80+ Growth Marketing Lessons from the Top Industry Leaders
Over the last 8 years, I've worked with hundreds of marketers, startup founders, growth and sales hackers, and corporate digital executives.
And from big conferences and hands-on workshops, to webinars and intimate cocktail mixers, I've noticed they're all starting to talk about the same thing – growth marketing.
Which is why this year, I promised myself something. I made a resolution. I reached out once again to all the industry movers and shakers I could and asked for their growth marketing secrets – the tactics that just worked.
Because whether you're a startup building a foundation to attract (more) funding, or an enterprise creating a platform for innovation, you really need to learn how to grow. From Silicon Valley dorms to New York City boardrooms, digital marketing teams are becoming growth marketing teams.
And it's no surprise. Growth marketing isn't just a start-up thing. Growth marketing is a marketing thing.
GROWTH MARKETING IS NEW MARKETING.
And like with most business sea changes, you're either onboard or you're overboard. It's just a matter of time.
Hiten Shah, who spoke at the previous growth marketing events, said it best:
"If you are doing marketing and you are not aligned with the growth in your company, then you are probably not doing your job".
That said, even though we're still in the (relatively) early stages of the growth marketing revolution, we can still make sense of it.
First, sales plays a large role in growth. Marketing, like any business unit, shouldn't exist in a silo. If you don't connect your marketing and sales teams, you're not going to move the needle as far – or as fast – as you could be. Sales, product, data science, and technical tools will be a critical part of your growth strategy.
Second, most of the information out there on growth marketing is surprisingly easy to organize. The top strategies, tactics, and tips fit nicely into 3 categories: brand, process, and customer.
And today, I'm going to talk about those categories and the growth marketing secrets in them.
Let's get started.
Whether it's your personal brand, your company's reputation, or your product's image, it all starts with how people see you – including whether or not they can trust you.
Simply put, most startups focus too much on building a great product and too little on building a great brand. They might have the best product out there – they might even invent a new product category altogether – but they'll never cash in if they can't get people to take their cash out.
Unsurprisingly, many of the growth marketing lessons I learned revolved around branding. Some of the best ones are:
#1 BRAND IS PRODUCT
"Branding is something that starts when your first product launches. Your brand and product don't compete. Your brand isyour product."
Laura Busche, Brand Content Strategist, Autodesk.
#2 FOCUS ON CREATING A GREAT BRAND
"Even from the beginning of starting your company. A brand that people know, like, trust and respect, natural growth will come. It's what of the best growth hacks we use with Foundr, and yields the greatest return."
Nathan Chan, CEO, Foundr.
#3 ESTABLISH YOUR EXPERTISE
An Emory University study showed that we pay more attention to experts, especially during critical decisions involving money. Use Medium, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and other content tools to write about your industry and build up a following and a reputation of expertise in your field."
Ben Parr, Author, Captivology.
"In the modern era of marketing, the expert is king.
#4 PROTECT YOUR BRAND'S REPUTATION
"You can have the best campaign idea, fabulous content, and great timing, but it won't matter if you're not protecting your clients' data. It's time to take cyber security seriously and realize that data breaches negatively impact your brand's reputation; they are the opposite of "growth." Secure passwords and two factor authentication are no longer enough; you need a brand reputation management tool or service."
Natascha Thomson, CEO, MarketingXLerator.
#5 AMPLIFY YOUR BRAND AWARENESS WITH SOCIAL ADVERTISING
Nothing has more credibility than what others say about you. So shift your content marketing towards generating rave reviews instead of creating "advertising" content. Let your community of fans and customers do the work for you."
Dennis Yu, CTO, Blitz Metrics.
"Are you systematically tracking all the good things people say about you and your brand? You can amplify those words to your target audiences on Facebook, Google, and other networks for only a dollar a day.
#6 THE FOUNDATION FOR GROWTH IS EXCELLENCE
"Quality service, quality product, and fair prices. That combination will always attract people. But more than that, it will inspire them to pass your name along to their friends, too.
On Facebook, in person – everywhere. People love to tell their friends about great deals from quality businesses. And in today's world of instant reviews and "search-about-you-first" consumer behavior, it's critical that your entire footprint says quality. No one marketing tactic will build your business. no one product will solve your revenue issues. In the long run – and business is always a long game – quality wins."
Duane Forrester VP, Organic Search Operations, Bruce Clay, Inc.
#7 BUILD RELATIONSHIPS THAT BUILD YOUR BUSINESS
"Identify an area where developing new skills will make a significant impact on your business. Then identify a small group of accomplished people with these skills and build relationships with them.
For instance, I finally became a book author and now believe I need to master promotional strategies to get it sold and read, so I'm working on connecting with non-fiction authors and book marketers who know the turf. When they're carefully chosen and cultivated, new relationships are rewarding beyond measure."
