Many people who start online businesses quit due to the frustration of slow growth. But what if there were easily actionable methods that could quicken that growth?
Thankfully there are and they are known as growth hacks.
Building a sustainable online business takes time and a lot of work. The people who quit never know how far they could have taken their business if they could have stuck with it a little longer. It can get tiring writing article after article and not see the number of visitors increase. However, this can change quickly by implementing some specific tips.
The key to online success is a quick and steady growth. We don’t want to have a massive increase in traffic one day to see it drop to nothing the next. What’s needed is a flow of traffic and customers that steadily climbs as we go on. To do this, we need to make sure that we’re providing good quality, but we also need to make sure we’re making it as easy as possible for our content and business to grow.
The following are 8 actionable growth hacking techniques that you can start implementing right away. They won’t cost you a fortune and they’re user orientated, meaning that a large part of your growth will be down to existing customers. This is the backbone of growth hacking and what needs to be the focus of your marketing strategy.
1. User Focussed Content Strategy
Content is an essential element of growth hacking, your entire marketing strategy in fact. It’s essential that you take the time to find content that your users not only enjoy, but want to share after they’re finished with it. The types of content that work best for this are:
- Top 10 Lists
- Visual Content: Infographics, Gifs, High Quality Images etc.
- Trending Issues – What are people talking about?
It’s also important to think about repurposing your content. It should never only be presented in one format. If you’ve written an article, make a video/presentation/podcast/infographic from it. For more information on this check out our guide to repurposing content.
2. Guest Posting
Guest posting is an excellent way of leveraging other people’s traffic. For this to work well you need to get your content onto a site that gets a lot of visitors. However, the competition is fierce and high quality is expected so how can you make sure you stand out?
Take a different stance on something, be the first to talk about something that’s trending, or conduct a survey/research into a topic that their readership will be interested in. Not only will this get your brand associated with a well known brand in a similar field, it’ll also increase traffic back to your source material and quite often give you a high quality back link.
Take time to research who you want to target and see do they mention guest posting on their site. Even if they don’t there’s no harm in pitching in your idea and seeing if you get anything back. Make sure they’re well known brands in your niche with a high authority rank.
3. Share Content in More Places
So many people make the mistake of just sharing their content on the big social media sites: Facebook, Twitter, Google +, LinkedIn etc. Even worse, they’ll often only share it once! There are so many channels you could be sharing your content on that ignoring them is leaving potential visitors completely unaware of your brand.
Forums and smaller social media sites related to your niche need to be explored and quite often the traffic here is better than it is from the larger sites. That’s because these sites are pushing business users to advertise and limiting your reach organically. Sites you should be exploring include:
Reddit – relevant subreddits to your niche.
Quora – get on their, answer questions, and link back to your content.
StumbleUpon – stumble your content as well as others. When a page goes viral you can get a massive amount of traffic.
Hacker News – tech related but similar to reddit in that if something takes off, you’re going to know about it!
Pinterest – my favourite social network in that a piece of content stays just as visible a year down the line as it does when it’s first posted! Make sure you’re including Pinterest friendly images in your articles and use rich pins.
There are many sites you need to look at and experiment to find the ones that work best for you.
4. Give Your Users Lots of Sharing Tools
When people like the content you’ve created, you’ve only got a small window for the time they’ll be interested in sharing it. If you’re making it hard for them to share right away then you’re missing out on their connections from seeing it.
Make sure you’ve sharing buttons above and below articles. Link to your social media accounts and make it as easy as possible for people to share your content. If you are using WordPress there are plenty of tools available such as SumoMe which will allow you to set up big bright sharing buttons that will stay with your audience as they scroll.
Asking your readers to share if they like the content can also have a significant impact on the virality of your content. If people enjoy what they’ve read, watched, or listened to, and feel like they got value from it, they’ll be much more inclined to share it – particularly if you’ve asked them too.
5. Speed Up Your Website
The loading time of your website affects a huge amount of areas from engagement levels to search rankings. It’s essential then to have it load as fast as possible.
According to research carried out for Kissmetrics, nearly half of web users expect a site to load in 2 seconds or less. Most tend to abandon a site that isn’t loaded within 3 seconds. 79% of web shoppers who have trouble with website performance say they won’t return to the site to buy again. Slowness can severely impact on your bottom line so in order to ensure steady growth, you need to make sure your site is loading as fast as possible.
As we’ve discussed, Growth Hacking is largely about your users growing your site for you, either by sharing your content or recommending your to others. This same research found that 44% of users who had a bad experience with a sites speed would tell their friends, which is the exact opposite of what we want to be happening.
There are many ways to optimise your site and if you’re on WordPress, there are many pre-built plugins that you can install. We will be covering website speed optimisation in a seperate guide but you need to make sure that your website is at least caching, images are optimised, and your code isn’t preventing your pages from loading promptly. For more information on the effects of a slow website, check out this infographic by Kissmetrics based on the research above.
6. Test Your Landing Pages
One of the most important areas of Growth Hacking is testing and this is most apparent on your landing pages. You want to get your conversion rates up as high as possible and get into the mindset that every non-signup/purchase is a missed opportunity.
As long as your design is modern, fresh and easy to navigate, you don’t need to worry too much about changing that continuously but it’s always a good idea to have two designs to run through A/B testing. The real area where people are losing out on conversions is on their copy. They haven’t written truly engaging content that draws the customer in. There are many ways you can test your landing pages. Some sites have that function built in automatically if you use their landing pages. However, it can be as simple as running two pages on your WordPress site and analyse the data against each other.
Make small adjustments and see what works best. Eventually you’ll find the combination with the highest conversion rates and be able to replicate for future campaigns. However, it’s important to keep in mind that you should always be conducting tests and measuring results.
7. Social Proof
People like to do what other people are doing and the best way of leveraging this for your site is through social proof. You want to show that other people are enjoying your site and finding value in it. But what are the best ways to show social proof?
Testimonials from people who have used your product or service are some of the some of the most valuable pieces of social proof you can have on your website. They’re reviews that you get to choose to display on your site. It’s worth dedicating time to collecting these testimonials and reviews through email campaigns after a purchase.
Similar to testimonials, a case study is a longer profile about how your product or service provided value to a customer. People like stories and reading about specific cases allows them to better envisage your product/ service and how it can help them. Offer incentives or advertising in exchange for these case studies and your customers will be more than willing to give them.
If you’ve written for other well known brands, been mentioned by them etc, then you need to be displaying their logo on your site. When people see your brand associated with these then they’ll automatically assume that you’re packing as much power or are on the road to getting there.
How many customers use your product, your social media following, how many visitors your site get etc. These figures all go back to the main point we made that people like to do what other people do. By showing that you have a large following, other people will be much more inclined to follow you to. There are many statistic counters available, especially on wordpress.
8. Email Drip Campaigns
Email marketing is still as important as it’s ever been and many rapidly growing startups can attribute their success to carefully mapped email campaigns. A drip campaign means that you send people out a specific series of emails over a period of time when they send up.
The way this works best is to give out a lot of free and valuable information at the start before ever trying to make a sale. Another successful email campaign involves offering a person a discount if they can get more people to sign up as well. This allows them to do a lot of the marketing for your and if you’re offering a lot of value, these offers can be spread rapidly.
Email platforms such as Aweber allow you to set up these automated campaigns. Again, copy here is essential so if you’re not sure how to construct your emails it’s worth investing in a professional to help you word them in a way that converts highly.