Growth Hacking Your Startup

This is not a post about Growth Hacking, but rather some tips of things you can do before you’ve even launched to make your life easier when you do. Good luck.

Here’s a scenario before you start Growth Hacking

burning the midnight oil for growth hacking

You’ve slaved away on your startup idea, haven’t seen sunlight in weeks, consumed more coffee than is considered healthy, and finally your Mega App is ready for the world to see. You want to take your Mega App to market and make millions billions of dollars.

Now, you’re probably at the stage where you realise that you now need to  do everything you possibly can to make sure that there are as few barriers as possible when bringing the Mega App to market. And you start Googling “how to make sure my startup never fails”. Soon, you’re going to come across the term “Growth Hacking”, which is what you were looking for all along. If you’re at that stage now – read here.

Some background on me and Growth Hacking

But before you go down the rabbit hole of Googling Growth Hacking, let me share some tips. I help startups (and corporates) with strategic growth hacking, in other words I build strategies that aim to deliver “growth” via product and marketing. In my time I’ve seen problems that could have been easily avoided that have slowed down taking the product to market, scaling marketing or something else.

On top of delays there are other knock on effects to consider. A big one is that delays are often caused because the solutions require development time. In other words anything you have to code for marketing takes time away from your developers and engineers. Do you really want to allocate dev hours to anything but product? In my experience the answer is usually no. The knock on effect is amazing marketing and growth hacking doesn’t get done, or get delayed for a very long time.

The tips I have put together below are meant to be win win and based on these principles:

  1. Save development hours when you are launching
  2. Have some quick and easy tools to get your growth team working their hardest

You can obviously do things differently however the principles here is to do a couple of very simple things early on that will avoid taking time away from development when hours are at their most precious – at launch.

Forward thinking tips from a Growth Hacker

Disclaimer: This is no silver bullet and different platforms present roadblocks to some of these, but if you can do these they should help solve a few common problems.

Google Tag Manager:

This is as straight forward as it gets. Install Google Tag Manager (GTM) on your website/platform and app(s). One line of code on every page of your website and use the provided SDK for your iOS and Android app. The documentation for installing the container on your app is a little more complicated than putting it on your website, but the documentation thorough.

Impact – Being able to add scripts, code, tags and conversion pixels to your website without going into a sprint offers significant value. However, being able to do the same thing on your app means you can avoid going through the slow app store update and users don’t need to update the app either. This is much more impactful that it sounds as it enables a whole host of opportunities that doesn’t require any development time.

Create Unique Conversion Destinations:

At some point you’re going to want to ask (pretty important) questions about growth metrics and conversion events. For example new registrations, sales, app installs or in app purchases. In the majority of analytics and marketing platforms that help uncover these insights it’s MUCH easier to set things up when there is a unique url or destination. If you don’t have a unique url the alternative is normally to add a unique event (code), usually in a data layer (code), or conversion pixel (code) each time you want to set something new up – which burn dev hours. Having a unique url will mean your marketing team can set that up easily without bothering you so consider something simple like megaapp.com/conversion-to-track/thanks as a conversion destination for your mega app.

It is important to note there is a subtle difference for first time conversions where the destination is a frequently visited dashboard or account. Not having the extra step, like a thank you page, will create a headache trying to separate out new registrations for existing user logins. Having an intermediary step will allow you to super charge your marketing and reporting for new registrations. Your analytics and marketing team will (should) thank you later for your great foresight.

Bonus impact – Having the extra flexibility of the unique page/destination opens up possibilities like creating unique branded messages during a user journey.

Separate your App from your content pages:

Consider separating out marketing and content pages from your mechanical, actionable app elements from day 1. This can be as simple as having your content/landing pages/blog posts on the top level domain e.g. www.megaapp.com and your app on a sub-domain e.g. app.megaapp.com or sub-folder e.g. www.megaapp.com/app. This will allow your marketing team to optimise their efforts without stealing development hours.

Impact – In addition to not bothering your developers when you need another meta tag added to a landing page template (in the middle of a sprint no less) there is the long term benefit of having all your keyword authority being on your top level domain. Marketing will be able to rapidly produce landing pages, content (or even 10x content!?) which will reflect in cost savings in your paid media. This is because more relevant content translates to better quality/relevance scores which results in lower CMP’s, CPC’s and CPA’s. It also means URLs are a bit shorter and easier to remember when shared. That translates to lowered marketing costs (dollars and cents) and better user experience.

Bonus impact – There is also a security and performance benefit if your app is running on a virtualised hosting instance, or processes payments. It allows you to have your app hosted somewhere like Amazon Web Services and your top level domain can be WordPress pointing to somewhere like WP Engine. This removes the risk of vulnerabilities or performance issues by trying to run both in the same place and instead having two separate, optimised environments.

====

If you’re still reading – thanks. The tips below are optional but will help a lot to do them from day 1. Also if you’ve done the 3 points above a marketing team should be able to do just about everything from here.

====

Set up your goals

Use Google Analytics, Kiss Metrics, Mixpanel or all of them. Set up your goals as early as possible as most platforms do not recursively process anything that happened before you set them up (assuming you’ve had the analytics tracking from the get go). The knock on effect is you will not be able to determine any effort that lead to a conversions and therefore not be able to replicate that at scale.

Technical note: If you are using an external payment gateway ensure you remove that domain from your referring URL’s otherwise conversions will be attributed to your payment gateway and not the correct source.

Pixels

Add Facebook, Adwords and any other pixels you might want. You can do this through Google Tag Manager, so let the marketing people do this if you’ve already done your Google Tag Manager step.

Impact – This lets you put your product in front of Google and Facebook users, which is in the billions of people, and then target the people who matter to your business at scale.

Landing pages

Be able to produce customised landing pages rapidly. This will help you keep clarity high, run experiments, improve relevance and reduce media spend.

Signup forms

If you’re going to do something interesting with your signup process or have special analytics, make sure you can link to a generic signup form. In other words don’t build a signup funnel that will only work through a specific page or steps of pages that you can’t customise.

Ready to rock?

Phew, glad that’s over with. Now with all that you’ll be ready to rock with marketing, great organic content, analytics to know if what is working, what is not working, reduce media spend AND you can be left alone to focus on your engineering efforts. Win win? Win win 🙂

There are obviously many things you can do and as I mentioned this is not a silver bullet. I also concede some platforms don’t allow you to do some of the points easily, but if you can you’ll see a big impact, save money and development time.

Nicholas Soper

About Nicholas

I am passionate about working in tech, travel, solving problems and helping people. I also love being active, surfing and being outside. From England and currently living in Cape Town, South Africa. Say hi! Learn more about Nick.