Growth hacking is the process of identifying the most efficient ways to expand a business. Contrary to traditional marketing methods, where teams were focused almost purely on acquisition, growth hacking also focuses on retention and conversion. The aim for growth teams is to find the best opportunities for expansion within a business, to set objectives and to focus all their efforts on achieving them.
At the core of growth hacking is agility. Previously people would make a plan for building their business at the beginning of the year, follow the plan, and review at the end of the year. Over time this has changed and, ultimately, what works today probably won’t work in a couple of months time. It’s essential for businesses to have a more flexible approach. Forbes have listed growth hacking as one of the major trends to shake up digital marketing in 2018. As new channels come to the forefront and others fade away, you need a team that is agile enough to work the new channels and find opportunities for driving growth.
Embracing this agile process within a business is fundamental to its success. It is a challenging prospect, and in this article we’ll cover three of the key ways to scale a growth team:
The first challenge is finding enough time to be able to step back and see what you should be doing within the business. It’s easy to get into a pattern of managing and reacting. When you are so busy, you won’t be able to be strategic enough to focus on new opportunities as they emerge.
- Once you’ve found the right opportunity for expansion, next comes the challenge of getting everyone in your team to focus on the goal. As growth hacking encompasses customer retention, conversion, monetisation and referral it is more than just marketing. For objectives to be met you’ll need help from other people within the business.
- And finally, businesses must learn how to test and learn effectively. The more tests you can run, the more information you have to guide your business development. However, this information needs to be tracked and learned from if it is to be effective.
Make Time to Find High Leverage Growth Opportunities
As we’ve already touched on, it’s easy to get so caught up in managing the business that there isn’t time to find the best growth opportunities. Unfortunately, being busy doesn’t drive business development. The key to managing to find the right opportunities is understanding the stage your business is at. There are three stages to growth hacking that will enable you to focus accordingly and free up your time when you need to drive growth:
- Establish product market fit – you can’t build a business if no-one wants the product that is on offer. More than this, you need a large group of people to consider your product to be a must-have. Organic growth is one of the most significant drivers. If you only have a few people who consider your product a must have you need to work out why and try to find more of them. Find your customers who would be really disappointed to lose your product and ask them what the benefits are and why they are important. If the benefits are consistent across your most loyal customers, then you know this is the benefit to focus on. You should aim to ensure that as many people as possible have this same experience.
- Make the business scalable – this is where you focus the business model on the must-have benefit of the product. This is your core value proposition that will draw in people who align with the views of your best customers. Time should be spent focusing on user experience, conversion rate optimisation, onboarding, optimising flows, and establishing early channels that are working. You will also need to embed processes during this stage and ensure you are working in an agile way.
- Drive growth – once you have product-market fit and have established a scalable business, it’s time to drive the business forward and focus on new opportunities. You should already be executing an agile process by this point which should free up your time. To work out the first opportunity to focus on you will need to test. You need to test the right things though. Don’t be afraid to look at other successful businesses for ideas. Neil Patel offers some great examples of small changes that have made a big difference. Figure out what is really holding back the business and focus your energy on this area. You will need to use the creative energies and skill sets from across the company to help you achieve your objectives.
Mobilise your Team to Achieve Objectives
Having an agile approach to marketing is relatively easy when you have a small team. With fewer people involved it is easier for a business to be more flexible and to move from one opportunity to another. However, as a business expands this becomes more complicated and, if you’re successful at growth hacking, this will inevitably become a challenge you’ll face.
When working with a team of any size the first step is to ensure you have great communication and to let everyone know what the objective is. You’ll need a timeframe within which to achieve the objective and will need to baseline where the business is currently at to have a place to work from. Ensure that you take into account past learnings and use everything you already know to help you achieve your goal. Once the objective has been communicated, you can encourage the team to drive ideas. The objectives should be set at the executive level, but everyone within the team should be given the opportunity to come up with ideas to achieve them. This will ensure that your team stays motivated and feels involved and invested in your goal.
Once you have ideas, you’ll need to prioritise which ones to test. You should run tests, analyse results and repeat until you either achieve the objective or run out of time. If you’ve failed to reach your objective within your given timeframe, you’ll need to assess whether to give it more time or to change the goal. Do bear in mind that if you’re continually optimising and don’t reach your objective, then it might just be that you were already doing pretty well in that area.
Test and Learn
To embrace growth hacking you need to establish a testing process that ensures you can continually test and learn. If you test too much but don’t do anything with the results then it is just noise. You need to document every test to know what has worked and what hasn’t. Create a system of records to consolidate information; this will allow you to keep track and ensure information is accessible to the team. This is especially important when new people join your team; they will be demotivated if no-one knows what you’ve already done. Another great benefit of documenting your tests is that you’ll be able to refer back and take on learnings for new tests. Also, you need to know what is live and when. If you test too many things at once they will conflict, won’t give you true results, and may well cancel each other out. You need to find out what you need to work on to develop the business but remember not to lose track of the things that are already working. You need to automate, monitor and get people working on these areas so you don’t lose touch.
Taking on board these three key areas will help you to implement growth hacking sustainably. You will need to free up enough of your time to focus on growth hacking, ensure you are working on the right metrics, and focus on the one that has the highest impact for the business at that time. Communications will need to be centralised to mobilise your team to reach your objectives. Everyone should know what you’re doing and what their role is in trying to achieve it. Finally, you’ll need to set up a system to keep track of testing. Everyone in your team should know what works, what doesn’t, and what you’ve already tried. The more tests you run the smarter you’ll become over time.