While I have never been one to use the latest buzzwords, “growth hacking” is a concept worth adopting and its implementation can be the difference between your company thriving or just surviving. If we look back in history, the closest concept to growth hacking would be “benchmarking”, which is the practice of analyzing your competitors to see if you can learn methods of improving your market position. According to businessdictionary.com, the objectives of benchmarking are (1) to determine what and where improvements are called for, (2) to analyze how other organizations achieve their high-performance levels, and (3) to use this information to improve your company’s performance.
In the digital age, growth hacking does share some of the same attributes of benchmarking, but on a much deeper level. Growth hacking concentrates more on gaining market traction through the application of data-driven strategies that are tested, retested, and duplicated across as many platforms as possible.
For example, if you have a target audience of 11-17 females, you can use software to examine marketing techniques of a famous artist like Taylor Swift to get a glimpse into how her marketing department best reaches that audience. Using this type of software gives your company insight into an average number of hits on Taylor Swift’s website, where the hits originated, keywords used in SEO efforts, and samples of ads run over several campaigns.
Armed with this information, your company should A/B test versions of your website pages, splash pages, and information downloads to determine which iteration leads to the desired conversion rate. Be sure to chart the results of each change, but be careful in the number of changes you make per iteration. Try not to change more than two elements per session and have the test page be 40% of exposure to ensure you are not losing conversions as a result of trying something new.
The final stage of growth hacking is increasing your company’s voice as a thought leader in your discipline. Write a book, preferably in collaboration with a well-known influencer, send articles and blogs to local, regional, and national publications; build relationships with bloggers, who reach your consumer with different products or topics and offer to provide content, and add your company’s names to the lists of experts for local television and radio shows. All of these methods will help drive traffic to your new and improved website, significantly improve your SEO rankings, and increase conversions and profitability.
In summary, benchmarking has been a very effective tool for companies to increase market share, but growth hacking represents the next phase of competitive analysis and growth through incorporating proven methods and strategies from many industries globally.