When I was a non-techie just barely getting introduced to the world of growth hacking, I always wondered — why the word ‘hack?’ Of course, I found out that we aren’t exactly hacking computers and decrypting networks, but the ‘hack’ context in growth meant getting somewhere fast.
In essence, growth hacking is moving fast with experiments on scalable, sustainable growth methods to improve business performance — with an emphasis on ‘FAST’.
Being slow is not an option.
[clickToTweet tweet=”The average failure rate for growth experiments is at roughly 85%.” quote=”The average failure rate for growth experiments is at roughly 85%”]
Considering this statistic, growth hackers that do not move fast will not be able to significantly impact businesses. At a rate of five experiments per month, that would mean you’d have only one or two outcomes that would positively grow your business once every two months.
Some tests may yield positive impact, and others might bring detrimental outcomes. However, from my own experience, there are some easy hacks that you can apply to your business with minimal effort and see them bring in immediate results.
Before we start, make sure your growth hack engine is in place.
To get the most out of these growth hack techniques, a basic growth hacking engine should be present. For every experiment that you run and devise in your growth hacking journey, make sure to execute these following steps first:
- Hypothesize: Before you start any new experiments, lay out all important growth metrics and funnel data first. Create a hypothesis and pinpoint which growth metric will be impacted.
- Measure: Needless to say, you HAVE to measure all your growth efforts. At a basic level, you measure the immediate metric that is impacted (e.g. click rates on a website A/B test), but the best measurements go through the funnel to look at causal effects on sign up rates, activation rates, paid conversion rates, and so on.
- Analyze: To be able to determine whether your growth hack experiments have succeeded or not, you need to analyze their performance and pitch them against a controlled set (e.g. A/B testing), or compare against historical data. The former alternative is better, as the latter might be affected by seasonal and external factors — but still, go with what you have.
- Leverage: A big part of growth hacking is knowing how to leverage successful growth experiments and turn them into sustainable, scalable efforts that keep on driving exponential growth. After analyzing the measured data of your experiments, identify which opportunities will give you the most bang for your buck, and double down your efforts on that particular experiment.
With this process in place, you’ll be able to see the impacts of the techniques you will be implementing clearly.
Now, let’s hop right to the exciting part!
Hack #1: Install retargeting ads
Retargeting ads work like usual display ads that show up on other sites, but it targets your bounced web traffic specifically.
Retargeting ads are extremely powerful because your target audience to these ads are people that have already heard of your product offering when they came to your site. They might also have greater intent on purchase and are exploring similar products.
Not running retargeting ads might be a lost opportunity to keep your brand and product in the forefront of the consumer’s mind, as they might take time to consider a purchase.
Due to these factors, using retargeting to re-engage website traffic is a hack that can easily bring in great ROI (which is something you HAVE to measure).
So, here’s a pro tip: Track the traffic that comes in from these ads up to the point of purchase. You can only know if the ads are effective (ie. making actual revenue instead of losing money), if you track their conversions with assigned monetary values.
There are various options and tools to run retargeting ads. At Piktochart, we use mainly Google Adwords for retargeting, but we have also tried Facebook ads’ custom audience and some other tools like AdRoll.
Immediate result: The conversion tracking from retargeting ads are updated constantly on each respective platforms used, so you can already see impact within a week*. Keep track of your ads’ weekly performances to gauge the ROI. As long as it is positive, there’s room to leverage on it.
I keep track of our ad performances weekly — our retargeting ads are attributed full clickthrough conversion values with a 30-day window, and view-through conversions at 25 per cent value with a 7-day window. For Q2 of 2017, our retargeting ads managed to achieve 216 per cent return on ad spend (ROAS).
*Note: The outcome of your ads might vary especially if your product or site usually has a very wide time window from visit to conversion. Make sure you keep that in mind to determine whether a weekly evaluation is fine, or if it may not be as immediate for you.
How to leverage: There are several ways to optimize your retargeting ads as you move forward.
