Unique Growth Hacking Techniques in 2021
Growth hacking might sound like a shortcut or an unethical way to do business, but in truth, it’s all about optimization.
Achieving rapid growth is possible with the viral dynamics of the internet, and if you play your cards correctly, your brand could be the one to launch into the stratosphere.
As new technology comes to the forefront, growth hacking techniques evolve as well. Let’s talk about the best methods, tactics, and tools you can apply for accelerated business growth in 2021, as told by experts on the front lines.
Basics and Expectations
To spark unprecedented growth in your business, you’ve first got to understand what it takes. The man who coined the term knows best.
“A growth hacker is someone who has thrown out the playbook of traditional marketing and replaced it with only what is testable, trackable, and scalable,” Author and Marketer Ryan Holiday. “Their tools are emails, pay-per-click ads, blogs, and platform APIs instead of commercials, publicity, and money.”
It’s one thing to be ambitious and focused on growth – that’s good. However, don’t get mixed up about the concept of ‘growth hacking’ and have unattainable expectations.
“Growth is not easy, and not something you can easily ‘hack,’” said Daniel Seehoff, CEO of Sophistiplate. “We have been hyper-focused on content creation, putting out the highest quality creative we can, and staying engaged with our community. Growth takes a lot of time, investment, creativity, and hard work! It is a marathon, not a sprint.”
Getting on the Map
For newer companies, the key to expedited growth is a matter of being in the public eye. This means that marketing, combined with a bit of PR and media work, are the biggest pieces of the puzzle at first.
“To achieve real growth in 2021, it goes hand-in-hand with visibility,” said Marc Atiyeh, CEO of Pawp. “Whether you’re establishing your brand or continuing to build relevance, accepting opportunities that offer you the ability to ‘be seen’ is always a wise move. Provide expert quotes to journalists, hop on a podcast or take part in an interview. Every little bit accumulates and, before you know it, you’ll be recognized as an expert in your field.”
Expertise goes a long way to rise above the rest, but sometimes, a brand simply needs a novel approach that appeals to customers on an untapped wavelength.
“The noise on the internet and social media is outrageous, so a lot of your focus has to be on fine-tuning your image and message to cut through all that,” said Dylan Trussell, Co-Founder of Culprit Underwear. “To get our name out there, our goal was to be original and fresh, so that people have that instant recognition. Ongoing exposure and experimentation have been keys to growth in that respect.”
As brands establish themselves and gain momentum, there is still more work to be done, of course. Growth hacking is about finding that next technique or strategy that solidifies a company’s presence in an industry and ensures continued relevance.
“We made our initial push and found success early on, so now we’re focused on pulling the right levers for even more visibility and growth,” said Ajay Mehta, Co-Founder and CEO of Birthdate. “Increasing activity on social media has been big, and we’re experimenting with new formats like video and interactive content. There’s so much in marketing we still have to explore. However, we can’t lose sight of what got us here in the first place, which is a relentless commitment to quality and creative product design.”
Community and Collaboration
One thing is certain in the weird world of growth hacking – community is a major multiplier for your results in marketing and the potential to scale fast.
With so many ways to generate community via social media and real-world connections, this is a primary focus for brands with ambitions to grow.
“As a young DTC company, we’ve experienced substantial growth through our product innovations and in building a community around our brand,” said Dr. Kathrin Hamm, Founder and CEO of Bearaby. “If your business is in the growth hacking stage, it’s key to remember that there is no single hack that will solve all of your pain points. Instead, diversify your approach and deploy a mix of marketing strategies paired with data tracking and analytics. Aligning with like-minded businesses for unique partnerships can also lead to incredible growth through shared audiences.”
On the subject of partnerships, companies are discovering the power of collaboration for fast growth, and are putting more resources toward these initiatives.
“The more connections you make with other businesses and influencers, the more potential you have for big leaps to happen all at once,” said Genexa Chief Marketing Officer Kelli Lane. “Think of networking as building a fire and stacking small pieces of wood one at a time. When the flame does eventually catch, you have way more potential to burn strong and bright.”
