Growth Hacking: 5 tips for marketers… and a little inspiration.

Growth hacking has been hot on the lips of digital marketers for while now; it’s a technique that’s easy to understand but a little harder to practice. When a brand “growth hacks”, it delves deep into the world of its audience, to understand its audiences’ perspectives and create products and services around their needs and desires. Brands start by carefully measuring their audience’s feedback, preferences and behaviors, in order to create, trial and augment products and services to better suit the customer. Growth hackers are customer thrill seekers and problem solvers at heart; searching for the subliminal product / market fit, in order to drive business growth and, in its ultimate application, transform category growth.

Growth hacking means taking an experimental, creative and data-driven approach to the way business is conducted. While the approach is often led by marketing, it’s inherently a cross-functional discipline, drawing together many functions of a business, particularly R&D, Marcomms, Sales, Engineering, Production and Distribution, to gear around the customer. There’s also the “small” matter of C-suite buy in 🙂

To the digital marketing natives among us, growth hacking should be like breathing air, it is both the form and function of how we operate. It’s our job to listen to audiences at both a micro and macro level to surface insights that inspire new ways of conducting business. How many times have you listened to your communities and thought “Why can’t my brand just do what the people want?” To growth hack and transform a business in a way that delights both audiences and shareholders is a marketer’s ultimate dream! The secret to a successful hack is internal buy-in, a degree of organizational agility and perception change – stakeholders need to see that marketing isn’t just a cost centre and can meaningfully inform and shape business growth.

So… you lookin’ for a revolution, punk? Here are 5 tips for developing a growth hacking initiative that will help noise things up:

  1. Start with data-fueled insights, backed up with examples: Growth hacking isn’t an assumption, it’s premised on known information conveyed by customer data. Use the wealth of first, second and third party data that’s open to you. Form use cases and user personas premised on market examples that are representative of your findings
  2. Make decent business cases: Notice the plural here? Don’t just get stuck on one good idea. Get used to (rejection) writing compelling, succinct business cases. Keep it simple, but do your best to include the opportunity, the mutual benefit, the risk, cost, tech, timescale, measurement frameworks, operational and organizational impact and capability. Granted, you may not have full visibility over this, however it can be top line and seek input… which takes us to our next point:
  3. Gather your allies: Start with those who are most likely to understand where you’re coming from, such as your R&D and sales people, for instance and search for allies throughout the organization: a friendly face in distribution could be a killer addition to your renegade growth hacking team.
  4. Allocate a budget for experimentation: September is soon upon us and we’re gearing up for 2019 planning. Now’s the time to allocate a budget for marketing innovation. It doesn’t have to be big… but enough to conduct some monitoring, market testing, customer segmentation, outreach and trial.
  5. Prepare to be challenged: Similar to digital transformation initiatives, of which growth hacking is a natural cousin, expect people to be resistant to change. It’s human nature. Don’t be dismayed, all you need is a small green light to set your idea fly! Remember, all those detractors will become the initiative’s biggest advocate once they small success. Again, it’s human nature.

Need a little inspiration?

Let’s take a look at some of the best examples of growth hacking, to give you a bit of context and hopefully inspire you:

  1. The WIN/WIN.

Dropbox increased their signups by 60% by using growth hacking techniques to grow their customer base and augment their product to better suit their customers needs. In their early start-up years they experimented with many different hacking techniques and were recognized at The Webbys and The Crunchies for their results. One of their most successful initiatives was their “Refer a Friend” through which they were able to exponentially grow their customer base. Existing customers were offered 500mb of extra storage for every friend they managed to recruit via the link, the incentive worked both ways as the new joiners also received the same bonus. By offering the same incentive to the new user, they are encouraged to pass on the message further and so the growth continues. Essentially Dropbox was able to get its existing customers base to take charge of the marketing to potential customers, at very little cost. In addition to this, the referral process has much more credibility than traditional advertising as users were more inclined to trust information that comes from someone they know. 

2. INSPIRED BY HUMAN NATURE.

For our second example we’re going to club Gmail and Hotmail together (so controversial, we know). Both used classic characteristics of human nature, namely curiosity and belonging, to attract their audiences.

Hotmail launched in 1996, with “PS, I love you, get your free email at Hotmail.” This curious tagline, punched on the base of emails, sparked global virality… and the rest is history.