- Modify your retargeting script to implant retargeting cookies after a certain interval upon page load, e.g. five seconds. Finding an optimal interval may help filter out visitors that arrive to your site by accident, or bounced almost immediately due to having little to no interest at all in your product.
- Test which pages bring the best ROI when you retarget audiences. For us at Piktochart, we found out that retargeting users that viewed our in-app pricing page brings better ROI than retargeting our website homepage visitors.
Hack #2: Lightbox pop-ups
Lightbox pop-ups surprised us at how well they performed in terms of collecting emails and capturing leads. We were worried that it would be intrusive to visitors and cause them to bounce and leave the site rather than engage, but we were wrong.
These pop-ups can be toggled to appear to the visitor after a certain proportion of the page has been scrolled through, or after a certain time has passed after page load.
Some of the tools we have tried to use for pop-ups include SumoMe and OptinMonster. With the available themes that they already have in store, executing these pop-ups becomes a breeze, without having to rely on any development work.
When we first installed a pop-up, our blog subscription list growth rate increased by 220 per cent, bringing our weekly new 800 subscribers amount to nearly 1.7k on average.
Immediate result: If you have had no lightbox pop-ups installed before this, you can monitor the before and after effects of your email list growth rate, just like we did. Having a pop-up versus none is bound to have some effects on your growth rate.
Just be sure to pay attention to your bounce rates and time-on-site metrics as well, to make sure you aren’t too aggressive and drive people away.
How to leverage: Having an effective method like this to growth hack your email list is great, but it shouldn’t stop at just the initial execution phase. Try out the following steps to double down on this and bring it to the next level:
- Experiment and A/B test with various pop-up designs that match your brand and can clearly convey what you offer to your visitors. The default themes from the tool you use might be good for starters, but having your design be more brand-aligned might resonate more with your visitors.
- Do A/B tests with your pop-up’s positioning and type. When we started off with pop-ups, we applied a scrollbox that would appear at the top right corner of the visitor’s browser. As we optimized the effort based on data and tests, we settled with a lightbox that appears in the center of the browser.
- Test with different pop-up conditions. Some blogs have suggested a 20 per cent scroll condition, and others have suggested a ten-second page time condition for a pop-up to appear. We find that nothing beats our five-second rule so far. However, different conditions might work for different audiences and blogs, so make sure you do tests to find the ideal one for you.
Hack #3: Exit intent pop-ups
Yet another pop-up to add to your arsenal. Exit intent pop-ups are set to appear when the tool detects that the user is about to leave your page.
It is extremely potent as an attempt on-site to retrieve the attention of a user that you might have lost. An exit intent pop-up can feature exclusive content offers (e.g. exclusive ebooks), trial or discount offers, or explainer videos that might help visitors discover value.
Watch the below demo video that we used:
Once again, we use OptinMonster for this — and the technology behind it is that it detects how close the cursor of a visitor is to the top of the browser, ie. the places where the visitor can type in another site’s address, press the back button, or close the browser. You get the idea.
Just like the lightbox pop-ups, setting up an exit intent pop-up is super simple. You can easily choose a theme on OptinMonster or any tool you use, and edit it with their WYSIWYG editor to fit your message.
Immediate result: Any click-through from this pop-up means the immediate result of saving that lost visitor!
In a week’s time, you can gauge the performance of your pop-up for every day of the week with the aggregate number of visits, clicks, and the average click rate. If you link your pop-up to Google Analytics, you can track all the way through the funnel to see if the clicks from the exit intent pop-up eventually sign up or convert.
Our first exit intent pop-up brought back 5.56 per cent of traffic back to our app, which we would have otherwise lost.
With a constant stream of traffic into your site, you’ll very soon be able to see the metrics and analytics be updated on the OptinMonster platform. In fact, they also have the option to link your pop-ups to Google Analytics.