Barry Feldman, Feldman Creative.
#8 INVEST IN YOUR SOCIAL CAPITAL, NOT YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA
It is not about "likes," comments, or money. It is all about relationships and people. It is not about business-to-consumer; it is not about business-to-business. It is people-to-people and how you make them feel."
Brian Solis, Principal Analyst, Altimeter Group.
"We often misinterpret the true value of social media.
#9 PROMOTE OTHERS
"Promoting others is one of the fastest paths for growth for a startup. By promoting others, you're giving them a reason to promote you – making the growth rate exponential. One way is to show how others have used your product to their benefit, which teaches people how to use your product and markets it at the same time."
Shira Abel, CEO, Hunter & Bard.
#10 FIND YOUR STORY
"Find your story. Studies show that 63% of people remember stories and only 5% of people remember facts. When you want to educate or inspire your customer, give them a story – a pointed story that evokes an emotion (joy, fear, inspiration, etc.) that supports your call to action."
Olivia June, Co-Founder, VINA.
#11 LEVERAGE YOUR PASSIONS
"You cannot avoid the social interaction of networking – especially in the Bay Area. Whether it's going out to dinner with friends, running into an old acquaintance from college, seeing a co-worker outside of the office, or being introduced to a new connection, this city is an open arena for social networking, which makes it great.
My advice is to not only attend networking events, but find some fun, exciting and interesting things to do – join clubs, groups, teams, or whatever it may be – and get involved with others who share similar interests. In essence, leverage your passions. In doing so, you directly leverage your networking."
Braydan Young, Account Executive, Gild.
#12 DON'T SELL TO REPORTERS; SHARE RELEVANT INFORMATION INSTEAD
"Good PR isn't about selling a reporter to write about you. It's about relationships and being a part of the conversation. Load all the keywords about your industry and company into Google Alerts, then respond directly to the reporters when it's relevant to them. Share your knowledge with them – when the time is right."
Julia Wells, Founder and Managing Director, CoveredCo.
#13 GET FEATURED EVERYWHERE YOU CAN
"You're an expert on your product, so tell everyone about it. Ask to be featured in publications and at conferences. You'll be surprised at how many people say yes. The key is to get in front of as many interested eyes as possible, and optimize the buyer funnel to a conversion. Special attention should be paid to audience, non-scalable activities and big picture analysis."
Clayton Wood, Founder & CEO, Identity Labs.
#14 LEVERAGE THE PASSION OF EXISTING USERS
"The source of organic growth is always the passion of existing users. Passion can be measured – it may be they actively promote you, it may mean they act as a case study, it may mean they get a tattoo of your logo on their arm. If you can rapidly learn which metrics tell you why your customers become passionate about you, you'll have a great shot at rapid growth."
Jeremiah Gardner, Author of The Lean Brand, Principal, Moves The Needle.
#15 GROW YOUR REACH
"Content marketers typically find it's difficult to get traction in the early going with their blogs. The key to growing your audience is to deliver your content via the publications they already read.
Make guest blogging a priority. Carefully select the blogs that reach your target audience. Connect with editors. Pitch them with killer ideas and well-written emails that demonstrate you understand their content marketing mission and have the writing chops to provide them a remarkable post.
Then, deliver a truly amazing article bound to appeal to their readers, increase interest in your blog, and open the door to returning to guest post again."
Barry Feldman, Feldman Creative.
Even a strong brand – along with a great product – isn't enough. We've seen more than a few big brands and promising startups vanish because they couldn't scale, manage their growth, or innovate when the time came.
And as most growth veterans would tell you – tactics and strategies are great, but they don't lead to sustainable growth alone. They provide quick bursts of traffic – that's what they're for.
What you want is retention. Retention is king. And that's why you should focus on building sustainable processes to attract, convert, and retain customers.
Some ideas for doing that are:
#16 MARKET TO INFLUENCERS
Whether you're doing customer development or trying to scale, leverage the relevant influencers and focus your marketing on where they are."
Brant Cooper, NYT Bestselling Author, Keynote Speaker; Founder, Moves the Needle.
"Group your potential customers around the problem you're solving and determine the depth of problem. Next, figure out who influences the members of that group – within the problem's context – and where they "hang out" together.
#17 THINK GLOBAL, ACT LOCAL
When you consider opening your service or product to international markets, think locally. Marketing is different from one culture to another. Google is far from being the top search engine in Russia, and Facebook isn't even available in China. Your search, social, and content marketing strategies need to be unique for every new market you enter. Thinking locally is the first step to becoming a global brand.
Anji Ismail, CEO & Co-Founder, DOZ.com.
#18 MEASURE ENGAGEMENT AND INFLUENCE
"When you go after bigger accounts, you can't measure your marketing's impact with just leads and opportunities. The larger the deal, the less you should think about measuring "marketing sourced pipeline" and the more you need to look at metrics like account engagement, revenue influence, and improved sales effectiveness."
