Growth Hacking Techniques for Startups & SMEs with Ashley Salek

Last week we brought you Xaver Matt’s presentation on Mastering the SEO Mindset from our business event in partnership with Vodafone. Now, it’s time for part two - Ashley Salek's growth hacking workshop. We know plenty of brands have been bursting at the seams to get hold of our Growth Hacking Techniques for Startups and SMEs from Ashley Salek. In this article, we’ll give you a short introduction to growth hacking, we’ll offer our favourite ‘insider’ hacks and explain what outcome you can expect to achieve. We’d love to hear your feedback on which hacks work best for your brand.

Growth Hacking Techniques for Startups & SMEs with Ashley Salek


What is Growth Hacking?

Growth hacks are short lived, marginal gains that will give your brand a small boost of growth. These small hacks accumulate to make a big impact. The beauty of these hacks, and also the reason why they’re so regularly used by startups, is that they’re usually free (or very low cost). If you want to get your brand in front of real people without spending lots of money, this is the route to take.

A Few Legendary Examples

World renowned brands have got where they are today by leveraging growth hacks. Here are a few big name examples:

The Airbnb Craigslist Hack

To boost growth of their own platform, Airbnb leveraged the already existing platform of Craigslist. Airbnb allowed the automated posting of accommodation listings to Craigslist. This gave the site access to thousands of relevant users who would not have been otherwise available to them. This caused the popularity of Airbnb to grow exponentially in size.

The Drobbox Double Incentive Hack

Dropbox make use of a particularly intelligent hack. The online storage site runs a referral programme that offers 2GB of free storage to new users with bonus storage for social sharing. This is a double incentive that is guaranteed to get people inviting their friends to the platform.
Growth Hacking Funnel

Typical Growth Hack KPIs

 So how can you determine whether your hacking has been successful? There are a few key performance indicators to keep an eye out for. Here’s what to watch:
  • Traffic
  • Repeat visits
  • Qualified leads
  • Conversion rate
  • Cost per acquisition
  • Average order value
  • Repeat customer rate
  • Churn rate
  • MOM growth
  • YOY growth
  • Trial to paid (freemium model)
So now, let’s get to the hacks!

The Skyscraper Technique

The Skyscraper Technique is ideal for breaking through a saturated market with your content. The idea of this is to curate the ultimate piece of content in a specific area. There’s a seriously effective process to follow to get this right:
  • Discover – Find content that already gets hits/interest in a specific sector
  • Curate – Curate the definitive/ultimate list or resource
  • Add value – Lengthen, strengthen, update, design better, etc.
  • Outreach – Reach out to the right people
  • Distribute – Use all your channels to share your content
  • Bonus – Include 3rd party links to boost the chance of retweets/shares
So what does The Skyscraper Technique offer you?
  • You can own a niche/specific topic
  • You can be seen as an influencer – brand equity
  • It increases your chances of backlinks
  • It boosts traffic and improves SEO
  • It’s shareable on social media
Skyscraper Technique in real life - growth hacking

Driving Traffic with

3rd party sharing is just part of running a successful social media account. The problem is, this doesn’t help to drive traffic to your site. At least it didn’t until came along. Simply create a free account, enter the URL of the page you want to share and the site will allow you to add a clickable call-to-action. You can even integrate with other social media tools like Buffer, Hootsuite and Mailchimp. In six weeks gained nearly 2k website clicks as a result of sharing links.
So what can you gain from using
  • Generate traffic from 3rd party sources
  • Drive conversions through content curation
  • Engage your followers with every link shared
  • Gain data

Optimise Your Site Speed

This one’s a no-brainer. If your website takes a long time to load, people will lose interest. You’re going to lose visitors, influence and sales. To check your site’s speed, you can use Google’s free page speed tester. Download the results and contact a developer to resolve the issues found. Doing this will improve user experience, SEO and conversions.

The Facebook Lookalike Hack

The Facebook Lookalike Hack will allow you to find similar users to your custom audience when setting up Facebook paid media campaigns. This will give you a wider pool of appropriate/top performing audiences. 

The PR Hack

Want to hold some influence in your niche sector? Try giving a journalist a helping hand. There are nearly 30,000 journalist requests every week. By using a tool like HARO, you can have instant access to a pool of 35,000 journalists. This is effectively generating PR for free. If there’s a request which is suitable to your brand, you can submit a quote, bio and contact details. If you’re used, you’ll be credited and linked to.
How does this help your brand?
  • It boosts brand awareness
  • It adds (often high value) backlinks to your site
  • It expands your network
  • It boosts your influence in your industry/sector

The Email Harvester

We’re bringing you two for the price of one for this hack! These will help you harvest emails and build up your mailing list.

