While there are many courses and sites available to give you basic quick wins, the reality is that true growth hacking is not something that you should do without a clear understanding of the process.
Often the examples posted are the same, over and over, and without a clear understanding of the process behind them, people merely copy them verbatim -- and wonder why they don't have 100,000 email signups in 30 days, or $4 million subscribers on their Kickstarter.
To give you a better understanding of the process behind it, here are the steps to a successful growth hack:
1. Create Your Hypothesis
The first thing you'll do before starting any growth hack is to have some sort of idea you want to test. It seems simple, but it is often missed. This needs to be extremely basic, a "true or false" scenario. Whatever you are testing with your growth hack needs to be able to be objectively measurable.
For example, you will want to test "I think that if I use this email subject line vs this subject line I will get a better result."
2. Setup Your Analytics
You'll need this phase to both build your audiences and track results. By properly setting up your Google Analytics tags, Facebook Pixels, and the like, you'll be able to measure if what you're doing is working.
Then, you'll insert your analytics tracking codes into the test objects to measure their performance and get data to find out if your hypothesis is correct.
3. Define Key Goals
In this phase, you will determine the key performance metrics that will measure your social investment.
You'll need to determine your "why," the thing that attracts people to you and makes them want you instead of someone else. Then, you'll need to ask yourself: what specifically are you trying to achieve?
Whether it is more engagement on Instagram, more sales on a checkout page, more email addresses, or more attendees to an event, without having this goal, you won't be able to achieve it.
4. Product Market Fit
Here, you'll need to define your customer. You'll want to be hyper-targeted to the smallest niche possible until you can find the user persona of a single person.
Get as granular as you possibly can, as you can expand out wider as the campaign grows.
By being as specific as possible you will have a better chance at a successful campaign.
From Andreeson Horowitz: "Do whatever is required to get to product/market fit. Including changing out people, rewriting your product, moving into a different market, telling customers no when you don't want to, telling customers yes when you don't want to, raising that fourth round of highly dilutive venture capital -- whatever is required. When you get right down to it, you can ignore almost everything else."
5. Find Your Hack
Growth Hacking is taking advantage of loopholes and underappreciated opportunities, so this is the point where you determine what you're actually going to do.
It could be anything -- but will likely rely heavily on content.
6. Content Creation
A key thing about content marketing is that you need to have content behind it. Your content should be engaging, relevant and appeal to your target market.
Without a clear plan for content, you cannot expect any significant results. Every step of the customer journey -- from initial contact, throughout their engagement, and into their relationship -- should have unique content.
7. Viral Lift/Amplification
Once you start to get some users, you'll quickly find that you need a way to get more of them. In growth hacking, this can be either be via a paid or unpaid strategy.
When people refer others to you because you designed some sort of strategy within the product itself, that is called a "viral-lift".
Strategically-placed ads and reviews or comments can also cause a viral loop to get people to come in. You can accomplish this by finding people who are already writing reviews of competing products, or post ads where your competitors are placing ads.
Either way, this phase is important in the growth hacking process.
8. Retaining and Optimizing
Once people have converted through your funnel, you need to retain them as customers. Look at the data you have collected.
- Identify where your visitors came from, and see where they have dropped off along the way.
- Analyze what worked, and what didn't work.
- Pay attention to the keywords used, the source of referrals, the expense spent - everything is useful.
Once you have got a thorough understanding of the data, move on to the next phase.
9. Rinse and Repeat
Start your process over again, this time focusing solely on things that gave you an acceptable rate of return. If nothing did, then scrap everything and try again. The key is to move quickly, to ensure that your targets are always met.
By understanding these phases, you'll be better equipped to experiment with your own growth hacks!