Jon Miller, CEO and Co-Founder, Engagio.
#19 TRY. FAIL. LEARN.
"Don't be afraid to fail. The only true failure for a lean startup is not trying new things. Nobody gets it right the first time – even if they say they did. Try. Fail. Learn. Repeat. But do it fast! That's the lean approach."
Martyn Crew, Founder and CEO, Bootstrap Marketing.
#20 USE LINK RETARGETING TO INCREASE SOCIAL MEDIA ROI
"One problem of social media is that once a post is shared, it is difficult to send more posting on the same subject as it would be spammy.
Link retargeting allows you to show your banner ads to anyone engaging with the posting. Link retargeting (you can google the term to find the top providers) is a short link service like bit.ly that tags the browser of anyone that clicks on the short link. The banner ads network recognizes the tag and displays banner ads that were previously uploaded in the link retargeting service."
Serge Salager, CEO, Retargetlinks.
#21 DON'T WRITE BIG SALES PLAYBOOKS
"You absolutely need aggressive sales development – do multiple touches by email and phone for both inbound and outbound leads. But don't write up big sales playbooks, because no one reads them. Sales development solutions are affordable for small teams and you'll get more touches per representative (and thus more conversions) per week with them.
And best of all, you won't waste your time writing something nobody will read!"
Nilay Patel, Co-Founder & CEO, Selligy.
#22 EMBRACE SOCIAL SELLING
The modern buyer is digitally driven, socially connected, mobile, and empowered. Social media is an additional channel for building relationships that drive revenue.
Furthermore, you can use social media to shine the spotlight on your best salespeople – your customer advocates. Your employees need to look as good online as they do offline, so have them optimize their social profiles to attract customers. If you suck offline; you'll suck more online. #Don'tSuck."
Jill Rowley, Keynote Speaker, Social Selling Evangelist, Startup Advisor, Investor.
"Use social networks like LinkedIn and Twitter to find and be found.
#23 DRILL SMARTER
"Selling a startup's product is like prospecting for oil. And it is tempting, when you see oil seep into the first well you dig, to just keep drilling. But that's dangerous. To scale, you need to tap a gusher. That first taste of oil – like a great customer call, for example – can keep you from moving on to where you should really be drilling."
Ryan Nichols, CEO, Tylr Mobile (ex-Appirio).
#24 CREATE YOUR MOMENT OF TRUTH AND MAKE IT COUNT
"Create a reason for why a customer just has to hear you out, something so compelling, that stokes their curiosity so much, they can't help themselves but meet with you. Then you have a single moment of truth to convince your prospective buyer you can really improve the way they do something.
The key to this moment of truth is to have a well-honed and repeatable way of showcasing the value of your product or solution – including product demos, ROI stories, passionate quotes, and statistics. The more you deliver this personalized story consistently, the better you will get at it – and the more business you will close.
Focus on making these moments of truth count."
Jim Benton, Co-Founder & Chief Business Officer, ClearSlide, Inc
#25 FIND COMPATIBLE SALES TALENT
"Engineers do a great job of creating startups with strong initial traction. But too often they don't understand that a "one-sized-fits-all" approach to sales just doesn't work. They make the mistake of hiring "seasoned and experienced sales veterans" from traditional and established tech companies, which is usually too much too soon and results in bad outcomes and lost time.
Founders should consult with sales veterans that understand the startup landscape and can recommend near, middle, and long-term sales plans and strategies for a fixed fee or company stock tied to specific deliverables and milestones. Just because a sales strategy worked at Oracle or Salesforce doesn't mean it will work at your startup."
Dwight Foster, Vice President of Channel Sales and Business Development, Insightly.
#26 GO NICHE
"Startups need to master niche media. There are thousands of journalists and bloggers covering every aspect of technology, but only a handful matter to your audience and to your business. Use hashtags on social media to identify the keywords your audience users to share their hopes and frustrations. Then look for publications and journalists who use these industry-specific words in their stories. These are the niche media outlets you have to target, because they're the ones your customers and prospects go to for relevant, actionable information."
Chikodi Chima, Growth Expert and Founder, Moonshot.
#26 ALIGN YOUR PAID SEARCH AND SOCIAL ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS
"Organize your strategy into 4 components to help analyze and optimize everything. Paid search and social media advertising can be extremely competitive. And don't forget to monitor competitive keywords, ads, and landing pages."
YouTube is the second most popular search engine in the world and videos can even rank on Google's first page. If you're not sure what to make your video about, try a video business card, client testimonial, or "how-to" instructions on the best uses of your product or service. Then promote your video on all of your social media accounts – from Facebook to Instagram – to share your video with the word."
