Growth hacking doesn’t feel intuitive to most traditional marketers or executive teams. Yet there’s little doubt that, when done well, this lean marketing approach drives incredible results. Consequently, if you plan on leveraging growth hacking in marketing at your company, you’ll want to avoid making these common tactical mistakes.
Growth hacking may be a trending digital marketing term. But even experienced marketers aren’t always sure how it works or how to do it.
What makes growth hacking confusing? For starters, it runs counter to traditional marketing tactics. Growth hackers follow a process based on assumption testing. They don’t worry about long-term plans. They make assumptions, gather data using guerrilla and other strategies, and make changes based on what they learn.
If you remember the scientific method from eighth-grade chemistry, you might have a general idea of how growth hacking works. Working toward greater growth (usually in the form of increased sales) by collecting and utilizing quality, actionable data is the main motive. Growth hackers embrace lean methodology principles. They don’t worry about opinions. And as soon as they get objective information, they iterate — rapidly and without remorse.
By contrast, traditional marketers will follow their in-depth plans to a “T.” If a plan isn’t immediately successful, they’ll often wait it out to see whether, in the end, it still meets strategic goals. In the same situation, though, growth hackers would figure out the problem by creating data-backed hypotheses, validating those hypotheses, and trying something different. And they do it in a fraction of the time with much lower costs.
This lean marketing approach doesn’t feel intuitive to most traditional marketers or executive teams. Yet there’s little doubt that, when done well, growth hacking drives incredible results. Consequently, if you plan on leveraging growth hacking in marketing at your company, you’ll want to avoid making some common tactical mistakes. Here’s how.
- Ask “How fast can we test?” instead of “What is our ROI going to be?”
Want to scale at lightning speed? Stop worrying so much about your ROI. Instead, focus on user acquisition costs, customer lifetime value, and payback period. One of your biggest growth hacking KPIs needs to be figuring out how to gather accurate data and prove assumptions faster than your competitors can.
This philosophical shift helps you move away from concentrating on earning more money. Sure, you want your growth hacking to increase your revenue stream. However, if you spend too much time fixated on costs and ROIs, you can hurt your ability to scale and adopt new digital marketing tools or use untried platforms that have the ability to create not a 10% year-over-year growth but a 1,000% gain because you hacked your way to success.
- Whittle down your SKAGs instead of spraying and praying.
The Google Ads “spray and pray” method is dead. Using 1,000 keywords will make it nearly impossible to figure out which ones are actually producing fruit. The growth hacking method would have you start with 10 “exact match” keywords and build single keyword ad groups (SKAGs) from there — in other words, assign one keyword per one ad group. Then, conduct an A/B split test with ad copy written specifically for that keyword. Be sure to design a landing page for the keyword, too.
You’ll end up building 10 SKAGs and 10 landing pages for 10 high-intent keywords. If you’ve found the right keywords, your Quality Score will skyrocket, and you’ll get a discount on your Ad Spend. Who wouldn’t want to pay 1/10 of what everyone else pays on Google while still getting traffic?
- Profile your current customers to find “lookalikes” instead of profiling your “ready to buy” leads.
Most companies spend all their money researching the intentions of people who are already ready to buy. They’re missing the obvious: The real secret to finding more people is to look further up the sales funnel. Look for people who want to buy something, but who are aren’t sure what or where, by profiling your current customers to craft “lookalike” audiences three months before they purchase. This allows them to become familiar with your brand by having them know, like, and trust you. Then, not only did you acquire them at a fraction of the cost, but you also nurtured them to your brand.
To develop profiles, lean into AI software. Here’s how: Add Google and Facebook retargeting pixels to your website. Then, place conversion pixels on your site to construct a seed audience of buyers. Once you have a large enough database segment, use that data in Facebook and Google as the seed and go from there.
- Assign growth hacking duties to the right people instead of expecting your web developerto be your growth hacking superhero.
Having your web developer running all your growth hacking marketing campaigns is a terrible idea for many reasons. Yet it happens again and again because too many companies think that growth hacking is an inherently IT-related field.
You might be surprised at all the potential growth hackers in your organization. Growth hackers can be anyone, from the formally trained executive with an MBA to the entry-level social media marketer. Remember that growth hacking is a mindset that anyone can embrace and own. It’s not something that bubbles to the surface in only one department.
The economy is chugging along. Companies are doing their best to recover from the pandemic. Still, only a fraction will be able to “scale up.” To give your business the fighting chance it deserves, open yourself up to the idea of implementing growth hacking tactics — because you can be sure that your competitors are thinking about growth hacking, too.
Written by Rick Bodey.
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