📈 Growth Hacking
I see the term “Growth Hacking” everywhere I look!
As a recent founder of an Education App start-up, I’ve been going to a bunch of meet-ups and online forums about growing businesses.
I see the words “growth hacking” and “growth marketing” popping up everywhere. It seems like a pretty hot phrase right now. For a while I thought it was just that – marketers getting all marketing-y to promote themselves 😉
But it wasn’t until I thought about the similarities to Product Development that the penny really dropped for me….and I was sold!
Let me explain…
⛏️ We’ve been “hacking” the product for a while
Our business is KidCoachApp and we provide stimulating conversations starters for parents to get their kids “talking, thinking and feeling”
(Essentially it’s all about developing skills the next generation need to succeed and thrive…)
As we developed out App we used the Agile Development approach. Heard of it? It’s a massive movement now inspired by several folks including Eric Ries, the author of “Lean Start-Up”. It’s all about testing and iterating the product development every single step of the way, to greatly reduce the risk of commercial failure.
Let me share what we have done to hack our way to minimum viable product (MVP). I will then point out the similarities I have noticed to Growth Hacking from a marketing standpoint.
Here are broadly the questions we asked ourselves and the steps we took to develop the MVP App:
Do people even want this?
We built a rough-and-ready website (with some questions for kids that our App would have) and asked people to sign-up if they wanted more. Hundreds did straightaway. Ah-ha we thought: There is something here, let’s pursue it
What features could the App have?
We sketched on a piece of paper how the App could could look with lots of cool stuff like explainer videos and audio files and links to articles…..all stuff it turned out parents didn’t need! Most just wanted interesting questions like “what are 10 things to do with a cup?” (which is a creativity-building question) with some follow-up prompts like “what if the cup was digital?” Ah-ha we thought: let’s save loads of time and money curating videos and article links etc, rather let’s just focus on writing great questions!
Does the user interface make sense?
We built a clickable prototype and showed it to a bunch of parents. All the branding and colours were in place, most of the buttons and features had been built….but no-one could see how to search for questions! Ah-ha we thought: we need a big magnifying glass icon at the top of the screen!
How will customers use it in real-life?
We got the App Beta-ready and handed it over to several parents to play with for a couple of weeks. Most of the feedback was small stuff, easily fixed. But looking at the usage data we saw that many parents were making do with the free-card-a-day option, instead of upgrading to the paid-for-premium-content. Ah-ha we thought: we are giving away too much free value – let’s change the business model! And so we will be launching the App with a paid-for plan only, but with a 2-week free trial.
📢 Next we started “hacking” marketing
So hopefully the above makes sense. As we built our product we were taking small steps and testing each time, changing our approach as needed. It means customers get the product they want from launch and we don’t waste time and money building the wrong things.
This is exactly what “Growth Hacking” from a marketing standpoint seems to be.
It’s looking at all points in the marketing funnel and trying different experiments to satisfy more customers at each stage.
☠️ I like the “Pirate” funnel metrics that are sometimes used, since it helps me remember what can be done: AARRR !!!
Acquisition – do people visit your website?
Activation – do they sign up / download your App?
Revenue – do they start paying you money?
Renewal – do they keep paying you money?
Referral – do they tell others about you?
Let me share what we are doing or have planned to do. Does that sound good me mateys? (See what I did there 😊)
Acquisition – we are running experiments with different creatives to use on social media eg serious vs funny
Activation – we are experiment with different call-to-actions on the website eg “get app now” vs “enter competition now”
Revenue – we are experimenting with asking for payment at different points eg credit card details before a free trial vs after the free trial period ends
Renewal – we are experiment with different discounts on the annual plan to encourage a 12 month sign up straightaway
Referral – we are experimenting with different prizes for telling other parents about KidCoachApp
The above are just some examples.
Let’s go deeper on one to illustrate our approach top “Growth Hacking” even more – Activation.
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💻 Our website has changed massively!
The business is a year old and we are already on our 4th website iteration!!!
Here is what we did each time, to try and improve the Activation rates i.e. the % of people visiting that signed up on our mailing list / waitlist for the App while we were developing it
- Version 1 – the questions and prompts looked like a page from a textbook (too long) but as soon as we shortened to be more like a flashcard then the dwell time increased
- Version 2 – as soon as we had some parent testimonials we stuck them in, but it wasn’t until we moved them much higher up the homepage did people actually scroll through them
- Version 3 – as soon as the Beta App was ready we made a short demo video for the website, but it wasn’t until we also put in some static image screenshots alongside that the video got played!
- Version 4 – we installed a pop-up after 30 seconds that asked engaged readers to sign up to mailing list, but it wasn’t until we made it smaller and moved into the corner did some people actually start to sign up like this
Ps – HotJar – the screen capture software – has been super helpful during these iterations, since you can see what your customer sees!
Pps – some people would call the above “validated learnings”
The overall result is that our conversion has steadily increased from around 5% to now around 10%. People tell me these are quite good stats – but I am a perfectionist and will keep “hacking” different approaches!
I should point out that I really had to put my ego aside during this entire process. When we first published the website it was super basic and (to be honest) a little embarrassing. As a founder your start-up is your baby, right? And you want to point people proudly to your website. However I could not justify spending £5k making a slick professional website, when I did not even know if there was a real business in here, let alone what the right marketing messages ought to be!
But now, after spending no more than £1k in total and hacking it to be a bit better each time, I think we have a pretty decent website…..check it out and let me know what you think.
🤔 Is this stuff ethical?
Well, I am glad you asked. It’s a good question and I know some folks at Growth Animals are grappling with this.
Here is my (very quick) view –
As long as your experiments reveal an insight about your customers, which allows you to give them a better experience, then it is OK.
For instance: maybe you find that see that people click more on yellow boxes than grey boxes. Well next time you have a critical update, say regarding Covid-19, then you make sure it is Yellow. Or another example: maybe you find website visitors close your pop-ups instantly. Well, then don’t do that as they are clearly irritating. Consider instead a chatbot in the corner perhaps that would answer any questions they have?
⏭️ So what next for KidCoachApp?
We have come a long way since we founded the business and hope to be able to reach thousands of parents very soon, helping them built “talking, thinking and feeling” skills in their kids.
We will keep hacking away to get there!
Not because it is trendy, rather because it works.
We have learned that running experiments are a quick and effective way to figure out what your product should look like and how you can talk to your customers about it too. Just remember to always consider “what have I learned from this hacking experiment, that will make my customer’s life better?”
Feel free to get in touch if you want to chat about any of this. You can connect with me on LinkedIn or send the team an email at [email protected].