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Thinking of starting a business?
And planning to take your business to the next level of success?
Well, one in five of 18-34 year-olds thinks the same thing. Starting a business online.
Many of us have a business idea. However, it’s not uncommon to be worried about things going wrong or making the wrong decisions.
There are not only thousands of people trying to start a business or who just launched a business, but also a multitude of people walking back. The failings are not all about the money required to keep the business going; but also the lacks of growth, proper planning and continuous improvement required to make a business sustainable.
In an ever-evolving eCommerce atmosphere, starting and managing a business has now become a daunting process. Statistics show rather worrying data for launching a successful small business.
“About half of all new establishments survive five years or more and about one-third survive 10 years and more.”
I have been successfully running a business for almost 9 years. Throughout the years, I observed factors that relegated businesses — I have seen people quitting.
I learned from their mistakes and educated myself on trends and researched into the causes of business failure and its potential remedy.
I eventually decided to write an article that could guide a novice, a beginner looking for rapid growth with spending less.
At an early phase of a startup, getting out the name of your business and forming a fan base is difficult. In a fast-evolving eCommerce climate, it’s even harder to compete with large, established companies through conventional methods.
The need to attract the target audience and reach a large section them shortly by investing less resulted in “growth hacking”. Growth hacking refers to a bunch of conventional and unconventional methods or strategies of marketing employed to gain rapid growth. It was coined by Sean Ellis who is the founder of GrowthHackers.
As of writing this article, I’m involved with an SaaS product, and helping a startup gaining over 200k pageviews a month. I learned of different growth hacks and implemented them successfully.
I segmented the growth hacks strategies here in this post as per stages they concern.
Lets move on….
Building Early Traction
Make your business ready for further action. Build a strong foundation first and then go for marketing and selling your stuff.
“Don’t start a company unless it’s an obsession and something you love. If you have an exit strategy, it’s not an obsession.” –Mark Cuban, serial entrepreneur and investor
- Starting a business requires planning. Set a business plan. A strong business plan will serve as an effective roadmap for business success.
- Your business plan should outline the route your company will take to increase revenues.
- Set clearly defined goals to achieve. Define how many customers you need per week. “I will build a large customer base” is not focused and goal oriented. Rather say – “I will need 4 customers a month”.
- Define how many emails you want to send per week. Send an introductory warm up email, ask questions and add values to their business. Then on the second email; sell.
- Write an executive summary to inform your reader of your company. Your executive summary should include your business goals; i.e., where you want to see it and why your business plan will be successful.
- Inform your target audience about a need or gap in the market that your company will be able to fill up. This is called finding the pain points of the customers which you will solve providing your services or products. Beth Carter has shared an awesome strategy to find customer’s pain points analyzing the niches you are on.
- Write a compelling company description describing your products/services meeting customers needs.
- Research into your business industry, marketing realm and competitors.
- Analyze your competitors’ strengths and weakness.
- Research the barriers that could hinder your growth as you enter the market.
- Look into possible indirect competitors that may impact your growth.
- Narrow down your target market to a tractable size. Compare the size with your industry’s current size and historic growth rate.
“Mistakes will not end your business. If you are nimble and willing to listen to constructive criticis you can excel by learning and evolving.”– Meridith Valiando Rojas, co-founder and CEO of DigiTour Media
Customer Acquisition Growth Hacks
- Everything starts with defining your ideal customer profile. Everything else about marketing becomes easier when you can attract the right type of customers who are actually looking for your products or services.
- Break down your ideal customer’s journey that he/she will take to pay you. Pinpointing the journey will allow you to define your acquisition funnel. The hard sell is stupidity. Warm up your customers, share your thoughts with them, let them explore your values and then sell.
- Utilize the biggest opportunities for rapid wins. Like always stay notified with your email and messenger where you will get notifications of new queries about your businesses.
- Content is one of the most important elements to a customer acquisition campaign. Utilize your company’s thought leadership content to help your target audience find you and then utilize content to transform the lead from a query into a relationship.
- SlideShare could be a great medium to find your prospects and get the word out. Comment regularly on SlideShare presentations and inform your prospects. Why not start building your own slides today?
- Enable your prospects to sign-up for email by using a clear and noticeable form on each page. The sign-up form should stay at the top. Thrive Leads can be a great choice for you to start building your email list.
- Add exist-intent technology to your website. It allows you to convert a leaving visitor into subscribers and customers. An exist-intent popup will capture email addresses in the form of offering a survey or a giveaway.
- Utilize your mailing list by dispatching relevant but older content on the weekends. It could be a great way to invite your traffic with little effort.
