A new trend is changing marketing as we know it.
Growth hacking throws out the old-school marketing mindset and focuses on a measurable feedback loop based on testing assumptions and iterating based on feedback.
Instead of blindly pursuing something, growth hackers remove risk by backing every move with data. It’s a mindset that values efficiency above all else. No wasted time. No wasted money. No wasted energy.
Every movement has a point. And every movement is measured. Instead of acting out of intuition, the growth hacker acts only according to relevant information.
If it’s possible to track, they’re tracking it. Because growth hacking at it’s core is all about learning. And good data leads to more insights.
With every move the growth hacker gets smarter. Each step teaches them a little more about their audience. A little more about their offering.
Their learning is based on a simple feedback loop: test, learn and iterate. And they use this to validate their ideas.
What’s Content Hacking?
Content Hacking is where growth hacking and content meets. It’s taking the growth hacker mindset and applying it to a content strategy.
Using your content to test new ideas. New topics. New channels. Using the feedback of each piece of content to inform your future decisions.
By learning to think like a growth hacker you can:
- Waste less time and money
- Grow faster and smarter
- Understand your market/offering better
The 8 Characteristics of a Content Hacker
The content hacker doesn’t move based on instinct or intuition. They move based on the relevant information they receive. They use analytics to make informed decisions backed by hard data. Like a good statistician they leave their emotion at the door and don’t let it affect their decision making.
The content hacker is always testing and trying new things. They are constantly forming new hypotheses and testing new assumptions. Each day is a new opportunity to learn. They think outside the box and often try things that other people would not.
The content hacker is always looking to jump on new trends, channels and ideas. They know platforms that haven’t reached critical mass is where the highest return is. They keep their ear to the ground and when they find a trend to exploit, they jump on it. And when a content hacker finds something that works they don’t hesitate to double down.
The Content Hacker avoids wasting their time, energy and money at all costs. Every movement has a purpose. Every idea has a motive. Every piece of their puzzle has a role. They know time is their most valuable resource, so they are ruthless with their efforts. If something isn’t moving them closer to their goals they cut it without thinking twice.
Content Hackers are laser-focused on their goals. Their success or lack thereof depends on a couple key metrics. This keeps them grounded and working on the things that move the needle. For content hackers this is usually related to growth. And they don’t care how they get there, as long as they do. Being pretty doesn’t matter.
Content Hackers don’t fear failing. In fact, they welcome it. They use it as a learning experience. They know that failure is a step in the right direction. That failing helps them move on and dismiss ideas that would otherwise waste their time.
Content Hackers are endlessly curious. Everything they do is to learn. And their audience is their teacher. With every move the content creator gets smarter. With every piece of content they learn a little bit more about their audience. With every step they get a little bit better at serving their wants and needs.
Growth hackers maximize every bit of effort put forth. Because of this, they value collaboration above all else. They are constantly seeding case studies, white papers and market reports for insights. And when they need help, they have no problem asking for it.
7 Content Hacks In Action
1. Use Social Media to Validate Ideas
Andrew Chen, a major player in the growth hacker movement, uses twitter as a validation tool. Since writing blog posts can be time-intensive, he uses his tweets to test out new ideas.
The process goes something like:
- Tweet an idea, insight or quote
- Review the posts engagement (RTs and Favorites)
- If it catches on with his community on Twitter, then he writes a post on it.
The now legendary tweet above, led to one of the most influential blog posts ever.
This technique is simple, easy to implement and extremely effective. By doing the above, you can ensure you never waste time creating content people don’t want.
2. A/B Test Headlines
Upworthy has mastered the art of viral content.
And big part of their success comes from their attention-grabbing titles. In their Slideshare: The Sweet Science of Virality, they emphasize the importance of headlines in their content’s success.
One technique Upworthy uses is to create a minimum of 25 headlines for each post. Then they narrow it down to two headlines and run an A/B test.
To prove how critical the right headlines can be, Upworthy gave the results of one of their A/B tests. Here’s the two titles:
1. Remember “Planet Of The Apes?” It’s Closer to Reality Than You Think
2. Monkeys Were Paid Unequally: See What Happens Next
The first title received 10,000 page views, but the second received over a 1,000,000. That’s 100x more views just because the title was altered.
If this doesn’t prove you should invest more time and thought into your titles, I don’t know what will. Great stuff by the people at Upworthy.
The slide deck as a whole is full with incredible information. Go check it out.
3. Write Longer Posts
He found that lengthier content not only ranked better on search engines, but did better in the social sphere and received more inbound links. The below graph shows you the direct correlation between word count and rank in search engines.
And here’s a graph of the links those posts received.
Neil also took over 300 of his own posts and broke them down by shares on social media. He found that posts under 1,500 words received an average of 174.6 tweets and 59.3 Facebook likes. And posts that were over 1,500 words, on average received 293.5 tweets and 72.7 Facebook likes.
While thousands of bloggers will happily tout the benefits of short-form content, the data doesn’t seem to back them up.
And when you think about it, it makes sense.
With an incredible amount of competition for people’s attention, you have to be better to stand out. And the best way to do this is to cut down your quantity and increase your quality.
