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From Web Marketer to Growth Hacker in 8 skills

Traditional marketers were trained to market traditional products – products that were tangible. They leveraged distribution channels, like television, radio, and print, to sell these products with their skills spread across branding, distribution, and writing great ad copy. However, with the advent of the digital age, came new products. Products that were intangible, connected individuals globally, and could be marketed ‘online’. This forced traditional marketers to evolve into digital versions. They had to learn about new marketing channels, pick up skills like SEM, email marketing and had to stay current to survive.

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However, today we are seeing the digital landscape evolve further. Marketing and product are going more hand-in-hand; the siloes between marketers, designers, and programmers ar

e breaking and small teams/startups are disrupting industries. As a result, the role of marketers are extending to having to leverage design, technology, and analytics to get users to engage with a product. They need to know how to implement analytical tools, analyse data, create designs, run A/B tests, optimise a site, and even run full-fledged 360 degree campaigns. These are your new-age marketers or also known as growth specialists. Startups are hiring these specialists as growth hackers, but larger companies will be looking for these skills soon enough.

If you’re a digital marketer or an entrepreneur, here are six skills to transition into a growth hacker/growth specialist.

  1. Analytics: You need to know how to collect data, analyse numbers that drive decisions and draw actionable insights. With so much data being collected (user demographic, activity, interaction), the new age marketers are implementing tools like MixPanel and Google Analytics, leveraging user data and making smarter decisions about growth. While there are new age tools to do part of their job, larger companies still
    depend on Excel, SQL to pull out data and run queries. If you want a rockstar marketer or a growth specialist, here are a few resources to pick up these skills.

a) Mixpanel 101, Google Analytics Beginner’s guide and Tutorials, Crazy Egg.

b) Excel Tutorials (Basic & Advanced).

c) Intro to SQL.

  1. Marketing automation: While most marketers have a specialty in one v
    ertical (for example, email marketing, SEM, or content marketing), growth specialists are usually well-versed with each of these components and know how to utilise them effectively. However, marketing isn’t about getting users at the top of the funnel anymore. It now includes keeping them engaged, and then finally converting them into revenue-generating users while trying to automate as much as possible. Growth specialists are adept at setting up lead magnets, behavioural campaigns that get activated based on certain user actions on the platform.

a) Here are some skills to pick up:

i) Set up Drip campaigns using Mailchimp.

ii) What are Lead Magnets? How to set it up on Mailchimp?

iii) Setup triggers using Zapier.

  1. Design: In larger companies, there are dedicated designers usually making creatives. In a startup scenario, marketers should ideally have design chops tool. They needn’t necessarily know how to design websites, but should be able to make ad creatives, landing pages, email templates, info graphics, e-books and have an overall design sense. While tools like Canva make it easier, knowing a little bit about CSS and Photoshop go a long way in creating enhanced designs.

a) Tools to learn: CanvaPhotoshop.

b) Understand design for conversionsdesign principlesE-Book.

c) Understanding color theories.


  1. A/B testing: Another skill that most growth hackers are, or should be, quite well versed with is A/B testing. A/B testing is a method where you can test the CONTROL (Original) against a VARIANT (Changed Element) and see how it affects conversions. Usually, marketers compare things like subject lines, branding messages, images, and completion forms by splitting the traffic between the control and variant to see how each of them perform. Tools like Optimizely, Visual Website Optimizer allow you to perform A/B testing on the website/app, but these tests can be performed across channels also. To get a holistic understanding of A/B testing, it is important to understand concepts like confidence intervals, statistical significance, multivariate, and split testing.

a) Learn about A/B TestingCase studies.

  1. Agile methodology [product development]: As teams become more collaborative, marketers need to understand the nuances of agile methodology and product development. How to break down feature sets into smaller stories, how to write stories, how to assign points and how to track progress of development with daily meetings and sprint planning. It’s usually the role of a product manager/CTO to lead this process, but marketers who know this will stay current and excel. In most startups, you will see growth hackers being involved in agile meetings, writing good stories, and knowing how to prioritise enhancements based on business impact and technical feasibility.

a) Introduction to product management, Points system

b) How to write stories.

c) Agile Tools.