- Submitting your app to awards will provide you with several benefits; such as exposure and credibility. Your app entering and winning contests will market your app. Participate in the competitions organized by 148apps.com, AppCircus, AppsWorld, etc.
- When a visitor comes to your page and completes a conversion, you need a Thank You page to guide the customer afterward. The Thank You page could continue your interaction with a user. Here are some awesome Thank You Page examples you can implement right now on your business website or blog.
- MailChimp’s Wavelength is a great tool for publishers to easily find other publishers and establish strategic alliances, co-marketing, etc.
- Launching a startup requires submitting it to various startup directories and review sites. A couple of startup directories are – 365startup.it, allweb2.com, apps400.com, etc.
- Utilize the power of Triberr. Triberr is a social network for bloggers. Pay for its influencers.
- Use a secondary CTA on your Thank You page. Encourage your recently converted leads with a secondary CTA on the Thank You Page.
- Use pre-filled form fields for the information you already know about your users. Pre-filled lead generation forms to make it easier for them to convert.
- Hire a virtual assistant to visit the websites of your ideal customers and fill out web forms and collect their emails and send your promotional messages.
- If you have a viral piece of content, then use referral marketing tools like Pay with a Tweet. Tools like Pay with a Tweet, Like or Plus require people to share or like in order to gain access to your content.
- Attract LinkedIn profile owners (related to your niche or business category) by sending them exclusive offers.
- Join various groups on LinkedIn in your niche. Promote your content to your groups with social media plugins.
- Reward the influencers in your niche with heavy discounts in exchange for promotion.
Growth Hacking Strategies
“The strategy is to first know what you don’t know, the tactic is to grind, and the value is to remember: there are plenty of places to innovate.” – David Friedberg, founder of Weatherbill
- Make Your Website Content Long – Longer content gives your business a powerful boost. It can help you reach more prospects in the long run. Neil Patel recently shared a Case Study about how longer content gets more traffics and customers.
- Utilize SEO – Search Engine Optimization (SEO) laid the foundation for many customer acquisition tactics. Target long-tail keywords too instead of focusing only on the main keywords. Get your site’s SEO audited and stands out the crowd.
- Focus on Long Tail Keywords – Long Tail Keywords strategy can help you increase traffic from search engines. Focus on Long Tail Keywords. Go to UberSuggest and type your keyword and hit search. You will find a lot of long tail keywords of your niche.
- Create Beginner Guides – The strategy can prove effective and allow you to tap into your customer’s interest who are just beginners or newcomers on the industry you are selling your products or services. Your customers can be interested in your line of work to satisfy their curiosity.
- Become Useful – Anything helpful can help you garner an audience. No matter what you sell; building tools, providing guidance, writing informative articles, etc. can make your customers’ lives easier. And in return, they will share your content which will reach your brand to more customers and audiences.
- Market on Forums – Utilize the power of forum marketing. There are specialist forums and conversations you can find; join them. Just search on Google by typing “Your Keyword + Forum” and you will find lots of related forums where you can register yourself and start conversations instantly.
- Discuss and Pitch – Any conversation (in forums, blogs, websites, public pages) relevant to your product/service can be a great way to pitch. Observe the discussion that’s trending. When the opportunity arrives, put forward your product/service.
- Converse with your Customers – Engage in conversations with people. Talk to them about your product. Answer their questions, guide them and build relationships with them. Yahoo Answers and Quora are two great sources where you can engage with the real people who are in trouble.
- Track and Monitor Competitors – Stay on the lookout for mentions of your competitors. Monitor the Web, react to the mentions of your competitors. Any mentions related to their brand or their products can open a door to an opportunity to build a relationship.
- Online Partnership – Develop partnerships on the Web. It’s much stronger than the ones developed in the offline world. Businesses thrive on building relations with each other offering auxiliary services.
- Networking – It’s one of the greatest assets in online marketing. Current customer base, personal connections, business connections can greatly help in acquiring customers. Go and express yourself on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and obviously on LinkedIn.
- Revitalize Old Customers – Every business has former frequents. If they don’t have a negative experience with you, then they can help in scaling customer acquisition.
Enticing Growth Hacks To Engage More People!
- Offer Discounts and Deals – it’s a creative and low-cost method to attract more customers to your business. People conceive discounts and deals as a huge opportunity to save money. Discounts and deals usually encourage customers to buy more products or services. They also advertise your brand.Think about the big brands who are selling millions of dollars on Black Friday or Cyber Monday by just giving discounts. The new startups can follow this strategy as well.
