INBOX INSIGHTS, January 25, 2023: Growth Hacking Secrets, Competitive Analysis

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Growth Hacking Secrets

I’m going to let you in on a poorly kept secret. “Hacking” isn’t a thing in business, or in marketing. When you start to unpack the definition of “growth hacking” what you’re talking about is process development, optimization, and agility.

That’s it. That’s the secret.

When you think about hacking, you think about shortcuts, you think about forcing an output, you think about acting without thinking. If you call someone a hack, you don’t think they are great at what they do. The problem with hacking something is that you’re setting yourself up for the long term. Chris gave me this example earlier:

It’s a recipe for disappointment in general because it’s often measured in growth percentages. you look great when you go from 10 to 100 users, but going from 100 to 200 is numerically just the same but the short-sighted CEO is like “we were at 10x growth last month and this month we’re at 2x growth? you’re fired!

A little on the extreme side, but you get the idea.

If you’re a growth hacker, this is not an attack on you. Your title doesn’t do you justice. This also doesn’t apply to a hackathon, which is a collaborative event for software developers.

So, for the rest of this post, let’s drop the word “hack”. It has too many negative connotations and can lead people down the wrong path.

If you’re wanting to grow your business quickly, there are foundational pieces you need to execute before you take off running.

Process development

I know. You hate documentation. You just do things, you don’t think about how you do them. I get it. Well, I have news for you. You need documented process if you want to grow and scale. There is good news. You don’t have to write out your steps one at a time (unless you want to). There are other, more efficient options. For instance, you can create a video recording. Record the process and then have it transcribed. We use Otter.ai for all our transcriptions. If you want to take it a step further, you can use a tool like ChatGPT to clean up the transcription and rewrite it into bullet points. There are also a lot of tools that will “create” documentation for you as you complete a task. We’ve been using Tango, but there are other tools for you to explore. You want to have a process in place for the onboarding of your employees, and onboarding of your customers. Having repeatable processes will expedite your ability to scale. Don’t skip this step.

Optimization

Unless you are starting your business from scratch, you likely already have some processes in place. Before chucking those out and starting over again, take another look. Is there room for improvement? Do you know what’s not working with your current processes? When was the last time you reviewed and tested your processes? Do you even have repeatable processes in place? Once you’re done asking yourself a million questions, start picking apart your current operating procedures. You may find opportunities to introduce automation and artificial intelligence. Note, before you can automate, you need to have a solid, repeatable process. If you don’t, go back to process development, and then keep optimizing.

Agility

This might be the hardest thing to achieve but will “hack” your growth the fastest. I know, I said hack. Here’s the thing about being agile. When executed well, it looks easy. To get to a place of being truly agile, there is a lot of preparation, process, and planning that needs to happen. You also need a ton of disciple to maintain those processes that allow you to be agile. With time and patience, you can achieve agility in your business.

So there you have it, the secrets of growth hacking. In case it wasn’t clear, there are no shortcuts, aka hacks, to growing your business. Hacking leads to unsustainable and unmaintainable growth. Sure, it could be great for a hot second, but what happens when it stops? What do you have to fall back on?

Do you have thoughts about hacking? Reply to this email or come tell me about it in our Free Slack Group, Analytics for Marketers.

– Katie Robbert, CEO

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Data Diaries: Interesting Data We Found

In this week’s Data Diaries, let’s talk through some competitive analysis. One of the more interesting things to do with public data like Twitter and Instagram data is to examine who follows you, who follows your competitors, and who you share in audiences. Let’s take a look at the process and then what we could learn.

First, we need to obtain lists of Twitter followers. Depending on your social media monitoring software, this may be something built right into software you’re already paying for. We used Twitter’s API to download our followers and two of our peer competitors.

Let’s take a look at us and peer competitor 1:

Peer Competitor 1

Not much overlap at all, despite our accounts having similar followings. How about peer competitor 2:

Peer Competitor 2

What we see is pretty clear – we’ve got very, very different audiences. Are we missing out on something, perhaps? Is there an audience that just passed us by?

Peer Competitors vs each other

When we look at the peer competitors against each other, the answer is a resounding no. No one has much audience overlap – we currently serve very different audiences. That begs the question: who are these folks? Using some basic natural language processing, let’s take a look at the words and phrases that make up our audience’s bios:

Trust Insights audience bios

That’s a good starting point. What about competitor 1?

Peer competitor 1 audience bios

Competitor 1’s bios indicate a much more regional focus. They share some similar terms like social media and digital marketing, but much more localized. What about competitor 2?

Peer competitor 2 audience bios

For competitor 2, we see that they have more of a senior audience than we do, more titles that are higher up in organizational hierarchies. If there were a competitor whose audience we might want to woo, this would be a good candidate.

So what? What’s the takeaway from this exploration? When it comes to understanding competitors, knowing how much audience you share can be a useful starting point. If you’ve got substantially the same audience as your peer competitors, then you know you’re having to compete with mindshare in that audience space. You’d better be able to differentiate not just your products and services, but also your marketing.

If you’ve got little to no overlap? That means your audience isn’t necessarily at risk from the competitors you’ve chosen – but other competitors might pose a challenge, so investigate further. And if you’ve identified a competitor who has an audience you might want to woo, this is a great way to identify them. We’re going to dig deeper into some of the folks who have descriptions that align well with us and start engaging with them.

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