The Growth Hacking DIY Guide

Last updated on August 11, 2021, 11:17 PM

Growth Hacking as a do it yourself guide with many tips and tricks

Since I’ve been working on the topic of growth hacking for a while now and support companies in setting up a setup for it, I thought it was about time to write a guide for it. Especially for EPUs, startups and small companies that want to do as much as possible internally, this Growth Marketing guide can be very useful to dive into this exciting online marketing methodology.

Basically, the whole system is based on a cycle that is worked through again and again. The individual steps are as follows:

  • Formulate goals ->
  • Consider growth hacks and prioritize ->
  • Execute growth hacks ->
  • Measure results ->
  • Record findings ->
  • and start all over again.

To make this abstract topic a bit more tangible, I will try to explain the methodologies with small examples.

Table of contents:

Formulate the goals
The tools for growth hacking setup for ongoing analysis
Measuring the success of the growth hacks – KPIs
The measures – growth hacks consideration and how to document and measure them
Execution of the measures – the team and the tasks in growth hacking
Repeating the sprint – the Growth Hacking cycle

Formulate the goals

The bigger the company, the more cryptic the objectives :). At least that’s how it’s always seemed to me up to now. But some times I have also seen that no goals were given, which is also not optimal. To do good online marketing and growth hacking it makes sense to set goals. These should be discussed in the team and also be realistic. Ideal (according to various growth hacking gurus) is to define one big goal (North Star Metric) that everyone should work towards together. This approach is also quite handy to explain the whole process more easily :)

So in smaller companies and startups a goal (or the North Star Metric) could be for example:

  • 50% more users for the app by the end of the year.
  • 20% more sales compared to the previous month in the online store
  • 1000 email subscribers (leads) by the end of the year (assuming you start with 0 subscribers)
  • 300 unique users / sessions per month (in the previous months there were only 100 unique users)
    etc.

The characteristics of a well-defined goal are:

  •  it is easy to measure the target (Goal) (you still have to find and define the various KPIs)
  • it is an improvement to the current state
  • and it is not absolutely utopian to reach it (keyword: realistically set goals)

And it is also clever to use the SMART (Specific Measurable Achievable Reasonable Time-Bound) formula when defining goals.

Of course, the goals can be broken down even further or be more abstract (e.g.: “Become the most popular soft drink in Austria”). But the more difficult a goal is to measure, the more difficult it is to achieve it or to prove that you have achieved it.

The tools for growth hacking setup for ongoing analysis

Website Analysis:

The goals are found, but often the question arises, how do I measure the whole thing now? Often analysis tools are already implemented, but if you are just starting with your product / company / startup, it may be that you have not yet integrated any analysis tools on your website. Since this is about online marketing and growth hacking in the online space, I’ll say Google Analytics will be the predominant analytics tool of choice here.

Of course there are many other tools but with Google Analytics you can cover a lot and it is free. You should be a bit careful if you work with confidential data (banks and credit transactions, insurance companies, health data, etc.) because the Analytics data is stored on American servers, but of course anonymized.

Good alternatives to Google Analytics incl. advantages and disadvantages are nicely summarized in this blogpost from Adpushup.

To set up the setup for the analysis, you now have to remember your goals and think about what exactly you want to measure.

App Analysis:

In the case of an app, the download numbers are of course a hot KPI candidate, and these can be easily obtained from the respective app stores. But logging in every time or copying the numbers from the email reporting is not the real thing either. Here again, there is the possibility to link Google Analytics well at least with the Android Google Play Store and to get the numbers that way, but with Apple it becomes more difficult again. Over time, this has led to the emergence of paid software solutions that combine the app download numbers and a variety of other metrics from both (large) app stores, such as AppAnny or Adjust.

Since measuring app KPIs is beyond the scope here, I will cover the topic in a separate blog post later. (coming soon).

Newsletter Analysis:

If the goal is to generate more email subscribers for your newsletter or to generate new leads via content marketing, you should look for a good newsletter tool. In order to be able to measure the results of the measures on the website, Google Analytics will again play a major role in many companies. From thea newsletter tools such as Mailchimp or CleverReach, the data for a goal such as 1000 new newsletter subscribers in a year can also be easily analyzed, but to collect all the data from website, newsletter, app and other sources clearly, a tool such as Google Analytics offers itself again.

Again, the explanation of the setup of newsletter tools including tracking and linking with e.g. Google Analytics is beyond the scope and I will write an additional blogpost on this topic and marketing automation. (coming soon).

Social Media Analysis:

If growth is to be achieved by means of measures in the social media channels, it must of course also be possible to easily measure the set goal here. Facebook, in particular, has already boosted its in-house tools to a great extent and offers a wide range of analysis options (almost too many :).

