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If growth hacking were a person, it might be Commander Data from Star Trek: The Next Generation. Okay, he was an android, (and a quantum leap more powerful than smart phones!) though he evolved considerably during the show’s 7-year run, gaining emotion and even a sense of humor. But at heart (or whatever mechanical substitute was embedded in its place), Data was an analytical thinker focused on metrics: the best outcome for the Enterprise. His name was Data, after all. He might have been the original growth hacker.

Sean Ellis, who coined the term “growth hacker” in 2010, says you can recognize one by their “true north” focus: “Everything they do is scrutinized by its potential impact on scalable growth.”

Marketing as a discipline is undergoing a third millennium renaissance as we transition to a much more data-driven culture, where it’s harder to hide behind opinions. Marketing 2.0 answers “How do I get more customers/clients?” with: “A/B tests, landing pages, viral factor, email deliverability, and Open Graph,” according to Andrew Chen.

And there is an explosion of new tools to help growth hackers ply their trade.

Ellis, now CEO of Qualaroo, which provides marketing gurus with insights to improve conversions, recently made a point that really resonated with me:

  •  Expertise without tools is not particularly effective.
  • Tools without expertise are not particularly effective.
  • The combination of tools and expertise gets the big wins.

In our consulting practice, tools are a critical part of the equation, so I’d like to share the primary ones we use, and why.

Qualaroo If Freud had been a conversion expert he might have launched Qualaroo. After analytics tell you what people are doing when they visit your site, Qualaroo provides a window into why, like a metrics psychologist. Qualaroo enables users to ask their site visitors a quick question or two right on the site, such as after they signed up or purchased, to help you determine how people are getting value from your product or service, e.g., “What is the primary benefit you hope to get from X?”. This behavioral insight makes for better messaging to use in site-wide marketing, including hot button words and features. They could have called it, “Selling Made Simple”!

Optimizely It’s marketed as an A/B testing tool, but we like to think of Optimizely as a hypothesis validator. The most successful tests are based on a strong premise gleaned from reliable customer insights, not simply random testing of orange vs. green buttons because you read an article on someone’s blog. Once we come up with a hypothesis for how we might improve a page, we use Optimizely to validate it.

UserTesting There’s nothing like getting feedback from the horse’s mouth (it is a strange expression — but an effective marketing tool). This site recruits participants for you, conducts tests to gauge the tasks you specify, and delivers the goods via video in just one hour. It’s a great way to see exactly where users get stuck, so you understand how to improve your product or service. Usertesting.com is one of our first stops with new clients, since these tests often yield “low hanging fruit.”

CrazyEgg CrazyEgg generates “heatmaps” and “scrollmaps” to let you know where on a page your customers are clicking, and how far down they scroll. This qualitative data helps us understand how people use the site. Perhaps they’re not clicking on a few of the main navigation buttons, or maybe on only one. The scrollmaps make it easy to tell whether anyone is viewing content further down your site’s page.

Bonus: CrazyEgg integrates with Optimizely, so you can see the heatmaps for each test variation, which helps you validate the hypothesis.

Coastics It’s not easy being the boss; there’s so much competing for your attention. We discovered to our chagrin that of all the analytics dashboards on the market, management rarely logged into any of them! So we did an end run: sent screenshots of these dashboards to executives via email in order to motivate action. It worked. That’s the beauty of Coastics.

Coastics connects to Google analytics and creates daily/weekly/monthly summary emails formatted to look good on any mobile device. Busy executives no longer have to “fly blind,” and can check business metrics while sipping their morning caffeine.

Using these growth hacker tools, Cro Metrics is able to help our customers achieve a significant boost in both conversion rate and revenue. We think Commander Data would approve.

If you’d like to get started, or have questions about our tools or how we use them, I invite you to get in touch at chris@crometrics.com or call me: 415-505-7625.