What is Growth Hacking?

Every now and then, a new buzz word appears, especially in the online world. For some years now, growth hacking has been on the lips of many from the business world and it has nothing to do with breaking into someone’s computer. So what is growth hacking and why so many businesses are looking for growth hackers?

I came across this term while reading Ryan Holiday’s ‘Growth Hack Marketing’, which by the way is a book I recommend to every marketer and business owner out there. Ryan explains the term and gives examples of growth hack strategies that have helped businesses like Apple, AirBnb, Hotmail, Dropbox,  Instagram and many others become what they are today.

“At the core, marketing is lead generation. Ads drive awareness…to drive sales. PR and publicity drive attention…to drive sales. Social media drives communication…to drive sales. Marketing, too many people forget, is not an end unto itself. It is simply getting customers. And by the transitive property, anything that gets customers is marketing. […] Welcome to growth hacking. Or better, welcome to actual marketing, where whatever works is marketing.” Ryan Holiday (via Fast Company)

Growth hacking is all about scale, about finding out of the box strategies that work, about constantly measuring and about acquiring new users that bring in new users. It’s about growing fast, growing big and going viral.

The growth hacker’s role is becoming more and more important in startups and this role means being able to manage multiple budgets and KPI’s simultaneously and be able to shift priorities as needed. He must see opportunity where others see challenges, solve problems creatively and he ties everything back to metrics. ‘Measure and adjust’ is his mantra.

‘The end goal of every growth hacker is to build a self-perpetuating marketing machine that reaches millions by itself’ – Aaron Ginn

Let’s see now what the most important aspects are when it comes to growth hacking:

  1. Product

Having a good product is crucial when talking about growth hacking. You need to develop a product that people want. You can be a firm believer in the ‘magic’ of growth hacking, but if you have a product that nobody wants, you’ll fail. Start with an MVP (minimum viable product) and then iterate and adjust by the feedback that you receive until you have a PMF (product market fit).

  1. Data

Before deploying any growth strategy, you need to have a measurement strategy and all the tools in place.  You need at all times to collect and interpret data. A data driven approach is extremely important. You can’t afford to make dramatic mistakes. Test at all times, measure and adjust accordingly.

  1. Tools

It is important to get informed about the necessary tools that will help you gather data, analyse, prepare the sales pipeline and keep you organised. You can use tools from Google Analytics (Analytics), Trello (Project management), Hubspot (Sales pipeline) and so on. Make a research, try a demo and see which work best for you.

  1. Digital marketing

Digital is better, digital spreads, digital converts. A good understanding of social media, SEO, PPC and email marketing is mandatory for every growth hacking strategy. Try them all and see which works better.

  1. Building a community and customer experience

The community and the customers experience are inseparable. Building a community is an important step in growth hacking. It’s the people from the community who spread the word about your awesome project. Pay attention to their needs and feedback, use the analytics tools to spot weaknesses in their experience and make things better. Keep your community close.

Conclusion

For startups and not only, growth hacking is an innovative way to grow and boost their business. Thinking outside the box, measuring and adjusting at all times, focusing on the product and on the target audience are the key elements of this results driven strategy.