11 Easy Growth Marketing Hacks from Neil Patel
If you're wondering what is growth marketing or what is a growth marketer, this post is for you.
He graciously walked me step-by-step through what it takes to be a growth marketer. As an SEO consultant myself, it was an honor to connect with him.
In terms of credentials, here are some of his:
- US President Obama's top 100 entrepreneurs under 30 list
- the United Nations top 100 entrepreneurs under 35 list
- and Forbes Magazine top-10 marketing guru list
But that still doesn’t do him justice. Because he’s also a really nice guy. Humble, approachable and easy to talk to.
And I can't be alone, because his CEO Mike Kamo has a 100% approval rating on Glassdoor, and Neil hired him.
If you're in a rush and this post is TLDR, you can jump to the specific section you're interested in here.
Table of Contents
- Why Neil Patel Shares Growth Marketing Hacks
- How Neil Patel Picks Tech Startups to Invest In
- Personality Traits Neil Patel Looks for in Founders
- How Neil Patel Creates Top Ranking Blog Posts
- Neil Patel's Headline Optimization Strategy
- How Neil Patel Creates Top Ranking Podcasts
- How Neil Patel Ranks for Competitive Keywords
- How Neil Patel Decides When to Blog and Podcast
- Sliders and Pop-Ups vs Content Injections
- Neil Patel's Favorite Lead Gen Tools
Neil is the real deal. If you follow these easy growth marketing techniques, you're organic traffics will grow.
1. Sharing Growth Marketing Hacks
He’s probably the most generous digital marketer alive, sharing tons of useful, evergreen “how to” growth marketing hacks for free.
Neil publishes tactical growth marketing content on his popular Neil Patel blog.
And he maintains a popular YouTube channel that's always overflowing with fresh, informative, useful content.
In my opinion, his collection of work are probably the best growth marketing hacks of all time.
He’s entirely an self-made man who has bootstrapped a veritable empire from next to nothing.
He’d never call it an empire.
But it is.
And if you know me, you know that I always call a spade a space.
Neil also invests in and has grown a number of his own self-serve, lower-priced software-as-a-service offerings.
He’s also established a global digital marketing agency called Neil Patel Digital with 7 offices worldwide.
His firm grows traffic for small and medium sized businesses and enterprise clients through SEO, paid digital, conversion optimization and email marketing funnels.
Here’s how Neil is growth hacking post COVID-19 and how he decides which tech startups to invest in.
2. How Neil Picks Startups to Fund
OK, so this one isn't a growth marketing strategy. But stick with me. It does apply.
Unless you're willing to roll up your sleeves and get dirty, you're not going to be successful at growth marketing. Let me explain.
One of Neil's first Investments was a company called WalkScore which is a data service that rates a neighborhood’s walkability.
The service was integrated into quickly into a number of mobile real estate apps.
Homebuyers searching for listings in say, Santa Monica could see how walkable, bike friendly and public transportation ready that neighborhood is.
When coupled with real estate listing information, that data became exponentially more valuable and company was acquired by Redfin. Neil has backed a number of startups through successful exits.
His first three software-as-a-service companies — Crazy Egg, Kissmetrics and Hello Bar — were and are all digital marketing information services.
When coupled with Google Analytics, they make it easier for content marketers to:
- Improve their Search Rankings
- Get more Organic Search Traffic
- And Generate More Leads
But the number one thing he looks for, is the founder. Ideas are a dime a dozen. It's all about execution.
3. Who Neil Invests In
Neil looks for self-reliant founders who aren’t afraid to roll up their sleeves. He want people willing to do whatever it takes themselves to drive growth, rather than those who rely on others.
He told me a story about an Ivy League educated founder who had received backing from a top incubator. This founder was unwilling to engage in enterprise sales.
Instead, he asked Neil if he knew any good sales people he could recommend to help them hunt for enterprise deals.
Unlike the Ivy leaguer, Pierre called and emailed prospective customers himself. He rolled up his sleeves and networked through to the decision maker and convinced them to try his service out.
