Growth Hacking
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There’s only a few ways to scale user growth, and here’s the list

There’s only a few ways to scale user growth, and here’s the list | Growth Hacking | Scoop.it

Scaling growth is hard – there’s only a few ways to do it
When you study the most successful mobile/web products, you start to see a pattern on how they grow. Turns out, there’s not too many ways to reach 100s of millions of users or revenue. Instead, products mostly have one or two major growth channels, which they optimize into perfection. These methods are commonplace and predictable.

Here are the major channels that successful products use to drive traction – think of them as the moonshots.

Paid acquisition. If your users give you money, then you can buy users directly through ads. Usually companies try to maintain a 3:1 CLV:CAC ratio to keep their margins reasonable after other costs. (eBay, Match, Fab, etc.)Virality. If your users love your product, then you can get major “word of mouth” virality driven by a high Net Promoter Score. If you can get your product to spread as a result of users engaging with the product, you can further optimize the viral loops using A/B tests to generate even more virality. People often measure “viral factor” to see how effectively existing users attract new users, and of course, you want your viral factor to exceed 1.0. (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter)SEO. If your product creates a ton of unique content, in the form of Q&A, articles, long-form reviews, etc., you might end up with millions of unique pages that can in turn attract hundreds of millions of new users who are searching for content via search engines. (Yelp, Rap Genius, Stack Overflow, etc.)Sales. For startups targeting SMBs or the enterprise, you’ll end up fielding a large sales org to handle both inbound and outbound. This is especially true for companies targeting local SMBs, where telesales becomes the only option. Of course, to make this work, you’ll need to generate a multiple in revenue of what you pay them.Other. There’s the odd partnership, like Yahoo/Google, that can help make or break a startup – but these are rare and situational. But sometimes it happens!

These channels work and scale, because of two reasons:

They’re feedback loops. Each of these channels creates exponential growth because when you make money from customers, you can use that money to buy more customers, which give you more money. Or in the virality scenario, a cohort of new users will invite even more users, who then invite even more on top of that.They have a high ceiling on saturation. Part of why paid acquisition will always be around is because people like free products, which cause these products to monetize using ads. As long as people will love free products (which they will, forever), there will be advertising to buy. The biggest ad networks reach a billion users or more. Similarly, SEO works because almost everyone uses Google, so as long as you’re dealing with a high-volume base of searches (like music lyrics, or products) then you’ll be able to reach hundreds of millions of users.

It might seem like it’s best to crack one of these channels right away, and then ride then into glory. But that almost never happens, and instead startups have to work towards them – but it takes time. To figure out if your CLV and CAC match up, you need to buy some users, then wait 6 months to see how well they monetize. If you want to see if your product is viral, you need to build your app, then wait to see if you have the retention and frequency to support a strong viral loop. SEO is hard because after the content is built, Google has to index it and you have to build PageRank. This can take months and years.

New products often only have months, or a year, to live, so these strategies are often not a real option.

High-risk, high-reward
Attacking one of these scalable channels is high risk but also high reward. Every startup has to make sure they are able to slot themselves into one of channels in order to scale their business, but in the meantime, how do you show enough traction to not run out of money?

This essay by Paul Graham gives us a clue, as he writes about Startups = Growth:

A good growth rate during YC is 5-7% a week. If you can hit 10% a week you’re doing exceptionally well. If you can only manage 1%, it’s a sign you haven’t yet figured out what you’re doing.

Another way to say this is, growth is measured through a percentage and so early on, small things can drive a high % growth when the base is small. When you’re starting, there’s a whole list of other tools you can use which don’t scale at all but are nevertheless low risk.

Here are some low-risk, unscalable ways to get users:

Getting your friends+family to use the productEmailing/posting among your local community, whether that’s college or an alumni mailing list or whateverGuest writing on niche blogs – you often see this with mommy blogs, etc.Cold e-mailing potential users and influencersEngaging with potential users over Twitter, Reddit, forums, and other communitiesContests and giveaways, partnering with a blogger/YouTuber or somethingGetting covered in niche press outlets, like the tech press… etc., etc.

All of the above require hustle, but are low-risk and fairly high-percentage. And when a contest can generate a few thousand signups, on a small base that’s not bad at all. The other added benefit is that these methods put you in direct/close contact with your users. So in the early phase, when you are still working on product/market fit, this can be an important way to learn if you have the right product.

