
  • Acquisition, 
  • Activation, 
  • Retention, 
  • Revenue, 
  • Referral.

Let’s look at each one in detail.

Awareness

At the Top stage of the funnel, your goal is to persuade your target audience (visitors) to visit your website or app for the first time. The techniques and strategies of this stage are designed to build brand awareness.

Acquisition

During the acquisition stage, you collect potential customers’ data from the website forms and landing pages, digital PR and off-page activities. The key metric here is your website or app traffic.

Activation

Activation is when a visitor takes a step that creates a relationship with you: subscribing to your newsletter, creating an account, making a purchase, etc. The goal of this stage in the Growth Hacking funnel is to activate visitors and turn them into members.

Retention

In the retention stage, the aim is to convert members into users, people who use your product on a regular basis. You retain users by leveraging the engagement achieved with the Growth Hacking strategies in the previous stages. The user experience is fundamental in this growth stage: a satisfied user has no reason to stop using your product or your app.

Referral

In this stage, satisfied users become your brand ambassadors: by sharing their satisfaction with your products and company with their friends and followers, they stimulate visits to your website, enabling you to acquire new customers. It is vital for your business growth to exploit this customer acquisition lever, which is efficient and cost-effective.

Revenue

The last stage in the Pirate Funnel focuses on results. The growth hacker analyzes data and optimizes the funnel, giving priority to the channels and marketing initiatives that produced the best results. 

Optimizing the AAARRR Funnel

The Pirate Funnel provides all the information you need to establish your priorities and adjust your Growth Marketing activities accordingly. It also shows you where you are losing potential customers.

For example, if you’re converting 50% of visitors into members and 50% of members into users, but only receive 100 new unique visitors a day to your website site or app, you need to improve your Growth Hacking techniques and strategies at the Top of the funnel to attract larger numbers of visitors.

Growth Hacking: getting started

The main goal of Growth Hacking is to deploy effective strategies to acquire customers and retain them for as long as possible

To begin a Growth Hacking process, you need to:

  • Understand the product.
  • Understand the user base.
  • Analyze the sales funnel.
  • Simplify your marketing strategy. 
  • Set SMART growth targets and KPIs (your key metrics).

You can launch your Growth Marketing plan with a small budget, then scale it up as you start earning.

Remember: Growth Hacking is a creative marketing approach because it doesn’t simply implement traditional marketing techniques, it tests innovative ideas based on the specifics of your user base and sales funnel. 

Growth Hacking techniques and strategies

Growth Hacking techniques help you reach a broad target audience. Some of these strategies have been around for several years and have played a vital role in the growth of modern companies (see Facebook, LinkedIn, Airbnb, Uber and many others).

Growth hackers combine a variety of techniques and strategies to achieve their goals, e.g., email marketing, SEO, content marketing, social ads, viral marketing, collaboration agreements, etc. 

In fact, the best Growth Hacking strategies are a mix of marketing, development, design, data and analysis.

Let’s take a look at some Growth Hacking techniques and strategies you can use to achieve exponential business growth.

1. Create a pre-launch email list

Email Marketing is an excellent Growth Hacking tool, with a low investment outlay and high ROI (up to 4,200%). There is no better channel for generating leads and conversions, as well as for building relations with the user base over time.

One of the best Email Marketing practices is database segmentation to send personalized email campaigns to your contacts. You can use it to create a list of users to receive pre-launch news about your company’s new products and functionalities.

This Growth Hacking technique helps you create noise about an important event for your business and acquire potential customers even before you launch the new product.

To use this strategy and increase activity, you need a reliable Email Marketing provider, with high deliverability rates.

Want to maximize deliverability? Choose the MailUp team of experts and our Deliverability Suite service 

2. A Content Marketing strategy based on customer feedback 

To make people want what you’re selling, you need to understand the problems faced by your user base and then demonstrate indisputably that your product is the best possible solution.

Content Marketing and SEO are essential digital marketing strategies and vital for Growth Hacking too, but instead of starting from the product, you start from customer feedback.

This means creating value content that can be shared, which your public will find when they need it and read with interest because it will help them solve their problem. 

Create viral content by appealing to users’ emotions, use the video format whenever you can (for example, by creating tutorials) and apply the right hooks to bring people on to your landing pages.

3. Use Influencer marketing

Collaboration with the influencers on the social media used by your public is an excellent growth hack. Influencers with 50,000 + followers can help you attract people who don’t know you (at the Top stage of the funnel). Meanwhile, the micro-influencers of a niche related to your business help you fine-tune, reaching a smaller but much more targeted audience. 

Marketing influencers associated with big names help you reach a huge audience, but if your business is in its infancy and has a limited budget, micro-influencers are the people you need.

4. Ride the latest trends

Successful Growth Hacking needs a creative approach to marketing and the ability to adapt rapidly to new developments in your line of business. New trends are a unique opportunity to build visibility. Identify trends when they’re still at the initial stage and ride with them by creating and sharing ad hoc content and adapting your communication. 

The trend might be a new social medium. In this case, make sure that your potential customers really are on the medium in question before you launch yourself into a new adventure.

5. Create a referral program

This Growth Hacking strategy is a way to enlarge your user base at a lower cost than the usual customer acquisition cost. 

Develop your referral marketing strategies by creating a system of incentives to encourage your customers to tell their friends and followers about you. The incentive is usually a benefit like a discount, an exclusive offer, a cashback…

Referral marketing brings a constant flow of new users to your platform with a lifetime value 16% higher than that of non-referral customers.

Other Growth Hacking techniques you can use:

6. Win over adjacent markets.

7. Write guest posts and host experts with a large following on your blog.

8. Use platforms like HARO (Helping A Reporter Out) to make contact with journalists and press offices.

9. Create a system of affiliations.

10. Use the Broken Link Building tactic.

Growth Hacking tools

We’ve looked at some of the techniques and strategies you can use to grow your business fast and affordably. So, if you wanted to start a Growth Hacking process right now, what tools could you use?

The Web offers hundreds of solutions, all you have to do is choose the tools best suited to your needs and budget.

Here are some of systems on offer:

  • Google Optimize: an A/B testing tool.
  • Instapage: a landing page creator.
  • Expandi: a tool to automate Growth Hacking activities on LinkedIn.
  • Sumo: positions banners and other objects on your website to generate more subscriptions to your mailing lists.
  • Zapier: a product that links more than 1,000 marketing tools and apps to automate your workflows.
  • Landbot: a tool for rapid chatbot building.
  • Hotjar: a heatmapping tool.
  • Hunter.io: a system to find the business email address of someone you want to contact.

Google offers a series of excellent free Growth Hacking tools:

  • Analytics
  • Tag Manager
  • Data Studio
  • Google My Business
  • YouTube
  • Meet

As you can see, you’re spoiled for choice when it comes to Growth Hacking tools and techniques – and you don’t need a large budget. Remember, always keep an open reactive mind and test every idea before you implement your Growth Hack.

This article was written by

Valentina Pacitti

Valentina Pacitti

Copywriter and translator since 2012, in charge of SEMrush Italia's blog since 2015. Words are my means of communicating with people - I read and write plenty of them. I like to know them inside and out, so that I can pick the best ones for every story I'm telling. Simple, clear, precise - this is the writing style I prefer. I'm more offline than online, but you can always find me on my social channels to discuss ideas and projects.

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