It doesn’t matter how many leads you bring into your funnel or how hard you hammer on customer acquisition; if you aren’t getting conversions, you aren’t going to achieve growth. As a B2B brand in SaaS, tech, or fintech, you’re likely all-too-familiar with the agony of a slow sales cycle that leaves you wondering which strategies are moving the needle and which are just bringing you down.
Time to cut the dead weight and use strategies that work to drive the results you want to see. How? Growth hacking. After making quite an entrance on the marketing scene 10 years ago, growth hacking has been the buzz of many brands like yours ever since. But what does it mean? And how can you use growth hacking strategies to ramp up conversions, build your brand, and achieve rapid but sustainable growth? We’re here to tell you how.
The term “growth hacking” was coined by entrepreneur and investor Sean Ellis in 2010. It doesn’t refer to any one particular marketing strategy or channel, but rather, any tactic that can be leveraged at low cost to drive rapid and measurable growth. What sets growth hacking apart is the methodology used: testing and experimentation, followed by system improvements, and finally, repetition of the tactics that work best.
Effective growth hacking is data-driven, measurable, and repeatable. Best of all, it’s proven to drive conversions and improve ROI. It’s a science, but it’s not an exact science. It takes a lot of experimentation (which comes with a lot of failure and starting over), but when done effectively, it can be a major driver of growth for your brand. Here, we’ll look at some growth hacking strategies that will help you design a growth hacking marketing plan for your B2B brand.
Though they’re often used interchangeably, growth hacking and growth marketing are not the same thing. They do, however, share a few common themes, like:
The key difference between growth hacking and growth marketing is longevity. Growth hacking aims to achieve growth through the quickest possible avenue, while growth marketing takes a more strategic, holistic approach. Growth hacking is often a one-off tactic, while growth marketing is a long-term plan to achieve lasting, measurable, and scalable results.
Both will help you grow your B2B brand, but they’ll do so in different ways and at different speeds. If you want to kickstart your brand’s growth with the lowest cost and largest return, growth hacking is a great place to start. Leveraging the tactics we’ve listed here will move buyers through your expanded funnel and boost your conversions. Let’s find out how.
Remember that pirate funnel we mentioned before? Understanding it is key to understanding how to growth hack. It’s called the pirate funnel because of the AAARRR framework, which is significantly more robust than the traditional marketing funnel.
To increase conversions, you need to reach buyers at every stage of this expanded funnel with the right message at the right time. Growth hacking can help you do that. Here’s how:
So, you’ve decided your goal is increased conversions, and you’re ready to call it a day. Not so fast. You’ll need to dig into your KPIs and set your success metrics based on specific goals with checkpoints along the way. Conversion rate is a good place to start, but that isn’t enough. If you aren’t getting the conversions you want to see, you need to understand why. Maybe your website traffic is down, or your CTAs aren’t performing the way they should. Your ultimate goal of growth is driven by numerous factors, and you’ll need to set many goals along the way to make sure you’re on track to achieve it.
When setting those goals, make sure you adhere to the SMART framework.
In growth hacking, the “M” and the “T” are especially relevant. You must be able to measure your results to understand if an experiment is working, and you have to be able to do that in a certain timeframe. If your goals are falling short, you’ll need to step back, create a new hypothesis, and launch a new experiment.
Once you’ve got your goals, you’ll need a map to get you there. Because growth hacking isn’t as strategic as growth marketing, it’s going to involve a lot of trial and error. However, as you begin testing growth hacking strategies, keep an eye on your effort vs. impact ratio to make sure your plan is on the right track.
As you build your plan, be on the lookout for “turtles” — the slow-moving time sucks that will drain your energy (and your bank account). Slam dunks are a great goal, and long hauls are what you’re looking for with a growth marketing strategy. But for growth hacking, the quick wins are where you want to start.
You don’t want to be a small fish in a big pond. So instead, be a blowfish. Blowfish marketing is a tactical approach to making your brand appear bigger than it is. Using the blowfish method to adapt your brand positioning is a popular growth hack for startups that are ready to make a splash.