However, none of these methods scale well, which is OK, if you know when you need to move on. Even getting covered in the mainstream press, like NYT level, maybe only garners a few hundred thousand signups max. Getting featured by Google or Apple is about the same thing. That’s better than nothing, of course, but it’s still far below what you need to get on a rocketship trajectory. For the rocketship, you’d need to perfect one of the 4 main channels I listed earlier.

So ultimately, how do you balance these? Let’s talk about the barbell strategy.

The barbell
To answer the question of how to balance these growth projects, let’s talk about the barbell strategy. The barbell strategy is a way that investors can split their holdings between some high-risk/high-return investments as well as low-risk/low-return conservative investments. Investopedia describes it:

Put your eggs in two baskets. One basket holds extremely safe investments, while the other holds nothing but leverage and speculation.

In the context of these growth channels, the key is to balance a series of progressively more scalable growth projects, while keeping track of the big growth channels that will help you shoot the moon.

Do the methods that don’t scale
During the early days, by all means, sign up friends and family. And get those blog mentions, and do all the content marketing you can handle. That’ll help create a base of engaged users, while you hit product/market fit. At each point, as what works caps out, go after the next marketing channel that can drive incrementally more users. In the early days, perhaps a contest partnership with a niche blog would do, but after a while, maybe you’d hire a small team to author long-term content marketing pieces to circulate.

Invest in moonshots
The other end of the barbell, the high-risk/high-reward projects, should be taken with deliberate projects and analysis. If you need your userbase to generate a lot more unique content for SEO, start fiddling around with features that reward long-form content. And start tracking what % of users write great content. And start making the small changes needed for Google to index your site. After a few months of this, you can start to understand what it would take to create enough pieces of unique content to make an SEO strategy work. You can usually work this kind of thing out on a spreadsheet.

Balancing between the two
It’s important to balance these short-term and long-term efforts. If all you do is work on nonscalable marketing methods, then inevitably the channels will tap out and your growth will slow. When you see the startups that are highly dependent on press hits for their traction, but seem anemic otherwise, this is exactly what’s happening.

The barbell strategy helps products make progress on long-term goals while still creating short-term momentum – you’ll need momentum to attract investor interest, but you’ll need the long-term scalable growth channels to really build your business.

Good luck. And if you have a product that’s working well, has a nice base of traction, and now the only things that can move the needle are scalable methods, don’t hesitate to email me for advice: voodoo at gmail.

 

Get your Free Business Plan Template here: http://bit.ly/1aKy7km

 


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Marc Kneepkens's curator insight, October 28, 2014 2:19 PM

Scaling is the buzz word. Andrew Chen explains what works, and  how.

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10 Good Web Marketing Tips for New Startups from John Doherty of Distilled

10 Good Web Marketing Tips for New Startups from John Doherty of Distilled | Growth Hacking | Scoop.it
Today, Ebyline proudly presents an exclusive interview with John F. Doherty, head of Distilled New York, founder of HireGun, international speaker, blogger, and photographer.

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Robin Good's curator insight, August 14, 2013 11:29 AM



Excellent advice, in this short but content-rich interview published by Ebyline. In it, John F. Doherty, head of one of the top SEO companies in the US, shares ten key tips about marketing, SEO and where to start, that can be of good help to new online startups.


The advice and suggestions provided are simple, straightforward and easy to read, thanks also to the good formatting style of the article.


Some of the best tips shared, focus on:


- what's the first step to take to market one's own company online


- how to create a social media following when you have none


- how to compete with established companies in the SERPs

- how to avoid the top four reasons for which Google penalizes a site

among several other ones.



Useful. Rightful. Clear. 8/10


Full article: http://blog.ebyline.com/2013/08/interview-with-john-doherty-distilled-ny-director-seo-for-startups/




Javier M - AxiomaWL's curator insight, August 18, 2013 8:30 PM

Awesome tips.

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7 Growth Hack Examples You've Never Seen - For Web Apps

The interest in growth hacking is growing by the day. But there aren't many new examples of interesting growth hacks. If you're tired of the same ‘ole Paypal, …

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Brittany Berger's curator insight, June 26, 2014 1:20 PM

This is a great slide deck. My favorite example is Zapier. Their use of landing pages is something I've noticed before. They must have thousands. And they're so specific to each use of Zapier that they're able to use them to reach niche audiences.

