Murat Aktihanoglu, founder of Entrepreneurs Roundtable Accelerator led an information session packed to the gills with hopeful startup founders and helpful information about growing a startup’s user base. The session started with the definition of growth hacking – it doesn’t usually, but sometimes, involves coding. “Growth hacking is about being creative and thinking of all the ways to get users.” The process boils down to how to attract traffic to your website and turn those visitors into customers. If growth hacking seems intimidating, it doesn’t help that there are an infinite number of channels.
Growth hacking is a faction of marketing whose process can be summed up as follows:
SET KPI’s → MEASURE and TRACK → ANALYZE → REITERATE
The first step one must take is to decide what numbers are important to your survival and growth –the key performance indicators. These can be anything from the number of unique monthly visitors, to total time on site. These numbers should be “ambitious – borderline crazy.” The CEO and CTO (if there is one) pick the goals for the company to achieve, and the whole team needs to buy into them.
While there are a number of channels for a startup to choose from, “you have to come up with your own framework. Every startup is different.”
While different, many startups (wrongly) believe that viral marketing is a “magic pill. That is not how it works.” There are a lot of ad buys and strategic marketing plans behind viral marketing that nascent founders factor in.
The next step is to measure and track your progress. It’s advisable to monitor stats every day, week, and month. After 30 days, check what’s going on – that’s the time to figure out why you were able to achieve or not achieve your intended goals. Analyze which channel is the best performing one and then “go crazy” on that channel.
Mint, for example, targeted bloggers, and used PR, and SEM. Another startup might decide that content marketing is their best bet, so they pay for sponsored posts from bloggers.
LTV → Life Time Value
CAC → Customer Acquisition Cost
Churn Rate is the number of customers that quit/total number of customers x 100
Cohorts A cohort is a portion of your users, based on when they signed up for your product
A smart startup enables product development and traction at the same time. Why? You need people to test features. As users interact with the product, it becomes clearer what editing needs to happen. “I personally love removing features. If it’s not helping users, remove it.”
Landing pages are not your homepage: they’re pages that are connected to a search engine marketing campaign. It should be a minimalist design, with only one button to encourage visitors to click and, thus, buy.
Copywriting is so important because “most startups are not able to communicate their main value proposition to their users.” Big companies like Coca-Cola use marketing that is largely based on emotional tugs at the heart. A big mistake startups make is focusing on the functional aspects of their product (features), and not on the benefits (eg, be seen as a more competent employee). However, B2B products benefit more from functional-based marketing. A good source to look up more copywriting tips is Copyhackers.
SOCIAL MEDIA LOGINS
Let users log in using social media. There’s much less friction than having them sign up with their email.
THE VARIOUS CHANNELS
When it comes to optimizing a channel, a founder has to make a lot of decisions when deciphering whether or not it’s working.
“Startups should not pay retainers to agencies.” When you have more of a budget, then you can engage them. Until then,growth hacking is the way to go.
When it comes to content marketing Moz, Unbounce and OkCupid are examples of startups that use content marketing effectively. Content is (relatively) cheap to produce, but takes lots of time. The most important thing is blogs and individuals linking to the website.
It’s important to be visible at events. Think outside the usual tech meetups. Put on a dinner party or invite people for drinks at a local watering hole.
Pricing can be used as an effective marketing tool, especially when using several price tiers. The most expensive tier makes the less expensive products more desirable. This is known as price anchoring.
Design your product so that it’s easy to share,which make it easy for people to promote you. An example of this is how AirBnB made it easy for their users to post to Craig’s List in their early days (caveat: Craig’s List would eventually block their servers).
“Every service has a must-have experience – the moment where a user realizes this is why I like this product. You have to get people to this point.”
In this stage of a company’s growth it’s vital to be continually testing.
“Founders have to be relentless.”