So, you’re not a shark yet. That’s okay. You don’t need to swim with the big guys. You need to find your own little cove and then own it. That’s what being a blowfish is all about.
Blowfish positioning tactics include:
Just remember that when using the blowfish approach, you don’t want buyers to see your brand as full of hot air. Make good on your claims of greatness, and deliver on your promises.
Sometimes, the easiest (and cheapest) fixes have the biggest impact. Making sure your page loads in a flash is a simple way to retain buyers and increase conversions. Otherwise, interested buyers might decide to bail.
In fact, a two-second delay in load time can reduce overall conversions by 7 percent. To make sure you aren’t leaving money on the table (or on the web), optimize your page load speed with these tips:
Your website is usually your buyers’ first interaction with your brand. To get them to convert, you’ll need to start by making a killer first impression. Your user experience (UX) must be strategically and carefully designed to keep visitors on your page…but only as long as it takes to convince them to convert (you don’t want them stranded there looking for a way out).
Do a walk-through of your user experience and look for areas of improvement. Is your web page attractive, clean, and easy to navigate? Or are visitors tasked with cutting through the clutter to find what they need? Does your brand pop off the page, or does it get lost in a sea of too much information?
Just like growth hacking, UX should be tested frequently and experimented with to find what works. When you do find it, you’ll be on your way to more conversions and accelerated growth.
Marketing and sales roles are shifting as more B2B brands become focused on achieving growth. It used to be enough for marketers to find qualified leads and ship them off to the sales team to work their magic. Not so anymore. Today, marketers, especially growth hacking marketers, have to be familiar with an extended funnel, and they have to have something of a sales mindset in order to move buyers through to conversion.
Today’s marketers have to understand the sales-focused stages of the funnel, including consideration and buyer intent. Preparing for hand-off to your sales team happens much later in the process now and delivers them ready customers who are on the verge of converting.
Where do your visitors become buyers? Understanding where they convert on your website and the process they go through will give you insights to make conversion quicker, easier, and more appealing. To better understand your conversion points, consider the following:
Do your visitors know exactly what action they need to take when they’re on your page, or does your site leave them hanging? Optimizing your landing pages for conversion is a sure way to maximize growth, but it includes a lot of steps.
Conversion optimization is a lot to tackle, but before you get to that, you need to understand what NOT to do:
Once you’ve got those taken care of, you can start on all the DOs listed above.
Ninety-four percent of marketers say they repurpose old content. Why? There are many reasons. Recycling older content can improve search rankings, as Google notes your updates and views it as fresh content. It’s also quicker to push out revamped existing content than creating new, and it saves money as well. However, the most effective way to use old content is to repurpose it in a new format.
Video is the clear winner here, but social posts are another effective alternative that doesn’t take much time and delivers quick results.
Topic clusters make it easy for visitors to find the information they need to make the decision to convert. Clusters are centered around a primary pillar page, with numerous related cluster pages surrounding it.
The key to effectively using topic clusters is linking all cluster pages back to the pillar page to make related content easy to find. Topic clusters also help improve SEO, but it requires a shift in thinking. Instead of focusing only on keywords, you must begin with the topics you want your brand to own and work outward from there. This can lead to better rankings in SERPs, and eventually, higher conversion rates and growth.
Content distribution is the weight you place on getting your content out to the world via different avenues that include earned, owned, and paid channels.
For the purposes of growth hacking, you’ll focus primarily on earned and owned media.
Neil Patel calls it “the forgotten growth hack.” Customer service and support often gets overlooked in favor of more exciting and innovative growth hacking tactics, but it’s a simple and effective way to drive results. Plus, as it costs around five times as much to acquire a new customer compared to retaining an existing one, giving your customer support a little more love is a cost-effective strategy.
So, what do customers want? That will differ slightly based on your buyer persona, but the basics are usually the same.
After the circus sideshow that was 2020, your customers want a more human experience. They want to know that your brand “gets” them, and they want to access support when and where they need it.
