Renowned growth hacker, marketer and serial entrepreneur, Sujan Patel has 12+ years of experience in digital marketing and he’s the Co-Founder of ContentMarketer.io, a tool that helps users automate and scale their content marketing strategies. He co-authored two e-books: “100 Days of Growth”, which has sold over 10.000 copies to date, and “Content Marketing Playbook” and he kindly accepted our invitation to take the stage at How to Web Conference 2015 to share with us some of his most successful and actionable growth hacking tactics.
Before that, however, we took the opportunity to discuss with him for a sneak preview of his talk and we found out some growth hacking tips & tricks that we’re happy to share with you today.
Sujan has helped hundreds of clients increase web traffic, boost user acquisition and grow their businesses, among them being Salesforce, TurboTax, Sony or Mint. He started out with SEO back in 2011 and he’s been helping his clients build traffic ever since. After working in agencies, he founded Single Grain (a digital marketing agency that he sold last year) and learnt a lot of valuable lessons about promotion, link building and content marketing along the way.
In the meantime, he has written hundreds of blog posts and articles for top publishers around the world (like Forbes, Entrepreneur or Inc.com). The idea of putting together “100 Days of Growth”, a marketing playbook for startups, came naturally: he wanted to help so he compiled the best 100 growth hacking tactics that he’s been using over the years to help his clients grow their businesses. This is because growth hacking has been puzzling marketers all around the world for some time now, being an often misunderstood buzzword.
What is growth hacking?
“To me, growth hacking is a tactical approach to growth: it’s what you can do to unlock growth. Growth hacking could be defined in a lot of ways, and not just through marketing, but also through product, sales, customer support, and more. Almost any department in a company can bring its contribution to growth hacking”, Sujan explains.
In his view, growth hacking is a broader form of marketing focused on growth that should pool together the expertise of various departments in your company, from customer support to your sales and marketing teams. And here’s how all the people in your company can bring their contribution to growth.
“I believe that early stage startups can really start to leverage growth hacking by doing and talking. A community of people helping each other out creates a bond, a friendship, a relationship that is very, very strong and unbreakable. A community-backed startup is strong because it has lots of people around working to build their brand and reputation”, Sujan advises.
- Provide helpful content
“We do a lot of content marketing, we do a little bit of community building, we do a lot of paid search, and a lot of our customers came from word-of-mouth”, Sujan explains.
In a nutshell, the marketing strategy used by his team revolves around the solutions they provide to the problems faced by their current or potential customers. And they explain these solutions at length via content marketing.
“At first we identify what common problems they have and we choose some keywords. Further on, we structure out entire content marketing strategy around those keywords and we come up with solutions & tools that are useful for our customers, such as a scheduling template, an HR toolkit or an e-book”, he continues.
- Promote content.
“People fail at content marketing not because they cannot come up with good content, but because they don’t know how to get the content out there. You have to start with content promotion from the very beginning: once you think about a particular topic, always ask yourself how are you going to promote it. If you cannot come up with ideas, than you don’t have a promotable thing”, he explains.
Sujan recommends as the simplest way to promote your content to let 3-5 influencers know when you published content. This can dramatically increase the success of your promotion just by getting the word out faster. Use all the tools at hand when promoting your content and, if you run out of ideas or just want to check what similar content people shared or written, use BuzzSumo.
- Relate to the audience
“Make your audience relate to your story, understand it and resonate with it. If you do so, everything you say is going to be gold for them and it’s what they’re looking for. If you cannot get that feeling in a story, than whatever you say it’s not impactful”, Sujan further recommends.
- Fail. Adjust. Act.
“To be honest, what helped me grow the most is talking to people, helping people, letting people help me. It’s been phenomenal. Challenges helped me grow. I don’t know what’s right or wrong for a customer, but you know that action is always the right thing”, says Sujan.
And by action, Sujan refers to taking charge of a problem, figuring out what is the best way to solve it, even if this means failing at first. The end result must be based on constant adjusting and recalculation.
“I can’t tell you how many times I have failed this year! In fact, my life is so successful today because I have failed so many times. But I am constantly learning every year”, he concludes.
What does the future of digital marketing hold?
“Nobody can know for sure, but I can tell you what I will be doing next year: a lot more personalization, a lot more storytelling, a lot more community building. This is because I discovered that I’d rather reach 1 person or 10 or 1000 instead of 1 million, as long as those persons love what I say. That’s much more powerful. I will focus on quality instead of quantity. In the next period we’re going to have more tools and I want to be the most helpful person in the content marketing industry. I think helpful is the next big thing.”, he concludes.
Sujan Patel will offer a comprehensive look into the exciting world of growth hacking and will share insightful best practices this November at How to Web Conference 2015. Meet him there and see you soon!