Have you heard of the term Growth Hacking?
Are you curious to know what Growth Hacking is or how it differs from traditional marketing?
Before I explain the difference, here’s one more question for you…
Did you notice Facebook, Uber, Slack, or similar companies advertising before they became popular?
I’d bet the answer is no.
Yes, they do run traditional marketing campaigns now, but didn’t before they had lots of users.
Instead, those companies used growth hacking.
What is Growth Hacking?
Growth Hacking is also known as Startup Marketing or Growth Marketing.
It comes from startups and their need to grow fast on a small budget.
You see, unless the startup is fortunate, they don’t have the time or budget it takes to build a global brand.
Add their need to become a viable business fast or go bust and there is strong incentive to prioritize growth.
Traditional marketers and advertisers ask – How can we build awareness for the brand? Growth hackers ask – How can we grow?
And that’s the main difference. No one disputes that awareness and brand building are imperative for longevity. But for growth hackers it is secondary to the need for signed up users.
Email as a pioneer of Growth Hacking
Interestingly, a small and emerging email company was a pioneer of growth hacking.
Hotmail founders considered billboards as a way to raise awareness of their (then new) email software.
According to one case study, at the time Hotmail averaged around 200 new users a day.
You might think 200 signups a day is good growth for a startup, yet as a free product it was not enough.
To pay the bills and attract advertising budgets, Hotmail needed more users fast.
Tim Draper, one of Hotmail’s first investors, convinced the founders to add a signup link to the bottom of each email for a free Hotmail account.
When the reluctant founders eventually agreed, the impact was instantaneous. They jumped from 200 to over 3000 new users a day.
Years later Sean Ellis described the people who applied similar techniques to growth as Growth Hackers.
But you may be asking yourself…
How does growth hacking relate to email marketing?
I don’t know about you but most businesses I come in contact with would welcome growth.
There are many ways to grow with email.
Growth hackers search for improvements, prioritize them, test them and then analyse the impact, all with a priority to sign up more ideal customers.
Here are a few examples of growth hacks for email which might shed some light on how a growth hacker thinks. Feel free to try some of these out for yourself.
Ask for replies
I don’t need to tell you that replies to your emails are helpful. Replies help future emails get past the spam filters and into the inbox.
Try adding “Reply needed” to the end of the subject line in your welcome email.
Could that increase the number of replies? Why not test it for yourself to find out.
For it to work, you must have a real reply-to address set up, but that does not take too much effort.
I use this option myself. In the welcome message body I offer an exclusive incentive if they do reply.
It can be effective especially when used together with the next growth hack.
Use your email’s built in autoresponder
Did you know that your email client has it’s own built in autoresponder? It does, we call it out of office.
Why not use your out of office reply to send a link to a second incentive (or lead magnet) when they reply to your welcome message?
Email providers like Vision6 have automation features which can auto reply on more actions. For example when opening an email or clicking a link from inside the message.
Another thing to think about is to…
Create curiosity in your subject line
Have you ever wondered why “Curiosity killed the cat?”
I believe one reason is because curiosity creates action. And for email marketing action is great (not always so great for cats…)
The best headlines have one thing in common, they create curiosity.
Subject lines are the headlines of your emails so make sure they create curiosity.
For example, instead of “Welcome to my business newsletter” why not use something like “This is not your typical welcome! – Reply needed”
Which would stand out in your inbox?
Use the asterisk Luke
If I mentioned a great offer* where would you look next?
Chances are, you’re going to look for the corresponding asterisk (*) which explains the offer and any catches.
People look for the catch so why not use catch triggers like asterisks to enhance the message of your email?
What’s the one thing you need to take home?
Growth hacks like the examples are great but remember growth hacking is more than the sum of the hacks.
Growth hacking is about having a mindset of growth.
Always ask yourself “How does [___] help me to get more users?” or “How can I use [___] to get more growth?” whenever you’re sending out an email campaign.
Email marketing is a powerful tool and when used with growth in mind it’s a super weapon of choice amongst growth hackers.
I encourage you to search for growth opportunities while you create your messages.
*Adding calls to action to the fine print, footnotes or PS is a great way to encourage people to take action, here’s why.