Updated: Mar 15
Do you remember those dino times when it was enough to get a "Coffee shop" sign or name your business a "Logistic company" to attract tons of visitors?
Today we live in an over-communicated society where companies are pressured to grow faster and differentiate. Forward-thinking business owners and growth marketers must make the time to research new ways to boost growth when you consider that consumer acquisition costs have increased by 55% over the last four years. Moreover, according to McKinsey research covering 5000 companies during 2009-2019, the average company only grew by 2.8% annually, and only one in eight of those companies had growth rates of more than 10% annually.
That's why "growth hacking," a term initially used by the first marketer at Dropbox, Sean Ellis, in 2010, is commonly used nowadays.
What is Growth Hacking?
Although any strategy intended for quick market expansion might be called a "growth hack," these strategies typically entail experimentation, inventiveness, and creative problem-solving empowered by deep data analytics.
Hacks put businesses on the fast track to connect with new and long-term audiences and increase sales. But it’s not just about the sales funnel on steroids. In reality, activation, retention, and referral are some of growth hacking's most essential components.
Growth hacking is often referred to as growth marketing or growth testing. It involves experimentation with minimal resources to achieve rapid growth and the best market product fit. Like the Pareto Rule - 20% of causes lead to 80% of consequences. The bedrock is to create an innovative product with built-in marketing features and improve it through constant testing.
Some Prominent Cases
The best example of the “auto-promotion” is the "PS: I Love You. Get Your Free Email at Hotmail" tagline with the clickable URL on the screen of the early Hotmail adopters. Thanks to this viral loop, they started from 3000 users per day and grew to one million within six months.
Early on, anyone who posted on Airbnb could cross-list on Craigslist with a single click. Airbnb hacked its development using a "bot" to fill out all Craigslist forms automatically. The team also appeared to search all vacation rental listings on Craigslist and email owners encouraging them to add their properties on Airbnb. They hired excellent cameras and took incredible shots for the owners rather than teaching them how to take better pictures. By enabling users to "wish" to stay in locations they had browsed, Airbnb's "Wish List" feature significantly impacted engagement. Moreover, it took off by 30% when they switched from a star to a heart. These experimental elements allowed Airbnb to shake off the world of hotel booking.
Most entrepreneurs are familiar with Dropbox's referral program, which resulted in its prominent growth in 15 months. Its strategy was unmistakable: give clients free storage space in exchange for referring additional customers. It was like winning the lottery in 2008.
Gmail used an invitation-only approach at launch to encourage growth. People often respond to this kind of promotion if it is a product they desire since the fear of missing out (FOMO) is a favored marketing technic. The invite-only growth hack was so successful that Gmail invites were auctioned on eBay. The recent Clubhouse invitation hunt proves this hint still triggers people.
Evernote is another case in point of cost-effective promotion. They provided notebook stickers "I'm not being rude. I'm taking notes to Evernote." to gain a wider audience and give a helpful solution to their customers.
Of course, this could only happen if the product was brilliant. For example, at that time, Gmail provided excellent email search capabilities, improved email management, and many other features that are now standard in all email clients.
So, one of the main principles of growth hacking is creating a proposition with the best market fit. Otherwise, it’s like putting cream on a pile of rubbish. Consider a “lean start-up” strategy proposed by Neil Patel to prepare for your product launch before you get the ball rolling.
Innovation As a Core
In 2023 we can hardly find a company without a referral program. Almost 180,000 people waited for Superhuman's individualized one-on-one onboarding, crushing their waitlist strategy. Many satisfied users have recorded two to four-year wait durations and still claim it is the best email client they have ever used. The old technics could successfully work if the product is truly unique.
Still, to be ahead of the race, you must run twice faster and look for out-of-the-box solutions. Promoting your product with innovative add-ons and psychological triggers is best to make it stand out. Here at Conceptology Education, we provide training on designing innovative ideas with the help of many creative methods. You can find nontrivial forms of the concept of your product and develop a cutting-edge plan to boost your sales.
Let's quickly look at some growth technics that may explode in light of current events and trends.
Hyper – personalization
By the end of 2026, the market for personalization software is projected to have increased from $620 million in 2020 to $2.2 billion. The market size for recommendation engines is anticipated to grow from $1.14 billion in 2018 to $12.03 billion by 2025, according to a report by IndustryARC.
The demand for customization systems is primarily driven by the need to enhance the customer experience and the rising trend of AI and ML. Organizations will also experiment with novel applications of these technologies in conjunction with advanced analytics to cater to customers' demands and offer better anticipation than ever.