James Hickey, President, JMH Marketing Group.
#28 FOCUS AND CLARITY
ll call this mindset "clarity." From there, you can figure out what the right opportunity for you is and push toward it, adjusting and optimizing as necessary to realize it. We'll call that push "focus." First clarity, then focus. Because without clarity, you'll likely to go a long way in the wrong direction."
Aaron Kahlow, Founder and CEO, Mindful Living Institute.
"When thinking about business opportunities, cultivate an objective, impartial mindset that takes everything – from business factors to personal ones – into consideration".
#28 SALES IS THE ART OF THE NEXT STEPS
"The best way to keep your sales moving forward is to always have a clear action for your prospect to take next. When there's no clear next step, the sale stalls or falls apart. But when they know exactly what to do next, you'll get to a decision quickly and count the win or move on to find the next opportunity."
Liston Witherill, Chief Builder, Good Funnel.
#29 ENGAGEMENT IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN GROWTH
You have to retain users to grow sustainably. To do that, make sure you've built a product that keeps people coming back. An engaged user is less likely to churn and more likely to share your products with others, so make sure you build a sticky product first."
Nir Eyal, author of "Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products".
"Growth without engagement is a leaky bucket.
#30 BEFORE GROWTH FOCUS ON FUNDAMENTALS
"Like conversion rate optimization before it, growth hacking case studies can sometimes blind practitioners to the fundamentals of growth by focusing too much attention on tricks and shortcuts. Airbnb's famous Craigslist hack would never have worked if Airbnb was not fundamentally a novel service that offered a real advantage over traditional lodging. Undifferentiated Product + Growth Hack = slow growth. Innovative Product + Growth Hack = viral growth. Don't skip step one."
Forrest Dombrow, President, Solve Sales.
#31 GROWTH DOESN'T COME QUICKLY
"People often read the headlines on large publications and assume that growth happens quickly. That's far from the truth. Growth is consistent actions that add up over time. It's all about playing the long game and being patient.
Take content marketing for example: that's typically a 12-18 month journey to start seeing results. Most people can't stomach that long of a wait. Those that can end up reaping the rewards."
Eric Siu, CEO, Single Grain.
#Growth is consistent actions that add up over
#32 LEVERAGE OTHER PEOPLE'S NEWSLETTERS
"Every industry has a few luminaries and many more popular bloggers and other influencers, all of whom have regular newsletters that reach many thousands of readers. Leveraging their newsletter's reach gets the word out about your product to a very engaged audience. Offering an something special for the newsletter is incentive to both the sender and reader and can drive some serious growth."
Dean Levitt, Chief Of Culture, Mad Mimi, LLC.
#33 APPLY KEYWORD RESEARCH FUNDAMENTALS
"Apply keyword research fundamentals (SEO and paid search) to your content marketing calendar, but don't forget to consider your sitemap, hierarchy, and navigation elements (what your site looks like), and make sure you have the right words represented on your pages where people are likely to click, with a mix of high volume + high affinity to your qualified audience."
Chris Boggs, Founder, Web Traffic Advisors.
#34 IT'S NEVER ONE HACK THAT MAKES YOU GROW
"Everyone is looking for that one-time fix, you know, the lose 10lbs in one day diet. In growth we get caught up in catchy blog titles about how some shocking tactic increased metrics in hoards. What we forget to ask yourself is how many other hacks combined with that hack actually grew the business? Yeah, we all have a hack to help us get traffic, revenue or emails, but it takes all those hacks combined and in sequence to create growth."
Dan McGaw, CMO, Effin Amazing.
#35 FOCUS ON A NOTIFICATION STRATEGY
"I think a lot of people are sometimes a bit lost when it comes to email/push strategy, since each new email or push notification can be treated like a blank canvas.
However, the principle I've found most helpful for focusing email/push efforts is making sure every emails and notifications is an extension of your product's core user value and directly ties into the product's mission. If your emails are closely tied to the product's core value, then you can be confident that users of your product will find them engaging."
John Egan, Growth, Pinterest.
#36 DOUBLE DOWN ON YOUR BEST TRACTION CHANNELS
"Experiment with everything under the sun, but reserve the full force of your resources for traction channels that have been proven to work and scale. Leverage what's already working by producing similar content, finding similar audiences, or expanding the size of your sales team once you've found initial success. Nothing can grow a business faster than doubling down on proven processes."
Ali Tajseksander, Founder, Wishpond.
#37 LEVERAGE PSYCHOLOGY IN ALL OF YOUR MARKETING
"Incorporate psychological triggers like scarcity (time-based discounts), social proof (via tools like Fomo) and gamification elements (number of followers, your place in a "waiting" beta line, etc.) to encourage users to take action!"
Justin Mares, Co-Author, Traction.
