Growth Hacking Priorities need to be anchored firmly to the stage of the Purchase Funnel. When you can ensure that customers are marshalled with single-pointed aim towards purchases, using Content Growth Hacking processes, achieving your growth becomes a sequenced and streamlined exercise. Marketers are all aware of the three stages of the purchase funnel.
At the Top of the Funnel (TOFU) the objective is to attract potential customers towards your products or services. At the Middle of the Funnel (MOFU), the objective is to nurture potential customers into deepening their buying interest in your products or services. And at the the Bottom of the Funnel (BOFU) the objective is to push for customers to make the actual purchases of your products or services. The question is: does your funnel leak valuable prospects out, and if so where should you focus your growth hacking to make the maximum impact?
Using “pull” growth hacking tactics at the top of the funnel (TOFU Stage)
Growth hacking may need to be used with differing tactics for each of these stages. In this section, we’re going to focus on,the Top of the Funnel (TOFU) – and here we will realize that we will need to focus on “pull” tactics.
What are pull tactics, in the first place … an explanation
One way to get visitors to your site is to pull them in. This is where you give them a reason to come to you. You allure them, incentivize them, and draw them to you. You essentially depend on inbound marketing and content marketing. E-books or e-courses as lead magnets are an example of the pull methodology. They draw people to themselves. They allow people for search for their core topics and “come across” these lead magnets.
Pull tactics depend on your knowing where people congregate
If you know how people behave online then you can accurately entice them or attract them onto your site, but if you don’t understand where people congregate and what causes them to travel to other places (digitally), then you can’t effectively push or pull them on onto your site. Not knowing where your audience hang out typically will create a needless diffusion of your content amongst people who don’t have an interest in it. Growth hacking demands deep knowledge of your target audience’s online habits.
Two important points about pull tactics that you should factor in
- The cost of these tactics are usually measured in time or effort … but you are not directly paying to get visitors.
- These tactics revolve around providing something of value that entices people to visit your site (like free downloads). If you stop providing value then you’ll stop pulling them in.
Why content creation and distribution work beautifully as pull tactics
Blog posts are among the best pull tactics. They are keyword rich, and are easily indexed by Google, which aides an overall SEO strategy. They have a compounding effect, where the more you write, the more chances you’ll have of pulling people towards your product over time. Blogs are usually based around specific niches, so you can tap into large banks of your market with a single post. Blog posts are also great at educating people, and informed people are more likely to move through your funnel. Besides blogs there are many other forms of content that attract pull by being authoritative, interesting or informative. Like videos, podcasts, infographics, social media and so on.
Pull tactics work through consistent trust building with integrity
Pull tactics work best when they aim not to sell anything except credibility of the author or entrepreneur. Get people to trust you first, then get them to trust your recommendations, and finally get them to trust you as a business to transact with you. This calls for consistency and integrity over time, because these are the tactics that directly impact trust-building and eventually growth-building. Growth hacking needs to use pull tactics without aggression and with finesse, because that’s how TOFU growth hacking works fastest and best.
Using “nurturing” growth hacking tactics at the middle of the funnel (MOFU Stage)
Nurturing and conversion of prospects and visitors into close-to-buying customers is what growth hacking at the MOFU (Middle of the Funnel Stage) should involve. There is a step-by-step way to move prospects gradually towards greater and greater readiness to buy. Really speaking, the best a marketer can do is stay top of mind with potential customers, hoping that when they are ready to buy, your name pops into their mind as the highest recall brand. But staying top of mind has to be innovatively and subtly. Here are a few pointers to maximizing email marketing growth hacks at the MOFU stage:
Create lead magnets that are truly attractive as free downloads
It is a wrong idea that if you offer thick heavy reading material that looks like it’s worth a lot – and if you offer it free – more people will want to download it. In fact, the kind of “lead magnets” that get the most opt-ins are ebooks of 12 pages or so, free email courses and a new class of lead magnets called “evergreen lead magnets”. What are these? When a fitness coach gives you a small calorie-counter booklet as a download and also offers to send you a motivational alert every day to help you keep up your exercising, that is an evergreen lead magnet. You feel it’s worth a lot because you will get these endless alerts that are short to read and yet a clever reminder to exercise (and a clever reminder of the coach).