“Referral” is one of the key stages of the AAARRR funnel, and it’s critical to driving growth quickly and at a low cost. You’ve likely heard before (probably here on this website) about Dropbox’s revolutionary referral program. But there’s good reason it gets trotted out in nearly every growth hacking article out there. Dropbox was a pioneer in this growth hack and was one of the first major brands to view existing customers as an acquisition channel. The concept was brilliant in its simplicity. Want more storage space? Refer a friend.
And it worked. In two years, Dropbox grew from 100,000 users to 4 million. They gave away their top commodity for “free,” but demanded something infinitely more valuable in return: word of mouth. It’s the oldest form of marketing in existence, and it still gets the job done.
Explainer videos are used by 47 percent of marketers. These videos help create a seamless, frictionless onboarding experience, which reduces customer drop-off. On the whole, video content is increasingly used by marketers, with 60 percent saying it’s extremely or very important to their overall strategy.
Only 3 percent say it’s not important. YouTube offers top ROI for video content, with Facebook and Instagram close behind. But video content can also be leveraged on owned media — like your website — to great effect. Providing quick, easy-to-understand how-to videos will help your customers onboard without hassle and (when done well) without hitting you up for customer support.
Is there such a thing as too many landing pages? Not really. Sites with higher numbers of landing pages tend to perform better (as long as they’re optimized and easy to navigate).
But it isn’t quantity over quality. For the most effective landing pages, you need to give equal consideration to both. Honing in on quality includes creating highly customized landing pages for each channel, so when a visitor arrives there, they know they’re in the right spot. Landing pages should be built around your buyer persona and their purchase intent and should contain messaging specific to the channel that drove them there. You can even customize offers for each channel, so, for instance, your Instagram followers get a deal that’s exclusive to them when they convert. In this way, you can perform testing to determine your most active and effective channels and create conversion paths that align with persona and intent to deliver results.
You should have a good idea of where your ideal buyer persona is hanging out, so the next step is finding out what other products they’re buying that relate to your market niche. Then, build collaborations with brands that offer products and services that complement yours.
One great way to do this is by creating a giveaway loop. In a giveaway loop, you’ll team up with other non-competing brands to offer a whole package of connected products and services. Participants will need to take several steps (like signing up for mailing lists with each brand) in order to be entered to win. They’ll be giving up a lot of information to numerous brands, so make sure your prize package is worth it.
People love a freebie. And if they feel like they’re getting something exclusive at no cost to them, your brand is more likely to evoke feelings of trust and goodwill, which can lead to a boost in conversions.
Ungated content is key to getting leads in your funnel, but it can also work at other stages, especially when those leads feel they’re getting something of high value without promising their firstborn or a kidney in exchange.
Giving up content for free also gives you the opportunity to offer content upgrades, so buyers can get the most exclusive, most valuable content in exchange for their content info. But again, gating content in this way has to be worthwhile. Content upgrades can include:
After well over a year of mostly virtual events and conferences, it’s time to back out there. In-person events offer a great way to scope the competition, form partnerships and collaborations, and snag face time with your ideal buyers.
While huge national or international industry conferences are the go-to for B2B brands, don’t neglect local events. They’re a great way to solidify your position in your local community and build brand trust and reputation.
When you hear “DNR,” you might think of the phrase, “do not resuscitate.” In email marketing, it stands for “do not reply,” but it has the same effect. Setting your emails to DNR can cause your brand to flatline, and after a while, your leads will understand there’s no hope of reviving it.
Open up the lines of communication and ask your readers to respond, either by sending feedback, asking questions, or answering something you’ve asked to gain useful insight. You don’t have to do it every time, especially if your inbox gets overwhelmed, but occasionally, making a real human person (that’s you) accessible and responsive can lead to buyers who are more willing to convert.
We’ve said it before, but it bears repeating; people love free stuff. And if it’s also valuable, even better. Creating interactive, downloadable tools is easier than ever, and they are generally high-converting assets.
Shopify’s free brand name generator is an excellent example of a B2B tool that’s high value and highly engaging.
Once you use Shopify’s tool to select a name, you’ll be encouraged to sign up immediately for an account and get your business started right away.
Other ideas for free tools include calculators, spreadsheets, templates, and more.