  1. Copywriting: Right from the times of Don Draper in Mad Men, writing great ad copy has been the difference between standard shelf products and those creating legacies. Coming up with a good copy requires creativity, understanding the core values and brand equity of your company, and knowing your customers. Growth hackers aren’t just analytically driven, but know how to create good ad copy that creates emotional triggers. UpWorthy grew from 0 to 6.4 million users in a year because of two reasons – great repurposed content and great copy. The editors would sit together and write 25 headlines before deciding their top headline.

a) 75 copywriting resources, how to write great copyUpWorthy strategy.

  1. Coding/building websites: Well, you don’t need to learn code, but comprehending the basics allows for empathy. Sometimes as entrepreneurs or marketers, we end up making aggressive demands about feature sets that need to be built to draw customers. But knowing technology, to some level, helps you know both side of the coin better. My coding skills are close to non-existent, but sitting creating a simple site on WordPress or Shopify can be a great start to understand themes, plugins, APIs, integrations, and a development environment.

a) Build a site using ShopifyHow to make a website.


While digital marketers have been responsible about getting users to the product, growth hackers now been given the responsibility to get them activated, retain them, and convert them into revenue-generating users. As digital marketers, it’s important to pick up these skills to stay ahead while entrepreneurs need this to keep their startups afloat. Overall, these skills make you a better entrepreneur and will help grow your product quickly and more effectively.

An E-commerce Christmas

A few years ago, I decided to give my six nieces and nephews
I kept my promise and helped each of them find prsomething different for Christmas. Instead of the usual Barbie dolls and G.I. Joes, I gave each of them their very own e-commerce account. The lesson was simple:  When you have an online store open for business, you see the world through the lens of an opportunist.  From that point on they would see a problem as an opportunity,  and every item as a potential SKU. Despite my good intentions, the children looked disappointed and some suspected this was just a lame cover-up for losing the kid’s wish list that year.  I explained that this was their very own store they could design and manage in any way they wished. And that I would be there helping them through every step.  After several “Won’t it be cool to be the only second grader with a store” pitches, their confusion turned to anticipation of opening their stores—or perhaps their next Christmas gifts.

Image result for christmas cartoon marketingoducts to sell, find a market, design a store for it, and merchandise, advertise, and monetize. One sold custom book covers, another wooden boats made by her 4th grade class to fund a whale watching trip (we made sure to advertise this point), but my favorite was a store that sold anti-bullying gear. Items included self-defense and child psychology books, as well as ‘kid-recommended’  hats, shoes, and shirts guaranteed to make any would-be wimp  appear too hip, unbalanced, or well-connected to be bullied in the first place (we had to look up the legal limitations the term ‘guarantee’ on this one).  Two of the young entrepreneurs even started a forum and blog for their products.  What started as a fun web project quickly became a lesson in social bookmarks, wikis, hyper-niches, pay per clicks, conversion rates and capitalism.

Though none of the stores made a profit, the return on investment was beyond our expectations.  None of the stores exist today, but the lessons we learned together live on.  I learned how much I liked being their uncle; they learned how much they liked being entrepreneurs.  In truth, my gift was no accident. It was my attempt to grow closer to my nieces and nephews through a shared purpose. I wanted them to experience the satisfaction and pride creating a business brings and more importantly how the process itself can enrich their lives. Simply put, I create businesses to express myself and connect with those that share my passion.

