10 Content Marketing Growth Hacks [with Infographic]

By , February 5th, 2014 in Content Marketing | 44 comments
content-hacker-header-2
Growth Hacker + Content Marketer = Content Hacker [Where the ladies at?]

By now, you’ve heard of growth hacking. Introduced by startup marketer Sean Ellis, growth hacking is a startup marketing methodology that turns clever tactics into fast-paced growth.

Content marketing is all about growth, too.

Creating, publishing and sharing valuable content with your audience is a surefire way to gain traffic and increase revenue. But with its rising popularity, content marketing alone may not be enough. We need to take a page from the growth hacker’s playbook.

We need to become content hackers.

Two Classic Content Hacks

Hotmail

What turns content marketing into content hacking? It’s all about leveraging user behavior and the content you are sharing for major growth. It’s a new twist on an old story.

One of the earliest examples of growth hacks came from Hotmail in the late nineties. In order to grow its user base, the Hotmail team added the intriguing bit of text “PS: I Love You. Get Your Free Email At Hotmail” to the bottom of every email Hotmail users sent out.

The link directed the reader back to the Hotmail homepage. Many signed up for a Hotmail account of their own, making this a viral way to spread the word about the email service.

In less than a year, Hotmail would boast more than 12 million email accounts, thanks, at least in small part, to this clever little growth hack.

Guest Blogging

While it has recently come under fire by the powers that be at Google, guest blogging is another great example of content hacking. With roots established long before social networking gained momentum, guest blogging was one of the first ways that bloggers were able to create link-backs to their own blogs, providing tremendous Google juice.

This early method for building buzz and sharing an audience was an epic growth hack that still has value if used properly.

Content hacking isn’t new, but it emphasizes our need to look beyond the traditional publish-and-share model of content marketing.

Too often, we fail to measure and optimize our marketing methods to better enable the traffic and growth that we need to compete.

As more and more startups and brands jump into the content marketing game, they need to seek out new ways to drive customer growth, not just more content.

Here are 10 content hacks that we can all start using right away:

1. Create Stronger Calls To Action

content-hacker-popup

A great example of a strong, clear call-to action is Groove’s popup. Who would say no to growing their business?

The lesson is simple: Make your call to action something that your audience can’t refuse.

The entire Groove blog is a content hack in itself (like several other startups, they’ve begun to publicize their metrics in a compellingly transparent way) but this call to action was a part of the reason they grew their blog’s email list to more than 5,000 subscribers in just five weeks.

2. Gamify Your Blog

content-hacker-sharing

Gamification is a subject unto itself, but it takes advantage of a key growth hacking tactic – tapping into people’s desire to publicize what they do and what they think.

Humans have a strong desire for connectivity and personal sharing, which is what makes sites like Facebook and Twitter work. Why not take advantage of this for your own blog?

One of the ways that you can do this is with a WordPress plugin called Love It Pro.

This simple plugin allows visitors to “vote” on your posts with a simple button. You can showcase your most loved posts in a sidebar widget or prioritize them on your homepage.

This simple gamification tactic will make your content all the more sticky.

3. Make Sharing Easier

Content marketing and growth hacking have the same goal: Increasing revenue » Tweet this «

One of the best ways to hack your content is to make it more shareable. Of course, we all have share buttons at the top or bottom of our page but how are we enticing readers to share our content?

One way is to create simple click-to-tweet messages inside the actual blog posts, providing readers with a call-to-action to share our post with the world.

Through the use of some custom WordPress code or a free plugin, we can create tweetable quotes throughout our posts that prompt readers to share our content as they read.

The Markerly widget is also a good plugin for making any text or images on you page shareable.

4. Offer A Free E-Course

content-hacker-ecourse

Content hackers learn to stretch their content as far as it will go.

Creating content that you can reuse in multiple different ways is a great content hack. For example, you can turn a blog series into an ebook or ecourse.

Online education is currently undergoing huge growth. Sites like Udemy or Skillshare allow you to create step-by-step courses for your audience.

You can choose to give them away for free or sell them for a profit. Either way, ecourses are a great way to hack more life out of the content you’ve created.

5. Test Share Button Positions

Where are the share buttons on your page? Are they above or below the fold? Believe it or not, it makes a difference. AddThis (one of the leading social sharing tools) suggests that social share buttons placed above the fold perform the best for most sites.

