I recently decided to start focusing on growth for my company. After doing some research I stumbled on lots of articles about growth hacking, which is a term coined by Sean Ellis.

It refers to data driven marketing strategies like analytics, conversion rate optimization, and customer retention. Any company can use these strategies, and they can be very effective. Before diving into these strategies head first, it’s important to have a general idea of what they are, and how they work together.

In this article I’ll go over the general buckets of growth hacking, and how you can get started.

Getting to know your customers

The most important part of growth hacking is getting to know your customers better. You may think you already know enough, but for most companies that’s not the case.

This is the most important step because everything you do later will be rooted in a deep understanding of your customer. If you don’t know why your customers are buying your product, then how do you know what type of articles you should write, the copy that should be on your sales pages, or what ad campaigns will generate the most ROI?

You can get to know your customers using surveys and polls, either embedded into your website, or sent through email. No matter what, you’ll need analytics to find out what your customers are doing and thinking.

Analytics

Gathering data is essential for growth. What gets measured gets done, right?

If you don’t have analytics in place, you don’t know where you need to improve, and you won’t know if any changes you make are working. Simply installing analytics and looking through them is the first step for any growth hacker.

When looking for the right analytics tools, you need a few different kinds. Even if you don’t have time to analyze any data, it’s important to have these installed. That way you can be gathering data, and you can analyze it later when you have time.

There are 3 types of analytics tools you should install.

Quantitative Data

First, you need quantitative data. That means how many people are coming to your site, what pages are they viewing, bounce rates, funnels, etc. This is handled by Google Analytics. It’s free, and you probably already have it installed. If not, you should install it right away.

Qualitative Data

Qualitative data tells you who is on your site, and how they are using it. For example, let’s say John Jacobs reads one of your articles, then leaves, then comes back a month later and purchases your product.

Google Analytics won’t tell you John’s history, so you won’t know that reading your article is the reason he bought your product. Qualitative analytics tools keep track of your visitors and what they do, even if they leave and come back later. That way you can look for patterns and optimize.

Qualitative data tools keep track of a customer on multiple devices, before and after purchase, and through lots of different actions. You can see the first time they came to your site, what pages they viewed, when they signed up for your email list, when they purchased, and more.

Woopra, Intercom, and Kissmetrics are all options for qualitative data. I like Woopra, it works great and it is affordable for small businesses.

Surveys and Polls

Surveys and polls are another necessary component for qualitative data. You need to know what people are thinking about while they are on your site. For example, you can make a poll that asks people visiting your pricing page, “Is there anything missing or confusing on this page?” You may get several responses that tell you people are confused about Feature A, so you can adjust your page copy accordingly.

You can also create more in-depth surveys to find out why people did or didn’t buy, what they like and don’t like, etc.

I like HotJar for surveys and polls, they also have other features like screen recording and heatmaps. The free plan is excellent. Another (much pricier) option would be Qualaroo.

Content

We’ve talked about getting to know current visitors and customers, and analyzing what they are doing. What about getting more traffic to your site?

Content helps you acquire new customers. Your content can be indexed by search engines, shared on social media, and it brings in new traffic.

It also builds trust, more than you may realize. New customers want to know who you are and how you do business, and writing articles that they can read helps build that bridge. Good content positions you as an expert, and in many cases it can be the single largest driver of sales.

Don’t believe me? Look at multi-million dollar companies Groove and Kissmetrics. Their single biggest driver of sales? Their blogs.

Test and Tweak

Once you’ve gathered some data, it’s time to start optimizing.

If you see a weak point in your funnel, or you have some good feedback from your surveys, do some a/b testing to see if you can improve. Split testing, or a/b testing means that you create a new version of a page (or part of a page), and test to see if the new version works better than the old version.

The important thing here is to start with a hypothesis, and test against that. For example, let’s say you got some feedback that your features page is confusing. Change some copy around and test to see if you get more click-throughs to the pricing page.

Start by testing big changes like headlines or large chunks of the page. If you just test tiny changes you may not see much of an improvement, which can be discouraging.

Split testing requires a tool like Optimizely or Visual Website Optimizer.

Get started

It’s easy to get overwhelmed with all this stuff, but the most important thing is to start small. Just install Google Analytics or Woopra, and stop there if you need to.

Come back a month later and view some data, setup a funnel, or create a survey.

Resources

This is just the tip of the growth hacking iceberg, there are a lot more resources out there.

The definitive guide to growth hacking by Neil Patel at Quicksprout is an excellent place to start. He has quite a few other guides on other topics that are excellent as well.

The Kissmetrics blog always has great content, including this post with lots more growth hacking resources.

If you have a great growth hacking tip or resource, post it in the comments.

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