If animals are judged by their ability to survive, then entrepreneurs are better animals.  I have always respected those that took charge of their own Fate. To resist the allure of job security and question the conventional wisdom that promotes it.  To me, opportunism and risk was a form of raw, natural expression.  Instead of fearing it, I wanted to teach the kids how to embrace and control it. I wanted to teach them how to survive in the world of business and take charge of their lives. I wanted to give them enough confidence to adapt, persevere and succeed even after failing over and over.  In an increasingly competitive world, the ability to find and create your own opportunities as though second-nature is the new security. Leading others through it is the new Fortune 500.

“People and purpose,” my father always said. This is why I love building businesses. The camaraderie and sense of purpose I feel when helping others succeed in their business is the main reason I do it. The process of taking an idea and turning it into a reality is the reason I keep doing it. I suppose meaningful relationships are forged through meaningful endeavors. Or as the kids would say, “the store gives me a reason to keep bugging you Uncle G”. Whatever the reason, I’m glad I lost the kid’s wish list that year.

Which Media Revenue Model Should I use?

I was recently invited to present in front of a group at the San Diego Startups in January. I’ve been to these meetups in the past (ie Open Source CMS),  but this is one is different. I’ve been selected among 5 other presenters to the Revenue Model Workshop. At this event they selected 5 startups to give a brief presentation of their business, focusing on their revenue model. A panel of experts will provide insights, suggestions, and helpful alternatives for the entrepreneur to consider as methods to generate more revenue from their business more efficiently.

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This is a great chance for me to learn how to monetize it RezRedo.com (advertisement to the left of this blog). VC Dan Jenkins said on his blog, “Most web apps will be monetized with some kind of media model. Don’t think banners when I say that. Think of all the various ways that an audience that is paying attention to your service can be paid for by companies and people who want some of that attention.” The question is which model to choose?

Chris Anderson of Wired.com, put together a strong Media Business Model list of revenue models you can find in the media industry, all based around a core of free or almost-free content:

  • CPM ads (“cost per thousand views”; banner ads online and regular ads in print, TV and radio)
  • CPC ads (“cost per click”; think Google ads)
  • CPA ads (“cost per action”; pay only if the customer performs a certain action)
  • CPT ads (“cost per transaction”; you pay only if the customer brought to you from a media sites becomes a paying customer.)
  • Lead generation (you pay for qualified names of potential customers)
  • Subscription revenues
  • Affiliate revenues (think: Amazon Associates)
  • Rental of subscriber lists
  • Sale of information (selling data about users–aggregate/statistical or individual–to third parties)
  • Licensing of brand (people pay to use a media brand as implied endorsement)
  • Licensing of content (syndication)
  • Getting the users to create something of value for free and applying any of the above to monetize it. (Like Digg or our own Reddit)
  • Upgraded service/content (ed: aka “freemium”)
  • Alternate output (pdf; print/print-on-demand; customized Shared Book style; etc.)
  • Custom services/feeds
  • Live events
  • Souvenirs”/”Merchandise”
  • Co-branded spinoff
  • Cost Per Install (popular with top Facebook apps who can help others get installs)
  • E-commerce (selling stuff directly on your website)
  • Sponsorships (ads of some sort that are sold based on time, not on the number of impressions)
  • Listings (paying a time based amount to list something like a job or real estate on your website)
  • Paid Inclusion (a form of CPC advertising where an advertiser pays to be included in a search result)
  • Streaming Audio Advertising (like radio advertising delivered in the audio stream after a certain amount of audio content has been delivered)
  • Streaming Video Advertising (like streaming audio but in video)
  • API Fees (charging third parties to access your API)

A lot of your revenue model choices depend on B2B vs. B2C. Some work for both, while others are particular to the type of regular transactions that will be taking place. At this point, I have narrowed down my choices based off of this list and I hope this helped you do the same.

8 Lessons I Re-learned:
Choosing an E-commerce Platform

During our implementation of an e-commerce site, I  evaluated many different types of shopping carts, self-managed and installed, WordPress plugins and out-of-the-box hosted solutions. Initially we went with a WordPress plugin because it was cheaper and we thought it would suit our basic needs. But that had technical issues and we decided to re-evaluate our needs. I ultimately chose the Network Solutions e-commerce package and we found it to be mature and extremely sophisticated yet easy to use for even the most basic of shopping carts.