#38 BUILD A MATHEMATICAL MODEL FOR YOUR BUSINESS
"Find out all the factors that can leverage growth. Begin with the end in mind. If you can find out all the factors that can generate growth for your business, which ones would be? Then play with those in an excel sheet, so that you link them all with the end goal: revenue or profit. If you increase them with 10%, which one of them would generate the highest growth? After that, brainstorm on strategic ideas, prioritize the actions based on the potential, resources and time to impact and make it happen! It starts with a solid business model, continues with a great team and ends with an outstanding execution."
Valentin Radu, CEO, OmniConvert.
#39 OPEN THE FUNNEL
Don't underestimate Bing. It doesn't take much time to get started with Bing Webmaster Tools and they actually have some decent features like their "Crawl Control" tool and "Search Keywords" report. Take a an hour out of your day to get familiar and you'll be surprised by how little it takes to get your Bing rankings up.
Brendan Baker, Sr. SEO Manager, Eventbrite.
#40 STOP DOING ALL THE THINGS!!
"You're most likely doing too much, investing in too many tactics and not doing any of them well. There's only so many hours in the day. Focus on your biggest, best ideas!"
People tend to cross off the easier to finish ideas off their to-do list instead of tackling the most important, impactful things. If there was ever any 'silver bullet' with growth it is prioritization.
Make a list of all your ideas for growth, score each idea on time to build/execute, number of people needed to execute and estimated impact to the business. Summing and stack ranking these scores will give you a rough direction of where you should be focusing your energy."
Zack Onisko, VP Growth, Hired.
#41 PICK ONE SPECIFIC GOAL FOR THE YEAR, AND BASE ALL YOUR JUDGMENTS ON THAT.
"For example, in 2015 I decided I wanted a bigger email list, and the entire year was based around growing it. By Dec. 31st of that year we hit the goal. However if you spread out a million different goals, you'll rarely hit them all!"
Neville Medhora, KopywritingKourse.com.
#42 GROWTH IS A MINDSET.
"Set time aside to vision your future and grow into it."
Alice Heiman, Business Consultant, Alice Heiman LLC.
#43 VIRALITY IS NOT JUST ABOUT INCENTIVES AND REFERRAL PROGRAMS
"Two levers that you can pull to get your users to share your product are ego and emotion. Users like to share things that appeal to their self-image – so allowing them to create images, lists, recommendations in your product will make it more likely for them to share. Additionally, emotions drive engagement, clicks and virality.
High arousing emotions like surprise or anger are more likely to drive clicks and positive emotions drive more shares than negative ones."
Mada Seghete, Founder, Branch.
#44 FOLLOW THE 60/30/10 RULE
Your growth marketing challenges are solved mainly by people and process, no matter how shiny that software is. There is more funding for carbonated sugar water than there is for promoting a healthy lifestyle, so don't fall for the market bias towards tools.Any extra dollar you have, invest it in building a great team. Automation is powerful and important, but still nascent. Growth hacking is through clever things your people do at scale, not through licensing someone else's software. Do the hard things first."
Dennis Yu, Co-Founder, BlitzMetrics.
"Spend 60% of your time developing people, 30% on building process, and only 10% on buying or building software.
#45 THERE'S A CASE FOR EVERGREEN CONTENT
"At Intercom we're big believers in "evergreen content." What is evergreen content? A bit like a Swiss watch, evergreen content is content that addresses timeless themes. Here's a good example we published last year: Martin, one of our support engineers, did an internal presentation on how to file a good bug.
We said, "If we turn that into a blog post, it's not specific to Intercom. It's not specific to a tool. It simply explains what you – if you're an engineer, support engineer, a support agent or anyone in the company that comes across a bug in your product – should include in that bug report so that it's useful to people that want to fix it."
That post generated plenty of traffic when it was published. It still generated traffic six months later, and it continues to do so 18 months later because it's timeless.
Matt Hodges, Sr. Director Marketing, Intercom.
#46 BELT AND SUSPENDERS: YOU NEED MORE THAN ONE WAY TO TRACK YOUR MARKETING
"If you are buying advertising or using PR, email, social media, or inbound marketing to grow your business, you can't rely on Google Analytics to get your attribution metrics right.
For example, Facebook's mobile app wipes out GA's basic tracking, and some small sites may not be properly categorized by Google Analytics.
To solve this, use GA UTM Codes on all urls you use for advertising or promoting your business. It's as simple as using Google's URL Builder. Keep track of your URLs in a Google Doc so you can easily replicate across campaigns and remember what you did when interpreting your results!"
Melinda Byerley, Founder, TimeShareCMO.
#47 BEST ADVICE ON PRICING: PRICE HONESTLY
"When I started my agency, I made the classic ego mistake of trying to price as highly as possible, with little previous reputation for good client work. This meant I got a whole heap of unanswered emails once the price was asked (as an aside: Never, ever, tell the client by email your price for anything over £999, get them on a call).
