A B2B marketer’s guide to growth hacking
When you first hear the term “growth hacking”, your mind probably fills with questions:
- Is it complicated?
- Does it work?
- Is it even legal?!
While it might sound like a dark art, there is science and strategy behind growth hacking and it can be extremely effective for your business when you get it right.
For B2B startups that want to grow and generate leads super-fast but only have limited resources, growth hacking strategies can often be an ideal method for exponential growth.
What is Growth Hacking?
In a nutshell, growth hacking is a branch of digital marketing where everything you do is designed to get the maximum number of sales/conversions for the lowest possible investment. The clue is in the name: growth is everything! The “hacking” part refers to the unconventional, out-of-the-box strategies that companies attempt in a bid to achieve exponential sales growth.
'Growth Hacking' is also known as the most up-to-date iteration of demand generation. The term was coined by entrepreneur Sean Ellis in 2010. It's only 10 years later and he is already the CEO of GrowthHackers, an online community dedicated to promoting the art and science of growth hacking.
That alone should tell you how significant the positive impact that b2b marketing and growth hacking could have on YOUR business, too.
What is B2B Demand Generation?
Demand gen is one of many inbound marketing strategies for building awareness and driving interest in your product or service, aimed at creating a predictable revenue funnel that can be reused for lead generation time after time.
It is a long-term process designed to target potential leads at every touchpoint of their customer journey, from passive consumers to active brand/business ambassadors.
Demand gen is heavily data-driven and relies on you to constantly track and record your key prospects over their buyer lifetime.
Who is Growth Hacking For?
Because it’s about achieving a lot with a little, growth hacking is usually a method implemented by startups and scale-ups.
They don’t have the budgets for expansive marketing campaigns or star-studded product or service launches, so they have to get creative.
For B2B marketing businesses and SaaS companies that often need to grow quickly to reassure financial investors, it’s a popular lead generation strategy.
What Does a Growth Hacker Do?
As you might have guessed, a growth hacker focuses on growth. It’s one of the fundamental umbrella metrics for B2B marketing startups and that's about all that they focus on.
But what kind of growth do they focus on?
Growth hackers tend to focus on the growth of the business as a whole, with an emphasis on revenue, sales, and the growth of their customer base.
Growth hackers don’t have to be singular entities, either. Anyone can be a growth hacker as long as they have the right focus. That means being:
and you MUST be able to find unique ways of growing a company’s user base.
Because more customers = more sales = more revenue = more GROWTH.
Examples of Growth Hacking Done Right
There are many famous examples of companies using growth hacking successfully. Here are some of the most notable:
The online storage firm Dropbox offered existing users extra capacity if they referred them to their friends.
This incentivized their evergreen offering tenfold and implemented the tactics of network marketing in order to promote its offer (relying on customers to refer Dropbox to their friends where their friends would refer it to their friends, and so on, ad infinitum).
The online holiday rental app leveraged the classified site Craigslist to bring early users in quickly.
Even when Craigslist found out what was going on and shut it down, it was too late, Airbnb users were hooked!
Google’s email app started by invite only, which created massive FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) in the tech community. It went viral and everybody wanted one!
The note-taking app started with early funding challenges, but due to giving away their basic service for free (the so-called “Freemium” model), Evernote grew its customer base organically and soon was able to become a multi-million dollar B2C company with over 75 million users.
How to Get Started with Growth Hacking
The concept of growth hacking is not as anarchic as it sounds. It’s based around a rigid structure, driven by data and managing only what you can measure.
5 Steps to Growth Hacking Success:
1. Get your product right -
Before you spend time and resources getting your product or service in front of as many customers as possible, you have to make sure that it works. You want new users to love your product or service, not discard it immediately. Where possible, build in a network marketing effort.
2. Set your goals -
Set S.M.A.R.T (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound) goals for your growth hacking campaign. If your goal is raising the number of leads you generate, define how many lead generation users you want to bring onboard. Before you start, work out what success looks like for you.
3. Test, test, test! -
You simply cannot run multiple growth hacking strategies simultaneously because you will not know which ones are working.
Pick 1 growth hacking strategy and implement it quickly.
Run these consistently as structured B2B lead generation experiments.
4. Analyze your data results -
Measure the leads you generate against your data predictions to decide if your B2B growth hacking strategy worked.
Then, move on to the next one.
Let the data drive your growth hacking in the right direction.
In time, you will find that leads and customers come organically, and you will know where to go when challenges crop up.
5. Learn and Improve -
Perform more split tests to look for ways to improve your growth hacking campaign.
Use social sites like Instagram or Facebook as a testing ground for content optimization: see what users engage with more or less.
Trial and error make up a significant portion of B2B demand gen, and it takes a great deal of patience to follow through with it.
But if you stick with it, nurture your leads, and bide your time, practice will inevitably make perfect.
Business Ideas for Growth Hacking and Demand Generation
There is an enormous number of growth hacking and lead generation strategies out there.