- ‘Free’ spreads like a wildfire – everybody loves free stuff. Giveaways allow people to know that your brand exists. It also lets you prove the value of your product or service. ‘Free … First 20 people only’ can easily grab a lot of attention.Besides, you can send “Free” ebooks to your subscribers, allow 15 days FREE usages on any of your tool or products.
- Start a Contest – contest is always not about winning. It’s the thrill that getting lucky or beating other people provides. Contests help you engage your audience.Let’s say you’re in the photography business and going to arrange a content.What you gonna do?Create a contest page on your website Ask other photographers to send their best photo. Eventually, you will select one or three of them and let them have to win a crest or some dollars.What will you get in return?You will get lots of backlinks from other bloggers, local tiny news sites as because they will cover your contest news on their blogs or newspapers. You may have to do little bit PR; but why wouldn’t you?
- Set Up a Referral Program – businesses from wedding business to online storage service took advantage of a referral program because it helps grow their business.For instance: ‘Dropbox’ during its primary stage and even today offering storage upgrade for each referral party pending their sign up with the cloud storage giant.
- Word-of-mouth; textbook – people may be dubious about paid advertising. But, they can trust a family member, a friend, or a neighbor, so focus on satisfying your customers.Start a reward program for your existing customers. Bringing more people in will result in more free products.
Growth Hacking Tools & Resources For Startups
- Optimizely – for managing split testing / A/B tests. The tool will help you optimize your website and drive interactions.
- Content Marketer – this tool can come handy for promoting your blog content. You can also communicate with influencers, thus it will build relationships and generate traffic.
- Active Campaign – the tool offers the one-stop solution for marketing package. It comes up with email marketing, automated follow-ups and Customer Relationship Management. You can set up segmentation, drips and further action with this tool.
- Hubspot – it’s an all-in-one marketing suite. It offers a platform for strengthening marketing strategies. Hubspot publicizes a plethora of content on marketing.
- Mautic – it is full-featured open-source marketing platform. The platform helps you track leads, steer email, and social marketing campaigns and establish drip email campaigns. Anything that involves setting up and managing open-source software, Mautic is the appropriate platform for you.
- Google Analytics – tracking web traffic and objectives and personalizing experiences; Google Analytics offers great ease.
- ClickMeter – it is a great tool to track clicks made on all your links on your site. Such tracking allows you to measure how popular the links on your site are and which platform offers the best.
- Maptive – in order to interpret data quickly and manage complex location-based data; this tool offers great help.
- Chartio – a tool for managing and understanding business intelligence data.
- Hotjar – it’s a great tool that helps you find areas of opportunity and potential growth. It also focuses on Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO).
Project Management Tools
- Basecamp – in order to manage a project and set up communication across multiple teams and departments; Basecamp is a useful tool.
- Asana – it helps you to set up management process for projects and communication within your company or department.
- Trello – this tool is specifically designed for personal project management or smaller team-based management.
- Evernote – millions of people use it to jot a reminder down. It helps you manage your project with text, images or documents.
- Voxer – Voxer is the app that lets you send voice messages. You can attach live voice with text, photos, and videos.
- Rescue Time – this productivity tool will monitor all your activities on your computer. It will show all the data in detail how you are using or wasting, your valuable time. There’s a weekly report to let you know if your productivity is increasing or decreasing.
- Simply Noise – the tool helps you cancel out all the outside distraction and noise surrounding you and makes you more focused on the task presented in front of you.
- Google Drive – very effective and popular tool for sharing documents, associating with team members and working from anywhere.
- AnyDo – the tool helps you build personal and professional task lists.
- Pocket – you can save something with Pocket you want to read it at a later time. It stores your resources.
Social Media Tools For Faster Growth Hacks
- Good Audience – the tool provides a full-fledged team to manage your social media. Good Audience employs a management team to tailor and post content, then respond to your fans.
- Buffer – it’s a great tool for scheduling posts for certain periods of time. You can plug the tool into other tools to schedule events for posting articles or images to social media.
- DrumUp – I came across this tool when looking for an awesome solution to manage to post tweets. You can choose from a feed of articles with images. You can opt for articles to go in your queue to post later.
- Canva – you can use this tool to design graphics for social media, your website, and blog.
- Flare – this social media sharing tool for WordPress sites can help you insanely boost up your social shares and engagement.
Online Learning Tools For Growth Hackers
- Udemy – helpful for honing your skill on a particular subject before hiring someone else to do it.
- Clarity – if you want startup advice, then Clarity is for mentoring and coaching you. You can browse a community of Clarity experts, find the right one for you.
- Coursera – you can find a multitude of professional careers on Coursera. Enrolling in these courses, you can give yourself or your employees a proper boost.