Roundup posts are a great way to build your backlink profile and boost brand authority. They’re also quick and cost-effective, so you can have fresh new content in a flash. Beyond that, roundups are endlessly shareable and can get your brand in front of a much wider audience if done correctly.
You can create your own roundups by curating content around a particular theme. Just remember to choose high-quality content from respected names and let them know when it’s published so they can share it with their audience.
To be a roundup contributor, connect with top industry leaders and influencers and be sure you have relevant, killer content at the ready.
Who’s got the loudest voice in your industry? Hit them up and ask them to create a guest blog post. Chances are, they’ll jump at the opportunity to be positioned as an expert in the field. And even better, they’re pretty likely to share the blog once it’s published on your site, giving you the benefit of leveraging their network of followers. Make sure to give them a link within the comment and chances are good they’ll return the favor.
Sometimes less is more. But sometimes, more is…well, more. That’s certainly the case when it comes to the channels and mediums available to marketers these days. There may come a time when you have to pick and choose which content forms to invest in, but with the number of tools and resources available, you should be able to dabble in each until you find the ones that work.
Visual content is no longer an option; it’s a must. In fact, close to half of marketers say they’re creating original visual assets, like infographics, in a majority of their content.
Video content isn’t the future of marketing; it’s the here-and-now. And we promise you — your buyers want to see it.
How-tos and explainer videos are especially useful for B2B brands and can help move leads through the funnel and inspire them to convert.
Webinars are a popular marketing tool for 61 percent of marketers, and the number goes even higher for B2B brands, particularly in the SaaS and fintech realms.
Seventy-four percent of B2B marketers say webinars are the best way to generate high-quality leads that move toward conversion. A majority of webinars are around 40 minutes long, but be aware that viewership drops off around the 22-minute mark, so be sure to get right to the heart of the matter and put your best and most impactful content right upfront.
Podcasts are having a moment. And it’s a moment that your brand can leverage to reach a wider audience and get conversions.
There are a couple of ways you can leverage podcasts in your marketing strategy. First, you can create your own. With advances in technology, it’s now easier and more cost-effective than ever to produce a professional-sounding, high-quality podcast.
If that’s not your jam, you can also look at advertising in top industry podcasts or taking on a guest-hosting or contributor role.
Exit-intent popups are key to keeping visitors from jumping ship before they’ve had a chance to convert. Exit popups can cover a wide range of messaging, from exclusive one-time offers to outright pleading.
And even if they don’t have a change of heart, asking for feedback before they go can give you valuable insight on what they didn’t like about your site or their experience.
Don’t make it difficult for visitors to leave your site (they’ll only end up more frustrated with your brand), but don’t make it too easy, either. Be sure exit polls include a negative option (e.g., “Are you sure you don’t want to save 50 percent on this purchase?” or “No thanks, I enjoy wasting my time and spending more money.”) that has a slight sense of ridiculousness (because of course people want to save time and money) and a major sense of urgency (“You will miss out if you leave now.”).
Countdown offers let your audience know they’re about to miss out on something if they don’t seize the moment. Sending time-based notifications (like, “Your cart will expire in 3 days!” or “Just 2 days left to claim your exclusive deal!”) creates FOMO, which is a powerful conversion driver.
You could just send email notifications leading up to the offer expiration, or if you want to get a little fancier, use a custom countdown timer to increase urgency.
There are generally two types of countdown timers:
The possibility of winning something interesting or valuable makes your audience a lot more willing to give up their personal information.
Contests are a great way to get leads into your funnel and pique their interest in your product. If you’re planning to run a contest, here are few things to keep in mind:
How do you know how to effectively sell to your target audience? Data and research are key components, but they only take you part of the way. It might sound crazy, but to understand how to sell to your customers, you need to ask…your customers.
Earth-shattering, right? Sarcasm aside, a lot of brands simply don’t tap into their most valuable resources — existing customers — the way they should. Your customers are a goldmine of data and insight, but you’ve got to start digging to get to the good stuff. One of the best ways to do that is social listening.
As noted above, social listening is different than simply being engaged and active on social media. Social monitoring is what you do when you look for mentions of your brand and respond to comments and posts about it. Social listening is a data-based method that aggregates brand mentions across platforms to give you a deeper understanding of how people feel about your brand. That data can then be used to create a proactive strategy to grow your brand and give your customers what they need.