Personalized mobile experiences, image recognition, omnichannel approach, multi-touch marketing campaigns, and AI technologies are the tools to give your customer the feeling of personal touch.
Being the pioneer of this marketing tactic, Netflix conducts about 250 A/B tests yearly to attract new clients and increase retention. They employ AI to generate suggestions based on information gathered from many sources, such as viewer ratings and watch history, search history, and device kind.
Personalization is also possible without high-tech solutions. PopSugar Fitness Youtube channel conducts workouts by trainers offering three difficulty levels in one video. So whether you are a beginner, intermediate, or advanced level, there are exercises suitable for you. It's not rocket science to implement, but it can enlarge the audience considerably.
Also, pay attention that, historically, cookie-based customization has been a popular technique for monitoring user behavior, but many users are increasingly taking steps to block or disable these cookies. As a result, many marketers are utilizing more sophisticated strategies like behavioral fingerprinting, which collects a user's preferences and interests based on specific patterns in their browsing history.
Immersive and Interactive Experience
According to the Gartner Future of Sales 2025 report, digital channels will account for 80% of B2B sales engagements by 2025. At the same time, the size of the global immersive technology market was estimated at USD 21.66 billion in 2021 and is projected to reach over USD 134.18 billion by 2030. In 2023 customers will chase an immersive experience in the way of selecting, buying, and enjoying goods and services.
Traditionally it is enabled by 3D environments and VR technologies. Consider online stores where we may explore and virtually "try on" different outfits, jewelry, and accessories. We might use augmented reality (AR), as introduced by Walmart, to visualize how clothes would fit on our bodies, or we might go to virtual changing rooms to try on clothing on avatars of ourselves, as already pioneered by brands like Hugo Boss.
Regarding content presentation, be aware of the shift towards video domination, as 91% of businesses will operate video as a marketing tool in 2023. Explainer videos are the most frequently produced video, followed by presentation videos, testimonial films, sales videos, and video advertisements. Dropbox once created a simple explainer video and generated an ROI of more than 1000%.
Instant gratification is what consumers seek as their attention spans are getting shorter. So even if you are shooting a longer movie, try to cut it up into shorter 15- or 20-second snippets that may be shared on TikTok, Instagram Reels, and YouTube Shorts.
Podcasting is another growing trend. Over 82 million people listened to podcasts in the US in 2022, which is predicted to increase even more in 2024, reaching over 100 million listeners. That's why Basecamp, Microsoft, Blue Apron, and other companies created their podcasts to interact with and educate customers on their industry field.
Live feeds were initially used in marketing during COVID lockdowns. The idea first gained popularity in video games, but it has since expanded to include different content, such as interviews, lessons, concerts, and eSports contests. Because of this, marketers will make significant investments in live streaming in 2023, particularly on Twitter Spaces and Instagram Live Rooms.
Cut the excess
It sounds like strange advice in terms of innovation. Still, companies should focus on improving existing processes and defining the most fruitful concepts, as the economic outlook could look better for 2023.
According to the Economist forecasts, the global GDP growth will decrease to 1.6% in 2023 from 2.8% in 2022, while inflation will remain at 6%. Many other specific changes might change the business landscape. For example, there will be anti-plastic restrictions from Spain to Canada. It will be expensive for consumer goods companies because about a third of all plastic is used for packaging, and around 10% is used for textiles.
The companies can employ the "eliminate" part of the SCAMPER technic to look for product or process characteristics that can be improved or removed. The point is to identify the odds or weak legs, whether the product feature, positioning, logistic services, or the target audience can be reevaluated to achieve the same output.
You may get inspired by the American Airlines "olive case ."The airline company cut out one olive from every salad served on board in 1987 and saved $40,000 annually. The corporation recognized that the twice-daily salad service on aircraft operating 365 days a year is an upgraded offering that no longer defines its core proposition.
Popeyes' focus on a single savory blend of Louisiana spices allowed them to take second place after KFC with low marketing costs. When they launched their Chicken Sandwich, followed by the "marketing war" social media campaign with their competitors, it was so successful that they were sued for selling out of the buzzed-about product.
When Walmart started opening its stores, its early strategy was to choose small American districts with family shops as competitors. That is where they grew their technical base and infrastructure for further expansion. Of course, the low price is the main success point, but who knows if they would hit the target if they launched on the highly competitive market with Kmart and Target as neighbors.
In the Conclusion
Whatever growth hacks you choose, remember to define the North Star Metric - the indicator that most accurately predicts a company's long-term performance. This metric must achieve three goals to be considered a "North Star": generate income, reflect customer value, and track advancement. A clear vision of a final destination point and a mixture of creative and technical mindsets will help you push the envelope of 2023.
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