One of the great marketing questions of all time — is growth hacking a buzzword or a tangible strategy for your business?
We’re here to argue it’s absolutely the latter, provided you have the right knowledge, resources, and strategies. That’s why we’ve put together our complete guide to B2B growth hacking. We’ll be covering everything you need to know from what growth hacking is to creative growth hacking strategies for your business.
The term growth hacking first cropped up in 2010 and is attributed to Sean Ellis. He defines the term as using cost-effective marketing strategies with a focus on growing the business. The reason growth hacking became a bit of a buzzword comes down to its use in the start-up realm. It became the next big thing and many people were throwing around the word to refer to literally any marketing strategy.
The reality is growth hacking comes down to creativity. That’s what the hacking part of the phrase refers to. It’s all about finding a creative strategy to market your product or service to drive business growth.
Growth hacking when strategized and planned properly can bring huge results. For example, B2B companies such as Hubspot and Dropbox have implemented bold growth hacking strategies to get to where they are today.
What differentiates growth hacking from traditional marketing strategies is the end goal. While the business goal will always be to increase revenue through growth, often marketing goals are more focused on specific metrics that don’t give the whole picture of business growth. For example, a common B2B marketing goal is to grow brand awareness. This strategy would focus on metrics like impressions on social media or traffic to the site. They’re both great goals, but they don’t give a complete overview of business growth.
It should go without saying, you need to be goal-orientated for growth hacking strategies. What this means is the metrics you focus on need to revolve around scaling your business. This is where “pirate” metrics come in.
The endearing name comes from the fact that the acronym for the metrics spells out “AARRR”, much like a pirate would say! They stand for:
Acquisition refers to gaining new customers. Metrics here could include new visitors, time on page, and bounce rates.
Activation metrics revolve around the moment you’ve converted a user into a consumer or a lead. Metrics here could include registrations, subscriptions, email sign-ups, conversions, and many more. It all depends on the type of business-to-business service or product you sell.
Retention should be self-explanatory. These metrics revolve around how well you’re retaining customers. This could include email open rates, continued subscriptions, or multiple site visits to name a few. Revenue metrics could include things like the number of subscriptions, upsell conversions, churn rate, cost of customer acquisition, and many more. In other words, these are the making money metrics. You should be familiar with them and tracking them already!
Last but not least is referral metrics. This could include things like social shares, customer satisfaction rates, and tracking online reviews. As you can see, the great thing about pirate metrics is that each metric matches up with a different stage of the marketing funnel. This gives you a greater insight into how well each stage is paying off and how it’s ultimately benefiting business growth.
We mentioned the B2B marketing funnel above, but we’ll take a little pause to explain it further. This is because it’s so important that you have a good understanding of your unique marketing funnel before you launch into a B2B growth hacking strategy.
A funnel is a marketing tool that helps break up the customer journey into stages. We can then use these stages to figure out what the best marketing channel is for each different stage.
A B2B marketing funnel has the following stages:
Everything from the awareness stage to the evaluation stage matches up with the acquisition stage of pirate growth metrics. The purchase stage matches up with the activation and revenue metrics, while the post-purchase stage matches up with the retention and referral metrics. An important thing to note for B2B marketing is that the marketing funnel is often a much slower process than for B2C companies.
For example, a B2C consumer will go through various funnel stages quite fast. They’re researching what they need in the awareness stage, then researching a specific product in the interest and consideration stages. The intent stage and evaluation stage for B2C consumers can be as simple as leaving a product in a cart while they look for social proof.
For B2B consumers, the steps to reach the purchase stage take much longer, months in some instances. This consumer needs to thoroughly research solutions and options, as well as present and review them with other stakeholders. Figuring out your unique customer journey is vital in creating a cohesive growth hacking strategy. What we’re saying is, do your homework and lay the foundations before you jump straight into it.
Understanding your brand’s marketing funnel begins with understanding your customers. If you don’t, you’ll end up marketing to the wrong people and your campaign will see lackluster results at best.
There are so many marketing tools you can utilize to understand your customers. Use web and social media analytics to collate information on your customers’ demographics as well as their interests and behaviors.