Pierre is not a sales guy. But he's self-reliant, and willing to do whatever it takes to make it happen. He’s the type of founder that Neil likes to back.
4. How to publish top-ranking posts
What does it take to publish consistently top-ranking blog posts that reach on average 21,000 readers each?
You might think Neil has an army behind him churning out content with him, dotting the I's and crossing the t's.
But he’s also surprisingly self-reliant. He authors all his own content. And he’s shared a good deal of content about his streamlined writing process.
To summarize, his basic process starts with the headline, which he uses Ubersuggest to help come up with. He looks at the headlines around his keyword that have been shared most on social media by pulling a “Content Ideas” report.
Based on most shared posts that are similar to the topic he’s writing about, he comes up with 4 or 5 headlines. And he runs them by his editor Grant.
Before you read the rest of this section, STOP for a moment and really take this in:
5. Neil's Headline Optimization Strategy
Neil’s process is very methodical. He’s writing to rank for a keyword. So by starting with most shared headlines related to the keyword, he has a very clear direction from which to write his article.
He’s not going to waste time later trying to shoehorn his piece to work for a headline he writes after the fact. This is a key distinction if you want to work efficiently.
And it’s counterintuitive to most of us, because we often use the writing process to get clear about what we want to say. That doesn’t work if you're writing to get found by searchers.
In creative writing and journalism, we’re taught to write first and then create a headline summarizing our piece after it’s already been written.
If you’re a growth marketing specialist writing content to solve problems based on keywords, start with the headline. That way you know you'll be addressing the reader's pain point.
Then, you create the content to back up your promise. You've got to deliver. If your page bounces visitors, it’s not going to rank, even if it does get found.
It’s a different way of thinking about the process. But always, always, always start with your headline.
Once he and Grant agree on what the headline will be, Neil starts by writing the introductory paragraphs first. Next he jumps straight to the end and writes the conclusion.
Heatmap and behavioral analytics research (using tools like Crazy Egg and Hot Jar) show that blog readers check the introduction first. Then, they scroll to the bottom to read the whole article.
By writing the conclusion, he tells the reader what they'll get if they read the whole piece.
That growth marketing tactics works to get them to spend more time on the page. Especially if they're curious to know how he arrived at those conclusions.
It's an amazingly clever, strategic approach to writing blog posts that grow traffic through organic search and social media sharing.
It's why I call him an owned and shared media master.
After his headline, opening paragraphs and conclusion are in place, he inserts his sub headlines, or H2 tags, between the headline and the conclusion. And these are all semantically related terms he’s pulled from “Keyword Ideas” report in Ubersuggest.
In the old days, we used to call this keyword theming. Neil has taken the practice to the next level by showing how to put it into action.
Then, he fills in the body text under each of the sub headlines with his body copy. From there, it goes to his editor who takes it final. After it’s done, Neil pushes and shares.
He creates his own images, usually screenshots, and the whole shebang takes anywhere from 2 to 5 hours to produce the initial draft. He moves articles on his blog once a week.
Neil works with freelancers to translate his blog posts into Portuguese, German and Italian. He says going international is the easiest way to grow traffic. He has a great post about using hreflang tags on your website to help Google find and index blog posts in other languages.
In addition to translating his posts and other languages, he modifies his content so it's a better fit for the marketplace.
6. How to produce a top-ranking podcast
When I interviewed Eric Siu, he shared that their podcast earns close to a million dollars in sponsorship revenue annually.
Sometimes they go live on Zoom and stream out via Restream when they’re recording. Zoom puts them in front of a live audience and lets them build engagement and mix it up with live questions as well.
The format is surprisingly unrehearsed and very relaxed. Both Eric and Neal know their stuff so well, all they really need is a headline and some bullets. They riff off all sorts of valuable growth marketing tactics that are extremely useful to growth marketers.
Eric told me it took years for them to build their podcast audience. This just goes to show you that if you always use hard data to allocate marketing resources, it's impossible to build something from nothing. You have to have faith in yourself, ignore the data and trust your gut.
By having the stamina and stick-to-itiveness, they built their podcast into a significant revenue engine and a public relations machine.