Now I am not here to pitch this solution, but I will say is you get what you pay for in many cases and if you are not a developer or have a development team I would stick with the mature hosted solutions that can probably do the job 99% of the time.Once we got past the setup, which I will talk about that experience in a separate post, we had to start looking at the external factors of tuning the site for people to find the products and optimize it for search engines. Through this experience, I wanted to give a short list of powerful SEO tips for your e-commerce web site: Make sure your e-commerce package integrates with analytics tools – at the very basic level you should be able to hook up your e-commerce system to Google Analytics to track campaigns, traffic and all the other basics. If you use specific analytics packages, you will have to evaluate that to see if it fits your needs.

  1. Prioritize the best and active sellers on the home page – If you had a physical storefront, you would hide the hot stuff in the back of the store. It would be in the front window to draw people in.
  2. Create landing pages that have your product name in the URL – Having the product name in a specific URL makes search engines really happy instead of come older systems that have it as a mix of numbers and characters that have no meaning to a search engine. You can also run campaigns to that specific page and track them better with the analytic tools we mentioned earlier.
  3. Leverage Social Commerce Techniques – This is a fairly new concept, one that I am speaking about at Social Commerce Camp DC, and it revolves around employing collaborative social media tools to assist in online purchasing and selling. Social commerce can be correlated with Search Engine Optimization as a way to build inbound links and generate user content, all of which are tools to improve a website’s search results on a given search engine such as Google.
  4. Add related links – Got this from SEMPO, “SEO is really about leveraging large amounts of pages efficiently, and using that scale to advantage. Related linking accomplishes that very well, but can be an intensive feature to implement and manage (there are several third-party resources for this, including TextWise, SLI Systems, and others)”
  5. Complete this e-Commerce checklist – This e-Commerce SEO Checklist has great tweaks for on-site, on-page and off-page SEO basics for the e-commerce site. We are currently going through each one in the next two weeks.
  6. Avoid using “View” or “More” words as anchor text – This is most common mistake committed by most of the e-commerce websites. Many people put a brief description on the product category page about various products and use “View”, “more”, “click here to read more”, etc., beneath every brief description to direct the users to the product pages.
  7. Find and kill duplicate URLs – This is similar to having duplicate blog content or any other type of content page out there. It results in page dilution and page rank split. SEMPO says “ecommerce sites are especially bad at having multiple versions of product pages. Normally we can find these with site: and inurl: search operators. Pay careful attention to the product level URLs, as this is usually the area duplicate content creeps in (through faceting and sorting of URLs, or through tracking or cookie information appended in the query string). It’s also an area that can cause major negative impact on search rankings. Each product page should have one single, authoritative URL.“

10 SEO On-Page Must haves

Here is a list of 10 On Page SEO Factors you need to watch.

  1. Keyword in Domain

    There has been speculation about whether this is a factor or not. I’d say it is, not because I am certain that Google’s algorithm gives points for this factor, however if your site is called http://Weekly-Offers-Online.com, non SEOs are going to link to you by your domain name, so what is the domain going to be optimized for? Yes you guessed it “Weekly Offers Online”.

  2. File Naming

    • File Names Should Be Relevant. Don’t call your home page “Ho

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      me” unless you are selling homes.