Then I started to honestly work out what my time was worth, what it would cost me in assets or staff time, and started to ask for that. Clients were happy and I was off to the races. I've said before how I believe that, if you're a freelancer, pricing low is a good starting point- you get confident asking for money (which isn't natural), get clients quicker (and thus referrals to more clients), and everything, from talking to your parents to investors to potential employees flows smoother once there's some cash coming in.
If you feel you've changed too little, that's fine too. Charge new customers the higher price, while the old customers get to keep the early bird discount. It's very easy to raise prices over time- It's very hard when you're looking at a big fat zero on day one to get that first sale if you're charging too much."
Vincent Dignan, Founder, Magnific.
#48 MAKE REFERRALS EASY TO REMEMBER & FUN TO SHARE
"You can do this by personalizing with the referrer's name. Use referral personalization in:
- the referral code
- in the destination link / URL
- on landing page"
Susan Su, Venture Partner, 500 Startups.
#49 FORGET CONTENT FOR CONTENT'S SAKE
"Answer questions & solve problems and be guaranteed there will always be a hungry audience looking for what you are creating."
Aaron Agius, Founder, Louder Online.
#50 BE SUPER STINGY WITH YOUR TIME AND FOCUS
"In the early stages of a growth strategy, it can be enticing to test multiple ideas and spread your attention across multiple initiatives. However, to max out any channel, it will require your full attention, energy and time. Be strict with yourself and stay laser-focused on the channels that are growing both your user-base and revenue. The channels that are already performing well are your best opportunities for fast growth, early on so give them all your time."
Dean Levitt, Founder, Teacup Analytics.
#51 BUILD TO WOW
"If your product does not cause users to say wow, growth will lag. The magic needs to be in your product, not just in the growth hack.
To find your wow, map out the current context in your space. What's the norm? Then remove features, add features, combine features or just do the opposite. Contextual novelty is the beginning of innovation and customer-centered innovation leads to growth."
Forrest Dombrow, Founder, Solve Sales.
#52 USE YOUR RESOURCES
"You can learn a tremendous amount from other startups, but true growth will only come when you begin taking advantage of the resources that you actually possess (not others).
How many employees do you have? How much capital do you have? What marketing expertise do you bring to the table. What is unique about your customers? What is awesome about your product? What secret do you know? Learn from others, then chart your own path!"
Bronson Taylor, CEO, Growth Geeks.
#53 FOCUS ON DELIVERING THE ABSOLUTE BEST CONTENT FOR CONTENT MARKETING
"When I started ConversionXL, 99% of marketers were writing superificial 500-word articles. I chose to go above and beyond and started producing 2000-3000 word long-form articles that were full of examples, every claim backed up with a link, research-based. And I got 100k monthly readers for the blog before 1 year of blogging.
Now – writing that quality content is the barrier of entry. We've elevated our game and are now conducting original UX research, and publishing that on the blog – establishing our blog firmer as the leader.
Always aim to be the absolute best. Elevate your game."
Peep Laja, Founder, ConversionXL.
#54 CULTIVATE YOUR COMMUNITY OF ADVOCATES
"Everyone is so focused on getting featured on that product discovery site, news network, and finding that silver bullet hack for that quick shot of instant growth. They fail to do the hard work of cultivating a loyal community of fans, customers, and users to be powerful authentic advocates.
Building community advocacy around your brand, product, audience, or cause is the tip of the organic acquisition growth spear and the only true, timeless growth hack. Sharpen this spear by creating an amazing advocacy experience that is easy, engaging, fun, and rewarding."
Joe Sanchis, Founder, Queue.
#55 TRY TRADITIONAL MARKETING CHANNELS
"Try channels like direct mail, TV and outdoor– they're still around because they work."
Adelyn Zhou, Founder, Alight Labs.
#56 KEEP TRACK OF YOUR "FIRST MAJOR WIN-STATE"
"In designing your campaigns, you must keep track of your "First Major Win-State" – the first point where users say, "This is awesome!"
Once you identify that point, count how many minutes it takes for a user to reach it, because every second before that is a drop-out. And don't forget to ask your users to tell their friends about you and rate their experience – right after your "First Major Win-State" victory."
Yu-Kai Chou, Pioneer and International Keynote Speaker on Gamification.
#57 GROW THE RIGHT AUDIENCE
"Growth is about more than just acquiring users. It's about acquiring the right users – the ones who will engage and convert and generate revenue for years to come. If you want to find more of the right kind of users, try talking to your best customers right now.
Ask them where they heard about your product, what they expected from it when they started, and what they're getting out of it. Then use that information to find better channels and the right messaging to attract more people like them."
Laura Klein, Principal, Users Know & Author of UX for Lean Startups.