Based on my experience, being able to fly right off the cuff could be a trait of highly successful people. They require way less time to present effectively.
7. How to Rank for Competitive keywords
Neil has ranked for a lot of hard keywords, but he says his digital marketing process is always the same.
Neil has ranked for:
- online gambling
- online casino
- auto insurance
- web hosting
- online poker
- credit cards
- and other terms that are super competitive
He’s even ranked for one word terms like “cars.”
He starts by Googling to see who's ranking the top 10 for that keyword. Not just the domain, but the actual pages. He looks to see what content they have, because most sites that rank high are content rich.
Then, he goes out and creates better content than them.
It’s rarely easy, but he just goes into more depth. He includes more images and does a better job creating useful content that answers the question being searched.
He doesn’t add images and videos for the sake of adding images or videos. He adds images or videos that genuinely answer the searcher’s question.
If he wants to rank for “online poker,” he creates best content for “online poker.” He might create a detailed infographic that breaks down how to play poker.
He’ll produce video tutorials and whatever else is required to outperform the top ranking posts.
Neil just goes deeper into the subject matter and creates better content.
He might cover:
- How to Bluff
- How Not to Bluff
- When to Double Down
- When to Double Up
- and How Much to Bet Depending on your Cards
He gets really specific. More so than the competition. And he makes it super actionable.
He calls it “newbie proof” content. Someone new to the subject can get an easy-to-scan breakdown, with step-by-step instructions.
They can grasp comprehensive subject matter in a short period of time without getting too confused.
Going down into the weeds can be confusing to a newbie who doesn’t have the basic lay of the land in order.
Once he’s got the content completed, he promotes it on the social web. Then, he emails to his list, and asks people to like, share and link. Promotion is a big part of it too.
He doesn’t just build it and expect people to come. He promotes all his content!
In addition to sharing on social media, he has a great post on asking bloggers to link to and review your content.
He uses this same strategy for multiple pages and keywords. Then of course, he interlinks those pages together and rinse and repeat.
Neil is almost like a modern-day magazine editor.
And that’s why I say Neil Patel is an owned media and a shared media master.
8. When to blog, when to podcast
If you podcast, it makes sense to produce a live webcast because it only requires a little extra effort.
But if it’s not about something people are going to search and want to read, it’s probably not worth blogging about. The benefits of podcasting are unique to the format.
Not all YouTube videos work as blog posts. Sometimes it may.
But some of the content that you'll cover won't make sense in an audio podcast format. If it’s step-by-step, and granular, and requires a lot of back-up images and video tutorials, people may get lost.
You can certainly include images, URLs and logos on screen in a YouTube video. But charts and graphics may not scale down well to a smaller size.
If it’s an audio podcast, technical content may be too tough to follow without imagery. So let the message determine the media.
Some of it, like possibly interviews, may make sense for multiple formats.
It depends on the content type and the media format. So in the end, do what makes sense for your audience.
Need help hiring a blog writer or editor who’s seasoned and knows what they're doing? Neil says check out the ProBlogger Job Board.
Prior to the pandemic, it was something Eric spoke at conferences about all over the world. SaaS is Single Grain’s niche.
I asked Neil, if he were just starting out today in digital marketing, what niche would he focus on?
Where does he see the most opportunity?
Always start with where your existing contacts are. It's going to be easier with contacts in a market that already knows you than coming in cold.
That said, Neil does see some underserved markets in the digital marketing space.
Before I tell you what he said, I want to clarify something that’s widely misunderstood when it comes to growth marketing and lead generation.
Some marketers say lead generation is a crowded space. The truth is, they’re confusing email list brokers with lead generation.
Email list brokers who sell you lists so you can spam the world give lead generation a bad name.
They're selling you emails that are scrapped and worthless because those people have not agreed to hear from you. They don’t want to hear from you.
Those who buy and use these lists are quickly tagged as spammers and alienate more people than they convert.
But agencies that specialize in generating leads through organic search engine optimization, content marketing, list building and email marketing provide real value.
