This is the third in a series of articles on growth hacking, which I’m going deep into with a minidegree in Growth Marketing from the CXL Institute. Read more: What is growth hacking? | How to run a successful growth marketing experiment in six steps
Growth marketing requires a nuanced understanding of which channels are ideally suited for each campaign. Just picking the channels you used last time — or the ones that your competitors use — won’t cut it. You’re basically setting yourself up for failure if you don’t adequately align your channel strategy with the overall objective of the campaign.
To put yourself in a position to succeed, follow these four steps when identifying the best channels when planning your next growth marketing campaign.
Step 1: Specify a segment
If you set up your growth marketing campaign correctly, you have a clearly defined objective. Everything you do should be filtered through this objective; most especially, it should frame your approach regarding your target audience.
Let’s say your objective is to increase signups for the freemium version of your SaaS product. Your hypothesis is that your ideal users spend a lot of time on Twitter and you want to test if that’s the case.
This is where user research comes in handy. You need to know who you’re speaking with so that you can build your campaigns around a specific segment — and target the channels that this segment uses the most.
When specifying a segment, you can build it according to a few key criteria. Whether you select only one or build a blend that reflects your current marketing priorities is up to you.
Demographics: Who they are
- Marital status
- Family size
- Job role
Geographic: Where they are
- ZIP Code/Postal Code
Psychographic: Why they buy and what shapes their personality and unique worldview
- Personal beliefs, principles and opinions
- Intrinsic motivations
- Individual personality and temperament
- Personal priorities
- Activities and interests
- Social class
Behavioral: How they buy and how they engage with your brand/the world around them
- How often they browse
- Where they buy
- How much they spend
- How often they purchase
- How often they return to your website/store
- Which aspects of your product/service they value most
- Any other data on individual patterns and behaviors
You don’t just have to pick one of these as you segment your audiences. In fact, it’s often a blend that creates the types of precise segments that lead to the most valuable growth marketing wins. The better you are at segmenting down to your most “perfect” users, the stronger your focus will be when finding the channels those people frequent most.
Step 2: Choose one channel
The broader your campaign, the less valuable the insights can be. It’s much more insightful to segment your audience and pick a single channel to test.
You don’t want to test multiple channels at once because you are really trying to find the top 1 to 2 channels to focus on. There’s only so much time in a day. Its the growth marketer’s job is to find the channels that return the most results with the least amount of investment. That includes time — unless you have a large team, you don’t have enough of that resource to focus on many channels at once!
To identify these channels, take everything you know about your best users and find where those people hang out online (and offline too, if that’s part of your brand marketing plan).
As you research, don’t just observe. Dive in, create an account, Invest some time engaging on those channels where you can find your ideal users. It will be much easier to build credibility and competitive insights when you engage up close rather than observe from a distance.
Remember that the goal is to test whether or not your target segment a sense a lot of time on this channel and be as responsive to your brand!
Step 3: Test it out
Before you commit major resources to a growth marketing campaign on a certain channel, do a few small tests. Don’t invest a ton of time or money. Only invest as much as you need to deepen your understanding and see if your target audience is present and engaged on this channel.
A few questions to explore:
- Is there a specific way that your audience speaks on this channel?
- How does your target segment behave on this channel? What do they use it for?
- How often do they use it? Are there peak times of engagement?
- Are there any pockets of engagement that may be under targeted by other brands (potential low-cost growth hacking opportunities)?
Step 4: Measure results
There are two outcomes to each test: iterate and optimize when a channel shows promise or retest and move on when a channel underdelivers.
If the channel underdelivers on expectations then you need to determine if it’s just with that specific audience. As in: the channel is still a good one for your business but it’s not the right one for your chosen segment. To determine a channel’s overall viability, run another test. Circle back to the first step, select a new segment and run the test again. You may have simply had a channel/audience mismatch.
When a channel shows promise — as in, initial tests were positive — you double down on that channel by iterating your experiments and optimizing how you use that channel.
Successful channel tests also help you catalyze your learnings into muscle memory. As you start to understand how your target audience is you specific channels, you simply get better at using those channels. So this is an additive and always improving process.
And that’s growth marketing: making many small tests and rapidly iterating based on what you learned from each test. Your knowledge builds with time and improvements compound to make growth marketing an exponential engine for your company’s growth.