Gmail’s 2004 launch was same same but different; it launched by releasing invites to 1,000 tastemakers and granted them permission to refer friends. A gmail invite became the hottest invite in town – we remember the mad scurry to get said invite, it was a digital social status *thing*!

As you can see, successful growth hacking often comes about from leveraging the nature and behavior of audiences and working with them so that all parties involved benefit. And while everyone’s talking the technique up, wouldn’t you agree that listening to your customers needs and acting on them to drive business growth is simply common sense*? We certainly think so.

Please share with us your thoughts and experiences on growth hacking.

*And yes, we are more than well aware of “that” Henry Ford quote and guess what? He never said it!

Image credit: Bruno Cervera / Unsplash

2018 Media and Marketing Trends across Content, Data and Technology. PART 3: DATA

Data is the flavor of the month

Skidding around the door like a late, naughty school-kid, comes our third post on Data Trends for 2018. Get in here, you scallywag!

Data science and its marketing is a subject that is here to stay, which to us, is refreshing in an industry too often full of whimsy and subjectivity. Over the past few years, however, our industry has developed a twisted relationship with data. At times we’ve seen it as a silver bullet, overplaying our hand, measuring “things” just because they can be measured without objectively interpreting the meaning or impact of what we’re doing; hello, fan count! Then there’s the bright, new shiny stuff in the world of emerging data trends that is cooooool. But first, we need to wind our way through the woods of regulation to get there. So let’s talk first about what’s around the corner and then reward ourselves with the awesome shiny toys of the future.

Measurement in a mire

It’s well known that we have an ongoing issue in terms of measurement; for example, while research says that online video is the present and the future, the major players can’t align on industry-wide benchmarks as they relate to it. Sure, action is being taken – internal councils are being formed, third-party integration solutions and independent industry audits are being conducted… but a lot of it is simply sound and fury, given that the actions aren’t necessarily solving the brand owner’s problem. Industry bodies such as the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) and Media Ratings Council (MRC) have been active in trying to progress discussion but you only have to look at their recent Digital Video Impression Measurement Guidelines, released in October 2017 for public discussion, to see that we’re not making progress fast enough. When you don’t have major media players such as Facebook and Omnicom at the table, there’s a telling sign. Also – notice the narrowing of the title? Now, major players, such as Nestle and HP are going out on their own; we predict that others will follow and that solutions will come from the brands and media intelligence firms this time, rather than the platform players, establishing metrics that matter to their business rather than industry-agnostic measures of old.

Walled gardens rise as a butterfly effect takes hold

There’s no way of putting this mildly: the free ride for brands on digital media – particularly as it relates to data acquisition is well and truly over and the stakes are rising for publishers.  The EU’s General Data Protection Law (GDPR) brings consumer protection firmly into the limelight. What’s worrying is how many brands, agencies and developers have their eyes closed to it but to do so is dangerous from a reputation, legal and financial POV. Why? Read our previous post for background, with advice from MENA media legal eagle, Fiona Robertson.

A perhaps unintended consequence of the GDPR laws is the rise of the walled garden, aka closed platforms. Platforms will now have to work harder at providing truly compelling, free services in exchange for audiences to provide them with personal data. No way will they be giving customer data away for free anymore. While GDPR is designed to protect its audience, it means an increase in advertising investment from brands seeking personalized customer interaction and validated audience data from platforms. Expect brands to be a lot more discerning about their media spends, a lot more demanding when it comes to data quality and unfortunately… for the smaller publishers to suffer they don’t get their ducks in a row. Throw in the universal uptake of ad-blockers and the repeal of net neutrality (which we are still in denial about) and you can see just how well-protected these walled gardens will be.

We asked location tech firm, Blis’, Managing Director Puja Pannum to weigh in. “Understanding audiences and where to reach them is a marketer’s number one priority before their first dollar is spent, and with more and richer data, targeting capabilities naturally improve. While it’s an absolute priority to protect consumer data, it is also beneficial [for vendors] to be transparent with brands about ROI and footfall data. But to do that, it needs to go both ways,” said Puja. “Brands need to be as transparent and open about their analytics and data sources, like loyalty card data and Google analytics, as vendors are about ROI. Currently, this is the only missing element in end-to-end transparency, something players on both sides should be striving for. In 2018, promoting the sharing of these kinds of data will help brands and their chosen partners build campaigns on more data sources and benefit from a holistic view of what’s working versus what’s not.”

