Who has the time?
I mean, who has the time to create a deliberate, detailed, and complicated growth strategy, and then execute it to the “T”?
And please don’t give me that look…
I know that “having a growth strategy” is something we all know to be crucially important. Succeeding in the crowded online space without one is going to be difficult in 2016.
But at the same time … life gets in the way.
We’d all like to devote X number of hours every week just to perfect our growth plans and execute them as flawlessly as possible. But the reality often stops us from doing so.
There’s client work. There’s sales. There’s bills. There’s a hundred of other things that scream for our attention, effectively forcing us to postpone our growth and business development efforts.
Over time, this compounds.
Over time, we find ourselves in a situation where our failing efforts cause our client well to dry out.
So my reasoning is this: If you have limited time, you’re way better off putting some growth hacks in place, rather than deceiving yourself that you’re going to build a serious growth plan next week.
Today, we’re talking five growth hacks that will jump start your business and help you out in 2016.
1. Don’t pay as much attention to design
Design is this one thing that every business owner loves to work on. And that’s regardless if the business owner in question has any design skills or not.
As it turns out, though, spending time on perfecting your site design isn’t a good investment.
Just look at the current trends. Both flat design and material design are growing in strength by the hour, and more and more brands are flocking towards minimal designs and simplified site structures.
These days, what matters is content.
And when it comes to design, all you really need is just your site logo on top of a quality minimalist WordPress theme. I’m even willing to say that going with the default WordPress theme is a good-enough choice.
In short: Forget design. Think content.
Which brings me to…
2. Don’t invest in SEO, invest in content
SEO has always been a dangerous game.
Actually, dangerous isn’t the word.
It’s more like uncertain… Uncertain game.
I mean, SEO works for as long as you’re playing by Google’s rules.
All fine and dandy until Google changes those rules overnight … which is what they continue to do repeatedly for years now.
When that happens next time (notice the “when,” not “if”), you can find yourself in a situation where you’ve wasted everything you’d invested in SEO up until that point. With new rules, you can no longer use those previous assets. And what’s more, you need to actually invest more just to get back on track and back on Google’s good side.
A better solution? Invest in good content.
Hire good writers to create good content. This is a long-term investment, and a more certain one.
If your content is good, it’s going to remain good for months and years to come. Unlike SEO, the rules of good content stay the same.
3. Create a list of your most time-consuming business tasks, and simplify them
No matter what kind of business you’re in, there’s always something that can be simplified, always something that can be done more effectively by either introducing some form of automation, or using a clever tool to handle the task in its entirety.
I have two examples here:
If you’re a service-based business, like an agency, or a freelancer, developer, designer, photographer, or even someone operating in the offline and just using the web to get new clients, then you can streamline your client proposal game with Bidsketch.
For instance, if you send even a couple of new client proposals each week, Bidsketch is going to make creating and handling them quicker, not to mention that the final result will probably be more professional as well. There are some nice templates available, and they’ve all been tested by other business owners just like you.
So just to summarize, with Bidsketch, you can forget about writing each proposal in Word and then sending it out by hand. The tool automates all of that. Result? You’re saving time. You’re simplifying one of your most time-consuming tasks.
Another example goes even further into automation.
Check out Zapier. To say it simply, Zapier connects various apps/tools you use, and allows you to automate the interactions between them.
The possibilities are endless, but just to focus on growth hacking, Zapier is great at integrating different marketing and social platforms with each other. To name a few, you can:
- have tweets sent automatically once you publish new content on your site,
- take a tweet and post it to other social media platforms (like Facebook, or LinkedIn),
- export new email subscribers to a Google spreadsheet for further processing,
- add new CRM contacts to your email marketing list, and many more.
Currently, Zapier works with more than 500 different apps, so you’ll surely find something interesting for yourself.
4. Don’t pick your marketing tools based solely on their promotional material
I bet you can relate … picking any app or tool these days is really tough. I mean, there’s just so much stuff available for everything.
And to make matters worse, every single one of them will claim to be the best, the most optimized, the most feature-rich.
Who to believe?
I don’t know. But consider this:
No matter what kind of problem you need to have solved by a given tool, instead of relying on the tool’s own promotional material, try to look for independent and genuine comparisons. “Genuine” is the keyword here.
Many reviews or comparisons tend to be shallow – which means that they were written solely to serve as a source of affiliate clicks for the person hosting the review. But every now and then you will stumble upon something that’s actually insightful.
Let me give you two examples for two very common issues:
- Email marketing software. There are more email marketing tools out there than you can shake a stick at. But depending on the kind of business you have and its size, some of them will be much more suitable for you than others. To make the choice easier, go to this site and play around with the configurator. Just move the sliders to pick the features that are important to you, and the site will suggest the best email tool based on that.
- There’s a similar story with e-commerce software – crucial for any business planning to launch an online store. You can find a similar comparison if you go here – the page looks into 10 of the most popular solutions on the market, and points out the most optimized tool based on your needs.
5. Produce more social media content
Okay, I know that the main thought in this whole post is how to make your work easier and more streamlined by automating things. So “produce more social media content” might sound odd at first.
But there’s actually sense to this craze.
First of all, social media is here to stay as one of the most important marketing channels of our time.
Secondly, with the tools we get to use these days, putting out more social media content doesn’t necessarily have to mean spending more time doing so.
First of all, you have Zapier, which I mentioned above. You can use it to automate many of your marketing and social media efforts.
Then, there’s Buffer, which you can use to schedule certain social media updates to be sent out at precisely the right moment (Buffer will even let you know when is the best moment to post something to your social media profiles). For example, you can spend 15 minutes on Friday to schedule a whole week’s worth of social media posts.
Lastly, you can use tools like Pablo (also by Buffer) or Visme to create great-looking images to go alongside your social media posts. Data shows that tweets with images get 150% more retweets than those without. So even though creating custom images might take a couple of additional minutes, it’s likely to pay off over the long haul.
Any other ideas on how you could growth-hack your business into 2016? Feel free to share in the comments.