What exactly is growth hacking? Since the term was coined by entrepreneur Sean Ellis in 2010, marketers have used it to refer to a dizzying array of techniques, tools and ideas. Some have been genuinely innovative, whilst others have been more conventional than how they’ve been described would suggest.

We believe the true meaning of growth hacking is the use of lesser-known or totally new tactics to achieve faster growth than would otherwise be feasible. In other words, it’s the same idea that’s been helping adventurous marketers build brands, audiences and sales since the dawn of the industry.

With this definition in mind, we’ve compiled three digital case studies to show you some of the innovative techniques being used by true growth-hackers in 2018. We hope you will leave feeling inspired, and ready to start planning your own brand’s accelerated growth.

Daily Mail – gaining backlinks by adding citations to copy-and-pasted text

Some amongst you may have noticed that when you copy-and-paste quotes from certain news websites, a citation and link back to the source site will appear along with the copied text when you click Paste.

Here’s how a typical block of text copied from Daily Mail Online looks when you paste it into a Word document:

The supermodel, sizzled as she went topless alongside the 35-year-old rapper in a teaser snap shared via her Instagram page.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-5526589/Naomi-Campbell-47-shows-age-defying-physique.html#ixzz5ANdvIONf
Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

Let’s say a content executive quoting the Mail’s copy leaves this citation in-place. That’s useful for the Mail, as it provides one or more backlinks, and possibly some web traffic too.

Even if the content executive does not include the citation as above, they may nonetheless take it as a reminder to provide a credit in their own preferred format, which could bring equal or perhaps even greater benefit from an SEO/inbound marketing perspective. Some content marketers do this anyway; others need a nudge.

This approach is precisely the kind of growth hack we should all be aiming to implement. Despite requiring only a low level of effort and investment, and despite coming at a minimal cost to user experience, it provides an additional way for brands to do better online, which many may not have considered.

How to add citations to your copy-and-pasted web content

The SiteCTRL suite from 33Across lets you add citations to copy-and-pasted text from your site, by inserting a Javascript snippet into your content. It also offers analytics to show you how third parties are using your content, which could come in handy for tracing cases of plagiarism or requesting citations.

Alternatively, if your in-house development team is skilled in JS, you may be able to avoid signing up to SiteCTRL by getting them to code a similar solution.

LAMA – Using organically-collected UGC as a basis for content marketing

It is generally well-understood that content marketing is a key channel for building a new brand and its audience. Who among us hasn’t encountered Bill Gates’ famous words, “content is king”?

Start-ups want and need quality content, but many face difficulties in finding the budget and/or work-hours to create content that’s competitive with longer-established or better-resourced rivals.

According to a survey carried out in 2017 by ProCopywriters, the average freelance copywriter in the UK charges a day rate of £339. Similarly, the benchmark for freelance video specialists is around £320. Hiring full-time content staff, meanwhile, is a yet-greater financial commitment. Whilst acceptable for established brands, these costs may be off-putting to new businesses on a lean budget.

One start-up which has devised an effective way to overcome this common blocker to growth is LAMA, a brand centred around an app-based community for tech experts, entrepreneurs and people interested in the start-up world. The LAMA app lets users ask each other questions, to which the recipient can respond via a self-filmed video.

Having spotted a prime growth-hacking opportunity, LAMA’s marketing team have been asking questions via their own app, and using the ensuing video responses as the basis for a range of content marketing activities aimed at building awareness of the brand and its features.

We spoke to one of LAMA’s co-founders, Mario Arabov, to find out more.

“Our videos are the core product of the LAMA platform,” says Arabov. “We’ve been able to conduct video interviews and Q&A sessions with some really inspiring founders, which has enabled us to produce some quite unique and interesting content.

“It came really naturally for us to use our own videos to promote the platform and its functions. Perhaps even more importantly, we’ve been able to promote the people featured in our content and to attract new interviewees.”

Arabov says this content marketing approach has had a positive effect on LAMA’s brand and platform growth – so much so that they’ve now adopted a waiting list for prospective Q&A participants.

So far, LAMA has primarily used content from its platform as a promotional tool on its own social media accounts and Medium channel. However, moving forward, Arabov and co. plan on making their content available to third-party publishers – and thereby increasing their reach.

“Whilst it’s still hard to tell how mainstream publishers will react to our disruptive concept, we have already seen some interest from very important online magazines in Europe and the US,” he says.

“We believe our tools could be really useful to journalists and magazines, and will help our users to promote themselves and their projects.”

Using UGC to grow LAMA is the latest of several growth hacks Arabov has used to promote various different brands. He explains how he boosted an earlier platform’s growth through an innovative combination of data-scraping and marketing automation:

“For our previous project, Greetzly, we needed to convince celebrities to join the platform. One method I used to do this was finding good sources of leads – like websites which listed the emails of managers and agents – and then scraping those websites. As soon as the target group was ready, we would set up automated email sequences that were triggered depending on the responses of the recipients.”