Of course, this isn’t always the case so it’s important to try out a few different arrangements. Conducting a simple A/B test should get you the information you need.

6. Write 25 Awesome Headlines

content-hacker-upworthy

It may sounds like old news, but your headline is one of the most important aspects of your content. If you mess it up, you lose your chance at a conversion.

Upworthy knows a thing or two about headlines. In their slide deck The Sweet Science Of Virality they emphasize the importance of the headline again and again.

More importantly, they emphasize the value in writing a minimum of 25 headlines for each post. Then they A/B test several different social posts using some cleverly crafted Bit.ly links (see slide #56). When they have a clear winner (and there usually is one), they launch.

The full Upworthy presentation is excellent and definitely worth a look, a bookmark and possibly even a print out. It’s that good.

7. Create Longer Copy

content-hacker-length

Blogger Neil Patel recently published a great post about search rankings and post length on his blog.

In his research, he discovered that the “average content length for a web page that ranks in the top 10 results for any keyword on Google has at least 2,000 words.”

The conclusion here is simple: Longer copy is rewarded by Google.

8. Grow Your Google+ Audience

content-hacker-googleplus

Search is now social and one of the best ways to get noticed on search is to get noticed on Google+, Google’s very own social network.

Many brands have a presence on Google+ but place little priority on the social network. Now may be the time to change that.


The more people that have you in their circles, the more likely you are to show up in search results.

SEO these days is all about social connections and great content, so getting as embedded as you can in the Google+ network is a no-brainer.

9. A/B Test Your About Page

content-hacker-copyblogger

Your “About Us” page is one of the most visited areas of your website. Unfortunately, it’s often one of the most ignored – especially when it comes to a good call to action.

Use some of the advice from this article to create a second version of your About Page and test out your changes with Optimizely, a service that helps you with A/B testing.

For some inspiration, take a look at how Copyblogger places an effective call to action right in the middle of their About Us page (above).

10. Get More Aggressive

Too often we fail to be as aggressive as we can be when it comes to collecting leads and emphasizing calls to action. Many of us are wary of pop-ups and page overlays that can occasionally feel over the top.

The content hacker doesn’t let this sway her. She knows that users are far more tolerant of these kinds of things than we might think. Adding a simple popup to my own site on a few of our “evergreen pages” more than doubled our ebook downloads.

content-hacker-ebook-conversions

Check out OptinMonster, an excellent plugin for WordPress that creates a simple and customizable popup on your site.

It looks great and can integrate with all of the major email providers. If you decide to grab a license, be sure to purchase the “user intent” option, which will prompt a user with the CTA right before they leave the page. That’s the ideal time to pounce.

Infographic: The Characteristics Of A Content Hacker

The content hacker is a new animal, one that combines the skills of content marketing with the mindset of growth hacking. Here’s an infographic that breaks down what this means:

content-hacker-infographic

Are you a Content Hacker?

– Garrett Moon

About The Author

Photo of Garrett Moon

Garrett Moon is a founder at CoSchedule, a WordPress editorial calendar that allows you to schedule your blogs posts and social media together on an easy drag-and-drop calendar. Get a free blog editorial calendar template for 2014. Follow him on Twitter or Google+.
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Comments

  1. Duran Drake says:

    Hello Garrett,
    Very Nice Post. Additionally Nice Explanation about Content and Sharing.

  2. Gabrijel A. says:

    Great post! Made me laugh, yet very informative.

  3. Kevin says:

    Great Post – Love the Phrase Content Hacker. Maybe a New Title for a Business Card.

  4. Great post. The infographic covers a lot of information in a fun and readable manner. Thanks guys!

  5. Alex says:

    Great infographic! We’ve just started tackling the creation of these. (No easy task.) Great summary on content marketing and a truly enjoyable delivery.

  6. Solid infographic. Sean Ellis coined the “growth hacker” term in 2010 though, not 2012. Great advice throughout though!

  7. Great information and the infographic was awesome!

  8. James Gentes says:

    Another great post as usual, Garrett!

  9. Lisa says:

    It’s like you read the ‘to learn and do’ list in my mind – and added extra awesomeness! Clear, concise and a hells interesting/informative read, Thanks Garrett!

