Hacking conjures up all sorts of negative thoughts – data breaches like those experienced by Target and Experian, for example. But hacking can be a good thing too, and the term “growth hacking” is a good thing. Especially for content marketers.
Defining Growth Hacking
Growth hacking is not developing tactics or strategies. Rather, it is a way of thinking that involves a willingness to experiment, rapidly and often, for some business goal – sales, product development, etc. And it relates to content marketing too, in big ways.
Growth Hacking in Content Marketing
When a business is new or young, content marketing is serious business. It is how a brand becomes known, how it establishes itself as valuable in its niche market place, and, ultimately, how it builds the expertise, authority, and trust that brings leads and customers into their sales funnel.
What all of this means to content marketers is that they have to hit the ground running – they have to engage in rapid experimentation with all types of content until they find the types and venues that work.
The process is often defined as inductive. It involves making observations and, based upon those observations, coming up with marketing ideas, topics, and content that may work, and discovering what seems to be working. Then those ideas, topics, and content types are tested out to see if they “fly.” It’s a little bit like throwing lots of stuff against a wall and seeing what “sticks.” But the “throwing” is based upon some actual research that has provided clues as to what will “stick.”
Growth Hacking Tips for Content
No content marketer should go blind into crafting content. In fact, growth hacking presumes just the opposite.
And here are 7 tips for growth hacking that will serve any content marketer well.
Spying on the Competition
Content marketers just starting out should begin here. Find the competition, access their blogs and their social media accounts. Look for those articles and posts that get the most “likes” and “shares.” These are topics that your audience obviously cares about, and should become topics that you address as well. Take the best content topics and make them better, using more current information and data, putting a more creative and engaging spin on them. It is not a comment on content writers that they do not have the creative juices to engage readers/viewers. Many of them contract with creative writers, either freelancers or writing services such as Studicus that have creative/journalistic writers with vast experience in crafting creative copy for marketers.
Find Patterns of Content
As you check out the competition, see if you can see patterns of content that are most popular – not just topics, but types. Is your target audience more engaged with visuals – infographics, photos, videos? Research shows that these are preferred as opposed to long strings of text, even if they are broken up into small chunks.
If you are marketing grooming products, for example, what types of content are your successful competitors using? One might be Dollar Shave Club, a company that began by selling subscriptions to monthly razor deliveries and that then expanded into all sorts of grooming products. What type of content is it using? It has a great blog, incorporates user-generated content, and some pretty amazing videos.
Research and Then Experiment with Multiple Devices
It does not take a rocket scientist to know that Gen Xer’s, Millennials, and Gen Zer’s prefer their mobile devices to laptops and PCs. And they access content on these devices regularly. Seniors may still be on their traditional devices. You have to know your audience and, again, experiment. Maybe an app is a way to go to deliver content; maybe SMS messaging works well. The point is, you need to get on it quickly and track the results to see how to best deliver your content.
Use Tools that Provide Data
There is any number of tools that content marketers can use to determine content topics that are the most relevant, popular, and trending. Such tools include HubSpot, Buzzsumo, and others. Content marketers can use these tools to discover what topics are the most popular, those that are most important to target audiences, and how those target audiences are accessing that content.
What Times of Day and Days of the Week Should Content Be Published?
Again, the research is out there. It is quickly and easily accessible by growth hackers, and it must be used. Once a growth hacker has determined the best couple of social media platforms for his/her audience, then it is time to dig down into this research and use it to develop a schedule of postings. Again, there is a certain amount of experimentation involved, but that is part of what growth hacking is.
When Nathan Chan made the decision to launch his digital magazine, Foundr, he really was a bit of a growth hacker. He made the decision to go for a presence on Instagram and to use a theme, and then see how it worked. Obviously, it did. He grew a following to 10K in 3 months. He took a chance, posting far more than is normally recommended, developed a theme that he believed would work for budding entrepreneurs, and then watched the results flow in.
Headlines – Another Growth Hack for Experimentation
Headlines – they determine whether a visitor decides to move forward and read/view content or not. This is yet another area for growth hacker experimentation. There are literally hundreds, if not thousands, of articles, with research data, that speak to how to craft compelling headlines. With some fast research into these articles and tools such as CoSchedule’s headline analyzer, any content marketer can get an analysis of his/her headline choices and recommendations for improvement.
Test, Test, and Test
All of the above tips are moot points if a growth hacker does not measure their effectiveness. That’s the whole point of experimentation – you test, measure, modify and measure again. All of this can be done quickly with the right analytics tools in place. Content marketers can get almost immediate results of response to their content, and then demonstrate some patience as the longer-term results come in. The goal, of course, is to find the right mix of topics, venues, types, and platforms that spread recognition of a brand, and then nurturing that recognition into leads and customers.
Go forth and experiment!
Lori Jones is a graduated Digital Marketing Specialist with a Master’s in Audience Profiling. She is an editor and a contributor at Hot Essay Service where she aims to put her knowledge into practice. Lori spends her free time reading fantasy novels and catching up on jazz music.
I'm SEO specialist and certified Adwords consultant. I have been working in Search Engine Marketing for over three year. In addition working in SEO, I love writing about the subject and contributing to forum discussion in forums about various aspects of Search Engine Optimisation from link building to content development. Read more about me here