Over three years, Jason Barbato introduced, developed, and scaled a growth hacking program that generated more than $40 million of annual recurring revenue. This program became strategic and standard for more than 60 product teams. It’s been recognized by the growth industry experts as best in class and enterprise level.
Today, we’re going to focus on how to use growth hacking to monetize a business.
Growth hacking encompasses strategies focused on driving growth while spending as little time and money as possible. Sean Ellis, founder, and CEO of GrowthHackers, developed the term “growth hacking” in 2010 to describe a sustainable growth approach (Source: GrowthHackers). It is a creative strategy to increase website traffic, generate leads, and optimize the marketing process.
While Jason was working as an SEO consultant for EarthLink, he attracted IBM’s attention with his digital marketing program. IBM called about a growth hacking role, which was the first time Jason had heard that term. Since Jason was so data-driven and focused on running tests, by their definition, he was a growth hacker, and they invited him to jump into a small team.
On the team, he focused on how he could influence the buyer’s journey and create loyal customers. He’d analyze the data, run tests, and review what worked and what didn’t.
Jason’s groundbreaking moment with IBM was developing a growth hacking strategy that became extremely profitable. He started working with an IBM SaaS product, and after producing some tests, they discovered only 1% of visitors were subscribing/purchasing digitally. So, Jason and his team asked themselves, “What can we do to get the customers to buy/subscribe on their own?”
He noticed that in the customer’s digital journey, the pricing page only had buttons to access a free trial or subscribe for free. He thought, “When people are here to look at pricing, they might want to buy right now. We should remove some of these ‘try’ buttons and replace them with ‘buy’ buttons.” After moving around some of the calls to action, they increased engagement by 8% and generated $6 million from the simple experiment.
The product team loved the growth hack and started applying it everywhere. They ended up creating two versions of the product and made it available in 140 countries. His hack became a global standard.
Now, he’s been a marketing growth consultant for more than seven years and a growth mentor and coach for two years. He currently serves as the vice president of growth at Orange Pegs, a US-based growth, and inbound marketing agency.
“It’s very foundational,” Jason said. “We looked at a data point, hypothesized about certain things, . . . and started to test against that. And again, it wasn’t multivariate. It had sort of a cascade effect, where if you do one thing on one page, it prompts something new on another page. Now, this is just moving elements around the page. . . . I like its simplicity.”
Growth hacking has become a very significant tectonic shift in the market, but what it comes to is measuring data and testing. We need to have a data-driven mindset.
“Use the data to take action and run tests, and let those tests guide the moves that you make to improve and delight your customer base, and also grow and grow your business,” Jason said.
Jason explained that to effectively use growth hacking to monetize a business, it all comes down to curiosity. Curiosity leads to experimentation, which leads to monetization.
Jason’s top monetization secret is to be curious. In order to monetize from growth hacking, it all comes down to the foundational element of curiosity.
“You have to have that curiosity,” he said. “Having curiosity, caring about your business, caring about the growth of your business, or your product, with a level of curiosity can be a moneymaker for you. Because if you are complacent, and things are sitting static, and you’re just happy with the status quo . . . you may be missing out on millions because you’re not creating and hypothesizing. You’re not measuring.”
If we are complacent, we could be missing out on a lot of opportunities for exponential growth. Change is constant, so we need to constantly adapt. If we aren’t curious and looking for new ways of growth, we may miss out on increased profit.
Studies have shown that curiosity leads to greater learning, engagement, and performance at work (Source: Human Resource Development Quarterly). As we are curious, we will naturally find better ways to run our businesses.
“You have to put yourself in the mindset to say, ‘What if? What if this happened? What if I tried that?’” Jason said. “It could change everything. Your business could completely shift and pivot away from something you thought was good to something that’s really great.”
Curiosity leads to testing which leads to monetization. We have to ponder everything and once we do that, the tests will happen naturally.
Once we are curious, we will be naturally motivated to look at data to perform tests and experiments. Growth hacking is all about taking the data we have collected, measuring it, and then running experiments to try and increase growth and profit.
We have to have a data-driven mindset. The majority of the time, we have access to the data and information that will guide us to success. We simply need to act on it. Growth hacking is taking the information, pulling insights out, and then experimenting on it. If our experiment fails, we know what not to do. If our experiment succeeds in creating growth, we know what changes we need to make.
Estimates have shown that businesses collected more customer information in 2010 than all prior years combined (Source: Harvard Business Review). Everything is focused on customer data and it is within our reach. On average, businesses receive data and metrics from 28 different sources (Deloitte Digital). We live in a data-driven world. The amount of data created by consumers doubles every two years (MIT Technology Review) and 92.3% of businesses maintain databases to host information on customers and prospects (GDMA). We need to make sure we use all the new data to our advantage.
Success will depend on how we use customer data and information to find new ways to grow our business.
Once we’ve run tests on our data, we need to look at the results and determine what new insights we have to work with. Most experiments will tell us what not to do, or what to do more of. Jason increased the profit of the IBM SaaS product simply because he applied the insights he learned from his experiments. All he did was change a couple of CTAs on the company’s website.
We need to follow a similar process. As we use growth hacking effectively, we can monetize our businesses. It starts with curiosity, leads to experiments, and results in monetization.
Thank you so much Jason for sharing your stories and knowledge with us today. Here are some of my key takeaways from this episode:
1. Growth hacking is any strategy focused on driving growth while spending as little time and money as possible.
2. Growth hacking is a significant tectonic shift, but what it comes down to is testing and analyzing data. We need to have a data-driven mindset.
3. Curiosity leads to experimentation, which leads to monetization.
4. Curiosity leads to greater learning, engagement, and performance at work.
5. We live in a data-driven world. The amount of data created by consumers doubles every two years (MIT Technology Review). We need to make sure we use all the new data to our advantage.
6. Success may depend on how well we use customer data and information in ethical ways to find new ways to grow our business.
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