From here you can develop user personas. This will allow you to better tailor your messaging and strategies to your unique audience. You can also use it to create a customer journey with a better understanding of your customer needs at each different stage. With a better understanding of your customer, you can move onto your product or service.
The B2B market is only getting more and more crowded. It can feel like there’s a solution to everything.
If you don’t know the answers to any of the above, go find out. Get beta testers, get feedback and strategize. Otherwise, you risk ending up with a product or service nobody asked for in the first place.
We’ve talked about goals a lot, but you need to be SMART with them. This stands for:
Using SMART goals helps focus your growth hacking strategy as you define realistic, tangible goals so you can better assess the success of your strategy.
Growth hacking strategies are almost always a digital marketing tactic. You could have the best strategy in the world, but if your site delivers a poor user experience, it won’t matter. To give your growth hacking strategy the best chance of success, optimize your website beforehand.
This means ensuring your site is in good technical health so Google can crawl and index pages, but also so customers can use it with ease. Your site should load quickly, be easy to navigate, and be mobile-friendly as a minimum.
This also means ensuring the on-page content is optimized for both Google and the user experience. Information should be keyword-rich, as well as easy to read and engaging for users.
With the foundations laid, we can move onto the fun bit, figuring out which growth hacking strategies you want to use. There are an almost endless array of B2B growth hacking strategies available to use. The ones you pick will depend on the unique goals of your business and the unique needs of your customers. Let’s dive in.
There are often a huge amount of stakeholders involved in the B2B purchasing process. How great would it be if your brand was known to all of them?
Using network invitations is a great B2B lead generation strategy that can put you further ahead of the competition as stakeholders will already have some awareness of your brand. This can make building up trust and authority a much easier process.
There are a few ways to leverage network invitations. You can start by encouraging your current users to share with their network for an organic approach. Alternatively, you can create an outreach template and begin reaching out to potential customers.
Free tools are a popular growth hacking strategy for B2B. Everyone from the likes of Ahrefs with their backlink checker to Canva with their free subscription service is hopping on the train.
This is because it’s a great way to get new customers familiarized with your brand, product, and services. They can see that what you offer is a great product and invaluable to them, they’re using it after all! This means when it comes time to buy, they already know the value of your product or service to them. The trust is already there which makes the purchasing process that much easier.
Some brands like to combine this free tool growth hacking strategy with an email subscription. It’s a great way to build up your email list and ensure ongoing contact with potential new users to establish a relationship.
Email isn’t dead. Far from it in fact. Email open rates remain high compared to other digital marketing channels. For B2B the open rate is a very respectable 15.1%, while B2C enjoys a higher rate of 19.7%. But it’s good news for B2B email growth hackers because the average click-through rate for B2B is higher than B2C. B2B click-through rates are at around 3.2%, compared to B2C at 2.1%.
This is great news for B2B businesses. It’s a very cost-effective channel that can reap rewards when it’s done right. So focus on growing your email list as well as sending out creative and engaging content to your subscribers.
Everyone would love it if their content went viral. It’s why some content creation agencies claim they can do exactly that. The reality is no one can predict or guarantee virality. But all viral content has one key thing in common. It’s shareable.
People love to share information they like and trust. This includes B2B networks with colleagues. So your content should be both worthy of sharing and shareable. By this we mean, you need great content and to have social sharing options on your website, as well as links on your social media accounts.
Great content is hard to describe in an all-encompassing manner. In general, the following types of content see more engagement than others:
Of course, you can create thousands of webinars, podcasts, and more and see no results. Chances are if this is happening it’s because the quality of your content isn’t high enough.
Your content should hook your audience. It should be educational, engaging, and informative. It needs to provide value to your audience or they won’t consume it, let alone share it.
82% of companies say it’s cheaper to retain a customer than it is to get a new one. If you’re losing out on customers because you’re not showing them how much you value them, you’re missing out on valuable revenue and business growth.
Implement a customer loyalty program alongside an outstanding customer experience to keep your customers coming back for more. Your loyalty program could include exclusive discounts, early access to new products, or lower subscription prices for long-term customers. Whatever you pick, make sure your current customers know how much you value them.