How to leverage: Sometimes, these pop-ups may generate annoying UX problems. Take these measures to see if the conversion rates can be improved:
- Measure the performance on whether a pop-up with a five second delay might have better conversion rates.
- Bring in a designer and developer to shift from a default theme to create a beautiful, brand-abiding design might also have more positive impact on your visitors as it may be visually appealing and familiar.
- Try out different copy and content. We used a demo video, but you may offer an e-book, or discount coupons. See what your audience prefers and what brings in the best conversion rate, and leverage on that.
Hack #4: A/B test your email and messaging drips
I’m a real big fan of A/B testing. I started off with email marketing in my career, and I’ve grown to love how impactful and clear-cut A/B testing for messaging can be.
At Piktochart, we frequently use A/B testing to keep on optimizing our email and in-app messaging. We test out things like:
- Email subjects: e.g. listicle vs negative CTA vs positive CTA
- Email body formats: e.g. having a highlight of the week vs our usual list format
- Hyperlink / button colors: e.g. heal (brand color) hyperlinks vs black (default) hyperlinks
- Types of content: e.g. design tips vs marketing tips
These kinds of tests help us identify what works best to engage our users and convert them. In our product, we have automated email drips going on for every new lead, signup, and paying user — constant a/b tests to identify winning variations help us constantly improve our messaging performances week by week.
We mainly use Intercom and Mailchimp for email messaging (with Intercom having in-app messaging as well), and both tools offer A/B testing features that work well for our needs.
Immediate result: Provided you have a sufficient sample size, blasting out an email A/B test can give you results in a week.
Depending on what you are testing for, you should measure the respective metric (open rate, click rate, conversion rate) and pick the winner after the test is done. Once that’s done, you are open for another data-driven A/B test that could lead to another inch of improvement after a week. Keep the engine going!
A/B tests help us improve our weekly emails and slowly nudge our average open rates and click rates up for our blog subscription lists, week by week.
How to leverage: If the concept you are A/B testing works, try to apply it to other emails in your drip as well and monitor their respective performances.
Keep in mind that what might have worked in one email might still not work in another, but if your emails target one audience — the variance will have a smaller margin and higher chance of success.
Hack #5: A/B test your website
Have I mentioned that I’m a huge fan of A/B testing yet?
A/B testing your website is also a continuous way to optimize your conversion funnel, from the top to the end. There’s also a multitude of things to A/B test on your website, including:
- Button colors and copy
- Homepage header copy and layout
- Button positions and page layouts
- Payment interfaces
- Pricing table layouts
- Tone of copy, and more
Keep in mind to be data-driven when it comes to prioritizing what to test. Leverage on high traffic volume pages and key points in a user journey, (ie. the payment step), to prioritize your optimization efforts.
There are tons of tools on the web to help you set up A/B tests. Here are some of the options that we’ve tried out over the years:
- Optimizely: Optimizely is the first option that we tried out, and it’s probably the most well-known A/B testing and marketing experimentation tool on the market. However, it also comes with a hefty cost, so we opted for the next alternative.
- Alephbet: Alephbet is a very technical A/B testing framework that is oriented mainly for developers. Alephbet is free, so while it’s very cost-effective, it could be less autonomous and inefficient for fast-moving growth hackers without support from developers, so we eventually dropped it as well.
- Google Optimize: Then came along Google Optimize, and we love it. If you already have Google Analytics (GA) set up for your site, then Optimize is pretty much a one-line code that you add to your GA script. It’s super easy to set up, it’s free, and it has a WYSIWYG editor for marketers and growth hackers to be more independent. Results and analytics also tie in with your GA account, so it’s even more integrated and convenient.
Watch the below tutorial to get an idea of what Optimize is like:
Immediate results: It’s recommended once again that you leave the A/B test going for at least a week, but sometimes it’s acceptable to immediately accept the result for a test with huge sample size.
For example, our daily ~35k unique visits to the Piktochart homepage may be sufficient enough to draw a conclusion in just ONE day.
