Low-Cost Growth Hacking for Small Business

Manchester based digital marketing consultant, Rob Wilkinson, explains the benefits of Low-Cost Growth Hacking for SME’s and Startups.

Growth hacking is fast paced experimental marketing that results in finding the most effective way to generate business growth. The channels used tend to be modern digital, rather than traditional media.

Especially useful for startups, growth hacking is not just about generating leads, it is also crucial to conversion and retention. Important metrics include cost-per-acquisition (CPA) and lifetime value (LTV), not just click-through-rate and cost-per-click.

Growth Hacking is all about Business Growth.

Growth hackers use different types of marketing and product iterations — rapidly testing copy, email marketing, SEO and viral strategies. The aim is rapid business growth. But business growth becomes much harder if the customer attrition is high, so retention is also equally important.

Growth hacking is fundamental to the online marketing matrix which includes Search Engine Optimisation, PPC, Analytics, Content (distribution) Marketing, VideoInfluencer and Social outreach.

However, growth hacking is also crucial to engagement (On-line community management, user-generated content, onboarding, conversion and the customer journey.

Low-Cost Growth Hacking for Startups

Many new, and some established, businesses struggle with not having much marketing budget, not having any marketing experience or both.

Growth hacking is about innovating new low-cost marketing and not wasting budget on experiments that aren’t working. Quickly testing a variety of channels and focusing on the one that makes the best return on investment – or at least shows the most promise.

Business growth is the top level metric, with conversion and retention contributing.

Some Low-cost growth hacking ideas:

  • Growth Through Referral Campaigns.
  • New Product Release or Launch Campaign.
  • Ongoing Social Signup Prompts.
  • Incentivise Reviews And Feedback.
  • The Content Unlock – (for example) sign-up for pages 6,7 and 8.
  • Free Discount codes.
  • Offer Free Samples or subscriptions (Optionally via partners or existing members).
  • Create Webinars.
  • Cart Abandonment Engagement.
  • Voting Contests.
  • Instant Coupon Codes for sign-ups.

The New Business Loop

The “Customer Onboarding Process” is a low-cost way to drive viral growth. Offer new customers an incentive to spread the word across their network and do the customer recruitment for you! Share on Facebook, offer an upgrade, email a link.

By having new customers share your service with their connections, this, in turn, creates a new business loop of awareness, use, and sharing that can result in exponential growth for the company.

Growth Hacking For Conversion

Marketing automation is now a well established, low cost, function. CRM software is now able to automate the capturing of web forms, placing the information into a Sales funnel, and driving conversion. Regular emails, offers and newsletters can be automated to people that have shown and interest but not yet signed up.

Growth Hacking for Retention

Depending on the business model, retention can mean having regular users (because you are selling advertising) or making sure people renew their subscription.

It is an old adage that says it costs more money to recruit a new customer than retaining one. Keep your service fresh, relevant and interesting. Talk to your customers, engage with them. Ask them to contribute to your social media, give them freebies. It’s not just about attracting new customers, keep the ones you have happy!

Growth Hacking Strategy

The first step in growth hacking (and remember, this is meant to be a fast process) is defining goals. Growing the business may be the top level objective. But underneath this, you need to establish sub-goals.

Increase Customers by x =
— Grow visitors by y
— Improve conversion by z

Then, break down the goals into strategies. How are we going to increase visitors? This forms the growth hack experiments.

Low-Cost Growth Hacking Experiments.

Before you run your test (or experiment) establish a baseline about what you think might happen. For example, testing a PPC campaign, establish what you think the click through rate will be

This stage is about forming expectations. If the experiment performs better than expected, then don’t just accept it. Try to work out why and scale the test and run it again.

If worse than expected, then experiments are fluid. They are not things you do one time and then move on. Tweak experiments, re-run and measure again. Only give up on experiments when it’s appropriate to do so.

If an objective is to increase conversion, experiments might include:

  • Highlight the membership benefits on the home page.
  • Include case studies on the member’s page.
  • Offer a free trial on the sign-up page.
  • Improve the navigation on the menu by highlighting the sign-up page.
low-cost growth hacking for business
growth hacking analysis

Measuring Growth Hacking

Essential to anything digital marketing is measurement. Here, Analytics or the tag manager are your friends.

  • Track metrics (views, bounce rate, engagement).
  • Track metrics by cohorts.
  • Device measurement/engagement.
  • Referring source.
  • And on and on.

A/B tests are an essential part of growth hacking. You may think you know what the results of your experiments will be, but an A/B test will tell you the truth.

In Summary

It is a very common situation these days with so many startups competing for customers. Move fast, test everything and don’t waste a penny. If it costs £200 to find out that a marketing channel doesn’t work, it has probably saved you thousand in traditional agency spend.

about online customer solutions
Online Customer Solutions Logo

Which Digital Marketing Channel Works Best?

