We’ve been focusing on growth hacking since our last two posts. Many of you may even think that we’ve been beating around the bush because we’ve written about how to hire a growth hacker and what are the prerequisites of a growth hacking strategy but we have not addressed the most key question – how to use growth hacking in your own business. With this growth hacking guide, we’re going to remedy that lack.
If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you know how much we value systems here. Nowhere are systems more important than in growth hacking. Growth hacking depends heavily on systems because it is about making assumptions, testing them, and then adopting them as part of the existing systems.
The starting point of growth hacking is a system, the process is a system, and the objective is to improve a system. The starting point and the objective depend on the nature of your business but we can help you with the middle by providing you with a step-by-step growth hacking guide.
Establish a Specific, Actionable Objective
Growth hacking has one very common albeit serious pitfall – broad perspective. Growth hacking is about getting growth but growth cannot be your objective because it is far too broad. What you need is something highly specific and actionable. The goal cannot be increased customer acquisition.
It has to be much more specific such as increased customer acquisition on the website via a specific landing page. You’ll even have to go deeper into the source of the audience. For instance, you’ll have to decide whether this increase is going to come through the social media channel, the email marketing channel, the search engine channel, or even recommendations.
Establishing a specific, actionable objective will allow you to focus on a very particular area of your business and will ensure that you’re able to concentrate on a few things rather than too many.
Create Multiple Hypotheses Surrounding Your Objective
Just having a specific objective isn’t enough. You’ll need to build multiple hypotheses to achieve that objective. What is the difference between your objective and a hypothesis? Consider your objective the destination and your hypothesis the map to that destination. Just like you can take multiple routes to your destination, you could try multiple ways of achieving your objective.
The problem here is that there is no Google Maps for growth hacking objectives. You cannot know which routes will take you to your objective or which hypothesis will help you attain your goal. Moreover, some routes may be faster or more economical but you won’t figure that out unless you tested them all.
This is why it is better to study your objective and figure out different ways through which you can achieve it. What you basically need are multiple hypotheses so that you can test more than one at a time.
If your objective is to gain more traction on social media, you can do it by changing what type of posts you put up, their frequency, their timings, and even the content itself.
Gather Data Pertaining To the Hypotheses
Any kind of growth hacking guide will always require you to begin with data. This is like knowing where you are currently. For example, you may know that you want to increase customer acquisition via social media and even various improvements that you want to try but you’ll never know if you’re succeeding unless you know where you’re starting from.
You’ll not only need to know which parameters are relevant to your specific hypotheses but also whether you have enough on-going data on them. In the example above, you’ll need to have data on which posts are sending through most traffic to your website, what the average is when the most traffic is coming, and even what every acquired visitor is doing on your website.
If you have this information, you’ll have to use it to convert your hypotheses into numbers. You’ll need to define your objective into a target number. When you aim for customer acquisition via a social media channel like Facebook and you’re getting 500 clickthroughs per week, is your target going to be 600, 750, or 1000? It will all depend on the historical data and what is viable.
Maximise Existing Expertise and Strengths
There are two ways of ensuring improvement. One is to eliminate weakness and the other is to leverage strength. In business, the latter almost always turns out to be more economically viable than the former. As any growth hacking guide will tell you, the same applies here. In growth hacking, you’re not only required to achieve your objective but achieve it with minimal investment of time, effort, and resources.
This has to be viewed in two ways as well. The first is the unique selling proposition of your business – that quality that sets your business apart from your competitors. This quality is what you should try to leverage when it comes to growth hacking instead of trying to replicate your competitors.
The other is the in-house expertise and strengths of your business. You may have a very strong development team with a bare-bones content team. You may have a highly effective marketing team as opposed to a development team. The point is that it will be easier for you to maximise your strongest capabilities than to gain new ones by hiring more employees and getting more tools.
Test the Hypotheses
From there, it all boils down to testing your hypotheses. If there are hypotheses that are mutually beneficial or even connected somehow, you can try to do them simultaneously. At the same time, there will be hypotheses that only become relevant after other hypotheses have been tested. You’ll have to segment your hypotheses into a sequential order based on priority and relevance and then get down to testing them.
The beauty of growth hacking and something we want to highlight in this growth hacking guide is that even your failures will fuel improvement. This is made possible because of the extent to which growth hacking relies on analytics and data. Everything is tested here and even when you get a negative result, it either results in an actionable tip or another hypothesis.
The point here is that even when a strategy based on this growth hacking guide doesn’t yield immediate results, you should not get disheartened and stick with it. While a growth hacking strategy may give you immediate results, that immediacy still needs to be measured in terms of months. Any smaller time period and your sample size is likely too small and your data intelligence likely too speculative.
Tweak and Repeat
A growth hacking guide has to end with the directive of repeating the process. While we have presented the process linearly in this growth hacking guide, it is in reality circular. Testing hypotheses should if you’ve been paying attention to what you’ve been doing, ideally give you multiple newer hypotheses.
Moreover, it may even be possible that the same hypotheses need to be tested again with some tweaks. There is no end to learning from growth hacking. As long as you continue following the cycle, you’ll continue learning and your business growing. Just don’t stop.