Growth Hacking for WordPress Sites – What It is and How to Do It Successfully

Posted on April 11, 2017 by in Resources | 21 comments

Growth Hacking for WordPress Sites – What It is and How to Do It Successfully

Growth hacking and WordPress is not a topic that is talked about very often. That’s surprising since growth hacking is very prominent in the world of startups as is WordPress. Besides that, the platform is perfectly suited for growth hacking, making the two a match made in heaven.

However, what exactly is growth hacking? And how can you use it to grow WordPress websites? That’s exactly the type of question we will answer in this article.

In the following we will define growth hacking, how it applies to websites, state why WordPress is the perfect tool to use and then list concrete plugins that help apply growth hacking techniques to websites.

Ready? Then let’s get growing.

First, Let’s Define Growth Hacking

As the name suggests, growth hacking is all about growth. It’s a certain type of marketing approach to produce sustainable, scalable growth for startups, companies or websites.

The term was coined by Sean Ellis who was the first to write about what makes someone a growth hacker:

  • Growth as the true north —  Unsurprisingly, moving the needle forward is the single most important metric for a growth hacker. All decisions derive from that objective. As long as revenue, users or any other metric is moving up, the growth hacker is doing her job.
  • Non-linear approach — However, it doesn’t really matter how the growth is achieved. There is no limit in communication channels or tools. As long as it works, it’s permissible. This is often combined with trying to find shortcuts in existing processes.
  • User and product focused — In growth hacking, the boundary between marketing and product is blurry at best. In fact, the product is often part of the marketing. Example: Dropbox users get free additional space for bringing in new users.
  • Employing a diverse skill set — Growth hacking often involves a wide range of knowledge and working across multiple disciplines. Growth hackers need an understanding of technology as well as marketing. A/B tests and writing landing page copy are equally part of their repertoire.

In short, growth hacking about finding efficient and effective ways to game the existing environment in order to achieve rapid growth for your projects.

How to Apply Growth Hacking to Websites

Now that we know more about growth hacking, how can we apply this approach to our website? When looking at the above principles, we are left with the following:

  • Data tracking — Knowing your metrics is important to make informed decisions, predictions and repeat success. Otherwise, how would you know whether you are growing?
  • Experimentation — We already mentioned A/B testing above. Growth hacking is about trying new things to see what works and finding creative ways to achieve growth.
  • Focus on the core product — The same way startups need a great product to market it, websites need to deliver enough value to make them worth advertising.
  • Diverse communication channels — Growth hacking is marketing across many different channels. No need to limit yourself, take advantage of all possibilities to find what works best.

WordPress – The Perfect Growth Hacking Tool

When you take a look at the above, as a regular WordPress user you should notice easily that WordPress is an awesome tool for growth hacking. It offers lots of control and flexibility to run experiments. Almost any site element can be modified and the platform comes with loads of marketing tools.

It is also search-engine and mobile friendly out of the box (especially with the right theme) and highly extendable. In fact, in the following we will have a look at concrete tools WordPress offers for would-be growth hackers.

A/B Testing

As mentioned, growth hacking is all about experiments as well as constantly tweaking and improving. Thankfully, WordPress has plenty of tools for that.

  • Nelio AB Testing — The plugin for conversion optimization. Has cloud-based A/B testing and heat maps. You can test any site element and the plugin is compatible with WooCommerce.
  • Simple Page Tester — Split test different page versions without coding.
  • WordPress Calls to Action — A/B test plugin for calls to action to improve lead generation and build an email list. Also works with popups.
  • Title Experiments Free — Unsure about your post titles? This plugin can help. Provide several variants, find out which performs best and go with the winner.

Analytics

Besides experiments, collecting data is another hallmark of growth hacking. The tools below let you find out loads about your visitors and customers.