Human + machine gives birth to Digital Twins

One of the more interesting aspects to come from the fusion of Internet of Things (IoT) and machine learning is the Digital Twin. A Digital Twin is a virtual replica of physical assets, processes and systems which uses data to enable understanding, learning, reasoning and prediction. The aviation, aerospace and automotive sectors are the leaders in this field, whereby real-time analytics of critical aspects (such as tyre pressure, temperature, distance and speed) have been used to optimize efficiencies.

Where Digital Twin technology starts to get really interesting is in the area of predictive modeling and future-proofing, where we’ll start to see not just the what but the why, generated by the emergence of the “Digital Thread”. The Digital Thread is the contextualization or connectedness of data, informed by the integration of large and multiple data flows, both real time and historical, leading to actionable information – such as establishment of digital twins being able to accurately predict a range of outcomes at scale.

Gartner predicts that by 2021 around half of large industrialized companies will be using Digital Twins. All this said, Digital Twin technology has been around for decades – were it not for Digital Twins, the Apollo 13 mission may well have been doomed – it was this practice that enabled them to mirror how they could rescue the mission when it ran into trouble. Without Digital Twin technology, there would be no Mars rover Curiosity! Take a look at the video below, to see how curiosity, technology, ingenuity and data join forces to make miracles!

Thanks for reading our 2018 trends across content, technology and data. Please feel to drop us a line and let us know what you’re thinking about in this realm and of course, we welcome your feedback too!

 

Bravo Romeo’s 2018 Media and Marketing Trends across Content, Data and Technology. PART 1: CONTENT

Quality over Quantity. Effectiveness over Effusiveness.

If 2017 was the year of marketers pulling budgets and challenging the value of activities previously taken for granted, such as award participation and ad fraud; we think 2018 will be the year of media effectiveness.  Decision-makers will demand greater and more granular accountability in media spend, technology investments and content effectiveness.

Given the push for content effectiveness, thoughtful and well-researched content marketing initiatives will find their time in the sun, this year.

So first of all, for the uninitiated, what’s content marketing?

Content marketing is a strategic marketing technique of creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience. While digital by provenance, content marketing is by its nature a practice which is media agnostic, taking the case of that old adage: right message, right time, right audience extremely literally and granularly. When applied correctly, content marketing should unify all marketing and communications efforts behind a unified content strategy, with realistic and relevant ROI measurement frameworks in place to analyze success and augment activity.

Why is it important?

Content is booming yet the audience attention is finite. In order to be heard, organizations need to be very careful about how they communicate.

As social and digital media has matured over the years, numerous (and often, major-player) marketers have become lazy about how they communicate, seeing social and digital channels as extensions of their traditional advertising approach. They’ve realized the potential reach of digital however have not necessarily respected the nuanced approach that’s required in order to achieve impact. Consequently, customers are bombarded with ads and messages which offer them little or no value. Given the suite of techniques and tools advertisers have at their disposal, such as super-refined audience segmentation techniques and location-based addressable media, customers can be engaged meaningfully when they’re in a certain mindset. It’s here the opportunity lies – but it’s on marketers to do their homework and have the right team that can bring such initiatives to fruition.

Where does success and failure lie?

(Clue: It’s much more more precious than money)

An agile and flexible content marketing strategy that is grounded in reality is key to success, according to the Content Marketing Institute’s 2017 benchmark report. Understanding that content marketing is not a quick-fix “silver bullet” but rather requires the all-too-precious investment of time and internal alignment is also clear.

Content IMage 1

 

Organizations fail where there’s a lack of strategy, time and internal alignment. 

Content Image 2

 

Content marketing has the capacity to resonate more powerfully with customers because it’s carefully tailored to their needs and interests. For brands that want to be heard, an investment in content is almost inevitable, with more than 40% of B2C and B2B marketers increasing their investment in the practice in 2017.

As is often the case in life, the greatest rewards are hard-fought for. So too with gaining the attention and desired action of your intended customer; a well-thought out, creative and resonant content marketing program is your best means of success.

Next up? Bravo Romeo’s 2018 Media and Marketing Trends across Content, Data and Technology. PART 2: DATA