It's finally here – the long-awaited continuation of our guide to growth hacking!
In the first instalment, we looked at some of the more technical and product-based hacks you should be doing, including optimising your website and SEO, maximising your beta test and building sharing into your customer journey.
Need a re-cap? Then take a look here:
In part two, we're going to talk through five communications-focused hacks, that will help you reach new audiences, raise your authority and maximise the external channels and communities at your disposal. All with the aim of driving those web hits and product sign-ups!
So, without further ado, here goes…
Creating incredibly useful, shareable content (and promoting the hell out of it)
If you don't already have one, a great place to start is by creating your own content hub – for most businesses that means a blog on your website – where you can publish articles, videos and guides to draw in your target audience.
This shouldn't be simply somewhere to spout off your sales messages, but instead your chance to provide content within your niche that is valuable to your audience, through being either entertaining or useful. You should be able to work this out using your target audience research!
So, if your target audience is dog owners, you can create content around dog care, dog fashions and comment around news in the dog world! Whereas if you're targeting travel lovers, it should cover the latest destinations, travel photography or advice on creating the perfect holiday wardrobe. The possibilities are endless!
You need to publish regularly – ideally at least one blog or video per week – but crucially you need to make sure it gets in front of your target audience, through some sneaky promotional techniques. Obviously, you should be posting it on all your social channels – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn etc. – but there are some other ways you can spread the net even wider. Here's a few to consider:
Social advertising: Don't spend tonnes on paid advertising during your start-up phase as you'll find you haemorrhage money pretty quickly. However, it can be worth putting a little bit of budget behind some sponsored posts on Facebook and Twitter to boost the reach of your content. You can find details on how to do this on Facebook here and on Twitter here
Post to social groups popular with your audience: Identify where on social media your niche hangs out, whether that's a Facebook group, LinkedIn community, or in specific chat forums, and post links to your content there. It's important that it doesn't seem random and spammy, so try to position it in response to a query or conversation on a specific topic.
Reddit: As of 2016, this social news aggregator had 542 million monthly visitors (234 million unique users), ranking #11 most visited web-site in the US and #25 in the world. Submitting your content here can therefore increase your traffic exponentially. However, you need to be careful to follow certain etiquette when posting to "The Front Page of the Internet". Do it right and you'll see a measurable stream of targeted traffic but do it wrong and you'll be down-voted and no-one will see your post or worse yet, it'll be removed. So, when you first sign up, comment and like posts to build up your karma score and before you post something, make sure it's unique, fun and distributed in a targeted subreddit group. This is essential because if your content ticks these boxes, it will get upvoted and therefore more likely to be seen by others! Bottom line? The more you put into Reddit, the more you'll get out of it.
Medium, Postwaves, Inbound, Quora: Similarly, you can post your content on these sites, either in response to existing queries or by creating your own questions. You should also consider creating original content for these sites in response to existing queries on there. Then once you've responded you can promote amongst your networks and encourage upvotes! Do bear in mind though that your content needs to be relevant, and adheres to their (sometimes strict!) T's & C's.
Be prolific on social media
Assuming you already have social media accounts set up, you're probably wondering how you can take these from being passive profiles with your company news and updates, to actually driving engagement and making a difference to your business.
Here's a few basic hacks that can help:
Use Klout: Klout measures your social media profile to see how influential you are, while also showing you who are the biggest influencers in your sector and target areas. An average Klout score is 40 and anything over 50 is pretty good! Hit over 63 and you're in the top 5%. Setting up a profile is quick and easy, giving you an immediate view of how you're doing on different channels as well as suggestions of people you should be engaging with.
Follow and engage with key influencers: The more you put into Twitter, the more you'll get out, so once you know who your top influencers are (we recommend making specific lists), spend time tracking and engaging with them, by retweeting/reposting content, 'favouriting' or liking their posts, and starting conversations about their content. By doing so, you're sure to catch their attention, and that of their followers, thereby boosting your own profile.
Use Crowdfire: Another useful tool, this enables you to analyse your followers and the people you follow on Twitter, to see who follows you back (or not) and who is inactive. It's a great way of streamlining your account for maximum engagement and effectiveness.
