9 Growth Hacking Lessons I Should Have Learned Earlier
I attended a Growth Hacking training on June 15 in Amsterdam. I am kind of new to growth hacking, so I decided to go there to learn what the new marketing kids on the block do. Some things are still good old marketing, but I do see differences between growth hacking and (traditional) marketing. In this post, I will share some of the insights I gained.
Two Growth Hacking experts, Patrick Vlaskovits and Casey Armstrong explained how to boost your online presence. The training was divided into six thought-provoking, informative sessions;
Marketing Psychology, Persuasion and Triggers
Paid Marketing: How To Drive Smart Growth In Minutes
Partnerships & OPP (Other People’s Platforms)
SEO Fundamentals for Free and Organic Traffic: There’s More Than Just Google
The Hardcore High Risk Growth Hacks
1. Co-evolve The Medium
My rough note from Patricks’ medium vision:
“He says that exponential growth happens only when you find a new medium that can provide you with the growth, before everyone else finds it. Some examples of creative use of new medium: – Eagles invested in tuning radios in mustangs because that medium would spread their music to the masses. – MTV disrupted the way people consumed music. – Tim Ferris started offering free and premium on bittorrent, because he knew people pirated him anyway, so he spreads his message as trial on new medium. Or new use of existing medium. – Tupperware, home parties, Paypal, eBay, Tesla, luxury stores, Airbnb, craigslist.”
I think this is an interesting insight. Most marketers focus on proven and traditional channels. As Patricks says, SEO and SEM are ‘costs of business'; without doing them, you don’t even have a chance of becoming a profitable business. But to achieve exponential growth, you’ll have to come up with something else. As soon as one medium has been ‘hacked’ by a startup and that story is shared by everyone, the medium becomes a channel and you’re too late. Everyone will jump on it and nobody will notice your message through the noise.
2. Email As Lead Creation
Using email to reach your audience seems like an outdated thing to do. However, a couple of weeks back, at another event, I heard the founder of Vicancy share the same strategy. If you’re able to use modern technologies to ‘scrape’ email addresses of your buyer persona, you can create an innovative email campaign to reach them. It’s probably hard to not get to spam or be completely ignored, but if you send out 1000 emails, a certain % will get triggered and click your links.
3. SEO = How Do You Help Another Algorithm Find Your Content?
Most people think that SEO means getting a top position in google’s organic search results. Patrick basically applies what people learned from traditional SEO to other sites.
They showed how they optimized the search results in Amazon to drive more traffic to their books. It is easier to manipulate systems other than google. On amazon use the search string URL to promote your book (e.g. Someone searches customer development…the search URL will tell amazon ‘ah this is someone who searches that topic and then finds that specific book > if Amazon keeps learning that your book is the popular result on a particular search term, it will push your book up in the results). You can see here to how to optimize SEO results in Amazon, using the same logic as Patrick. The same can be done using Slideshare.
Another obvious thing to do (which we often skip): Promote your content to your list.
Sending that to people, saves a lot of time + we already learned what content appeals to our audience.
4. SEO At Scale
This idea got my head spinning! I always thought of SEO as an elaborate step by step optimization process. But apparently, the gurus do stuff that bombards the internet with landing pages which tell google ‘this is the place to be for a certain topic’. A couple of examples they mentioned:
Zapier created 1000s of landing pages on integrations of system a with b (do a search on ‘integrate linkedin with dropbox‘ and you will see it on 1st position). So Zapier created a database with descriptions of different tools. In the sample landing page, they combined the descriptions of ‘linkedin’, ‘dropbox’ and ‘zapier’ to create a page with unique content. The individual texts appear elsewhere, but this is the only page on the net showing those three elements in one page. So it’s seen by google as unique content and valuable for users. In this way, you can create a template, which combines content elements from a database. With one click, you can create 100s or 1000s of landing pages. Imagine the impact this has on google and on people finding your content!
Wunderlist, the platform to organise the to-do lists has integrated with Zapier bringing hundred and one integrations to accelerate productivity.
They have another sample: Notary.com…Find awesome notaried nearby. Yelp for notaries. They got a data file with 100.000 notaries in the US and created profiles automatically from this online. Each notary got a special landing page on their site.
Then some smaller insights I got:
5. Ads On Twitter
You can advertise on an event hashtag or handle in twitter. Casey said he used this to promote his project management tool product a couple of years ago. Twitter had just launched ads as Google was doing their google I/O developers conference. They put an ad of the google.io hashtag and this stream was shown in the main room on a large screen. At that time, Twitter put ads on top and left them there. So they featured prominently in the google conference all day, into the heart of their target audience. This hack still works (although ads are rotating now, almost nobody bids on conference hashtags or handles).
Watch the kicked-off event #io15 and keynote by Sundar Pichai.
6. Form Partnerships
Find companies that share an audience with you and approach them to partner up. You can think of organizing events together, making joint offers. I think Patrick and Casey are the best showcase for this: they approached Rockstart, an incubator in Amsterdam, to host their event. As Rockstart wants to rent out their space + provide valuable events to the Amsterdam startup community, their interests are aligned. After the event, we got an email with special discounted offers on many SAAS products. Those offers are more valuable than those saas products own ‘trial periods’ (e.g. you can use Buzzsome for 2 months for free as opposed to their 2 weeks trial). For those products, providing the discount to Patrick and Casey’s audience, attracts new users. For Patrick and Casey, they can offer valuable stuff to their audience (thanks guys :)). This is the list of products they use and promote (to get the goodies, you’ll have to attend their training).
The Lean Startup by Patrick Vlaskovits & Brant Cooper – Ebook
Republish famous content: If you get mentioned in an article on a famous site…you can use outbrain to advertise on other famous sites. You get mentioned on inc.com, then use outbrain to advertise on cnn.com.
Semrush shows you what competitors are advertizing on.
Youtube hack. Add ?sub_confirmation=1 to the URL of your channel when you send it to people. They get a popup to subscribe.
Find out who is linking to your competitors content and then contact the site owners.
Find ‘dead links’ on sites that link to your ex-competitors. Those companies went bankrupt and sites are offline, but sites are still linking to them. You can suggest those site owners to replace the dead links with yours if you provide good content.
Leadin, a WordPress plugin tells you who got on your site and what pages they visited before they entered their email.
Ifttt helps you to automate your twitter messaging (and many other integrations).
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