  • Google Analytics by MonsterInsights — One of the easiest ways to set up Google Analytics. It takes just a few clicks. Also adds a dashboard with your most important data inside WordPress.
  • Jetpack — Also has an analytics tool. It’s not quite as detailed as Google’s but great for keeping track over the general direction of your site.
  • Hotspots Analytics — Heat maps for WordPress. Understand how users interact with your site. Awesome for A/B testing single site elements. Alternative: SumoMe heatmaps
  • Instant Visual Feedback — Gauge the feelings of your visitor. Let them show you their reaction to your content Buzzfeed style. Alternative: DW Reactions

SEO

SEO is the first hurdle of growth hacking. Without making your content search engine friendly, you will miss out on a lot of organic traffic. WordPress is already pretty good at this by itself but there’s always room for improvement.

  • Yoast SEO — The most popular SEO plugin for a reason. Customize all aspects of SEO on your site globally and on a per-page basis. Also analyzes your content to improve on-page SEO and even readability. Must have!
  • W3 Total Cache and WP Super Cache — Site speed is important for click through, user engagement and SEO. Caching is one of the best ways to make your site faster. The two plugins mentioned here are the leading methods of doing so. Read our comparison to find out which one is for you.
  • Autoptimize — Excellent to complement caching plugins. Makes your site faster by concatenating and minifying scripts, styles and HTML. Highly recommended!

Social Media

Social networks with their millions of users are an important source of traffic and should always be part of your growth hacking strategy. The plugins below will help with that.

  • Monarch — Customizable social sharing plugin. 20 networks to choose from, five button locations from floating sidebar to above and below content, popup and more. Can also display your social following.
  • Jetpack — The Jetpack modules sharing and publicize easily add (completely customizable) social sharing buttons to your site and automatically publish new content on social platforms.
  • Ultimate Social Media — Social sharing buttons in 16 different designs. Customizable functions and animations. Available as sticky bars, popups and more.
  • Sumome Image Sharer — Part of SumoMe. Made to share visuals. Sharing options automatically appear when hovering over an image on your website. Monarch also has this function built in.
  •  Better Click to Tweet — Allows visitors to share pre-made quotes, and lines from your content with one click.

List Building

Email remains one of the most direct and important avenues to your audience. It’s an incredibly important marketing channel and one of the best ways to grow website traffic.

Content Promotion

While everyone and your mom is talking about how important creating quality content is in today’s online world, promotion is just as important (if not more). It’s a lot of work so you can use all the help you can get.

  • Jetpack Related Posts — Showing related posts is a great way to increase time on site. However, plugins of this kind are infamous for being resource hogs that bog down the database. To address this, Jetpack outsources the heavy lifting to the WordPress.com servers.
  • WordPress Popular Posts — Customizable widget to show the most popular posts on your site however and wherever you want. Good to combine with the built-in latest posts plugin.
  • Revive Old Post — Re-sharing older content is an awesome way to keep it in rotation and move visitors to your site. This plugin takes the work off your hands and automatically publishes older stuff on social networks of your choice.

User Engagement

Engaged users are users that come around more often and recommend your site to others. Here are tools to keep them coming.

  • Postmatic — Subscribe to and answer comments via email. Stay on top of the discussion without constantly having to sign in.
  • Contact Form 7 — Contact forms are one of the easiest ways for visitors to get in touch with you. This one is trusted by millions and free.

Growth Hacking for WordPress in a Nutshell

Growth hacking is a discipline aimed at keeping the needle moving forwards. It involves a mindset that uses creativity, interdisciplinary thinking and focuses on users and product.

While common in the world of startups, growth hacking is also applicable to websites and WordPress is the perfect platform to put it into action. The CMS offers just the right flexibility and loads of tools.

The list above will help you get started with growth hacking yourself to web success. The plugins are a useful foundation to put the principles mentioned above into action.

Are you going to give growth hacking a try on your WordPress website? Let us know in the comment section below!

Article thumbnail image by Sammby / shutterstock.com

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21 Comments

  1. Thanks for the piece and the resource links, however the concept of ‘growth hacking’ is indiscernible from marketing in any business that is changing rapidly. I think it has died on the vine as a buzzword.

    • Hey Martin, thanks a lot for your input. Glad you liked the article. Judging from the many reactions you get on Twitter when you use the hashtag #growthhacking, I think some people still take it very seriously. However, yes it is not the buzzword it used to be.

