My 10 Favorite Dark Web Marketing Tricks to Try for Growth Hacking

I’ve been spending a lot of time researching the latest marketing tactics. So I’ve recently crawled into some very dark places on the web. While many of the tactics from the underbelly test my moral code too much to be usable, there are plenty of ideas that are incredibly innovative and useful for growth hacking.

So, today I’ve pulled together some of my absolute favorite “dark web” marketing tricks. I know nothing about the actual dark web. But I hope these will help your marketing see the dark light of day!

Discover 10 of the best dark web marketing tricks for growth hacking:

1. Speak to your customers in their own language using word clouds.

Use the same words your customers are using. First, find customer language:

  • Pull customer writing from third-party review sites (such as G2Crowd or Yelp)
  • Find products or book with topics similar to yours and search for reviews on Amazon
  • Use qualitative feedback from any NPS surveys you ran
  • Pull customer support emails and chats
  • Make a list of your customers on Twitter and use their tweets

Then, use a word cloud tool like WordCloud to surface the most commonly used words and pain points. Include those words in all of your social profiles (add them to your bio title after your company name: Company Name | word word word, and in the description) and use them as hashtags. When using hashtags on Instagram, write a long caption and weave the customer-word hashtags into it, rather than piling them up at the end. Use them as your keywords on Pinterest to name your boards and in your profile. Use them in the on-page copy of your website, and within your calls-to-action.

You can also use this tactic to spy on your competitors. Find accounts on social in your niche that are doing well, and copy their bios into a word cloud tool.

Use a word cloud tool to surface the most commonly used words in competitors' bios & use them in your own. Or to surface common customer terms & use them in your product page copy. #growthhacking #marketingtips Click To Tweet

2. Get rid of bad links and get better links fast.

I also learned how to download your links which can help with search engine optimization. Once you do this you can easily weed out bad backlinks (spammy domains, private blog networks, low-quality online directories and so on). Just use the Monitor Backlinks free trial to get a report that shows you the bad ones, and disavow them right within the tool.

But, that’s not all! You can also see your good backlinks (pages that have a lot of links in, and from high domain authority sites 50+). Give those pages an extra boost by sharing them on social media or by linking out to them on other pages. This can give traction to the links, as search spiders note the recent activity and potentially give it more value. As a result, you’ll often see a positive trickle-down effect on your site as well, just by sheer association.

Also, link to Wikipedia. Just do it. DuckDuckGo loves Wikipedia, and Google does too.

“The Internet has exploded with all these different sources, with Wikipedia being the one people think about first. Bringing together those sites in an interesting way appealed to me and still does,” shared Gabriel Weinberg, 36, CEO of DuckDuckGo.

3. Post on LinkedIn using the long, thought-leadership post format.

Look, LinkedIn knows they’re competing for your attention against Facebook and Youtube. So right now, LinkedIn is the best place to get organic reach, because they want to incentivize people to use their platform, to win you away from other platforms.

Post at least once a day using the long, stretched-out format, ideally including lists and emojis. Do not include an image. Do include very specific hashtags. And ideally pose an interesting question. Here’s an example that got 799 views:

LinkedIn conversational long-form thought leadership post that got 799 views because it uses a list format and poses a question

Also, specifically follow marketing thought leaders that are over 40. These people have seen all the trends come and go (trends are cyclical!) and are huge sources of knowledge. Be the person getting the big picture perspective you don’t have.

4. Be incredibly specific in everything you do.

As of June 2019 there are now over 4.4 billion internet users, and there are 2.5 quintillion bytes of data created on the internet each day. In order to develop any sort of clout in a sea that big, you need to be incredibly specific. And this specificity should apply to everything from your products and your business name, to the keywords you target.

For example, if you were selling dog collars, you used to be able to use the keyword “dog collar”. Then you probably moved to “slip collar”, and then eventually to “medium slip collar” and today you should be hitting “medium slip collar pink.” A good rule of thumb is that your keyword should be at least three words long.

5. Fake a call for the most attention-grabbing ads.

Run Youtube pre-roll or Spotify ads where you fake a phone call by making the iPhone ringing sound to begin your ad. This is sure to jolt people out of whatever they’re doing and take note. Provide a number where listeners can text you to get more information or call you, since they’re on their phones.

Get more retargeting advertising ideas here.

6. Always put brand first when growth hacking.

OK, I know, you’re like where did you see that on the dark web? I didn’t exactly. But I did see a whole lot about optimizing for voice search so that counts. It is critical you build your brand because of voice search.

Stop only focusing on driving more leads short-term, and instead make people love what you stand for. Because when someone asks their phone to buy them something – which could be the dominant way of purchasing things within the next ten years – they’re either going to remember and say your name to get it from you, or not.

The only other option is to pay for that first voice spot, be part of the company delivering the voice results so they prioritize you, or maybe have a company name starting with an earlier letter in the alphabet.

One place to build your brand is on Facebook. It’s a great place to reach people 50-90, and those folks tend to have money. Join Facebook Groups.

The Super Bowl ad this year just reinforced Facebook’s investment in groups, meaning more, helpful features should continue to roll out. Just search for topics related to your business and find groups with around 1,000-55,000 members that have posted at least 10 times in the last 30 days. Look for rules that say you can’t self-promote because you’ll get a better quality of people and posts that way. Join about 20 of them. Then leave the ones that turn out to be spammy. In the others, give away your expertise: answer questions and ask relevant questions.

