After reading all the blogs about growth out there, you might glean that growth is an exclusive mindset that some people just get. But like any other area of business, growth hacking is something you can engineer with the right arsenal of tools.
Selecting the right tools to grow your product can be daunting. That's why it's vital to test them properly. Select each tool with a hypothesis of how it will create growth in a particular stage of your customer lifecycle. Piece your tool stack together so that for every objective, you're testing a tool and measuring its impact.
How to build your unique growth hacking toolkit
There is no one-size-fits-all growth hacking toolkit. Yours should be customized to your business, your users, and your goals. For example, mature businesses may not need as many acquisition apps in their toolkit as a brand-new startup.
To find the best tools for your product, apply the same growth hacking mindset: Pinpoint any gaps or areas of opportunity, and experiment with different apps to see what performs the best.
The process is simple:
Set a goal. Whether you want to double your email list or increase engagement for a new feature, localize an area for growth and set a target.
Pick a tool (see list below) based on what you're trying to achieve.
Encourage your whole team to try the new tool for at least 30 days. Give it a chance to succeed and measure the impact it has on your funnel.
If the results are positive, formally adopt the tool and explore how you can get more mileage out of it.
If you’re feeling stuck, we’ve put together a comprehensive list of tools to help you grow every area of your business. Read below for the full list or jump ahead to the most pertinent sections for your app:
There are infinite ways to get new users into your product. Pick and choose from the following tools to build better landing pages, automate lead nurturing, and create content that ranks well organically—in short, to get your product in front of new people and show its worth.
Here are a few things to think about when choosing acquisition tools:
Lead generation is about more than just new names
Acquiring new users isn’t just about filling up your database with as many new contacts as possible—it involves your website, landing pages, and email program. While paid ads drive initial awareness, it’s up to your entire digital experience to ensure visitors actually convert.
Go beyond traditional ads: Rather than casting too wide a net, you should leverage retargeting to display your ads to a smaller, prequalified set of users. Tools like AdRoll keep track of people who visit your site and display your retargeting ads to them as they visit other sites online.
Build better landing pages: Make the most out of your advertising budget by sending qualified traffic to landing pages that are designed to convert. With tools like Leadpages and Unbounce, you can build and A/B test custom landing pages in drag-and-drop interfaces, without needing to code. For advanced features, Instapages lets you dynamically personalize landing pages to every ad and create internal workflows to review pages faster.
Improve your website experience: Some users will be ready to convert after reading a single landing page; others will visit your website to learn more. When they do, Pingdom ensures that your website loads quickly and reliably with its monitoring services. Then, before visitors leave your website, use Sumo to display customizable pop-ups to collect email addresses. If they end up leaving without sharing their email address, Leadfeeder can give you more information on anonymous visitors by showing you the companies browsing your website and what they’re interested in.
Automate lead nurturing: Your sales team won’t be able to contact each and every lead. Rather than risk these potential customers going dormant, Prospect.io and HubSpot Sales allow you to automate outreach. You can build auto-triggered email sequences and follow-ups, get notified when people open your emails, and track your pipeline—all in one place.
Thoughtful content can give you a competitive edge
Traditional acquisition tactics, like paid ads and optimized landing pages, are only one piece of the puzzle. Some users will need in-depth, educational content to move through the flywheel, like how-to articles or product-specific videos.
Identify keywords to help you rank organically: To generate free, top-of-funnel traffic, invest in a keyword strategy to help your content rank on the first page of search results. With SEMrush and Moz, you can find the right keywords for your product, track performance of keywords, analyze backlinks, and conduct site audits.
Experiment with different types of content: While the majority of online content involves the written word, different mediums may resonate more with your audience. Wistia lets you experiment with video experiences, and helps you record, publish, and promote your videos. If you have a technical user base, try ReadMe to create personalized, interactive documentation hubs.
Find inspiration: Regardless of what type of content you create, you’ll always need a steady stream of ideas. Inform your strategy by getting real-time data on viral trends and research top performing pieces of content with tools like Buzzsumo. Or, embrace a question-driven content strategy by discovering untapped questions with Frase.
Make sharing easy: Get your content in front of a new audience by making it super simple for your existing users to share it with their network. With Click to Tweet, you can create a custom link with a pre-written message for anyone to share on Twitter.
After you’ve acquired new users, you don’t want to just let them wander around your product trying to find value. You have to bridge the gap between exploration and value-perception.
Growth hacking tools can help you get to know your customers better and get insights from them as they discover your product. And these insights can help you deliver what your users need, when they need it.
Here are some factors to consider:
Collect the right data before starting a campaign
Growth marketing is unique for its emphasis on data. While traditional marketing efforts often focus on data collection and analysis after the fact, growth hackers seek out product and behavioral metrics before executing a campaign.
Discover user trends and patterns: When analyzed together, product and behavioral data can surface valuable insights, directing the most relevant messages to your unique user segments. It’s important to reference tools that capture both customer data, like Segment, and in-app analytics, like Amplitude or Localytics. Google Analytics provides complementary metrics, showing you the flow of user interactions on your website and the health of your domains. Together, these datasets form an accurate, vibrant picture of who your users are and how they behave.