Fashion designer Daniel Patrick discovered that making the right connections is a powerful growth hacking strategy in itself, especially in the competitive world of apparel. “Use every tool at your disposal to reach more people and make positive impressions,” said Patrick. “Build that familiarity and generate buzz around your brand while keeping it organic. That way, when you launch a new product or storefront, the legwork has been done. The anticipation factor is a massive benefit that you should use to your advantage, no matter what you’re selling.”
Remember that every industry will have nuances and different factors that impact how growth happens in the short term. The medical field is one example where professionals must focus on quality leads more than anything else.
“Email waiting lists have been a successful tactic for many companies in 2021,” said Dr. Jae Pak, Founder and Owner of Jae Pak, MD. “It’s a remote way to gather niche people to be interested in your product or service before it launches, or even relaunches if you are planning on rebranding. This can have uses ranging from consumer goods to the medical field. In the medical field, email waiting lists can be used for potential candidates for certain procedures and qualifications.”
High Volume, Fast Feedback
Ask anyone about scaling and growing a business, and if they know the ropes, they’ll mention these two important factors. To grow, it takes a lot of experimentation, and a willingness to apply the lessons learned from feedback on the fly.
“As we can see, 2021 has offered many unique opportunities, mixed in with the occasional out-of-the-box challenge,” said Ryan Rottman, Co-Founder and CEO of OSDB. “That’s why the strategies that are implemented are more important than ever. One technique to definitely put into the game is to always be conscious of the need to make a pivot. This is not the time for a ‘wait and see’ approach. If you identify something that isn’t working, or maybe just needs a tweak, don’t wait. Responding in a quick, straightforward manner to under-performing campaigns can save you both time and money in the long run. Always keep the big picture in mind.”
Customers are always a solid source of feedback, and should be at the center of conversation when working on products, services, marketing, and more.
“Passively waiting for feedback from customers is one thing, but actively seeking it and using it is more of an effective growth hack, I’ve found,” said Summer Romasco, Brand Strategist and Marketing Director at Ad Hoc Labs. “This is how you tap directly into the source and find the answers that can spark major growth. Your results are accelerated when you amplify the feedback and actually implement changes from it.”
When in doubt, growth hackers will often try new tactics just to see if they work, even if there’s no established evidence to suggest they do. Why? Simply because the potential payoff could be huge.
“It helps to view marketing as a sandbox in 2021, which wasn’t really the case in past generations that had fewer tools and data to work with,” said Kashish Gupta, Founder and CEO of Hightouch. “Segment your email list in a way you’ve never tried before. Launch a campaign that focuses on entertainment or education. Partner up with unexpected influencers for a change of pace. You’ll be surprised how effective it can be to experiment. Worst case scenario, you learn a lesson and do it better next time.”
Hard Work Wins Out
Talking about growth hacking techniques and rapid-fire marketing methods is fun, but there is no substitute for prolonged, applied effort on the business fundamentals that matter most.
“The short answer is you can’t really ‘hack’ growth,” said Josh Elman, Partner at Greylock Partners. “Any attempts at artificially creating growth patterns such as spamming friends on Facebook or Twitter, or hacking App Store download charts may result in spiky numbers, but rarely adds retained users. It’s kind of like eating empty calories.”
As companies expand into new territory, business leaders will also naturally discover the best growth tactics through trial, error, and pure experience.
“Growth is a byproduct of the work you put in and the realignment of your focus after a mistake,” said Jacques-Edouard Sabatier, Co-Founder and CEO of JOW. “As you eliminate the strategies that don’t work and double down on the ones that do, you’ll naturally find the path towards sustainable growth that can seem like ‘hack’ to those who haven’t been through the process themselves.”
No matter what you think about the idea of growth hacking and the methods therein, all these tips and techniques will be put to the test in 2021 and beyond. Why not apply them in your own business and see where they lead?