Add to these activities a cross posting campaign for a car-pooling site, plus some experiments with instant SMS, and you have a picture of Arabov’s varied career as an unconventional marketer. So what, in his opinion, makes a great growth hacker?

“I think that a lot of people are abusing the term growth hacker nowadays,” he says. “My personal philosophy on the topic is that a good growth hacker should be able to obtain new users/leads/revenues with almost zero budget. He or she should be willing to do things that are unconventional, to think outside of the box, and sometimes break the rules.”

Kurve – targeting just the right leads with added on-site value

Sometimes the most effective way to sell a long-term B2B relationship is to first attract clients with a far more bite-sized proposition.

London-based digital marketing consultancy Kurve recently used this approach to generate more email subscribers for their client Lightful, whose platform helps non-profits succeed on social media.

Kurve’s strategy was to create a free-to-use Twitter engagement comparison tool (shown above) which was hosted on Lightful’s website. The tool lets users compare engagement stats between any two Twitter accounts – a directly useful function for Lightful’s target audience.

We spoke to Kurve’s MD, Oren Greenberg, to discover the growth hacking philosophy behind this approach.

“I embrace the iterative testing methodology,” says Greenberg. “Growth hacking is about experimentation, and you need to be comfortable with tools, data, and the integration of disparate systems into the marketing mix.”

“First and foremost, I aim to make the biggest impact on growth in the most efficient way. Trial and error will always exist, but rapid testing proves the most effective channels quickly and reduces wastage. I distribute marketing budgets to find the best route for customer acquisition at the top of the funnel and lower down the funnel, through to ongoing retention. That’s really where a lot of business growth is going to come from.

“The customer journey is critical, so I place emphasis on this from the beginning of every campaign; specifically its understanding and the ability to minimise drop off.”

We can clearly see Kurve’s experimental approach in Lightful’s Twitter campaign – but the question is, did it pay off? According to Greenberg, “Results were good. The campaign performed on par with the conversion rates of eBook guides.”

“Although this is an interesting result in itself, we also get a different type of data set to analyse. On Facebook, we saw a 12.6% conversion rate. On Twitter, we saw a 4.4% conversion rate.”

Speaking of Twitter, we were curious to hear why Kurve opted for a Twitter comparison tool, rather than a tool providing insight into another social media channel. He explains:

“The main reason was the easy accessibility of the Twitter API. At the time, we were exploring the potential of competitive analysis, and how important this is for the core of the product offering. This tool helped with lead generation but also helped in understanding the appetite for the general feature set. It was a good way to achieve these two key objectives; to learn more about the audience whilst simultaneously driving leads.”

Kurve’s growth hack for Lightful is very much along the lines of the freemium model, in which a brand nurtures leads by offering a compellingly appealing taster of the value provided by the paid-for product.

Variations on this approach have abounded throughout marketing history, from free cake samples at cafes and video game demo discs through to many of today’s top web applications, such as Asana and Duolingo.

What’s innovative about Kurve’s approach is that they’ve achieved much of the marketing benefit of freemium whilst giving out next to nothing of Lightful’s product.

The Twitter engagement comparison tool is useful, intriguing and perfectly tailored to Lightful’s target demographic. In two separate steps it captures the lead’s Twitter handle, and then their email address – a mechanism which uses the psychological marketing principle known as consistency to provide an increased chance of securing both pieces of information.

Here’s what pops up when the user has entered their Twitter handle:

Kurve consistency example

With lower demands than a freemium product version and some comparable outcomes, Kurve’s Twitter comparison tool has provided Lightful with an effective leftfield route to growing their email list.

See the CoverageBook case study in this article for another example of how freemium value can contribute to marketing success.

How to use B2B growth hacking case studies

We’ve now seen three excellent B2B growth hacks, each of which demonstrates an inventive way to add more value to your brand’s digital activity and interactions.

You shouldn’t necessarily use one of these case studies (or any other) as the precise blueprint for a campaign of your own. Typically, a more effective approach is to use case studies to understand how unconventional marketers think, and then to apply a similar mindset in order to identify opportunities which are more unique to your brand.

Many of the best growth hackers utilise information/content assets created by their non-marketing activities to enable new marketing opportunities – just as LAMA have through the content marketing approach described in their case study. Others – as we can see in the Daily Mail Online’s addition of citations to copy-and-pasted text – look at their existing digital interactions and optimise them for conversions.

In either case, the key is to audit how your brand operates, and then to experiment with ways of using/augmenting its activities to create better growth opportunities.

Think laterally, experiment with wide-ranging opportunities, and you will be in with a great chance of identifying new and valuable routes to online growth.