- YouTube – nothing beats a visual medium of multidisciplinary education and entertainment.
Networking With People From the Same Niche
- Caliber – it’s a phone app that assists you in meeting other people in your industry or profession.
- FounderDating – looking to find co-founders? FounderDating could arrange something. You can find Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) or technical co-founder.
Customer Retention Growth Hacks
- Drip Campaigns – launch a drip email campaign for inactive customers. Offer coupons for returning users. Also, try offering a 100% discount voucher to bring your customer back for a month. Your customer didn’t visit you for 2 months? Update them on your newly-arrived products, lucrative offers and discounts.
- Launch an Email Campaign – newsletters may seem annoying to some users, but if you could offer them the value they will crave for more. Emails are an inexpensive and effortless way to get in touch with your inactive customers.
- More than just a Product – treat your customers as important. Think about who they are and what they care about. Don’t focus on increasing revenues always. Embrace and engage with your customers.
- Thank You Cards – thank your customers by sending them hand-written notes to prove your commitment.
- User Exclusives – create exclusive groups for special users. Offer them tools, gifts, Webinars, etc.
- Credit Card Expiration Notices – notify your customer of potential credit card expiration. Remind them of the value they get and what they risk losing if they don’t update the credit card in due time.
- Something’s A miss – when a user returns to you, inform them of what they missed and what they can expect now.
Growth Hacking Mistakes You Shouldn’t Do
- Trying to Do Everything Yourself – wanting to keep costs down in the early phases by not hiring staff could eventually cost you even more. Establishing a business is hard work and it often takes a concerted effort to launch it.
- Starting to Hire Quickly – don’t interpret the first mistake as the signal to go on a shopping spree for staff. Take the time to look for the employees who are skilled and right fit.
- Overspending on Flashy Marketing and Expensive Office – you don’t need to have the best of everything at the very beginning. Flashy outward appearance of a legitimate business doesn’t make your business more appealing.
- Stinting on The Business Plan – what you planned for your business today will determine how it will do tomorrow. Your solid business plan will determine your future success.
- Managing Money Incorrectly – as a founder, you may feel compelled to blow through a lot of cash pretty quickly. Make the best and proper use of your finances.
- Minuscule Thinking – targeting a small crowd on the competition doesn’t always bode well.
- Selecting The Wrong Location – setting up your business in the right location is an important factor. Just consider that many successful tech companies tend to rise from tech hubs like Silicon Valley, Portland, etc.
- Launching Too Early or Too Late – you need to achieve a balance between the two situations. Research on your competitors or their history, learn how receptive the market is to the similar kind of products.
- Believing in Your Idea Too Much – believing in yourself and your ideas is a great way to thrive. But, you should also be aware of your mistakes and flaws.
- Going in Half-Heartedly – learn to recognize risks and confront your will to sacrifice. You need to tell yourself that you’re giving away your 100%. If you don’t invest your enthusiasm in your business, how will your customers believe in what you do?
What Does A Growth Hacker Do To Take This To Next Level?
- Learn from Others’ Success Stories & Mistakes – browse through the startup stories of successful entrepreneurs, and marketers. Every success story contains bumps and mistakes that an entrepreneur faces. Learn from their mistakes and prepare yourself for the challenges.
- Hone Your Experience – gain a comprehensive understanding of your business sector. Don’t be ashamed to relegate yourself to understand the ins and outs of your business. Learning a business from the inside can help you navigate it.
- Examine Your Customer – understand your customers. Converse with people within the customer demographic. Ask yourself, “How can you tweak your business to meet the customers’ demand?”
- Learn from Your Competitors – researching the market will enable you to understand your competition. You can get to grips with your business and customers just by looking at how your competitors do business. Offer your customers something exceptional and better to start getting noticed.
- Financial Breakdown – think about the ways you will make money. Take time to focus on your startup investment and how much potential profit your business stands to make. Break down assumptions, running monthly overhead, break-even point.
Bottom Line – The startup process isn’t all flourishing. Of the companies that do stretch for five years or so do not make it big.
With three-quarters of venture capital startups ceding, how can you prevent your business from becoming one of them?
Consider going through all the growth hacking tips, strategies and tools listed above and tweak your business as per them. Always remember to serve your customer, not yourself.
Hey, Its Shamim – the man behind this blog. Thanks for reading the article above and glad to see that you just have come so far below this page. 😛 I work late at night for LateNightBirds as my IM team works at day. 🙂 Subscribe to get SEO & Marketing resources & hacks once a week to your inbox (Find the box somewhere :D). Follow me on Facebook, Twitter and on YouTube.