But here, too, the problem quickly arises to easily analyze the measures on different channels, such as: Facebook + Instragram + Twitter + YouTube. And here again, Google Analytics comes into play alongside the reporting tools of the individual social media channels. Especially with content marketing measures, the blog and the blog posts usually form the main piece of content and the social media channels are used to draw users’ (potential customers’) attention to the content. So if the goal in such a content marketing example would be: “20% more (new) readers of our blog posts per month” you could easily analyze via Google Analytics on the blog if you reached this goal and further analyze from which source (which social media channel) most new users came. A good key performance indicator (KPI) is also the scroll depth, i.e. how much of a post a user has read or scrolled.

Of course, this example is very simplified because there are several other factors that play a role in whether you reach the right users on or via the respective social media channels, but in principle you can better imagine the mechanism of the whole thing.

Measuring the success of the growth hacks – KPIs

When selecting the key performance indicators (KPIs), the target selected in advance naturally plays a major role. Adapted to this, the KPIs that should be measured in the growth hacking cycle result. All quite logical so far, isn’t it? :)

I have defined as a goal that I want to get from 0 to 1000 newsletter subscribers in a year, so I choose as a KPI the number of newsletter subscribers that my newsletter tool (eg: Mailchimp) shows me in the administration. For start-ups, other KPIs such as Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC), Customer Lifetime Value (CLTV) or the ongoing optimization of the customer lifecycle towards the best possible CAC/CLTV ratio play an important role. Here you have to invest a little more brainpower in the analysis setup for measuring success.

In order to be able to display these KPIs somehow to be able to judge the success and progress, something like a dashboard would not be bad :)
And also here Google has a quite good solution with the Datastudio ready. Various (paid) solutions from other providers are of course also available, here Tableau is probably the market leader.

With Google Datastudio (or Tableau) it is possible to tap into various data sources (Google Ads, Google Analytics, Google Sheets, and third-party providers), which is constantly being expanded. In the Datastudio, dashboards can be created that allow a graphically beautiful measurement of the success / the measures.

Once the measurement setup is in place, the next step is to start the Growth Hacking Cycle.

The measures – Consider and prioritize Growth Hacks and how to document and measure them.

Now it’s time for the actual cycle. The goals are set, the KPIs are defined, the measurement is in place, and the only thing missing is the measure.

Easier said than done, because you often don’t know where to start first. Here I would recommend to sit together in the team and discuss where the biggest pain points of the users might be when they use your software / website. Often you can quickly see where you should optimize something first -> this would be the task that comes first with a high priority on the Growth Hacking To-Do list.

Often the person who has already been doing web analytics / app analytics for some time already has good ideas ready because you can often read out a lot from the data. For example, which sources bring the most conversions, which the least. Which source brings the most valuable users (high retention), …

Since there are also 1000s of small measures that might be important to implement immediately, it is immensely important to evaluate the measures together. More about this in the next section.

Implementation of the measures – the team and the tasks in growth hacking

To perform growth hacking, you need manpower. Often it is an external consultant who helps out. But it is ideal if manpower is also available internally for implementation and the cycle is set in motion internally. It is important for the management level to think about the fact that developers are needed for many implementations. Therefore, you simply have to free up some time of the developers for the topic of growth hacking.

I would recommend to discuss the following in a team meeting or to define the process like this:

  • 1x per week team meeting for growth hacking
  • The task of all employees is to think about 1-3 growth hacks every week and to present them briefly (1-3 minutes) in the meeting, these ideas for measures (growth hacks) should also be continuously written in a file (google sheets) that is accessible to all.
  • In the meeting all growth hacks that were proposed should be discussed briefly and prioritized -> a simple evaluation to start would be e.g.: 1=super important and start immediately, 2 = important but can wait a bit, 3 = useful but first do everything else
  • Then it should be briefly discussed who can implement which measures and if they need help.
  • When the new Growth Hacks are prioritized and distributed, the Growth Hack measures of the last week are briefly discussed and the success (or non-success) and most important the learnings.

This is now a variant as a reference point. Of course you can set the time frame to every 2 weeks, if it takes longer to implement certain things, or choose the scale of prioritization from 1-10 and so on. But I have had good experiences with this basic setup.

Repeating the sprint – the Growth Hacking cycle

Once the whole thing is up and running, it’s a matter of persevering, persevering, persevering.  The most difficult thing with these new processes is often not to let the whole thing fall asleep again. There must also be commitment from the management. 1x per week growth hacking team meeting is a fixed point and of course it is nice if the boss / head of department / CTO / CMO …. maybe even all of them drop by at least 1x per month for a meeting.

As the headline says, the cycle has to be repeated to get the cycle going. If the goals are formulated realistically, the KPIs are chosen smartly, the analysis system is efficient and looks good and the Growth Hacks then also show great (positive) effects, the whole thing is of course fun for the entire team :)

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