To double down and create content that can’t be ignored.
4. Be Easy to Engage With
An essential aspect of growth hacking is conversion optimization.
Remember content hackers are efficient. They don’t waste their time sending people to a blog that doesn’t convert its traffic. So they optimize their funnel to glean the maximum amount of value out of each visitor.
There’s two main rules to conversion optimization.
1. If you want someone to do something, you need to make it easy to. Basically, if you want someone to perform a certain action, it should be frictionless.
2. If you want your audience to do something, you need to ask them to. People aren’t mind readers, they don’t know what you want. You have to tell them what you want with a strong call-to-action at the right time.
Sticky blogs will always have some sort of next step to perform. Because if you don’t tell your audience to do anything, the logical next step is to leave.
Here’s 5 tools that will help make your blog sticky:
This tool makes sharing your content on Twitter as easy as it gets. It lets you pre-make tweets for your audience to share. With Clicktotweet your visitors are just two-clicks away from sharing. Because it’s so frictionless, it’s one of the best ways to get people to share.
Markerly has a nifty plugin that makes sharing a seamless experience. It lets people share images and quotes just by selecting them with their mouse. Just like Clicktotweet it’s one of the best ways to make sharing your content a lot easier.
Addthis is a widget network that gives you a ton of different ways to optimize your blog. Specifically, you can add sharing bars, recommended posts and social media symbols. There’s a ton of different ways to customize these options, so you’ll have to check it out on your own if your interested. But for an example, look to your left to see AddThis installed on this blog.
Hellobar is a simple notification bar that hangs out at the top of your site indefinitely with a call-to-action. It’s a simple and easy way to get your audience’s attention and can be very effective. You can use Hellobar to collect emails or send people to a link. It’s free to use and very easy to implement.
PopupDomination is exactly what the name implies. This tool lets you design pop ups to collect emails that display on page load or when someone’s mouse leaves the browser. If you don’t mind serving your audience full-screen pop ups, Popup Domination is one of the most effective ways to build your email list.
5. Guest Blog
Guest blogging lets you reach a new audience in your niche that you wouldn’t normally have access to. It helps exhibit your authority, builds inbound links, drives traffic to your blog and connects you with influencers in your niche.
Leo gives two places that he leveraged to build his guest blogging network.
MyBlogGuest is a platform that connects bloggers looking for content and guest writers looking to contribute. It has a ton of ways to filter through topics so you can really hone in on a specific niche.
Blogger LinkUp is a simple service that sends you bloggers looking for guest posts. It’s super easy and all you have to do is reply to the listing to set up a guest post.
If you want to maximize your promotional efforts, look no further than guest blogging.
6. Track Your Progress
Content hackers always have data to back them up and inform their next move. Because without data, you are operating on whims. And content hackers don’t do that.
Moving forward without data is like driving blind.
Remember content hackers main goal centers around learning. And with a wealth of amazing tools online, you can glean some incredible insights.
Here’s 4 powerful analytic tools to check out:
Google Analytics is the most popular analytics tool on the planet. It lets you track pretty much everything you need to know about your site. It’s simple to use and set up. And since it’s free, you have no excuse not to use it.
Think of Kissmetrics as the premium version of Google analytics. It’s a great option for those people who are looking for a little more control over their data. Kissmetrics ties every last piece of data to real people. As Kissmetrics likes to say, “Google Analytics can tell you what’s happening, KISSmetrics tells you who’s doing it.”
3. Crazy Egg
Crazy Egg is an advanced heat map tool that lets you visualize your audience’s behavior on your site. You can see where people click and how far down people scroll. With a ton of filtering options, this tool is full of actionable information. And with a 90-day free trial you have no reason not to try it.
Qualaroo is a survey tool that helps you gather insights and get feedback from your audience. It couldn’t be easier to set up and looks great installed on a website. If the above tools tell you what’s happening and who’s doing it, Qualaroo tells you why they’re doing it. All in all, it’s one of the best ways to get to know your website and your audience.
7. Define a Goal
Content Hackers are focused. Usually they will have one clear goal of what they want to achieve. And their entire presence serves this goal.
Whether it’s to collect emails, push ebook downloads or send people to a landing page; everything works around it.
Using most analytics tools will let you set this goal up so you can track it. Then you can test, learn and iterate to maximize your conversions. Content hackers should set up a daily or weekly time to review their strategies and the progression of this goal.
This will help determine what strategies are worth investing more time in and what strategies should be cut. In general, if something is not helping further your goal you should think long and hard about eliminating it.
Because focus is a huge part of a content strategy. There’s a million ways to push a blog forward, but not everything is worth the effort. If you aren’t tracking a goal, it can be easy to get off track.
A well-defined goal acts as a content hackers north star, guiding them down the right path and away from perilous roads.
Content hacking is a new way to look at your content strategy.
By using the new-age marketing mindset of growth hacking for inspiration, content hackers use a feedback loop based on consistent testing, learning through feedback and iterating based on data to move closer to their goals.
Content hackers are the new generation of content strategists.
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