Identifying which digital marketing channel works for you takes time and testing, but it will pay dividends in the long run.

Not every digital channel will automatically make you a return on your investment. Even if they do, some will make more than others, so it is essential that you identify which digital marketing channel works best.


Finding Out Which Digital Marketing Channel Works Best Takes: Time.

No online advertising channel is “set and forget.” All of them require constant monitoring and optimisation. Smaller businesses doing their own marketing, advertising simply don’t have the time to manage and optimise several channels concurrently. So, concentrate on one at a time, set up the campaign and conversion tracking and look for potential to scale. Depending on your sector it’s worth considering AdWords, LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.

Website performance report

Customer Intent

Quite often, visitors are looking for your site, not because they want to buy your products or services, but because they are doing research, looking for work or trying to sell you something. Read these articles for how to avoid targeting the wrong searches:


Which Digital Marketing Works Best: Google AdWords and PPC.

If you have put together a great ad which is relevant, interesting and has a strong call to action, you might receive a click-through. If this is combined with a fantastic landing page with an irresistible offer, you will get a conversion.

Google AdWords allows you to place your company in front of users that want your service or product. Proper keyword research and selection combined with adverts that offer solutions and landing pages that funnel customers into sales.


Facebook ads can produce a great return for some brands, but for most, it is about brand awareness. People aren’t looking at their Facebook feed to find a new product or service, they are not actively looking to buy (despite the excellent targeting options).

If you have a local catering company, for example, then Facebook ads are a great way to put your services in front of a local audience that is likely interested in your food. While they aren’t actively seeking it, you can trigger impulse purchases or most certainly raise awareness.

Other PPC

Some digital channels are just irrelevant, for example, if you produce SaaS CRM software for the B2B market, then LinkedIn is going to be the first stop. But advertising your local catering business would be a complete waste of your budget.

If your potential customers are actively searching for a product or service, they are more likely to open Google and type in their keyword query, hoping to find exactly what they are looking for. For many, PPC ads provide the highest measurable ROI.

Influencer Marketing

The latest trend in digital strategy is influencer marketing. But what is it, how does it work, or will it even work at all? Just because one company experiences a massive ROI doesn’t mean that another company is going to experience a similar return.

One classic example of influencer marketing is how Disney recruited EvanTube to promote everything from toys to holidays. If you have kids, you will know about EvanTube. Evan is a US based kid of about 12 whose videoed during everyday life. For some reason completely lost on me, this is a hoot for my UK based kids to watch.

As seems to be the trend now, my children rarely bother with TV (unless it is on demand) and EvanTube represents a way for brands to engage with their target audience. Disney sponsoring Evan to review toys and theme parks which is a natural, perfect fit.

However, you are unlikely to be running a business on the scale of Disney, but influencer marketing is now taking place on a much smaller scale. Social ‘personalities’ are being recruited to review local products and services and spreading the word via their social media channel of choice.

Influencer marketing is just one channel, depending on your business it could be the right one, but, as with all the channels, it is about testing on a small scale and measuring the results.

Measure Your Cost-per-acquisition (CPA) By Channel

For many, which digital marketing channel works best is measured by CPA. CPA is the amount of money spent on a marketing channel, divided by the number of sales generated from that channel.

So, for example, if in one month you spent £200 on Google Adwords. Because you have goals and conversion tracking set up, you know that this has generated 20 sales (CPA=£10). Now, if you then spent £200 on a Facebook advertising campaign, and this only returned 10 sales, this would represent a CPA of £20. The obvious next step would be to concentrate your efforts on Google Adwords rather than Facebook. In this example, the answer to “which digital marketing channel works best?” would be Google.

In Conclusion

There are numerous ways to market your business online, including

  • Email Marketing.
  • Pay-Per-Click Advertising (PPC)
  • Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
  • Influencer Marketing
  • Display Advertising.
  • Social Media Marketing (SMM)
  • Content Marketing.
  • Affiliate Marketing.
  • Online Public Relations.

The key to identifying which digital marketing channel works best is to experiment and test the waters. Not everything will deliver a CPA that makes financial sense. Pay close attention to your data and know when it’s time to abandon one channel and focus on more promising marketing opportunities.

about online customer solutions
Online Customer Solutions Logo

Digital Marketing on a Budget

How Much Does Digital Marketing Cost?

When starting digital marketing on a budget, you can spend as much or as little as you like. The key, obviously, is not wasting money on an activity that doesn’t work. So, you need to test each channel on a small(ish) scale and then focus on the ones that make a return.

With a limited budget, we recommend running a 2-week test on a combination of Google, Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter (depending on your audience and offer). This should yield enough visits per channel to measure conversion rates. This will guide the efforts over the next few months and onwards.

Video marketing on a budget
Innovative marketing ideas

Keyword Research

Google have a keyword planner tool that indicates the cost-per-click for relevant keywords (based on your site or product description). You also get an indication of the number of searches and competition.