The average headline is 6–10 words long. How hard can it be to craft a good one?
Harder than you think. Great headlines marry SEO and content seamlessly to provide readers with motivation to click on the title and the promise of a desired payoff.
“It can’t be that big of a deal,” you might say. Oh, but it is. Eight out of 10 visitors will read your headline...but only two out of 10 will click to read more.
There are many ways you can structure titles and headlines, but there are clear winners among them.
It’s not enough to string together 10 keywords and call it a day. Your titles should be action-oriented, urgent, clear, and based around an achievable solution.
What do people think, believe, and say about your brand? Leveraging those thoughts and beliefs is social proof — evidence that other people have used your products and were moved enough to share their feelings.
Social proof is based in psychology and revolves around the premise that if we see people behaving in a certain way, our natural instinct is to mimic that behavior. If people see your customers using your products in a way that feels relatable and authentic, they’re more likely to want to try it out, too.
Social proof should be used on your website to let visitors know that people just like them have used (and loved) your product.
Social proof can be found in many scenarios, from reviews to testimonials to influencer endorsements, and it’s a powerful tool to gain conversions.
We hope you have a lab coat handy because growth hacking will turn you into the marketing version of Bill Nye the Science Guy. Growth hacking is built around experimentation, and the best way to approach any experiment is by using the scientific method.
The basics are the same you remember from high school chemistry. Research, hypothesize, test, analyze, and, if needed, go back to the drawing board. But in growth hacking, there’s one extra step. Once you find a hack that works, you put systems in place to repeat it over and over again to drive growth and increase conversions.
When Airbnb started, there weren’t a lot of alternatives to hotels, resorts, or hostels, outside of hoping you had a friend of a friend in a city you were visiting who’d be open to you couch surfing for a few nights. At that time, Craigslist was one of the few places to find inexpensive, home-based accommodation. So Airbnb went straight to the source, allowing their providers to list straight to Craigslist with a single click.
This simple and quick growth hack is now the stuff of legend, and it turned Airbnb into a household name.
When it comes to exit intent, OptinMonster is well-known for its growth hacking technique, which includes a “Powered by…” link that appears at the bottom of all of the campaigns it designs for customers.
The hack is an effective way to grow brand awareness and get new leads into the funnel, but it’s also easily disabled by customers who don’t wish to use it.
Dropbox is best known for its game-changing referral program (as mentioned above), but there’s another type of game the brand made waves for gamification. Dropbox incentivized numerous actions taken by customers, offering additional storage each time an action was completed.
This hack has helped the company grow to now over 5 million users in just a few years’ time.
When Uber was starting out, it realized if it wanted to expand from its early test markets in San Francisco and New York, it would need to leverage word-of-mouth advertising from happy customers. Based on that strategy, the company built a powerful referral engine that gave existing customers and new leads $10 each in a reciprocal referral program that grew the company to worldwide fame in a few short years.
Uber carefully calculated its customer lifetime value and invested a high-dollar amount that was enough to motivate customers to refer and convert while still delivering incredible ROI.
When launching its first book, magazine publisher Foundr leveraged several growth hacking tactics to increase conversions and build awareness, including influencer marketing, social media, and gamification via UpViral.
These tactics helped build a successful Kickstarter campaign to fund the book. Ultimately, the company was able to add thousands of new email subscribers and achieve its Kickstarter goal four times over.
Growth hacking for increased conversions is totally doable for B2B brands, but it’s a lot to take on. Luckily, there’s another option. Instead of trying to DIY a growth hacking plan that takes you away from important daily tasks, consider partnering with a qualified, expert growth marketing agency like First Page. We can help you optimize your growth strategy so you’re never leaving dollars on the table. In addition, we also take a holistic, long-term approach to growth marketing. We don’t promise overnight success, but we do deliver measurable, sustainable results driven by data. Find out how we can be your trusted partner in achieving not just conversions, but the kind of exponential growth you’ve only dreamed of. Together, we can make that dream a reality.