Lead visitors to landing pages of lead magnets to aid their opt in
The idea of any blog post or article you write should be to subtly offer a link to a landing page from where the lead magnet can be opted for. So the concept behind writing blog posts is twofold: bring in traffic and offer a Call-To-Action (CTA) on the age to lead to the opt-in of the free lead magnet. Although a lot of marketers still use popups, many consumers are blocking popups, so it pays to have a CTA in-page, perhaps within the first 3 paragraphs of the blog post, so the CTA is always seen whether or not the whole blog post is read.
Get casual visitors to opt in to correct segments of subscriber lists
When you get people to opt-in as subscribers, it’s very important to see that they opt into the correct segments of your mailing list so that you can then send people of each segment the kind of emails that most move them. The big mistake is to put all subscribers into one big common mailing list and send emails to the whole lot that do not intimately resonate with their psyches. Segmentation is best done during opt-in because you can allow your user to choose which interest-segment he’d best belong to, and he can then anticipate getting emails that make best sense to him. This hack is far better than a marketer later segmenting his list. Let the user choose the segment of your list he wants to fall under.
Build welcome emails that get triggered immediately after opt-in
Among the first things a new subscriber should receive is a welcome email. It must contain the download link for the lead magnet even if you have already served the subscriber after opt-in with a thank you page with the lead magnet download link. Welcome emails offer an opportunity to give the subscriber more than just the requested free download … it gives you an opportunity to create a firm impression in his mind by offering a follow email sequence (maybe a multi-part email course) or any other automated email sequence of value. One of the growth hacks in online marketing is to always offer more than anticipated. This is what deepens good impressions in the receiver’s mind.
Follow up with an automated email sequence on a high-interest topic
The reason automated email sequences work beautifully, just after a subscriber opts to be on your mailing list, is because your continuous visibility over a set of 7-10 days embeds your name and familiarity in the subscriber’s mind. Not just after initial opt-in, but similar automated email sequences of 7-10 successive days could be used, whenever your lead becomes a “buyer” and buys your product, or after someone signs up as your affiliate, and so on. It is a time-tested growth hack that you should imprint your brand on consumer minds just after the consumer has taken some action of value on your site. That is when brand familiarity gets the best boost.
Go on nurturing subscribers with weekly emails to stay top-of-mind
Automated email sequences should ideally be used for a 7-10 day period but no longer. During this time even if the emails themselves are not read, it’s okay. Your name has appeared in the receiver’s inbox every day, and that’s what counts. A growth hacker knows that visibility counts for more than actual reading. After the initial spurt of an automated email sequence it’s a growth tactic to cool off and sent just one email per week (maybe with excerpts of your recent blog posts). This is just enough to stay top of mind and to encourage repeat visit to your site to read something of interest once in a while.
Using “retention” growth hacking tactics at the bottom of the funnel (BOFU Stage)
At the BOFU (Bottom of the Funnel) stage, growth hacking calls for focus on increasing customer retention and loyalty. In general, customers don’t build their loyalty themselves. Marketers have to help them grow their loyalty through several forms of customer relationship management. Here are some growth hacks to use at the BOFU stage …
Progress the customer first from free downloads to small tripwire sales
After you have given a site visitor a free download as a lead magnet, you can aim to sell them small opening products (low-priced ebooks?) that reset their mental image of you and themselves and your relationship! These small-priced items are not to be sneezed at – they are often referred to as “tripwire sales”. Just like a tripwire helps put people into a state of mind ready for the “bigger thing”, a series of small sales, slowly growing in price-points, will help bridge trust deficit incredibly fast. The casual visitor acquires the status of a “buyer” and to both you and him, that status makes all the difference to how he perceives himself in relation to your business.
Have laddered products over increasing price points to sell one after another
One of the really good growth hacks I have learnt is to always have a range of products to sell at prices that go from small-to-big. With each sale, offer an incentive to return for repeat purchase at a higher price point than before. With each increment of pricing more trust will be required by the consumer to make the purchase. Consumers don’t make the effort to increase trust, whereas marketers have to induce them little by little to increase trust. If you don’t have a range of price-differentiated products, like the rungs of a ladder, you can’t sell big ticket items that get you the greatest growth.
Expose customers to cross-sells and upsells along with a sale and not after
Some marketers miss the bus on cross-sells and upsells. They wait for customers to complete their purchases and then send later emails to request repeat purchases. While it’s not wrong to hope for upsells and cross-sells after a purchase, there’s no growth hack that works as well as “striking while the iron is hot”. It is consumer psychology that in the adrenaline rush of buying, most people are ready to buy a little more and then a little more again. That’s why the best place to cross-sell and upsell is at the shopping cart stage. get them to load in a little more by offering some bulk discounts.
