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Growth hacking has changed the game for today’s marketers. However, a lot of people are confused as to what growth hacking actually is. Sure, it’s different from traditional marketing, but how, and why? And what does it all mean?

One of the best ways to understand growth hacking is to do growth hacking. Not only will you begin to understand how it works, but you’ll also experience its growth potential.

Here are six growth hacking techniques you can implement in your own:

1. Start a blog.

“Wait, give me some real techniques,” you’re thinking.

Actually, I’m serious about this. A blog is an essential tool in the growth hacker’s toolbox.

But don’t let the word “blog” throw you off. What I’m aiming at is a full-fledged content-marketing effort.

Growth hacking runs on the engine of content. You’ve heard it so many times it makes you nauseous: “Content is king.”

2. Guest post.

As marketers should know by now, traditional “linkbuilding” is history. Gone are the days when you could rustle up a few linkbacks after sending some emails and pulling a few strings.

How do you grow your brand today and get those coveted linkbacks?

It’s called guest posting. Even though it irks the powers that be, it still works. As long as you’re creating high-quality content on high-quality sites, you’ll get the high-quality growth that you deserve.

Here’s how you do it: Identify the leading websites in your niche and pitch them with a request to provide an article.

3. Build your personal brand.

Growth hacking is enhanced by personal branding.

Today’s top growth hackers are well-known people like Elon Musk, Richard Branson, Tim Ferriss and Jeff Bezos. These entrepreneurs didn’t approach growth like a typical CMO. They hacked their way in, creating massive disruptions as they did so.

If you can become a small-time celebrity in your own right, then you’re already positioned to start killing it with growth hacking.

One does not simply “become a small-time celebrity” without a lot of hard work and hustle. It’s not easy to become well known, but neither is it impossible in the age of digital marketing. With a computer and a connection, you have the basic building blocks of a personal brand.

As you build your own brand, you can build other brands, too. That’s what we call growth hacking.

How do you do it? Spend time intentionally curating your own social profiles and personally engaging online. It takes time, but you’ll get there eventually.

4. Harvest email addresses.

The rage over social media is overrated.

Email is the number one lead generation technique, with three times as many active users than all the social-media users combined. It’s 40 times more effective than Facebook and Twitter. Email marketing has three times the purchase potential of social media, and pulls in average orders that are 17 percent higher. Even though it’s one of the oldest digital marketing channels, it’s still the best. And it’s still growing.

This is a growth hacking channel too big to ignore.

Growth hackers may speak softly, but they carry a big email list. If your goal is to hack some growth, then you need to grow your email list.

There’s a quick and dirty way to do this. Simply create an email opt-in form on your website. Or, you can use a popup for maximum email harvesting.

5. Hire a growth hacker.

Growth hacking has become this big, bloated and misunderstood field. Hire a growth hacker.

Before you go Craigslist-happy with a job ad, do a reality check. Growth hackers don’t grow on trees. Growth hackers have become as common as the self-proclaimed “social media gurus” littering the Twitter landscape. People like to use the word “growth hacker” in their LinkedIn title, because it sounds trendy and they attended a webinar on it.

Be careful when selecting, vetting, and hiring a growth hacker. Do your homework on growth hacking so you can hire a good one.

6. Really understand your data.

Just because growth hacking has the word “hack” in it, doesn’t mean that it’s sloppy or haphazard. Growth hacking is obsessively focused on data.

Data leads the way in the growth-hacking environment. It’s crucial that you understand key performance indicators (KPIs), viral coefficients, multivariate testing, CACs, LTVs, and other jargony metrics.

More analytics companies are streamlining and presenting data in ways that feed the growth hacking engine. As Kissmetrics remarks, “aggregate data is kinda worthless.” When you start to really understand your data, you’ll be better equipped to launch growth hacking.

Data doesn’t always mean numbers. Data is information. You need content performance information (Buzzumo), and customer acquisition data (Colibri.io), customer information (Kissmetrics), and other actionable information. Google Analytics alone just doesn’t cut it anymore.

Don’t rely on something like Google Analytics for all your data needs. Dig a little deeper by using an analytics platform that interprets your data in actionable ways.

7. Leverage your social media and other free channels

Write great content and publish it on multiple free platforms like Facebook, Quora, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Twitter, Vine and much more. The audience are always interested in learning a thing or two on the web and provide them with those informative or entertaining snippets. These free services would drive more traffic to your blog and in turn more conversions. Make use of tools like IFTTT to automate the process of sharing on these free services and save you valuable time.

8. Provide free products that go with your services

Now who doesn’t love a freebie on the web? Offer your users or potential customers free incentives that go hand in hand with the services you offer. This allows them to try out your paid services if they are satisfied with what your free products have to offer. You can also consider offering a free informative e-book that could drive more email subscribers to your startup. You can look at how Moz.com offers free SEO tools and services in the belief that it would compel users to subscribe to their paid subscriptions and it did work out pretty well for them.