#58 ACT ON YOUR ANALYTICS
"In the pursuit of growth, one of the most important analytical capabilities you must have in your startup is the power to segment users by the actions they have or have not performed in the product. The ability to act on user behavior data can have an absolutely transformational impact on your growth trajectory."
Jack Mardack, Head of Growth, Chartcube.
#59 YOU CAN'T OPTIMIZE YOUR (EMAIL) MESSAGING WITHOUT EMPATHY AND FOCUS.
"Even the strongest value propositions won't work if you aren't considerate and thoughtful about who your intended audience is.
Sales and marketing efforts always need to focus on a specific audience. Likewise, make sure your messaging is also tightly focused–don't try to do too many things at once, especially with regards to email. Keeping each email focused on a single benefit/concept makes it more persuasive, and will convert better."
Heather R Morgan, Copywriter & CEO, SalesFolk.
And finally, we come to the customer. The person you're selling to. The one who's going to use your product – and love it or hate it. The one who ultimately determines whether your business makes it or doesn't.
It's not hard to see that we should take the customer into consideration. But sometimes we could use a little help on how to get it right.
Here are a few tips:
#60 FOCUS ON SOLVING YOUR CUSTOMER'S PROBLEMS
"Stop thinking about your business.
The absolute focus must be on problems that your potential customers already have, and how you might help them solve them. The are not looking for your features or "solution" – they are trying to avoid or minimize a specific pain."
Tim Ash, CEO, SiteTuners, bestselling author of "Landing Page Optimization, Chair of Conversion Conference".
#61 KNOW YOUR CUSTOMER – INTIMATELY
"Before you think about funnel optimization, A/B testing or distribution, take the time to know your customer – intimately. Find them, talk to them, be where they are. By truly understanding their feelings, behaviors and attitudes, you can build better products and tell a story that will resonate with them."
Hana Abaza, VP Marketing, Uberflip.
#62 FIND EARLY ADOPTERS AND TURN THEM INTO BRAND EVANGELISTS
"When building out your initial user base, find people who are interested in your product or service and connect with them. How do you do that?
Find people who commented on related articles, tweeted or retweeted about the topic, shared a post on Facebook or Instagram, etc. Then follow up with them on their platform of choice and engage them. These people have demonstrated interest in your product/service and can become your first adopters, evangelists, or VIPs (if they are press or influencers)."
Adelyn Zhou, Founder and CEO, Alight Labs.
#63 BECOME A TRIBE LEADER
"Turning your audience, or email list, into a tribe – a community united around a central topic – will build your brand better than any marketing strategy you could set forth.
Let people join together to talk about a problem or solution, and you will learn their biggest challenges, their objections, how they speak about the solution, and, most importantly, how to better serve them. ROI, NPS, referral rates, LTV will all go up, while CAC drops. There's nothing more powerful to your business than leading your community."
Derric Haynie, CEO, SplashOPM.
#64 KNOW YOUR BUYER
"The company that understands their buyers best will earn their business and their loyalty. Growing your business in 2016 isn't about being the loudest brand on every channel possible, but about using sales and marketing to demonstrate that you know your buyer better than the competition (and that you've got the product and experience to match)."
Katie Martell, Co-Founder and CMO, Cintell
#65 ASK YOUR USERS HOW THEY LEARNED ABOUT YOU
"At Bunny Inc., we directly ask every user how they learned about us and we leave the answer field open-ended (no bullet points). This helps us discover new channels for customer acquisition and to understand which acquisition channels are performing the best."
Jun Loayza, Chief Growth Officer, Bunny Inc.
#66 FIND REAL DATA ABOUT YOUR AUDIENCE AND SPEAK TO THEM LIKE YOU KNOW THEM.
"Don't be afraid to be different – it's the only way they'll remember you."
Liston Witherill, Copywriter and Funnel Maker, Good Funnel
#67 CREATE CONTENT THAT PROVIDES VALUE
"The best sales and marketing content always centers around adding value to prospective customers."
Heather R. Morgan, Copywriter & CEO, SalesFolk
#68 CUSTOMER DATA AND USER ATTRIBUTES ARE THE KEY TO PERSONALIZATION
"Personalization in your customer's success experience is the secret sauce of retention."
Tammy Camp, Partner, 500 Startups
#69 VIRAL GROWTH
"When thinking of viral growth, don't fall for the trap of thinking that this simply means getting lots of shares on social media. This is simply one of 12 types of viral marketing that you can build deep into the bones of your product to help recruit your loyal users to recruit even more loyal users for you.
Things like making your product embeddable, inviting friends or colleagues to collaborate on a project using your product, or anything else that adds value to the user for inviting others can skyrocket your growth."
Travis Steffen, Head of Growth, AutoLotto, Inc
#70 LOWER FRICTION TO INCREASE GROWTH
"It doesn't matter how much money you spend on marketing; the secret weapon people don't think about is how long it takes to sign up for a service.