  2. Nice teaching, manny people dont don all this on their sites..

  3. This used to be called “Guerilla Marketing”. Whole books were written about it using that term as the buzzword. But really it’s just the same idea with a new name and some new sets of technologies. Every marketer just needs to always use as many opportunities as possible to grow the business.

    • Thanks for the input, Rob! Much appreciated.

  4. This blog post could have been simply called “How to market your website”. Curious as to how this became a buzzword when it is standard practice across the board. A new way for web developers to jazz up a sales pitch perhaps?

    • Hey P, thanks for your input. Yes, growth hacking is just another type of marketing. However, I think many website owners are already growth hackers by nature who have to know both the technical/analytical side as well as the creative. I just thought it would be good to package marketing your site in a different frame. Cheers!

  5. I’m surprised you didn’t include more options for collecting email addresses. Bloom I can understand because it’s an Elegant Themes product, but Sumome, hustle from WPMU, Drip.co all work well with WordPress and can really build up a mailing list.

    • Hey Ross, thanks for the additional resources. I’ll be sure to include more next time around. Cheers!

  6. I’m afraid our opinions on what ‘growth hacking WordPress’ are differ considerably. Great post, but growth hack it’s not; as standard practices are not growth hacks.

    Calling a blog post about website/marketing best practices “growth hacking” is the closest thing to a growth hack your article came to (yet not discussed). After all, you got me, someone who would never have clicked on an article called, “Standard Operating Practices for Every WordPress Website”, to click through on it.

    • Hey Rick, thanks for the comment! How could I have approached the topic better? Do you have any input? What would you like to have seen?

  7. Thanks for the nice article. I started my website recently (running on Divi theme) and trying to do some of the technics mentioned. But what is new for me and what I am going to try is monsterinsights and some plugins for social sharing. thanks for another great article.

    • Hey Marek, happy you liked it. Good luck with your website. Please come back and let us know how it went!

  8. I would look at some of the WordPress reviews on “Reshare Old Post” – it doesn’t seeem to be working. It’s a solid practice though, even if even if done manually. I like to go through my posts every three months, clean them up and tweet them again.

    • Hey Jason, thanks for your input. That’s a pretty good practice! Do you also add long-tail keywords from Google Webmaster Tools to your content when you clean it up? That’s a good practice to improve your SEO. Thanks for letting me know about the plugin issue. So far it always had good ratings but I’ll look more closely next time.

  9. Thanks for this article and the list of recommended plugins and resources. I already use most and will be adding the rest. However, in line with comments above, and maybe it’s also got something to do with being British and a DIY site builder, I wish people would resist THEIR need to invent new jargon when commonly acceptable words and phrases already exist. What happened to making your copy easy for YOUR READER to understand? I totally ‘get’ that you are addressing your niche marketplace and that ‘your people’ will know what you are on about but within the context of an article about marketing a website using tools ideal for start-ups, it’s ironic that you wrote for such a narrow audience using language that required translation and explanation before I could understand it. Thanks anyway. ?

    • Hey Penny, thanks for your thoughts. I just wanted to point out a certain way of marketing that can also be applied to websites. I hope I didn’t confuse you and you got some value out of it anyway. Cheers!

  10. I would also add in the list giveaways and contests apps like Woorise, Gleam and Rafflecopter. Giveaways are one of the best ways for growth hacking.

    • Right you are Elizabeth. I personally don’t have any experience with that but it should have made the list. Thanks for the resources!

  11. Thanks Nick for this post, pretty useful. A good start to explain the principle of Growth hacking to those who are less familiar with the concept (and also those who knows a thing a two). I would like to translate some parts of yor content in french if you don’t mind, as I blog in French? Thanks!

  12. “When you take a look at the above, as a regular WordPress user you should notice easily that WordPress is an awesome tool for growth hacking. It offers lots of control and flexibility to run experiments. Almost any site element can be modified and the platform comes with loads of marketing tools.”

    Couldn’t agree more!

    Especially when your theme & plugins allow you to hack growth right of the box!

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