    • Make Sure that all keywords in the url are necessary. Sometimes I just want to slap myself (unless i know the developer) when I see urls like http://www.website.com/touch-your-toes/and-jump-up-high,1234,4321,7p/
    • Make sure you use dashes instead of underscores.
      • Weekly-Offers-Online = Weekly Offers Online
      • Weekly_Offers_Online = WeeklyOffersOnline
  3. Title Tag

    • All Title Tags should be related to the page.
    • Your Site’s Title should grab attention. When your site is listing in a Search Engine Listing, the title plays an important factor in your Click Through Rate. It has to be selected from 10 other similar pages.
    • You shouldn’t have duplicate title tags.
    • Your title tag is not there to display your company name only.
    • Under no circumstances should you leave your Title Tag Blank. Leaving out your web site Titls is similar to publishing a newspaper without a headline.
    • Make sure you put keywords here, do not over stuff and test out different tags for maximum effort
    • There are 2 factors you need to take into consideration.
      • Prominence = How far to the left your keyword is
      • Proximity = How often is your keyword shown in your title.
  4. Description Tag

    The Description Tag does not hold much weight for Ranking Purposes. However search engines uses it as a “snippet” of text that the search engines post from your page in any given search query. A good page description will increase your Click Through Rate and your Description Tag should work hand in hand with your Title Tag. However, it’s important to note that the snippet the engines use will vary, depending on what the searcher typed into the engine. Sometimes search engines like Google will choose the snippet text for you and will completely ignore the description tag.

  5. Body Copy/Text

    Everything is tied in together so make sure that the body is relevant to the title and the description tags. Make sure you also put your keywords here, however do not over do it and make sure that the text is still readable by a human. Your keywords should add up to not more than 20% of your body copy. The percentage is only by testing. Each topic has it’s threshold. For instance on a Poker Related Website more than 15% is most likely to be considered spam, this is only from experience and I have no other sources to justify it.Other things worth mentioning from experience is, I never saw a difference between using <strong> and using <b> for bold.

    Proximity and Prominence also plays an important part. The closer the key phrase is to the left, the better it is.

  6. Body Copy/Text

    Everything is tied in together so make sure that the body is relevant to the title and the description tags. Make sure you also put your keywords here, however do not over do it and make sure that the text is still readable by a human. Your keywords should add up to not more than 20% of your body copy. The percentage is only by testing. Each topic has it’s threshold. For instance on a Poker Related Website more than 15% is most likely to be considered spam, this is only from experience and I have no other sources to justify it.Other things worth mentioning from experience is, I never saw a difference between using <strong> and using <b> for bold.

    Proximity and Prominence also plays an important part. The closer the key phrase is to the left, the better it is.

  7. Headings

    Heading tags (H1 through to H6) are given more weight by search engines than regular body copy. So they should be used wisely to reinforce the page’s overall keyword theme. For instance do not put your blog post date within an H1 tag, because you’re NOT trying to rank in the search engines for a date. My tip is use only 1 <H1> Tag per page, this will make it easier for search engines to understand the theme of the page.

  8. Avoiding Canonicalisation Errors of your URL

    You may be hurting your ranking abilities without even knowing it. Canonicalisation errors occurs when a website is able to be accessed via both www.website.com and website.com, in severe cases this can cause the search engines to effectively index 2 identical copies of your site. Worse than that would be if you use also linked to the home page in different combinations throughout your website:

    • www.website.com
    • website.com
    • website.com/index.html

    DO use different anchor text for the same page.
    DON’T use different URLs for the same page.

9. XML Sitemaps

XML sitemaps are a way of communicating to Google and other search engines the page structure of your site, how often page content is updated, and when new content is added to the site.

Using an XML sitemap will help ensure:

  • All site pages are crawled and indexed.
  • Frequently-updated site pages are crawled more often.
  • 3.) New site pages are quickly indexed.

You can create your Xml Sitemap http://www.xml-sitemaps.com

10. Good Fresh Content

In my experience is that pages you update frequently are crawled more frequently by bots, especially Googlebot. This is especially true for new websites. This is because a new website usually don’t have a lot of trust and links pointing to it, therefore there are a few other ways for Google to know that your website has been updated.

As you might have figured out, following these points is not just about good SEO, it’s about good website design and development. There are websites who rank without having any SEOs working on them just because of this factor, however if you have a good website and you know Search Engine Optimization, than you will most definately have more edge over your competitors.



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