The less take it takes, the higher the growth."
Michelle Zatlyn, Co-Founder and CEO, Cloudflare
#71 ADDRESS USERS' OBJECTIONS
"Ask users who say they would not buy your product what their objections are during moderated user testing. Dispel, or at least address, those objections explicitly in your home page or landing page copy. Watch conversions increase dramatically."
#72 LEARN WHAT YOUR CUSTOMERS LOVE AND HATE
"Building a demand for your product can take time. To speed this up, start right now to build thought leadership content (blog posts, white papers, etc.) and network with experts in your industry to learn what customers love and hate in your business niche. Most importantly, make sure everyone knows who you are."
Michelle Regner, CEO and Co-Founder, Near-Me.com
#73 KEEP IT SIMPLE
"At the core, marketing is not that complicated. We are the bridge between the audience and the brand. What makes it complicated is that we get in our own way and we want to talk about ourselves.
Marketing gets really simple when you understand what you can bring that your audience really wants. If you live through that lens, 50% of your problems go away right then and there."
Todd Wilms, VP Corporate Marketing, VERISIGN
#74 BUILD ORGANIC GROWTH FIRST
"There will always be dozens of email marketing and other software vendors trying to get your business as you grow. Before you go and burn $12k or $24k signing up for a 1-year contract with them, be sure that you know how to grow your SaaS company by 5-7% week-over-week organically. Until you reach that point, it could be detrimental to your company to spend this budget."
Adam Metz, VP, TerrAvion
#75 MEASURE THE PRODUCT FIT FIRST, THEN FOCUS ON GROWTH
"Ask your users a question: "How would you feel, if you could no longer use product or service?" If you get to 40% percent of "very disappointed" responses, you have a marketable product. After this is done, you have to understand why it is a must-have product for your customers to be able to create a machine to deliver that value"
#76 GROWTH IS ALL ABOUT WORD OF MOUTH
"At the end of the day, growth is all about word of mouth.
People tell their friends about your product after they have a great experience using it. Before you invest in testing your viral funnels, digging into your SEO strategy and spending precious dollars on marketing campaigns, make sure that you have a product that delights your user."
Zack Onisko, VP, Hired, Inc.
#77 NEVER STOP LEARNING FROM YOUR USERS
"Find the intersection between quantitative and qualitative data and take action by testing your hypothesis constantly!"
Laura Moreno, Lead Product Manager, Chegg.
#78 FOCUS ON VALUE FIRST
"In the stress of the day to day it's easy to forget the real reason anyone is willing to pay attention to you in the first place – value. Whether or not you can solve a real problem for a real customer is tantamount to achieving any real, tangible growth. Focus on the value you create first, then worry about optimizing the rest."
Jeremiah Gardner, Author of The Lean Brand, Principal, Moves The Nee
#79 BUILD RELATIONSHIPS
"Be different by focusing on acquiring great relationships first, not paying customers."
With every startup, it's relationships that drive companies to be successful. I'd take 10 great relationships over 5 paying customers any day of the week. Great relationships may not pay for your product or service right away, but they'll tell others about it.
Great relationships won't leave you when your product breaks. They'll be there for product feedback, when you need that intro, or when you need help making a big company announcement.
If you need a starting point, find some great influencers, and don't ask them to buy your product, ask them to be your friend."
Ryan O'Hara, VP Growth, LeadIQ
#80 STEP INTO YOUR PROSPECT'S SHOES AND LOOK OUT FROM THEIR EYES
"It's only then you can craft your message to resonate and turn them into buyers."
Mike Kamo, Partner, Neil Patel.com
#81 NEVER STOP LISTENING
"Always talk to one audience at a time and never stop listening."
Alexandra Mack, Head of Marketing, Crunchbase
IV. Wrapping Up
Though all these strategies and tactics will do great things for your growth – and don't forget who told you about them! – it won't be enough. Nothing will, sadly.
Unless you want your company to reach a certain point and then stop. Just stand still. Stagnate. Lose out to a hungry young competitor.
No, you have to keep growing. Keep moving. Growth marketing – like regular marketing, or sales, or accounting – is never really over. It's a way of life.
But then again, that's a good thing. It gives you something to keep working on. It gives you a job, too. One that can't be automated.
However, it does require you to stay current on what's happening in the industry, because growth hacks that work now may not work tomorrow, and new opportunities pop up all the time.
Be sure to follow marketing blogs, attend conferences, and catch cocktail mixers and webinars when you can. In fact, there's a Growth Marketing Conference 2017 coming up soon you might like to look into.
But whatever you do, whatever resources you use, you have to keep learning. And don't worry – you won't be alone. I'll be there right with you.
And all your competitors will be too.