Some involve creating content that promotes your product and getting it out to as many people as possible.
On the other hand, others involve creating a buzz around your product or service, making it seem more desirable or necessary than it might actually be.
8 Growth Hacking & Demand Generation Ideas Your Business Can Try:
1. Valuable & Relevant Content Marketing
Content marketing is one of the most important methods of growth hacking because, when you do it right, it's the perfect way to showcase authority in your niche and stand out as a thought leader.
You could start a blog offering helpful tips, advice, and guidance on key topics within your niche, or outsource this responsibility to a seasoned copywriter or content marketing expert that 'gets' your voice and understands the fundamentals and importance of SEO.
However, it's important to make sure that you update it regularly, whether that means once a month, weekly, or even daily. This will help to show that you can be consistent with your content marketing; a source of reliability; a 'guru', of sorts, that your subscribers can depend on no matter what challenges they face.
In any case, as B2B growth marketers, you should aim to create the kind of content that your subscribers can’t wait to share with their network. Your content has to, in a sense, take over their body and give them the impression that there's no other option BUT to press that 'BUY NOW' or 'BOOK' button.
2. Influencer Marketing
Find social media influencers with large followings within your niche and target audience, and ask them to contribute to your content and promote your brand.
This is particularly important if you are still in the 'brand awareness' stage of building your business, although awareness is an ongoing process that never really stops.
If you're constantly targeting new users and customers, then you'll always need to be on top of your social game.
Follow those engagement leads!
3. MVP Marketing (Minimum Viable Product)
Minimum Viable Product (or MVP) is a development strategy in which a current product is introduced to a small portion of the market, with features on the cusp of basic enough to capture the attention of consumers, a.k.a. potential leads.
The final endgame product or service is only released to the mass market/general public after getting sufficient enough feedback from the initial consumers of the product.
If you have an idea for a piece of long-form content, for example, before you spend days creating it, write a short LinkedIn summary post on it and ask people to comment if they would like ‘early bird access’.
In any case, the engagement and traction you get here will be a good litmus test for the content’s appeal and it typically will only take you 30 minutes to find the perfect MVP for your business.
4. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Some might argue that SEO falls more into optimization than growth, but optimizing your content and sites goes a long way to getting seen, getting heard, and growing.
One way to do this could be to tactically include niche-relevant, keywords in your blog content.
The main goal of SEO is to get your site ranked higher in Google's Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) and, therefore, noticed by more people.
Also, it's important to note that it doesn’t have to cost a boatload of money; it just requires long-term commitment and a clear strategy.
Get started early on so you get a head start.
5. Email Marketing
Never underestimate the power of email marketing!
Out of all of the inbound strategies for the generation of leads, email marketing has been proven to be the most effective in positioning brands as dependable thought leaders with something of real value to offer within their niche.
Email marketing is a fantastic method by which to introduce your target audience to your brand because you can offer guidance with ease, simply offering tips through a series of valuable, engaging, and deliverable emails.
Over time, your subscriber list will grow when your customers come to see you as a 'guru' of information, and if you're good enough at sales copywriting, then you'll see your conversions soar.
This is a particularly great demand generation strategy because checking our emails is pretty standard these days - everyone's doing it - and if you're looking to hack your way to authentic growth, then this is the way to do it. Everyone reads their emails, it's not clickbait-y, and it has an extremely high open rate when it comes to inbound marketing.
6. Public Relations (PR)
Get your product featured in relevant and widely-read publications, because this will get you seen by a lot of people, and FAST, and will position you and your brand as an entity with merit, respected by thought leaders within your niche.
For B2B SaaS startups, a good option is TechCrunch, since this is a publication that is viewed by all kinds of tech-savvy customers and potential leads, from product designers, R&D teams, and more.
You can hack this early on by flipping the focus of your PR onto the key people in your business rather than the company.
7. PPC on Search & Social Media
Invest some budget in highly-targeted ads on Google and social media, as this will help you to target the right leads, ones that are relevant to your business and will actively help it to grow, not just in follower/subscriber count, but in revenue and sales, too.
Run tests in Ad sprints. Test, optimize, and find your perfect combination to drive growth.
Remember, you don't have to be loaded: you can learn a lot on a surprisingly small budget.
8. Develop a Free Niche-Relevant Tool
A great way to hack growth is to build a free tool, resource, deliverable, or downloadable that will be useful to your target audience. Your tool could be as simple as:
- an email subject line simulator
- a cheat sheet of the top 5, top 10, or top 'x' ways to master a skill in your niche
- a guide that provides answers to the most common FAQs you receive
- OR a master list of free & paid tools your customers can implement in their own business strategies.
Whatever tool or tools you build, ensure it's something that will keep people running back hungry for more, every time.
If you can, get it featured on Product Hunt - the go-to for everything trending in the product design & management industry. Get your free tools seen there, and your inbox could be flooded with requests for weeks!