The Sign-Up Pop-Up Hack

If you’re looking to do some email marketing (which you probably should!) you’re going to need the emails of people visiting your site. By using a free tool like SumoMe, you can create a customised email sign-up message that pops up when a consumer visits your site. Tools like this allow you to alter the message/call-to-action, design and incentives you offer. You can even integrate this with email marketing software like MailChimp.
Email Pop-Up Hack

LinkedIn Email Export Hack

If you’re looking to build an email database, the LinkedIn email export hack will help. Here’s how to export the email addresses of your connections:
  • Click on the ‘My Network’ icon on your LinkedIn homepage
  • Click ‘Your Connections’/’See All’ on the left hand side
  • Click ‘Manage synced and imported contacts’ on the top right
  • Under ‘Advanced actions’ on the right, click the option to ‘Export contacts’
  • Click ‘Request Archive’
  • You’ll receive an email on your primary email address with a link where you can download your connections
So how do these hacks benefit you?
  • Converts one-time visitors into lifelong readers/subscribers
  • Increases the number of prospects/contacts in your mailing list
  • 30% of traffic comes from mobile – turn these users into subscribers

The Email Open Rate Hack

Has a low open rate got you feeling down about email marketing? You can get 30% more eyes on your emails with a very simple hack. We’ll show you how:
  • Send your original email
  • Wait three days
  • Segment those who haven’t opened
  • Create a new headline for the same email
  • Send this to the non-openers
  • Boom! You’ve just boosted your open rate

Live Chat Hack

Customer service is hugely important for customer retention. In fact, 82% of people claim they have stopped doing business with a company because they received a poor customer service experience. A great way of retaining customers who get frustrated is by a live chat function. This is super quick and easy to use. There’s even free versions out there (though these do limit the number of chats you have per month). You can integrate the software with numerous other platforms and can even use it for capturing all-important customer data.
What outcome will your brand see?
  • An increased customer loyalty/experience
  • The opportunity to ‘up-sell’
  • A reduction in product returns
  • Extra data collection

Canva Hack

Don’t have a designer? No problem! There are occasions when a designer is critical, however if you need high quality images but lack the necessary photoshop skills, Canva can help. Canva allows you to choose from high quality templates or alternatively customise your own design. You can add/customise text to ensure your image features a strong call-to-action. You can add branding to truly personalise your brand. Be sure to search Google for royalty free images (no one wants to be sued for using the wrong images). 
So what benefits will you see from using Canva?
  • Easily create high quality designs
  • Improved visual marketing assets e.g. blogs, social media imagery, etc.
  • Social media posts will generate 30% more clicks and 89% more favourites with professional imagery
  • Professional looking images without the cost
  • Optimise images for SEO benefits
Canva Example - Growth Hacking

Twitter Hacks

Your brand really must take advantage of Twitter. Here are three simple hacks that’ll ensure your Twitter use is more effective.

Reach Building

Reach building is the act of going out and reaching out to a wider audience. Ultimately, getting eyes on your profile:
  • F.L.L.R – When you come across an appropriate user, follow them, like their posts, add them to a list and retweet their content. This will get your name clearly visible on their notification feed.
  • C&P share to tweet – Found a piece of content that resonates with your brand? Click the ‘share to tweet’ button. Copy the tweet template provided and past it into the Twitter search bar, this will bring up every account that clicked the ‘click to share’ button.
  • Follow high engagers – Find similar content to your own, follow the users that are retweeting and liking this content. They’re more likely to engage with your content.
  • Follow your competitor’s followers – If they follow your competition, they’re likely to follow you too.

Content Distribution

Content distribution is a huge draw for brands on Twitter. To be truly effective, you need to know how to get in front of the right audience. Here are a few handy tips:
  • Use a scheduling tool – Buffer and Hootsuite allow you to schedule tweets to go out at any time
  • Run a competition – Social media competitions drive traffic up exponentially
  • Add ‘click to tweet’ buttons – Allow readers to tweet your content with complete ease

Hashtag Hijack

Hashtags are big news on Twitter, especially when there’s a big event, news story or national day. A hashtag will trend when many people are tweeting about or searching for topic. This is the perfect opportunity for your brand to get your eyes in front of tons of potential followers. To hijack an event fully, there’s a process you can put in place:
  • Pre-Campaign – Plan how to infiltrate the hashtag
  • Pre-Event – Build buzz and talk about the event before it happens using the hashtag
  • During Event – Talk about what’s happening/interact with attendees throughout the event
  • Post-Event – Review the event/interact with attendees once the event is over
So what effect does the hashtag hijack have on your brand?
  • Increases your content’s reach
  • Amplifies your brand
  • Allows you to target a specific audience
  • Gets your content found
  • Boosts your campaign/events

Instagram Hacks

Stop using Instagram like a personal account, start posting like a pro. We’ve already written an article on how to get more Instagram followers, so here are a few tips to boost your brand’s Instagram presence:
  • FLC – Follow relevant users and like/comment on their pictures to build reach
  • Hashtags – Find relevant users using specific hashtags
  • Competitors – Follow your competitors’ followers
  • Post more often – More posts = more engagement
  • Trackable links – Us a trackable link in your bio so you can see who’s clicking through to your site
  • CTAs – Use a call to action in your photos e.g. ‘click the link in our bio…’
  • 5 Hashtags – Only the first five hashtags count, make them the most relevant. Hashtags in comment count too, add extra here if you need it.
  • Gramblr – Use the Gramblr tool to schedule Instagram posts
  • Kickstagram - Reach and engage your target audience on Instagram

See You Next Tuesday

Whether you’re launching a new product, publishing a new blog, launching a website, publishing news or reaching out to other businesses, Tuesday is your best option. Most sites will see a dip at the weekend, Mondays are usually used for catching up and Fridays are Fridays. Tuesdays are by far the most effective day.
Remember, sometimes even the smallest advantage can yield big results. If you’re in need of some assistance with your online presence, get in touch. We can help you with the full range of digital marketing services including search, social, content and reputation. Find out more about how we can help you here.

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