Growth hacking is a term in growing use among those interested in rapidly growing user and/or customer bases without using traditional marketing techniques. Search engine optimization, user interfaces and viral marketing techniques are all part of a mix that steps back from personal approaches, though psychology is involved, to spread the word and encourage involvement as quickly and widely as possible. If you're turned off by the touchy/feely world of social media but still want to market your music online, you might find growth hacking a useful alternative perspective.
According to Wikipedia as of this morning:
"Growth hacking is a marketing technique developed by technology startups which uses creativity, analytical thinking, and social metrics to sell products and gain exposure...in many cases Growth Hackers are simply good at using techniques such as search engine optimization, web site analytics, content marketing and A/B testing which are already mainstream. Growth hackers focus on low-cost and innovative alternatives to traditional marketing."
If we break web marketing into growth hacking, social media marketing and traditional marketing in a digital environment, then those were the things everybody outside of corporate settings that knew what was up were blending back in 2005. That's when I started paying close attention and none of that was new by that point.
Growth Hacker Marketing
Growth hacking carves out and names a domain that includes somewhat technical operations such as search engine optimization and more psychological maneuvers such as the story of Hotmail which Ryan Holiday shares in the opening pages of "Growth Hacker Marketing: A Primer on the Future of PR, Marketing, and Advertising."
Hotmail simply added a line at the end of each message that encouraged the recipient to sign up for a free account and exponential growth ensued. This is one of the classic viral marketing tales that revealed the potential for new approaches to marketing on the web though it could also be considered an early example of the text advertisements that Google later used to fund an empire.
I'm currently reading Holiday's new ebook and you can get a sense of where he's coming from in this interview at Forbes.com. There really is a lot of energy shifting towards the concept of growth hacking at the moment and the phrase "growth hacker marketing" is a nice way to bring marketers back in.
I've tended to think of growth hacking as simply a new job category but reading Holiday has helped me realize that growth hacking as a perspective might really be useful to more analytically minded musicians. It might also be useful for those who want to market themselves online but don't feel comfortable with many aspects of social media though a good growth hacker would encourage, at a minimum, social media posting in broadcast mode.
Since web marketing, in particular, typically relies on blended techniques or collaboration across sectors, most music marketers have a basic knowledge of growth hacking even if they don't use that term. In addition, there are a wide range of free resources online that can be used to promote the growth of your web presence and spread awareness of your music.
Here at Hypebot posts relevant to growth hacking include:
Growth hacking even pops up within marketing posts ostensibly about other topics, for example, when someone suggests making your music or related content easy to share to encourage fan-to-fan marketing.
That said, there's a lot we haven't discussed in relationship to marketing one's web and mobile presence much less marketing one's actual music. For example, though we do have a post on A/B testing Facebook ads, what's the value of A/B testing for music websites? How would one make that happen technically? And does it have any relevance to making music?
So if you have any topics you'd like to see covered at Hypebot related to growth hacker marketing, please let us know in the comments or email me at the below address.
And if you have examples of growth hacking in the music industry, please do share or pass along those as well.
Hypebot Senior Contributor Clyde Smith (@fluxresearch/@crowdfundingm) also blogs at Flux Research and Crowdfunding For Musicians. To suggest topics for Hypebot, contact: clyde(at)fluxresearch(dot)com.