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Top 5 characteristics a growth hacker should have - Squirrly

Top 5 characteristics a growth hacker should have - Squirrly | Growth Hacking | Scoop.it
You decided you want to be a growth hacker. Isn't that amazing? But now what? Do you think you have what it takes? Let's find out. Whether you're an entrepreneur who.

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How to Use Conversion Optimization to Drive Growth

How to Use Conversion Optimization to Drive Growth | Growth Hacking | Scoop.it
Discusses how traditional marketing tactics need a reboot and how to use growth hacking to drive business growth. Provides case studies of how companies grew using growth hacking techniques
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The Definitive Guide to Growth Hacking - QuickSprout | #TheMarketingAutomationAlert

The Definitive Guide to Growth Hacking - QuickSprout | #TheMarketingAutomationAlert | Growth Hacking | Scoop.it

Summarized...

 

If you aren’t familiar with growth hacking and how you can leverage it, don’t worry. I just wrote a 30,000 word guide on it with the help of Bronson Taylor from Growth Hacker TV.

 

Not only will we teach you what a growth hacker is, we will also teach you how to grow your product and business through growth hacking. Here’s what you are going to learn:

IntroductionChapter 1: What is growth hackingChapter 2: The profile of a growth hackerChapter 3: The growth hacking processChapter 4: The growth hacker funnelChapter 5: Pull tactics for getting visitorsChapter 6: Push tactics for getting visitorsChapter 7: Product tactics for getting visitorsChapter 8: How to activate membersChapter 9: How to retain usersChapter 10: Tools and terminology

 

Click here to read The Definitive Guide to Growth Hacking.


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CYDigital's curator insight, August 27, 2013 7:45 AM

I think you'll want to peruse, especially before you solidify your 2014 plans.


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C-Marketing's curator insight, August 7, 2014 1:32 AM

Curious about Growth Hacking ? Here's a must read for you ! 

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Growth Hacking + Content Marketing | Are You A Content Hacker? - CoSchedule | #TheMarketingTechAlert

Growth Hacking + Content Marketing | Are You A Content Hacker? - CoSchedule | #TheMarketingTechAlert | Growth Hacking | Scoop.it
What is growth hacking, and what does it have to do with content marketing? You just might just be a content marketing growth hacker.

 

► FREE: AgileContent™ delivers more quality content to your market! Get your FREE 14 Day Trial NOW!: goo.gl/rzeg79. No credit card required!

 

► Receive a daily summary of The Marketing Technology Alert directly to your inbox. Subscribe here: bit.ly/VL6ejR.


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CYDigital's curator insight, February 16, 2014 10:41 AM

Be a Full Stack Marketer, Not a Growth Hacker. A Growth Hacker is just another name for a marketer who is doing their job well. h/t to Marketing Technology Blog.

Michael Reid's curator insight, June 12, 2015 2:12 PM

This is a powerful marketing method for sure.

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Growth Hacking: Increase your followers by 90% with targeted Twitter lists | Tactics Cloud Blog

Growth Hacking: Increase your followers by 90% with targeted Twitter lists | Tactics Cloud Blog | Growth Hacking | Scoop.it
RT @GrowthMob: Increase followers by 90% with targeted Twitter lists - http://t.co/Zb8s3CYi7u via @tacticscloud #GrowthHacking #Startup #Ma…

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Growth Hacking approach: acquisition and activation, what are your best examples?

Growth Hacking approach: acquisition and activation, what are your best examples? | Growth Hacking | Scoop.it
2 question followers. Be the first to answer. (RT @YoppsDisrupt: #GrowthHacking #approach: acquisition and activation, what are your best examples?

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Growth Hacking Like A Pirate, A Beginners Guide | Trak.io blog

Growth Hacking Like A Pirate, A Beginners Guide | Trak.io blog | Growth Hacking | Scoop.it
RT @trak_io: Growth Hacking Like A Pirate, A Beginners Guide http://t.co/owN8kzXlrv #GrowthHacking #Startups #AARRR

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Technorati Interview: Startup marketing and #growthhacking with the guy who invented it

Technorati Interview: Startup marketing and #growthhacking with the guy who invented it | Growth Hacking | Scoop.it
Our guest on this round of Social Brands and Influencers is Sean Ellis, founder and CEO of Qualaroo and GrowthHackers.com.

