It’s light on resources but the impact is impressive. No wonder so many B2B companies are entering the growth hacking space and researching B2B growth hacking to drive faster, more cost-effective expansion.
This article provides a guide to what growth hacking is, and the tactics you can use to drive a powerful growth hack strategy. When you want to take your business-to-business company to the max, it makes a lot of sense to do it as quickly, efficiently, and cheaply as possible.
Here’s how you make the right impact. By the end of this article, you’ll know exactly what this type of speedy advancement involves.
What is growth hacking?
Growth hacking is a term created by digital marketing expert, Sean Ellis. It’s all about harnessing the most cost-effective digital marketing strategies, which use as few resources as possible, to the greatest effect via brand awareness, new customer acquisition, and sales.
The idea is the business scales fast while spending as little as possible. It’s a powerful approach when so many startups are strapped for cash yet can’t ignore marketing because it’s so crucial to growth.
When your B2B company spends most of its money on product development to drive good levels of customer satisfaction, these resource-light and cost-effective digital marketing tactics are invaluable. It’ll cost you less to retain valuable existing customers, sell products, and get vital exposure to achieve better overall brand equity.
These days growth hacking is used by businesses of every size and shape, at every stage in their development, to get where they want to be faster and more efficiently, generating dramatic growth in a short time with minimal spend.
No wonder big B2B businesses as diverse as Dropbox and LinkedIn have used growth hacking to generate millions. So how does this kind of creative growth hacking differ from marketing? We’ll explore that next.
How is growth hacking different from marketing?
Marketing looks at brand awareness, public relations or PR, and traditional marketing channels, and tends to involve much higher budgets.
Growth hacking, in contrast, focuses hard on growth, involves small budgets, and involves a stronger focus on the innovative use of ideas and channels. It’s lean, flexible, and smart.
If a tactic doesn’t have the potential to create dramatic growth, growth hackers ignore it. If it costs too much, the same goes. Growth hacking means fast, agile experimentation, where you reject tactics that don’t work and quickly move on to the next one.
But it isn’t random. Quite the opposite. For these bold experiments to succeed you need a solid process; a framework.
To succeed you first need to understand the entire buyer journey, then bring growth hacks into play throughout the entire journey, from start to finish.
You’ll need to stay ahead of the stats as well. If, for example, you’ve generated a load of new users but they churn like mad, leaving faster than you acquire them, you’re wasting money and time.
Your best friend is the AARRR framework, which focuses on Acquisition, Activation, Retention, Revenue, and Referrals.
What drives growth hacking
You can’t know whether your growth hacking efforts are working without checking the metrics. So what numbers do you need to know to establish exactly what success actually means? Acquisition stats track visitors, bounce rates, and the time they spend on a page. Activation tracks sign-ups, feature usage, registrations, and more.
Retention looks deeply into how long customers stay with you, so the stats track essentials like the number of site visits, your email campaign opening rates, email click-through rates, and more.
Revenue stats reveal the number of paying users, the ratio of free users to those who pay, the number of initial transactions, plus your up-sell campaign results and the overall churn rate by week, month, quarter, or whatever. Finally, it takes account of referrals via tracking customer satisfaction rates and monitoring social shares.
5 B2B growth hacking strategies
Next, we’ll explore some of the most popular, powerful, and effective growth hacking tactics and strategies you can use in a B2B context to drive your business in the right direction, and do it quickly and effectively at a minimal cost.
Build a useful tool
Giving something away for free is a powerful way to grow a B2B business fast. When you either take a product – or part of a product – then turn it into a free tool it gives you the opportunity to introduce the company to a new audience of people who might never otherwise see or use your products, or didn’t know you existed.
Giving something away for nothing drives trust, giving people a clear idea of the way you work, the brand’s personality, and the quality of the products and underlying service. When buyers are more familiar with the brand, they trust it more. Because they know how to use the free product they’re more likely to buy a paid-for product or upgrade to the free one. It’s also an excellent way to meet your core audience and get their measure by collecting data about them.
Let’s look at an example. Take SketchUp, the 3d modelling tool. The free version comes with plenty of cool functionality, enough to whet users’ appetites, experiment with the tool, learn how it works and what it delivers, and ultimately inspire them to upgrade to one of the paid-for versions of the tool. Without the free offer, it’d be a lot more of a challenge to get new paying customers on board in the first place.