The other thing that might happen as voice search takes off is that links may become less of an indicator of the value of a website, and as a result, reviews could become the new “currency.” For example, reviews of your company on Facebook and LinkedIn, are most likely to be taken into account (analyzed by AI for their sentiment), because those pages appear high in search results today. Consider investing in soliciting incredible reviews over the next year.

7. Buy other internet locations.

You know how there’s a Starbucks on every corner? You can set up your business on multiple corners too. Look to buy expired domains, or even to buy current websites that people are selling. Facebook groups such as Flipping Websites are a great place to shop.

Consider domains that are similar to your business’ name, mis-spellings of your business’ name, or in the topical area of your business. Ensure the domains have good domain authority. If it’s a website make sure it only has a manageable amount of content, such as up to 100 posts. Or more is fine if they’re all good quality.

Either way, redirect the sites to your site or create a few well-optimized pages on the site and link back to your website from them.

And here’s a crazy idea that I’ve absolutely never tried, use Web Archive to find old content published in your niche. Apparently you can use this to scrape old archives. Then you can combine parts of it up into new posts (add original data insights and angles!), run it through Grammarly, interlink, and launch. You definitely have to add more new content to it making it a net new piece but it could give you something to build from. Also, and perhaps more ethically, you could use that old content to understand what a site used to rank for, and try to re-rank for it.

8. Create videos to report out to stakeholders.

Rather than sending over a .CSV or a .PPT to your boss, or colleagues, or client, make a 5-10 minute video for them. Show both yourself and the screens you’re guiding them through. Take them through typical reports by having a few tabs open such as Google Analytics, Google Search Console, your SEO tools, and their website.

Explain the big picture on each report: call out 1-3 specifics that really went well and explain why. Focus on results such as traffic, or clicks, or form fills. This video format will take less time, show them your excitement for results, and allow you to provide critical context.

9. Do group buys for martech tools.

If you have some non-competitive partners or colleagues in similar fields, go in on tool buys with them and share an account. Pool together your resources for just one account. This allows you all access to the tools you need at a much lower rate.

10. Create an Instagram pod with similar brands.

Pods are basically direct message groups. Imagine these being like Facebook Groups but for Instagram. Here’s the best way to get a Instagram group going:

  1. Select active members by checking accounts for at a minimum weekly posting.
  2. Pick members that have an audience similar to yours.
  3. Select members that are in the same or similar time zone as you because this helps with getting engagement quickly.
  4. Add all of your members to a group DM on Instagram (to do this open Instagram, click the house icon, click the plane icon in the top right, click the plus icon in the top right and type out all of the members names).
  5. Send a welcome message that includes the guidelines for the group (for example: must like and comment on every photo, 1 share per day, etc).

See a list of existing DM groups here. You could also just ask medium-sized accounts in your niche whether they are in an engagement group and if you could join.

My understanding is also that Instagram Stories are still a really underused medium, so you’re able to get a good price there at the moment.

Bonus: Update your page two content to get on page one

Gah, there are so many good ones it’s hard to chose. I just have to give you one more: how to improve rankings for phrases which is a super helpful tip from Andy. Go into Google Analytics and go to Acquisition, then Search Console, and then Queries.

Use an Advanced Filter to set the average position greater than 10, thus showing you the keyword phrases where presumably you’re on page 2. Look for phrases entered by people who know how they want to solve their problem and are looking for a solution.

Do a search in Google, and see if you get the page it’s saying you should. While viewing the page, search for the phrase to see how well the page is optimized for it. If the phrase keyword isn’t in the H1 title, meta description, sub-headers, and used multiple times throughout the page, update it. Also include answers to semantically linked content, which you can find in the suggested searches at the bottom of a Google search results page.

But, real quick before you start that, make sure you don’t de-optimize the page for other phrases it might rank well for. Just put the page address into SEMrush to see all the phrases the page ranks for and how high.

Would you be willing to send $5 to my Venmo tip jar because you learned something new in this article? Here: @megsterr

Learn more about growth hacking marketing

What is growth hacking in digital marketing

Creative ways to drive new leads online for a business. It involves developing new theories, and testing and refining them.

What is the role of a growth hacker?

A growth hacker’s role revolves around identifying new marketing channels and tactics that effectively drive leads. They test new areas, and then try to scale the ones that work.

How can I hack my business growth?

1. Use SEO keywords on every page of your website.
2. Create one awesome piece of content – such as a free helpful tool or a product comparison shopping guide.
3. Have an exit pop-up with a compelling offer, when someone tries to leave, in order to capture their email address.
4. Add urgency and peer pressure to your landing pages.
5. Have a clear call to action above the fold on every page.
6. Test all sorts of digital channels from Reddit to Craigslist to Instagram.
7. Place Google ads for your brand name and very bottom of the funnel keywords that are about three-words long making them very specific.

Growth hacking starts now with your new dark web digital marketing tricks

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You know how there's a Starbucks on every corner? You can have a business on the right corners too. Look to buy expired domains, or even to buy websites that people are selling. #growthhacking #marketingtips Click To Tweet

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By Megan Mitzel

I'm the wearer of overalls behind the marketing advice website Marketing Overalls. I'm also a senior marketing director with more than ten years of experience leading acquisition and lifecycle marketing at successful startups. Before that, I got a business degree at UNC-Chapel Hill. Before that, I owned a seashell shop. And that's the tea on me.