We’re living in a revolutionary time. The world is getting smaller and smaller every day. Email, social networks, blog, videos, audio and all sorts of other media are bringing us closer together every day.
As a result of every person now can start a company from the comfort of their couch and become successful. But this also means because the playing field is levelled more and more people are taking the plunge and want to start their company.
Everything and everyone is getting connected. And because of all of this, there are also more and more advertising and marketing messages flooding into our lives.
To stay relevant in this overly connected world, content became the key to attract and engage your potential audience. It is the driver of attention. For a consumer to get excited about something, to be compelled by something, it comes down to attention.
Attention is the glue that sticks everything together and keeps the funnel moving. But while every business tries to finds its niche in this connected world. While everyone is trying to create their content marketing strategy, the lower barrier of entrance makes the grabbing of your ideal consumer’s attention more difficult than ever.
On a different side of the marketing spectrum, another trend emerged over the last couple of years. The idea of “growth hacking”. And although it might have a negative sound to it, it doesn’t involve any sharp-edged tools, only a handful of sharp-edged tactics that could prove to be extremely beneficial for your business.
After all, it is about bringing in more traffic, putting more users at the top of the conversion funnel and turning them into the customer.
This does sound familiar to everyone doing content marketing for their job, right? With each piece of content, you hope to secure more visitors and gain more traction for whatever it is that you’re selling. You want to see results, and both growth hacking and content marketing are about getting results.
In today’s blog post, we’re going to dive into Growth Hacking and see how this can help you step up your Content Marketing game. But before we start, let’s first have a deeper look into Growth Hacking.
What Is Growth Hacking Anyway?
Growth hacking is a process of rapid experimentation across marketing channels and product development to identify the most effective, efficient ways to grow a business. Growth hacking refers to a set of both conventional and unconventional marketing experiments that lead to the growth of a business.
Growth hackers are marketers, engineers and product managers that specifically focus on building and engaging the user base of a business.
Growth hackers often focus on low-cost alternatives to traditional marketing, e.g. using social media, viral marketing or targeted advertising instead of buying advertising through more traditional media such as radio, newspaper, and television.
So what does that mean? Growth hacking is exactly what it sounds like. It is a marketing strategy that focuses on growth. Unlike traditional marketing, which focuses on various forms of growth, attention-grabbing and brand building, growth hacking revolves around the numbers. It revolves around growing your business.
It is a term coined by Sean Ellis, and the practice refers to a methodology that turns smart, simple tactics into fast, measurable growth. Marketers who want to become growth hackers must use psychology and clever engineering tactics to drive measurable results. It requires creativity and a single focus at all times.
PS: I love you. Get your free e-mail at Hotmail
One of the earliest examples of growth hacking can be found by going all the way back to 1996. When Hotmail launched, they added a small sentence at the end of every email. PS: I love you. Get your free e-mail at Hotmail, with a link back to their homepage. At a time, when most people had an email account from their internet provider, only accessible at home on their home computer. Hotmail was one of the first to introduce email in your browser.
By just adding that one sentence at the bottom of every email they were able to grow their user base with 3,000 users each day. And after six months they had their first million users. It did not stop there, though because only five weeks later they doubled to two million users all the way to 12 million users after 18 months.
The Characteristics Of A Growth Hacker
Being a growth hacker is not something that fits everyone. As a Growth Hacker, you must possess certain qualities to become an effective growth hacker.
Aaron Ginn, the former growth hacker for the Mitt Romney campaign in 2011 defines the three primary characteristics of a Growth Hacker as:
- Data – As a growth hacker, you should have a passion for tracking and moving a metric.
- Creativity – As a Growth Hacker you should be a creative problem solver.
- Curiosity – As a Growth Hacker you should have a fascination at why visitors choose to be users and engage, and why some products fall flat on their face.
If you think of it as these three basic blocks, you should already recognise yourself a bit in them as a Content Marketer. After all, we want to keep improving ourselves as well and attracting more and more visitors to our content right? So we look into the data to see what works and what doesn’t work, we need to be creative, etc.
How Growth Hacking Relates to Content Marketing
Content marketing is all about driving traffic. After it, it started as a new way of getting your audience to find your organisation because ads were getting too expensive.
As a result Content Marketing is trying to solve the same problems that your product solves through media you create and promote. It is about attracting new visitors to your owned media, where you can start conversations and where you can raise awareness. It is also paving the way for your potential customers to learn more about what you have to offer, getting them interested and educated before they will make the sale.