Join groups and communities: There are some fantastic communities on both Facebook and LinkedIn where your target audience will spend time asking questions and sharing information. Make sure your part of these groups and try to be helpful by offering advice and help on your areas of expertise. Same goes for hashtags on Twitter.
Merge online and offline: Every time you go to an event or conference, make sure you're using the event hashtag, commenting around the topics being discussed and engaging with others who are also getting involved. You'll leave the event with a whole bunch of new followers to show for your hard work.
Sniply: Another awesome tool that allows you to add a call to action to every link you share. Although the content may not be yours you can still reap the rewards by driving people to your website and business.
Jump on the back of trends: Social media is real time, and trends can shift in an instant. So, keep an eye on what's trending at any particular moment, and see if there is a way you can get involved. Whether that's by creating a funny meme or commenting on a topical issue with the relevant hashtag, it's a great way of catching attention.
Engaging photos: As a rule of thumb, always use a photo on Twitter and try to make it as eye-catching as possible. Research has shown that tweets with photos get 313% more engagement, so get creative and think outside of the box. You can even use free platforms such as Canva to design your own if you don't have access to Photoshop.
Guest blog for other sites
Once you've built up a solid bank of your own content, you can start reaching out to influencers in your space – online publications, influential bloggers, or complementary businesses – to see if you can guest blog for them. Before you make an approach, check what kinds of topics they usually cover and look out for any gaps in their content that you might be able to fill. Then drop them an email suggesting an article on that topic. The backlinks to your website will also help improve your SEO (refer to point 3). When approaching other businesses, you can also suggest a quid pro quo arrangement where they also provide a piece for your site – so it's a win-win!
Get listed on Product Hunt
In case you haven't already heard of it, Product Hunt is THE place to be seen for new online products that are going places. Being featured here can lead to a huge spike in traffic, subscriptions and downloads and increased brand awareness amongst an influential audience of early adopters.
Anyone can submit a new product to Product Hunt, BUT appearing on the homepage is no easy feat, and only a handful of startups achieve this. So, it's important to have a carefully thought out plan that's integrated with your overall launch campaign to ensure you have the best possible chance of being featured.
Here's a few tips:
Create an extensive email list ahead of being featured – this enables you to share it with as many people as possible who can upvote your product (although you shouldn't directly ask them to do this!)
Make sure your profile is enticing, includes a catchy (not cheesy) tagline and reflects your brand personality
Try to get your product posted by an influential 'hunter' – this gives you more chance of being featured and ultimately seen by more people
Integrate with social media – be ready to promote your listing via social on the day of launch using the @producthunt twitter handle, as well as responding and reacting to any mentions and discussions about the product
Integrate with your content, e.g. support with a blog post
Engage with the Product Hunt community – make sure you're ready on launch day to respond to any comments and answer any questions regarding the product on the site itself
Bespoke landing page and offer – it can also help to create a specific landing page to welcome hunters and even an offer to sweeten the deal for them!
A quality email database is worth its weight in gold for growing your user base, enabling you to keep in regular contact with your community, updating them about new features, while publicising your content, offers and company news. It's equally valuable for existing and potential customers.
The first stage is to build up your email database, and there are loads of ways that you can do this. Here's a few to try:
Newsletter subscription on each page of your site
Ask for contact details to access certain content
Create a 'sign up' link on your social media pages
Run an offer or competition that requires an email address to enter
Include a 'sign up' link in your email signature
Incentivise your employees to help collect emails
Incentivise current subscribers to refer a friend to your newsletter
Then once you've built up a decent sized database, you can start running email campaigns, including:
Automated welcome emails
Automated 'abandoned shopping cart'
Nudge emails, e.g. we noticed you haven't used x functionality on the site
Happy Birthday / Christmas etc. emails
The possibilities are endless. There are various email marketing tools you can use to run campaigns including Mailchimp, which is totally free for small campaigns, and Campaigner, which offers a more sophisticated solution.
And there you have it! Five more of the best hacks to take your business from zero to superhero. Remember, trial and error is key, so keep testing, measuring and tweaking until you discover what works for your business. Throw in a bit of creativity, persistence and hard work, and you'll be hitting those growth targets in no time!