Growth hacking is a process of rapid experimentation across marketing channels and product development to identify the most effective and efficient ways to grow a business. Growth hacking refers to a set of both conventional and unconventional marketing experiments that lead to growth of a business.
A relatively new phrase, coined by Sean Ellis in 2010, “Growth Hacking” is an important tool to anyone involved in the world of start-ups. Growth hacking entails a combination of marketing, programming and data analysis.
What is growth hacking?
Growth hacking is equal parts art and science. A “hacker” is someone who thinks outside the box, disregards the rules, and discovers new ways to solve problems. In this way, a growth hacker needs to be as creative as they are analytical.
A common misconception is that a growth hacker needs to be a programmer. A growth hacker usually needs a programmer on his team, but they don’t have to be the programmer. An understanding of programming obviously helps. Growth hacking is believed to be more of a mentality than an actual skill set. The general process of growth hacking is as follow:
Growth hackers use their knowledge of product and distribution to find ingenious, technology-based, avenues for growth that sometimes push the bounds of what is expected or advised. Anyone can become a growth hacker provided they have the right attitude and are willing to work hard. Data analysis is one of the key components of growth hacking and growth hackers rely heavily on analytics. Although analytics are very important to a growth hacker, they are also “right-brained” as they use creativity, curiosity, and qualitative research at times.
The growth hacker funnel is one of the many useful tools used by successful growth hackers. A funnel helps guide things which are hard to control (in this case, people). This funnel is typically used to set growth hacking priorities. It is broken into three main sections:
- Get visitors – finding ways for people to land on your product
- Activate members – helping people take predefined actions in your product
- Retain users – helping people become habitual users of your product
Growth hacking and startups
Start-ups are usually small and initially financed and operated by a handful of founders or one individual. Growth hacking is an essential tool for people involved in start-ups because it does not necessarily require a lot of money and aims to target and reach a large audience in a short space of time. Growth hacking allows start-up businesses to use their limited funds efficiently to achieve desired results. This method is often less costly and has a greater impact than traditional marketing methods, which are usually time consuming and only show progress over a long period of time. One of the major factors of a successful start-up is scaling in a short amount of time (relative to that of big traditional and established businesses). Growth hacking facilitates scaling and if done correctly can cultivate exponential growth.
Dropbox is a great example of a company who successfully used growth hacking techniques to grow their business and to becoming a $4 billion company. They spent very little money on advertising and rather used growth hacking techniques to acquire customers in a way that scaled. Their first growth hack technique was using a sign up driven landing page. The page was simple and provided users with the option of signing up/downloading Dropbox or viewing a short informative video about the product. Their next smart move was make a simple and easy signup process, once Dropbox was downloaded they allowed users to sign up in a few simple steps off their computer instead of using a web browser. After the user had signed up, Dropbox would put a photos folder and a ‘Getting Started’ text file to help get them started.
Dropbox’s biggest growth hack success was through referrals, which increased signups by 60%. They made it really easy for users to tell each other about the product and even gave them incentives. For example, when one person who has Dropbox refers another, they both get a 500MB increase, pending signup. This was taken a step further by incorporating social media. With each Follow on Twitter, Connect with Facebook or Twitter, Dropbox gave the user a 125MB increase.
Lastly Dropbox made it simple for people to share files. Both the sender and the receiver have little work to do. To share a file with people, all a user has to do is copy a link. They also made it available on multiple devices and platforms, appealing to a larger audience.
There are plenty of examples of other businesses that have greatly benefited from growth hacking such as AirBnb, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn. It is an extremely useful skill that is helping businesses grow and succeed. For a comprehensive guide on Growth Hacking read this article.