GAAAHHH!!! I can’t escape digital marketing!
Every time I open an email, an app, my social media account, even some of my software tools, somebody is sending me an ad message that I just can’t turn off.
Everybody wants my attention — and advertisers are getting sneakier all the time by being more personal, more unique and more compelling. That’s great for the advertiser that has the money to spend, but it’s becoming harder for the small guys to compete. It’s also teaching the consumer to ignore everything.
We’ve known about banner blindness – in which people naturally learn to “tune out” ads — for a long time now. Display ads on websites are ignored. Pre-roll ads in videos are skipped immediately. I’ve even noticed that I now completely tune out mobile app ads no matter where they are or how they are presented.
For the average company, click-through rates are terrible, but they are probably better than they’ll ever be because they unintentionally teach people how to ignore them. I don’t have any stats to prove this, but I simply point toward the innate ability of humans to easily adapt and ignore stuff they don’t want.
(This is why most default magazine ads are scantily clad women — because the physiological response is practically built into men to desire beauty. Of course, it is our choice to fall prey to that type of advertising, but it does work because it leverages a behavioral response that is reinforced chemically and psychologically.)
Escape From Digital Sameness
So, if your ad is destined to be ignored and your cost-per-click is climbing steadily, how do small businesses compete when larger companies are spending well over $100,000 per month on digital advertising? The answer, for now anyway, can be found in growth hacking.
As marketing technologists, we have to strongly consider deviating from everything we consider to be safe and familiar for generating leads.
Marketing used to be a fun and exciting place to be where we weren’t afraid to try new things, but we’ve become addicted to 1% click-through rates, closely watching and praying for high email open rates and tweaking our forms for better conversion rates. We’re slowly taking the true innovation and creativity out of marketing.
Why Is Growth Hacking The Answer?
So what makes growth hacking the answer? Partly because it breaks the mold of what we are used to seeing, what we’ve adapted to ignoring. It breaks into our customers’ minds in unique ways that they are not used to seeing. Their minds are not predisposed against what they are experiencing.
Growth hacking isn’t a tactic, but a strategy. There are no “Top 10 Points to Better Growth Hacking,” because it will always be unique. You’re using a system to your advantage that has not been exploited before. You’re changing how people perceive your brand by doing something that is unusual and different. For you Trekkies out there, it’s like rotating phaser frequencies so that the Borg couldn’t adapt their shields.
By doing something that your audience hasn’t experienced, you are able to get into their heads much more easily. You’re bypassing the barriers that they have unintentionally set up to filter out marketing pitches.
Basically, the idea is to try new growth hacks until they no longer work, then move on to the next hack. Remember though, in any campaign, it’s effectiveness and how people engage that must be measured so you can learn from each experience.
Risks Abound — But It’s Worth It
Just like any new product release, growth hacking can be awesome, or it can fall flat. Be sure to learn from the ones that bomb. You’re trying to get in front of customers in new (and hopefully un-obnoxious ways), but people don’t always respond to change well — so completely disrupting their experience can be hit-or-miss.
Whatever you do, find ways to provide new insights or new value in any activity. Here are some pointers to get you going and thinking about what you can do:
- Use online and offline together to create something intriguing and interactive. Using augmented reality might be a good start!
- Use social networks in ways nobody has thought of. Perhaps find ways of combining them together to create a mesmerizing puzzle of content.
- Combine technology services that are generally unrelated to do something new.
Getting Executive Buy-In For Growth Hacking
Many of us are unfortunately stuck in companies where marketing is somewhat of an afterthought. Getting executive buy-in will take quite a bit of effort in these cases, and you may not want to call it “growth hacking” (even if it does sound cool).
Do your homework on what you want to do, and be prepared to sell. You might even recruit some of your fellow sales team members to help since they love this kind of thing and typically have the ear of executives. You’ll want to show clearly what you expect in return, what resources you’ll need, and how you’ll measure your success.
It’s time to put our thinking caps back on and stop relying solely on SEM and organic traffic to solve all our lead generation woes every month. It’s time to start hacking your growth rate.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land.