Easily run A/B tests: Experiment with messaging, visuals, and even in-app features, then use the learnings to inform your engagement campaigns. Optimizely is the biggest name in digital experimentation, with the ability to run A/B tests on your website, app, and backend code. If you want to focus on just one channel, Crazy Egg runs tests on your website and Apptimize specializes in mobile app experimentation.
Engage with your customers across channels
Once you have enough data to understand user actions and desires, you can then start building your engagement plan. Be careful not to focus all of your engagement efforts on one channel—in the beginning, your goal should be to tailor your messaging to each channel and see which ones perform the best.
Increase user activation: Many new users will take their time exploring your app, poking around your UI, and trying different features. Jumpstart their engagement by highlighting your best features with Appcues. You can create walkthroughs and prompts to draw their attention to new and important product features and communicate value.
Send smarter emails: Email is one of the most effective ways to communicate with your entire customer base at once (think: monthly newsletters and major product announcements). Build these email campaigns in Mailchimp or Vero, where you can choose from one-off messages or automated, triggered sequences. If your emails frequently link to content within your app, make sure those links are mobile-friendly by creating deep links with Branch. And lastly, complement your email marketing efforts by integrating Clearbit, which allows you to make your email list more human by aggregating data and insights from other channels.
Go where your users are: Some of your marketing emails will inevitably get lost or ignored in your customers’ inboxes. To maximize your engagement efforts, follow a multi-channel approach. With Leanplum, you can create customized experiences across channels, from push notifications to in-app messaging to email marketing. Or, use HubSpot to craft blog posts, landing pages, emails, and websites. If these channels still don’t reach all your customers, try Buffer to engage with them on social media or Drift to set up a conversational chatbot on your website.
Offer more engagement opportunities: Engagement typically refers to outbound efforts to drive product usage, like sending an email or displaying in-app modules. But, you can also make direct changes to your product itself. By integrating with Zapier, you can connect actions from one tool to another. This multiplies your product’s uses and offers customers better workflows.
Retention and referral
Your users have the potential to grow your business for you. If you focus on what they need and want and continue to nurture a relationship with them, many will eventually become loyal fans of your product. With the right encouragement, your champion users will go on tol tell their friends about your product and multiply that lifetime value by n.
Understand churn and have a plan in place to prevent it
Churn is a part of every business, but smart companies get ahead of it by using data to identify trends and triggers. Once you have a model for when and why customers churn, you can develop an outreach plan to get them back into your app.
Analyze the health of your business: Financial data can help you build a complete picture of customer behavior, identifying factors that impact churn and retention. Tools like Baremetrics and ChartMogul track your business in real time by aggregating MRR, user churn, failed charges, refunds, customer growth rate, and more. If you notice that customers churn due to outdated credit card information or a confusing payment flow, Churn Buster can recover failed revenue and make payments easier for customers.
Send meaningful communication to reduce churn: Once you identify customers who are at risk of churning, create a re-engagement strategy to get them back into your app. Customer.io and Emma allow you to take action from customer behavior, sending messages triggered by what customers do (or don’t do!) in your app. This trigger-based approach ensures that you are always saying the right thing at the right time, catching users the moment they start showing signs of churning.
Support your customers when they need you: Retention strategies shouldn’t always be reactive, beginning only when users show signs of churning. Instead, think of ways you can create positive experiences throughout the lifecycle to build a deeper relationship and encourage retention. Customer support software, like Zendesk and Help Scout, make it easy to connect with users across channels, as soon as they need help. Olark offers a chat tool right on your website so you can answer questions as users are navigating your site or working in your product.
Create your own referral program: It’s not enough to simply reduce churn and re-engage inactive users. You should also focus on engaging your champions, those super users who are most likely to recommend your product to others. Extole makes it easy for you to identify these advocates, create personal shares codes for them to refer your product, and reward them once you acquire newly referred customers.
Continue measuring and analyzing user behavior
Data plays an integral role in effective engagement across the user journey, and the retention and referral phase is no different. Keep measuring and analyzing customer behavior to understand why some users leave and why others stick around. These insights will ultimately allow you to build a better product for everyone.
Fine-tune your customer experience: A few small changes to your website or app could make a huge difference in retention rates. Identify areas for improvement with behavioral analytics tools like Hotjar and FullStory, which record and analyze user actions on your site. Product analytics tools like Heap and Mixpanel optimize your funnel by analyzing events on your site or in your app.
Understand the why: Data can never fully represent your users’ experience. Go straight to the source to understand how your customers feel and behave when they’re using your product. UserTesting finds a user panel to evaluate your UX, filming the sessions so you can see exactly where people lose interest, get confused, or feel delighted. Qualaroo also solicits feedback on mockups or live features, but questions appear directly on your website to a targeted set of visitors. For a simpler approach, create polls, surveys, forms, and other interactive documents for your users with Typeform.
No tool is an island
The real benefit of this huge array of growth hacking tools is that you can connect them together and make a machine that's stronger than the sum of its parts. Use the integrations and add-ons that each tool provides, or build your own. Link tools with other tools to bridge gaps in your product, speed up the flow from one area to another, or feed processes with data.
Play Lego with your growth hacking tools and create opportunities for growth where there were none before.
Here are all those tools again, in order of appearance:
Eric heads up Marketing at Appcues. When he isn't helping companies become more product-led, he’s likely to be found keeping up with his wife and 2 children, exploring the White Mountains with his dog Barley, or fermenting things at home.