They help you get found by qualified prospects searching for information on problems you can solve.
But Neil, whose Neil Patel Digital works with some of the biggest brands in the world, says too few agencies handle the conversion side of the equation. And unless you’re selling advertising, traffic is worthless if it doesn't convert.
There’s a real vacuum when it comes to growth marketing agencies that can handle:
- Landing Page Optimization
- Conversion Optimization
- Lead Scoring
- Lead Nurturing
- and Sales Enablement
There are very few agencies out there today that can do both lead generation and demand generation well.
Almost none who can lead a horse to water and make him drink.
There’s a shortage of firms equipped to drive traffic and move prospects through the funnel.
Neil sees this as an underserved market. I got on the digital marketing bus in 2005 and never looked back.
I’m one of the few who does both, but I’m an independent advisor, so I don't handle enterprise accounts.
Most of my work involves teaching freelancers and agencies how to ramp up and play in this space. I also teach companies to learn to do it themselves.
Neil also sees very few firms out there focusing on helping self-serve, software-as-a-service solution providers grow recurring revenue. For most marketing agencies MRR, ARR and LTV are new ideas.
But as more and more companies transition to subscription business models, more people are learning the basics of lead generation and revenue operations.
Revops involves aligning sales, marketing and customer success together and measuring them against common goals.
Neil also thinks local businesses are tremendously underserved by digital marketers.
But my sense is they may not be able to afford to pursue the long game of SEO, content marketing and email marketing. It really is a marathon.
9. Sliders and pop-ups vs content injections
The growth in traffic helped CEO Max Altshuler sell Saleshacker to Outreach. Gaetano spoke at length about his use of content injections as a growth marketing technique to build email lists.
Neil says content injections, with copy specific to the page they're embedded on, are more effective. They draw more email subscribers than sliders and pop-ups.
In fact, Hello Bar used to have a content injection feature.
But no one used it.
So in spite of the fact that content injections work better than pop ups and sliders from a tactical standpoint, they're just too laborious.
As a result, fewer than 5% of customers took advantage of the feature.
Neil likes content injections, but he says sliders and pop-ups are just easier to deal.
10. Follow these SEO news sites
There are a lot of sites that cover news and information about search engine optimization , so I asked Neil which one is the best.
He said that while Search Engine Roundtable isn't the most popular site, they produce the most content on Google updates and algorithm changes. He likes that site for that type of information.
He likes Search Engine Land for breaking news coverage.
He likes HubSpot, Moz, Backlinko and Search Engine Journal are tactical content.
But when it comes down to which one is the most prestigious, he says it’s probably Search Engine Journal.
I did a deep dive interview with Search Engine Land’s former editor Danny Sullivan before he went to work for Google.
11. Neil Patel's Lead Gen Stack
He's tried almost everything over the years, but here is what is currently active on his site:
The concept that every company must be a media company on the internet is the most important one to grasp. If you want to be successful at growth marketing, you've got to act like a media company.
Just as television news and magazine editors work to produce content that drives ratings, digital marketers produce content to drives rankings.
If you want to rank first for a keyword, follow Neil’s growth marketing tips to effectively and efficiently.
Produce the best content available online for that keyword. Doing that may not be easy, but it is straightforward.
Invest the resources to produce the very best content and you will rank in organic search. Neil has decades of experience. Follow his tips in this article if you want to get there.
Search the keyword you want to rank for, see who's coming up first, and check the content. If you’re not committed to creating content that's better than that, you're not going to rank for that keyword. Stick to paid media.
There's no special sauce anyone can poor on your existing website to make you rank first.
You have to actually create the best content by putting Neil’s growth marketing tips into action.
I'm grateful to have had an hour to connect with the master Neil Patel and hear these amazing 9 growth marketing techniques for 2020.
There were actually 23 growth marketing tips he shared with me, but I consolidated some and skipped a few in this article.
If you want all 23 growth marketing hacks, watch this YouTube video of or conversation.
And if you want more on YouTube marketing for B2Bs, Neil's great at that too. But also check out this interview with Adam Erhart.