Very soon, you’ll be able to see which variation wins, with clear data on how it positively impacts the metrics you are measuring. With results coming in so quickly, you can keep your experimentation engine running as well.
[clickToTweet tweet=”Run quick tests based on data, implement, and iterate!” quote=”Run quick tests based on data, implement, and iterate!”]
How to leverage: Fortunately, ideas to leverage website A/B tests share similar thought processes to what we talked about for email A/B tests.
- Keep your agile experimentation engine running to maximize your efficiency in optimizing your website and conversion funnel.
- If a test concept works in one place, such as in your copy’s tone of voice or CTA copy, test it out again in other places to see if the same concept can be used to improve performance in different spots on your website.
Hack #6: Test your content offering
We all know that solely relying on hard selling and pushy sales methods no longer work for most businesses. What generates positive, engaged leads is when you offer more value and content from the basis of actually wanting to help them achieve their best.
This is exactly the foundation for modern inbound content marketing, and that’s what we do at Piktochart.
So when it comes to content offering, we frequently leverage top performing blog articles and content and repurpose them to ensure they reach more people. These content upgrades and repurposing include creating:
- PDF ebooks
- Interactive quizzes
- Limited webinar seats
- Exclusive discounts and free trials following an opt-in
Click the below image to check out our latest ebook collaboration we did with HubSpot:
If you need more ideas, our friends at Sleeknote also compiled a great, comprehensive list of content upgrades that could give you an idea on what type of content you can start creating first.
We create and plug content upgrades into relevant high-traffic articles on our blog. Then, we measure the performance of these content offerings (opt-ins, engagement, etc.) and see which one performs the best.
Immediate Result: With enough traffic, it takes merely days to see what content gets better opt-in rates.
When we tested offering e-books as a content upgrade in place of our blog subscription form, we experienced a 35 per cent increase in opt-in rates!
How to leverage: Try to circulate the content that works for you as much as possible for more opt-ins. Then, nurture the leads with email drips up to conversion. We also subscribe them to our blog when they opt-in for exclusive content, which gives us more opportunities to provide value and stay engaged with them.
Remember to test out your content offering every few weeks to stay fresh — some content may be time sensitive, or you might have new insights on a topic. Try to stay as relevant as possible!
Hack #7: Use inline forms to capture leads
An inline form is a subtle, less-intrusive way to offer more content and value to capture leads when plugged into relevant articles.
For tools, Mailchimp has the option to create an embedded form to capture emails. OptinMonster also provides a solution to easily embed inline forms into your blog, and integrate it with Mailchimp. They have beautiful premade themes to let you kickstart your hack.
By embedding the inline form into your article, you’d generally be able to appeal to more engaged readers and visitors that are already going through your content, which means higher quality leads.
Immediate result: It’s not rocket science — you’ll start receiving high quality leads from these forms after installation compared to not having any at all.
After setting up a few of these inline forms on our articles, we received 210 more solid opt-ins for our ebook and blog subscription within the first month. That makes up to roughly a 10 per cent increase in our usual blog subscription growth.
How to leverage: Continue with the sustainable engine of:
- Testing your content offering in these forms
- Testing your form designs and reduce friction
- Identify high traffic volume articles and prioritize on creating relevant content upgrades for forms on those pages first
Inline forms as the last line of defence
I’d like to highlight a super valuable way of leveraging inline forms with all the other pop-up options you have on your site. With the non-intrusive nature of inline forms, it would be an absolute missed opportunity to not run inline forms as another lead capture point on the same page.
Pop-ups might be intrusive and may not lead to an initial email opt-in at first, but an inline form provides a second opportunity to capture these leads.
On top of that, you can try out different content offerings between your pop-up and your inline form. If the visitor doesn’t connect with the initial pop-up content, the content in the inline form might stand a chance.
It’s a wrap! I hope my insights helped spark some growth hacking ideas. If you have any questions at all, you can get in touch with us here.