How to Growth-Hack Your Way to Revenue Gains—Even if You’re Not A Startup

Have your marketing efforts hit a plateau? Are you looking for an innovative way to reach new markets and solve new problems?

If so, you may have considered growth hacking but run into snags if your company is beyond startup mode.

As you may already know, Sean Ellis, an experienced marketing leader, entrepreneur and angel investor, coined the term “growth hacker” to describe “a person whose true north is growth.” The initial concept was that budget-strapped startups needed to use unconventional tactics to achieve an ideal product/market fit and progress to driving mass user adoption.

Since then, several upstart companies, including Instagram, Airbnb, and Slack, have ridden the growth-hacking wave to stardom—attracting interest from established companies.

However, a cultural conflict has stopped many SMBs and enterprises from realizing the promise of growth hacking. Why? Inherent risk aversion and a focus on process are in opposition to the concept behind growth hacking—that failure is OK, as long as you can rapidly execute agile, measurable, out-of-the-box tactics.

This is unfortunate—and remediable. Growth hacking has an important place in larger, more evolved companies, too. If you’re willing to step out of your comfort zone, growth-hacking success stories can inspire new ideas that elevate your marketing and bolster ROI.

In this blog I’ll share three growth-hacking lessons and use cases that you can use to help generate ideas on how to use growth hacking for your organization and improve your results:

1. Use Your Best Customers as Your Research Lab

To achieve product/market fit, revamp your approach to innovation by using your best customers as your research laboratory.

Use case:

Instagram: In 2009, location-based mobile applications were skyrocketing. Mirroring the buzzworthy app at the time, Foursquare, Instagram co-founder Kevin Systrom developed a similar app, named Burbn. The app allowed users to check in to locations, post planned activities, and post pictures using filters.

Systrom secured a $500,000 round of funding and hired his first employee, Mike Krieger. Together, they examined how Burbn’s user base behaved within the app. It became abundantly clear that the photo-sharing capability was by far the most popular feature. The two studied the cluttered yet embryonic photo-sharing app marketplace and realized there was an opportunity to develop a filter-based app that also boasted a social network.

Based on this learning, they pivoted away from the original premise of Burbn, instead developing an easy-to-use app that eventually became Instagram.

Instagram grew by leaps and bounds—to 100,000 users in a week, 1 million in 2½ months, and 30 million just 30 months after its launch. Facebook eventually purchased Instagram for $1 billion.

The Instagram approach also can work if your company has been around for years. Deeply evaluating user behavior may lead you to decide to focus solely on a particular product feature, or to enhance and emphasize it to improve your company’s competitive edge.

2. Use “What If” Analysis to Create New Opportunities

To expand market share, use “what if” analysis to create new opportunities.

Use case:

Airbnb: If your company already has a viable product or service, growth hacking can help you drive awareness. Take a cue from Airbnb penetrating Craigslist’s marketplace.

Airbnb, which enables almost anyone to convert a spare bedroom into a hotel room available for rent, wanted to increase its market penetration. To do so, it reverse-engineered an application program interface (API), allowing its users to post listings on Craigslist.

Although Craigslist’s model prevented the hack and there were no guarantees that the API would work, Airbnb’s team went for it based on the potential payoff. The plan succeeded, and because Airbnb’s listings generally were better than traditional Craigslist ads, Airbnb drove more traffic to its application—at virtually no advertising cost.

You could accomplish a similar breakthrough to expand the market for an existing product.

3. Address Problems That Prospects Don’t Know They Have

To define a new market, strategically address problems that prospects don’t know they have.

Use case:

Slack: Two weeks before launch, Slack co-founder Stewart Butterfield sent a memo to his development team. Titled “We don’t sell saddles here,” the memo conveyed Slack’s mission, stating: “Despite the fact that there are a handful of direct competitors and a muddled history of superficially similar tools, we are setting out to define a new market. And that means we can’t limit ourselves to tweaking the product; we need to tweak the market too.”

Butterfield further explained that Slack was more than a chat system; it was the key to “organizational transformation.”

“We’re selling a reduction in information overload, relief from stress, and a new ability to extract the enormous value of hitherto useless corporate archives,” Butterfield wrote. “We’re selling better organizations, better teams. That’s a good thing for people to buy and it is a much better thing for us to sell in the long run.”

And the market proved him right. By articulating a value proposition to serve a broader, previously unknown need, Slack became a $1 billion company in a mere two years.

While there’s no right or wrong way to growth-hack, these three lessons offer a foundation for finding new pathways to accelerated revenue gains and higher ROI—whether your company is on the launch pad or well-established.

Do you have a great example of growth hacking—either in your organization or outside of it? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below.