Digital marketing on a budget

Digital marketing on a budget: Conversion Testing

Before advertising, you need to make sure that your website is working as expected and it can convert visitors into sales. So don’t spend anything in the first few weeks of going live with an updated site. Drive traffic with updates, emails, and a press release and closely monitor results by channel.

Drive traffic with updates, emails, and a press release and closely monitor results by channel.

Hopefully, everything will be working well by the end of the first month you will have a number of new sign-ups and the confidence to spend on advertising.

Set Targets and Understand the Objectives

Really understand your pitch, pricing and CPA targets. What are you offering? Who are you offering it to and why would they want it?

Set up Google analytics, conversion and campaign reporting. Also, closely monitor your website performance via search console.

Here is a list of things you should be focused on when starting digital marketing on a budget:

  • Source and manage great content.
  • Conversion and campaign reporting.
  • Set-up regular analytics reports and monitor performance (SEO).
  • Distribute content effectively.
  • Fix any search console errors.
  • Test all the digital marketing channels

In Conclusion

When starting off digital marketing on a budget, remember that conversion depends totally on aligning your proposition with the marketing and having an effective website/landing page that guides visitors to completion.

It could be that the CPC and conversion rates don’t allow for a return on investment. In which case you need to prioritise social and content marketing with longer term SEO.

about online customer solutions
Online Customer Solutions Logo

Tips for Implementing An Online Marketing Strategy – Organisation

Managing the many elements of an effective online marketing strategy can quickly become a headache.

Your online digital presence can take some time to manage: Social media – Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, price comparison platforms, Blogs, Vlogs etc all need updating regularly.

There’s always something new, the best advice for owners juggling many platforms is to make sure the digital assets are centralised and organised. This includes:

  • Product photos.
  • Marketing Copy – Calls-to-action and product descriptions.
  • Customer feedback and testimonials.

Ensuring that all digital marketing content is consistent will save time and money. An asset library keeps your brand organised and helps make the most of your marketing efforts.

There are a number of applications that can help manage your digital assets, including MavSocial and Yotpo.

User Generated Content (UGC)

User Generated Content (UGC) is becoming one of the most powerful marketing tools in the online world.

UGC is a form of social proof, demonstrating that your products or services are good enough for people to endorse.

Allowing your audience to market for you versus constantly having to sing your own praises is powerful stuff. Make time to ask, manage and respond to online reviews and testimonials.

Visual content is much more likely to be shared on social media. Ensure that your products or services are represented in the best possible visual way.


The future of a successful online marketing strategy will depend on curated content spread across many channels. Stay ahead of the curve by making your content as organised and accessible as possible.

Contact us now for more information on how we can help organise and implement your digital strategy.

about online customer solutions
Online Customer Solutions Logo

Search Engine Marketing and Adwords – Manchester

SEM, SEO, Websites and Google Adwords. Manchester Based Online Marketing Consultancy

Search Engine Marketing can be used as an umbrella term to encompass both SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) and paid search activities. For example Google Adwords. Although some in the industry have adopted the SEM acronym to refer solely to paid search.

Related: Manchester Adwords Certified Partner

The below activities all form part of Search Engine Marketing:

SEO – Search Engine Optimisation. Appearing high up in the results for searches related to your company, services or product.
PPC (pay-per-click) – Advertising your company / product and paying when someone clicks on your advert. Ad Words being the most popular.
CPC (cost-per-click).
CPM – The cost you pay for your advert to be displayed to 1000 people.

Google Adwords – Paid Search Marketing

Google AdWords is by most measures the most popular paid search platform used by search marketers. Using Ad words and Analytics together provides insight and analysis. Measure your web traffic and marketing campaigns.

Online Marketing for Small or Home Based Companies.

In addition to Search Engine Marketing, the below are also otions for small and micro-businesses:

Social Media Marketing – if suitable, get on Facebook and recruit followers. Then start promoting your services.
Content Marketing – start a blog and create great content for people to find. (also helps SEO!)
Local Marketing – get reviews on your site, or (and this is essential) register your business with Google Business. Ask for reviews and remember to update it with images. Google+ also helps with SEO

Manchester based Search Engine Marketing company, Online Customer Solutions, help small businesses establish a web presence; refresh their current website and manage the digital marketing, including Google Adwords and other paid search.

Online Customer Solutions also support small and micro businesses in the Manchester area with Local Search advice, Social Media and Content Marketing.

OCS also provide generic IT advice and support, from purchasing to outsourcing and finance.

Find out more

Based in SK8, just south of Manchester in the UK, Online Customer Solutions provide Google Adwords and SEO solutions to a range of business, but specialise in helping small businesses grow.

Contact us today, we can advise and provide a range of services, from setting up a website, to improving online marketing and conversions.

make sales online with online customer solutions
Online Customer Solutions Logo