Set up a next purchase coupon in every sale to induce return trips to buy
Another great growth hack: with each purchase receipt email the customer a discount coupon redeemable with the next purchase. It is human psychology not to let a discount coupon die a natural death by timing out. If you have put a deadline on the coupon (say, redeemable within 30 days) you have injected an urgency to return for another purchase. You can even offer coupons that the buyer or a friend could use (which increases the changes of the customer sending referrals to your site). Remember, this next-purchase discount must be big enough to be worth a repeat visit.
Send thanks emails to customers and make them feel like VIP buyers
After purchases, make sure to send separate thanks emails to customer. The standard receipt will not do. It makes a whole lot of difference to a consumer to know that business that has sold him something cares whether he likes the product or not, or has any doubts or queries. Further, after every purchase, small or big, every customer is known to have “buyer remorse”. This is human psychology. The thanks email helps soothe any lingering buyer remorse and improve the buying experience. After-sales service is an unbeatable growth hack.
When a customer has bought at least two or three purchases, request referrals
When does a customer truly demonstrate loyalty? It’s when he feels confident enough to refer others to buy from you i.e. when he enters the stage of advocacy. One other psychological factor here is that when a customer advocates your brand to another person, he subtly shifts from being a “buyer: and almost becomes a “co-owner” of your brand, marketing on your behalf. Your brand obviously makes him look good. This is where retention of customers turns the corner to becoming strong loyalty.
5 key growth hacking points to prioritize at all stages of the Purchase Funnel
Place your maximum energy into places where you have weak conversion
As you consider where to place your growth hacking energy, your sales funnel can sometimes make this decision for you. If you find you are converting 40% of all visitors to leads, and 50% of all leads to buyers, but you are only getting 200 new unique visitors a day as traffic, then you should obviously spend your time getting more traffic i.e. at the TOFU stage. Depending on your own strengths as a solopreneur, you may find you are good at certain types of conversions over others, and may need to make that effort to strenthen your weak areas.
You need some traffic before you can even measure funnel performances
One problem, though, in using your funnels to show you where you need to make the most energy to grow, is that unless you have sufficient traffic, the funnels doesn’t really show the right picture. Sean Ellis, who popularized the idea of growth hacking, has often said that if you don’t have a strong “product-market fit” you won’t see burgeoning traffic … and without sufficient traffic, you can’t really optimize the funnel. So beware of making the wrong growth hacking decisions based on weak traffic.
Keep improving relative to yourself – benchmarks for funnels are hard to find
One of the great difficulties of utilizing this funnel for your company is knowing what good conversion rates actually are at the TOFU, MOFU and BOFU stagesFor example, in a given month, you might get 100k visitors, but only 1k members (1% conversion), and only 700 retained users (70% conversion). Now, are these numbers good? Growth hacking demands that your numbers should always be improving, but how do you know if your numbers are good or not? Despite all the unknowns, you should at least aim to be improving month over month relative to your own historical performance.
Keep looking for competitive businesses who have published conversion rates
Some companies publish their conversion ratios for certain aspects of this funnel. If you compile enough of the available research, you can begin to benchmark your performance against market metrics. Some smart growth hackers find other growth hackers that has a similar product, so that both businesses can agree to open up their numbers for each other. If you can swing this kind of mutual understanding even with competitors, it is one of the best benchmarking tactics for understanding the success or failure of your funnel conversions rates. This is called “co-petition” when you can do mutual growth-supporting deals with competition.
View the funnel as a whole since conversion rates at one stage can affect another
Ratios throughout the funnel are not silo-ed. What happens at one stage of the funnel may affect another stage. For example, you might do something that drives up visitors by 1,000%, but by doing so it drives down retention by .05%. Part of this could be because of your own preoccupation with one stage affecting your efforts on another stage. Your goal should be to create strong conversion rates and plug your weaknesses – but not by so much concentration on weak areas that you yourself erode your strengths in other areas. Make all the stages of the funnel work together to create the largest overall impact. Don’t miss the forest for the trees.
So what are your thoughts on this topic? Do share!
This post is incomplete without your input. The community of content-marketer solopreneurs would feel galvanized to hear from you … so do share your thoughts on this topic with us, in the comments field below this post.
Other articles in our series “Content Growth Hacking”:
- What Is Product-Market Fit And How Does It Help Your Growth Hacking?
- My Collection Of 10 Most Awesome Infographics On Growth Hacking!