The post How to Growth-Hack Your Way to Revenue Gains—Even if You’re Not A Startup appeared first on Marketo Marketing Blog – Best Practices and Thought Leadership.

Videos for Lead Nurturing? They Can Do a Lot More Than You Think

According to SiriusDecisions, 80% of unqualified leads today—those understandably ignored by sales—will go on to buy from someone within the next 24 months. The solution is nurturing, but how do you do that?

Opportunistic Video

There are countless ways to put a brand in front of buyers, of course. But for B2B products and services, especially those with a long, complex buying process, the brand needs to be accompanied by information the buyer cares about.

Obviously, video is a good format for micro-learning, especially on mobile devices. But few companies produce videos that are ready to be inserted into automated nurturing campaigns. Why not? Because most marketers aren’t thinking about video opportunistically. Typically, they think about making traditional genres of video content—explainer, demo, webinar, etc. A more pointed way of putting it: they’re not thinking about making videos that match what prospects want to know. They’re thinking about video, not the customer experience.

Thinking opportunistically opens up a lot of new ways to generate targeted video content, not only for messaging but also for understanding buyers and their motivation.

Persona-Based Videos

Focusing on a buyer persona means you can make shorter videos, get to the point faster, take up less of the buyer’s time, and appeal to the special interests of each buying team member.

The table below is adapted from an excellent article, What’s a Successful ABM Strategy Without Killer Content?, by content marketing consultant Rebecca Smith of Heinz Marketing.

The table, by Terminus, is designed to help marketers develop a content strategy (not just video content) for account-based marketing. You could fill in the blanks here with all kinds of media—including killer video content.

According to Smith, content at the top of the funnel should be designed to help an audience who doesn’t know much about you and your solution—no hard sell. In the middle stage, you want to distinguish yourself from competitors—but still no hard sell. That doesn’t come until you’ve developed trust. At the bottom of the funnel, buyers want to be convinced. Illustrations of features, advantages, and benefits work here.

If this approach makes sense to you, it will also make sense to think a little differently about how you use video.

The FAQ Opportunity

In the course of interviewing subject matter experts for the videos we produce, we often hear about product features or use cases that seem to capture customers’ interest and generate questions. We always try to address these questions in the short videos we make, but when a topic is competing for 90-120 seconds of “air time” with other features and benefits, interesting angles and insights are bound to be missed.

Yet, if a question is truly “frequently asked,” it deserves to be answered in a concise, visually interesting video. Punchy FAQ videos can also work as promotional teasers in social media, as well as customer-friendly content in account-based marketing.

The Blog-To-Video Opportunity

Think about all the work that goes into most blog posts. Especially in technology companies, people who know a lot are writing about what they know. They’re writing for their peers, and they’re doing their best to make things clear. Here are five reasons to base short videos on blog posts:

  1. A video can extend the life of an existing post, kindle new interest, and extend the reach to a wider audience
  2. Video based on approved copy can be produced faster and with less hassle
  3. Video makes the information more accessible
  4. “Video” in the subject line can increase email opens (but always test this for your audience)
  5. Videos are shared 7X more than links on Facebook

The Interactive Web Video Opportunity

eLearning experts know that users like to be in control of the learning experience. What’s different about responsive (or “interactive”) videos is that the exploration and interaction all takes place within the video window. So it feels more like a user-friendly app, and less like a promotional website.

Interactive video used to be specialist technology. It didn’t really scale and it didn’t work on iPhones. But, now it’s HTML5 and works in a browser, which provides instant scalability. Additionally, with the release of Apple’s iOS X, it works on iDevices, which is huge—opening the door for broader reaching access and consumption.

There are plenty of easy-to-use tools for making a video respond to input—almost like a chatbot. This can be as simple as adding chapter headings to a webinar, interview, or whiteboard talk. Or a video where you can click on objects to dive deeper into the subject. Or a video that branches to new content based on user input.

Let’s say your product has three major differentiators, X, Y, and Z, and you usually pitch them in that order. Some viewers are really interested in Y. Others care more about Z. With interactive video you can let viewers skip ahead to the differentiator that matters most to them—they’ll like that. And when you think about it, why do you care if they skipped X unless everyone skips it? If for example, they skip to Y, you can insert a pop-up button that offers to take the viewer to more information about Y. Now, you’re guiding the buyer’s journey.

The Customer Experience Opportunity

These video formats have a couple of things in common: they are more informational than promotional, and they present the information in short bursts. That’s in line with the trend that “micro-learning” eLearning experts recommend. More important, by focusing video content marketing on customers’ desire to learn, it puts the customer experience first, which will make your customers more engaged and your marketing more successful.

Are you implementing any of opportunistic video strategies? I’d love to know how you’re thinking about video content in your organization—please share in the comments below.

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