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10 Ways You Can Use Growth Hacking To Grow Your Startup - Business 2 Community

10 Ways You Can Use Growth Hacking To Grow Your Startup - Business 2 Community | Growth Hacking | Scoop.it
10 ways you can use growth hacking to grow your startup http://t.co/NGqeVz8uUZ l4b

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Meet the Growth Hacking Wizard behind Facebook, Twitter and Quoras ... - Forbes

Meet the Growth Hacking Wizard behind Facebook, Twitter and Quoras ... - Forbes | Growth Hacking | Scoop.it

7 years ago, when Facebook and Twitter were just getting started, the primary magic trick to high growth rates involved creating a product that connected people to people and people to content. Back then this type of network effect gave the Mark Zuckerbergs of the world unexpected primacy over old-fashioned tech titans like AOL and Microsoft. For the first time, the power to build a large user base was given to people who had very small budgets, and the ability to instantly generate billions in market value trumped the comparatively slow process of building a tech company one customer at a time.


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How RJ Metrics is Growing a Billion Dollar Company with Content Marketing

How RJ Metrics is Growing a Billion Dollar Company with Content Marketing | Growth Hacking | Scoop.it
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Six Growth Hacks to Get More Conversions from Your Content Marketing

Neil Patel and Sean Ellis share 6 growth hacks for making your content marketing convert into real sales.

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Distribution Hacks: 5 Simple Steps to Get In Front of Your Ideal Cust…

Three Main Marketing Types Concept / Idea Elevation • Broad / Market Making • Success = ??? 2.

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21 of the Best B2B Growth Hacks

21 of the Best B2B Growth Hacks | Growth Hacking | Scoop.it
Whether B2C or B2B, remember that you are B2P: business-2-people. Here are some great growth tactics you should try.

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Growth Hacking Uber — Mobile Culture — Medium

Growth Hacking Uber — Mobile Culture — Medium | Growth Hacking | Scoop.it

The phenomenon that is Uber can be explained by even a luddite—it’s a brilliant yet simple idea that solves a real pain point for people around the world — how to get from point A to point B in a safe, efficient and cost effective way. You push a button, and in as little as 5 minutes a black car, taxi or a peer-to-peer driven car is there to pick you up. The experience is nonpareil.


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15 Growth Hacking tips for Technology Startups

15 Growth Hacking tips for Technology Startups | Growth Hacking | Scoop.it
For most of the technology startups the best way to communicate with the customers and
other interested parties is the corporate web site. Here are 15 Growth Hacking tips for Technology Startups to attract new customers.
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What marketing people can learn from growth hacking

What marketing people can learn from growth hacking | Growth Hacking | Scoop.it
Are you sick of hearing about growth hacking yet? If you must know, it was the most searched term on Google in 2013, so I will assume it won't go away any time soon.

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How Wallaby Got a 326% Increase in Signups

How Wallaby Got a 326% Increase in Signups | Growth Hacking | Scoop.it
Growth Hacking with Email (How Wallaby got 326% increase in signups through smart #email segmentation http://t.co/K5ozdaZIDb #growthhacking)

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Growth Hacking: Myths, Risks, and Tips for Startup BusinessesReveNews

Growth Hacking: Myths, Risks, and Tips for Startup BusinessesReveNews | Growth Hacking | Scoop.it
#SocialMedia: "#GrowthHacking: Myths, Risks, and Tips for Startup Businesses" http://t.co/qRpVY3S06K @ReveNews

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Growth Hacking Basics

Growth Hacking Basics based on Growth Hacking Paris Meetups by The Family & France Digitale. More details on : http://blog.thefamily.co/tagged/growthhacking

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Why Growth Hacking Won't Work for Every Company

Why Growth Hacking Won't Work for Every Company | Growth Hacking | Scoop.it
Growth hacking is a hot term in the world of startups, because if done correctly, it can quickly provide a lot of growth for a young company. That said, if...

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The 5 Phases of Growth Hacking

The 5 Phases of Growth Hacking | Growth Hacking | Scoop.it
Some of the most successful startups have sidestepped traditional advertising for a more iterative and experimental approach: growth hacking.

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Don Dea's curator insight, February 6, 2014 12:06 AM
It begins with Product Market Fit.

Marketing has long been applied after the product is completed. The result is marketers are often forced to promote products that don’t resonate, that don’t really work. And the reason marketers didn’t contribute to product development was that they didn’t have any interest or the skills to do so.

Growth hacking changes this, says Josh Elman, a growth hacker in Twitter’s early days. “Growth hacking recognizes that when you focus on understanding your users and how they discover and adopt your products, you can build features that help you acquire and retain more users, rather than just spending marketing dollars."