If you look at the most talked-about growth hacking success stories, one thing that will be immediately clear is that they’re largely based on startups in the B2C space. It’s somewhat rare to hear about an incredible growth story from those on the B2B side of things.
This doesn’t mean those stories don’t exist, however. B2C growth hackers might be able to boast about big numbers (there are more consumers than businesses after all) but there’s plenty of room in the B2B world for growth hacking tactics and strategies as well. Very often, you can look at what the B2C growth hackers are doing and find ways to creatively repurpose their ideas for your own B2B company.
Here are four tips to get you started on growth hacking your B2B startup:
“A ‘freemium’ version of your product will remove a key barrier to adoption.”
Create valuable, shareable content
When it comes to B2B marketing, nothing generates leads quite like a demonstration of your business’ knowledge and expertise. For these purposes, the primary weapons in your arsenal will be collateral like e-books, whitepapers, webinars, Slideshare decks and case studies. If you have any experience with these, you’ll see why they’re so valuable: Rather than being directly sales-y, you’re aiming to educate your audience and provide something of value to their lives.
A post on Twoodo explained that the best way to create these educational marketing assets is to start small, find out what your audience is really dying to know and then build up from there. Write a short article on a topic you think might have some value for people in your space and gauge the reaction. Did it get a lot of interaction, or was it met with silence upon publishing? If your article touched a nerve and generated significant buzz, you know it’s worth expanding into a larger piece of content.
This is the foundation of the growth hacker’s mindset: Don’t invest your time and resources into a big campaign until you’ve validated the core concept. Start small, gather feedback and scale from there.
Try before you buy – the power of free trials
One of the biggest obstacles to effective growth hacking is when a product or service has a high barrier to entry. Essentially, the more time, energy and resources it takes someone to test your product out, the more likely they are to just stick with their status quo. The “try before you buy,” or “freemium,” model represents a great way to lower that barrier and get people to try out what you have to offer.
When designing your free model, make sure you offer the bare minimum number of features – enough so that your users can see the benefits of the product, but not so much that there’s no reason to upgrade to the full version. One of the best success stories here is from Yammer, a startup that created a suite of business collaboration software and applications.
Yammer used the freemium model to obtain its first users. They made it easy for anyone in an enterprise to get started installing it, using it and sharing it with their colleagues. It was simple and secure, and this model completely removed the barriers to adoption within an organization. Including a way to share the product is absolutely critical for growth hacking, and Yammer did it perfectly.
Offer a free tool
Going back to the theme of providing something free yet valuable to your audience, creating a free tool and offering it to anyone who wants it is a powerful way to gain users and visibility for your business.
Look at HubSpot. It created a free “Marketing Grader” tool that anyone can use to test the effectiveness of a website in terms of moving visitors through the sales funnel. This provides massive value for online marketers (HubSpot’s core audience) and whets their appetite for the full suite of the company’s tools.
Bizible, a cross-channel marketing data attribution platform, also offered a free tool that provided value to its potential users and boosted interest in its full product. Bizible realized that many of its customers wanted a simple way to add UTM parameters to Bing Ads, according to a blog post from the company. By creating this tool and offering it for free, Bizible was able to serve a real customer need while demonstrating authority in this field. The Bing tool alone resulted in a total of 1,750 organic search sessions – a boon to any startup.
“A strong focus on UX/UI is critical.”
Focus heavily on UI/UX simplicity
Growth hacking is, in large part, about lowering the barriers to entry. If a product is too hard to use, people will stick with what they know. Knowing this, it’s important to make your product or service so easy to use that even non-technical users can get started. This is critical in an age where business stakeholders themselves are seeking tools they can adopt without needing an army of tech people around them.
Let’s say you have a product or service that marketers could use. These marketers may have some technical knowledge, but not so much that they could roll out a whole new solution without the help of a developer. If that’s the case, you’ll want to make your product easy enough that this audience can implement and use it without having to get the IT department and the developers to sign off on it. Think of Dropbox – it serves a major purpose within an enterprise without requiring any special skills to start using it.
A strong focus on UX/UI is critical, from the time a potential lead hits your website to the time when he or she makes a purchase. When something is easy to use, it’s going to be easy to share, so be sure to invest considerable resources in creating an intuitive experience.
What you can do now
Don’t wait around to implement growth hacking ideas into your B2B startup marketing. Use these takeaways to get started now:
- Develop valuable, thought leadership-enhancing marketing collateral like a whitepaper, e-book or webinar.
- Come up with a few ideas for a free tool that aligns with your full product.
- Build out a wireframe “freemium” version of your product or service.
- Review your entire sales funnel and ensure the UX/UI are in accordance with best practices.