  10. Giles Vernon says:

    Great post! definately agree with the vall to action and get more agressive sections. All too often sites and content have cotnent that is too passive and matter of fact, when it needs to have a much greater emphasis on what action to take next.

  11. Joseph says:

    A well written article supported by a great infographic. One thing if I was being picky though… A key point in the piece is the result for Hotmail’ s 1998 link addition, but this is invalid as it has no starting point data? Is that 12 million new users? If not, where were user numbers prior to the link install? 11,9 million? If you have the answer I’d be very interested to know it. Thank you and keep up the interesting work.

  12. Angela Slupe says:

    Great post, Garrett. One idea that I am definitely going to take away from this post is to test a CTA on our company About Us page. We currently don’t have any CTA on this page yet it does get a lot of traffic. Thanks!

  13. Gene says:

    Groove’s popup is the most annoying thing ever. DON’T follow this example. It may seem like a great way to grow your list, but at what cost? At the cost of pissing people off with non-stop popups with “no I don’t want to grow my business” sarcastic opt-out? Don’t do this!

    • Garrett Moon says:

      I appreciate the comment Gene, but I disagree. At lot of marketers make the mistake of not including pop-ups because they personally find them annoying. The reality is that they are the minority, and pop-ups work really well at driving leads. Generally, I advise leaning heavily on exit-intend rather than pure interruption, but marketers shouldn’t make the mistake of not using them simply because they don’t personally like them. As long as the offer is tied to ACTUAL value, there is nothing wrong with it.

  14. I new to all of this, but the plugin for WordPress, Love It Pro, looks to be a really quick and easy way to increase ‘stickiness.” I’ll definitely give it a try. Thanks for the tip.

  15. great post Garrett. Is Groove using Bounce Exchange? What is your favorite content hacking strategy for CoSchedule?

    • Garrett Moon says:

      Yes, I believe they are using Bounce Exchange. On CoSchedule, we use OptinMonster.

      My favorite content hacking strategy for CoSchedule has been guest blogging, oddly enough. This content marketing infographic was also a pretty good time.

  16. Sarah says:

    Great post! I think growth hacking should also incorporate some form of content amplification. Everyone creates content, and only a fraction goes viral, so sometimes it makes sense to use native ad platforms to get scale.It’s all about thinking outside the box, coming up with an idea that makes you a growth hacker.

  17. Daniel Page says:

    Hey Garrett,
    Awesome article. Pretty much down the list, you offer actionable advice that every content marketer should consider making part of their strategy. If you take the time to create the content, you should do what you need to do to get it in front of as many eyes as possible. Anyway, I thought this would be a valuable resource for my readers, so I included your post in my roundup of February’s best social media, SEO, and content marketing articles. http://www.aseohosting.com/blog/2014/03/seo-content-marketing-and-social-media-the-best-of-february-2014/ Keep up the good work. Cheers!

  18. This is a fantastic article! Great work. We used many of these to get to 35k users. They really do work.

  19. Rafael Lessa says:

    Nice post! I will try to use it here in Brazil!

    :]

  20. mauneuverup says:

    Not sure I like the term “growth hacking,” sounds spammy. This is nothing new, it is just marketing online, or inbound marketing. I would add to this list every social account that makes sense for your industry, and directories that have value. That’s my tow cents.

    • Garrett Moon says:

      You’re not along in that opinion about the term ‘growth hacking,’ but I still think there is room for it. To me, growth hacking is an attitude more than a process. I think we could all stand to be more aggressive and results-oriented in our marketing.

  21. Great info. Going to work through many of the articles listed. Time to revamp a few things on the blog again. Thank you for sharing all this information with us!

  22. Angela says:

    Loved this blog post! Getting creative with your CTA’s is great advice and totally loved the example! Shared this on twitter and will be utilizing these tips with my clients! Thanks!

  23. Misha Abasov says:

    There is nothing I hate more than the “No thanks! I don’t want to grow my business!” thing. Makes the company look arrogant and insecure at the same time. Just no.

  24. Sila says:

    Thanks for sharing, Garrett. Valuable information and Insights, The infographic is great!

  25. Thank you – this has helped me as a new blogger.

  26. Anthony W says:

    Very insightful. Any advise how to promote a blog effectively.

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