It is also paving the way for your potential customers to learn more about what you have to offer, getting them interested and educated before they will make the sale. And it is about bonding with them after you made the deal to turn them into ambassadors of your brand.
Because this is so much related to growth, you can easily see how Content Marketing can relate to Growth Hacking. The end goal is the same, growth.
This means there is no reason that both shouldn’t work together and enhance each other.
Applying Growth Hacking to Content Marketing
When you started creating your Content Marketing strategy before you even begun to produce content, what goals did you came up with for creating content? Did you want to do more than just gather some vanity metrics?
You want to drive significant traffic that converts, that brings in sales, that strengthens your relationships with your existing customer. Then try considering a few of the methods below to increase your content marketing initiatives by applying some growth hacking methodologies.
#1 Let data drive your decisions
You can’t improve what you don’t measure. The basis of any good growth strategy is setting up an exemplary data-driven decision-making process.
If you want to improve and hack your content to the next level, you want to use analytics on everything that you do. You need to be able to see what is happening and base your decision on what to create on which channels around it.
Three easy ways to start?
- Implement Google Analytics and dive into the data. What are areas of your website getting the most amount of traffic? Which pages make your readers stay the longest? Which pages make people leave your site never to return?
Looking into this data will tell you what content is attracting people and what content keeps people on your site. In the end, so you know what content you need to be producing more of.
- Facebook, Twitter, and any other Social Media platform’s analytics that you’re using. Social media is the place where most of your readers potentially get to see the first glimpse of you. Trying out different tactics, see what engages better. Once you find those content types and areas, you can start to expand upon them and adapt your social media strategy to it.
- Email statistics. Every Email Service Provider (ESP) has them, and every time you send an email, you need to look into what is happening with your emails. Subject lines are the most important item to look and to test. An interesting subject line is what triggers someone to open your email in the first place. Test and refine, after all, email is still one of the most important ways to communicate with your customers.
Start gathering and analysing everything that you create and do and what impact it has on your growth. Let the data decide for you what works best and not the gut feeling you had after breakfast.
#2 Getting your content out there
While all startups are trying Growth Hacking in one way or another these days, as we showed you earlier it even helped build brands like Hotmail.
That one little “P.S.: I love you” helped share their content, their offering to everyone that opened an email from them. And that simple sharing of their offering fast-tracked their growth.
So how can you get your content seen by as many people as possible?
- Start by sharing your content. Nobody knows about that excellent piece you created if you don’t share it for the first time. You’ve probably got enough owned channels yourself to start sharing and with a bit of thinking you can come up with lots of more channels to share your content to.
Next, to your company profiles, encourage your employees to share it via their channels as well. And don’t be afraid to share it more than once, not everyone might have seen it the first time.
- Ask your visitors to share your content (and give them ways to do this easily). If you create compelling content, it can help individuals to establish a better personal brand and look more knowledgeable on a subject if they share it. Don’t expect them to do this automatically, though. Make it easy for them, ask your visitors to share and comment on your content.
- Leverage the power of influencers. Try creating pieces of content together with influencers in your space and help your content reach a potential total new audience.
#3 Speak to people’s emotions
Emotional engagement can make a differentiating factor to the success of your content marketing campaigns. By triggering an emotional response in the reader or viewer, you can make them want to share your content.
- Newsjacking is one way of speaking to peoples emotions. Remember that Oreo Tweet during the Super Bowl 2013? “You can still dunk in the dark” spoke to the emotions of the people watching the Super Bowl and went viral to such an extent that we’re still using them right now still as an example.
- Visual content both static as well as in motion, makes people stop their scrolling through your content. If all they see is plain text, try adding more (original) images, animated gifs, video’s and emoji to your content to trigger that emotion with your visitors.
- Different media trigger various types of emotions. Not everyone enjoys reading a blog post. Keeping this in mind, by creating a mixture of content. This does not have to mean, that you’ve got to build everything from scratch. You can repurpose existing content as well for this to make it easier for yourself.
The playing field is levelled, people are bombarded with content on a daily basis, and standing out from the crowd is getting harder every day.
However, if you’re willing to start experimenting more, if you’re ready to think outside of the box and get your hands dirty, you can start to generate more traffic to your content than ever before.
Content marketing should be part of everyone’s marketing strategy. Trying to Growth Hack your brand story is about making it easier for people to discover your content, devour it across all your channels and share everywhere. Any concept or opportunity you find to do so is an experiment worth exploring. It’s time to Growth Hack your content.
What ways are you using to growth hack your content? Leave a comment below so we can all learn from each other.