Create a valuable referral program
A referral program can be a powerful source of growth. It’s all about tapping into businesses that use your product already and might know other businesses that would also appreciate using it.
When you create a referral program that benefits the referrer just as much as those they refer, it works beautifully to boost brand awareness, putting your products at the front of people’s minds. Obviously, it increases sales too, which contributes to growth. It’s interesting to see referrals at work by examining the numbers.
A good referral program converts as much as 30% better, and customers acquired via referrals tend to have a 37% higher retention rate. Lower churn rates alone can make an enormous difference in growth. And because they’re four times more likely to refer other customers themselves, the program keeps on giving in a sort of virtuous circle.
There are simple referral programs, where the referred customer is rewarded when a new customer registers, and complicated ones where both the referrer and referred get a reward. No wonder referral programs have generated thousands of users and generated huge revenues. Take PayPal, whose popular referral program delivers an outstanding 10% growth every day.
The best programs can reduce acquisition costs, improve customer relationships, and motivate people to buy more. When Nielsen did a survey on trust in advertising they found referral marketing scored the highest across every demographic, beating frequent ads, editorial excellence, and sponsored campaigns hands-down.
Advertising, sometimes called Above The Line, is usually associated with traditional marketing. It’s often used to boost a brand rather than generate a response, so has long been used by huge household name companies to build brand equity. But when advertising is designed to generate a direct response, the results can be impressive and dramatic as well as extremely cost-effective.
Take LinkedIn advertising, for example. It’s proven as a powerful way to grow B2B companies by harnessing targeting, making it a goldmine for B2B lead generation. Because you can create such tightly-targeted ads you can attract and convert the perfect audience based on targeting individuals and segments on their location, the company they work for, their job experience, their overall demographics, levels of education, interests, personality traits and group memberships. A blend of personalised adverts and close targeting makes it a top candidate for growth hacking.
Then there’s remarketing, another arm of advertising you can harness for B2B growth. The old saying holds that people need to see a TV advert or flat off-the-page ad in a publication three times before they understand the content and get the message.
The same goes for retargeting, where people generally need to see an advert ten times before they start remembering your brand. Social remarketing can be an extremely cost-effective way to re-approach people time after time. You can remarket across many different channels as well as remarketing to targeted visitors and the pages they’ve visited.
Networking remains an extremely useful tool for businesses, simply because a business is made up of a group of humans, and humans who know and trust each other and like to work together more than those who have never met. Can your organisation create a networking strategy packed with potent tactics to harness the power of the human psyche?
Word of mouth is incredibly powerful. You could hold a series of talks about your business and products. You could find innovative ways to speak to users directly when they need help, creating valuable new relationships to benefit both parties. The more new relationships you build, the more you get from a growing collection of individuals who trust your brand, know where you’re coming from, understand how you work, and respect the things you do.
Then there’s social media. It offers all the same benefits as events, but you speak to a much larger range of users, a bigger and more diverse audience. It’s possible to track who is interacting with your content and then talk to them directly.
You’ll be able to see others in their organisation responsible for decision-making. It’s a contemporary way of doing business, as are podcasts. Appearing on podcasts lets you speak to an established audience who trust the source and the speakers. It’s an excellent way to reach users who might not want to attend events or use other social media platforms.
Integrate with other platforms
There are all sorts of growth hacking benefits behind integrating your products with other platforms. Integrating with well-established platforms lets users activate and test features of your product, maybe at no cost but when you harness the success of the platform you’re integrating with, it can be well worth it. It means you can interact with and attract the integrated partner’s audience. Your sales cycle is shortened when they install or enable your product without going through the entire user funnel as they usually would, an invaluable shortcut.
What to look for in an integration partner? A partner directory gives you a reliable and exciting route to building backlinks as well as another valuable route into their audience since people browsing the partner directory will be actively looking for a solution. And that means you get sales-qualified leads or SQLs – which are like marketing gold dust.
There’s more. Last but not least, you get the chance to leverage other tools to augment your integrations and even dramatically improve current campaigns. Growing your customer base, working with a trusted platform, enjoying better outreach than traditional marketing, shortening the sale cycle and building backlinks all contribute to faster growth.