Because they’re your best marketing tool. Word-of-mouth marketing is one of the most powerful marketing channels at your disposal. Get it right and you can grow your business exponentially. For B2B, 99% of all purchases are influenced by word-of-mouth marketing. This makes your current customers your best brand ambassadors.
You can encourage organic word-of-mouth marketing through an incredible product or service, alongside a great customer experience. But you can also actively encourage word-of-mouth marketing if you strategize.
Offer current customers incentives to refer such as exclusive discounts for them and new customers. Make sure to ask customers to leave online reviews on Google My Business and other review sites. You can also incentivize them with discounts on future purchases.
It’s great to have evergreen content that will keep you relevant in the search engine ranking positions, but another great way to stay relevant is to hop on trending topics. It can help get your brand in front of new eyes and increase your readership. Of course, what you’re writing about should be somewhat relevant to your company. Nobody wants to hear the latest medical news from a manufacturing company!
Stay on top of industry news and trends by setting up Google Alerts for the right keywords. Then you’ll get automated emails on new or relevant topics to help inspire fresh content that everyone’s talking about.
Remember those great types of content we were talking about above? You should also be repurposing them.
People like to consume content in many different ways. Where a video may suit one person, another might prefer a podcast. To give your content the best chance at success and to reach as many people as possible, you can repurpose it in another format. Change a blog into a video, a video into a podcast, and a podcast into a webinar.
This is a great way to ensure all your content is performing at its best and stays up to date.
To the untrained eye, gamification and business-to-business don’t seem like they go hand in hand. But they absolutely can when it’s done right.
Almost everyone likes playing games. It engages a part of our brain that static content simply can’t reach. Activate your clients by gamifying your onboarding process. A great example of this is on Neil Patel’s ‘spin-to-win’ email subscription CTA. Where customers may often be reluctant to enter their email address, this fun tool takes some of that worry away as the focus is on the game.
You can also engage your current customers with gamification. Try using competitions, trivia quizzes, and poll sliders in your email campaigns and social media posts.
It’s not just LinkedIn that works for B2B, but it seems to be where most businesses put the emphasis.
The reality is the employees you’re connecting with in a business use a variety of social media platforms. If you’re ignoring them altogether, you’re missing out on an opportunity to appear where your competitors aren’t.
A shining example of this is Adobe. Their Twitter account is very active and engages with clients for all kinds of reasons with super helpful information, delivered as fast as possible. It’s a great experience that increases brand authority, trust, and customer loyalty.
Another great growth hacking strategy is guest posting. It’s a great way to get your content and brand in front of new people.
There are a few ways to tackle guest posting. You can reach out to other tangentially related businesses and see if they’d like to partner and post on each other’s blogs. You can also find dedicated B2B industry blogs and ask if they accept guest posts. Many of these sites get written off by marketers because they don’t come with the follow links that Google’s algorithm loves so much. But you shouldn’t write them off so fast.
Look at a follow link like a bonus. The important thing is putting out quality content to new potential customers to increase brand awareness. Guest posting can help you achieve this in record time.
Consumers love social proof. After word-of-mouth marketing, they’re one of the key purchasing influences. We talked above about how you should be encouraging and building your online reviews. But these reviews shouldn’t just be sitting on other sites. Put them front and center on your site.
Include incredible testimonials and star ratings in all your lead generation channels. Add reviews sections to your product and service pages. You could even create case studies for your blog from happy, current clients.
How do you get better at something? You give it a go, assess what you’ve done, and contemplate what you could have done differently. The best growth hacking strategies aren’t stagnant documents, written and forgotten about. They are always evolving, developing, and improving.
Adding A/B testing into your strategy allows you to test in real-time what works. You can then take what works and make it even better. You should be A/B testing as much of your marketing strategy as possible. This includes your landing pages, PPC, CTAs, and more.
Growth hacking strategies can deliver incredible results to businesses fast. But you need to ensure you have the foundations to allow for growth in place before you plan your growth hacking strategy.
Like all marketing efforts though, even growth hacking strategies take time and resources to deliver effective results. If you’re short on either, we can help. We’re a digital marketing agency that prides itself on both our creativity and our results.
Get in touch to find out how we can help your business.