Let’s Start With This: Definition of a Growth Hacker
“Sean Ellis (perhaps the Godfather of Growth Hacking) says that a ‘growth hacker’s true north is growth’, which ultimately means that growth hackers don’t care how they get growth so long as it comes.” – Logan Hall on What Is Growth Hacking?
What is growth hacking?
There has been much debate and interest as of late about Growth Hacking. The term has come to be somewhat of an Internet buzzword, especially within the startup community. Essentially growth hacking is a marketing technique that employs creative thinking, analytic´s and social metrics to gain traction and exposure. It is now becoming part of the online marketers’ arsenal of tactics, and typically uses low-budget and innovative methods rather than traditional marketing strategies.
Growth hacking is becoming increasingly central to startup activities, as it follows the lean methodology of accelerated and accumulative growth first, and then planning budgets second. However, the crux of the process lies in finding the right “hack” that will allow a startup to grow accordingly. It is worth noting that this first step in achieving growth, is often not a long-term strategy and should be considered as an element in the overall marketing plan.
Who are Growth Hackers and What Do They Do?
Sean Ellis coined the term “growth hacker” in 2010 and defines one as: “a person whose true north is growth. Everything they do is scrutinised by its potential impact on scalable growth. They are a hybrid of marketer and coder, one who looks at the traditional question of ‘How do I get customers for my product?”
A growth hacker´s focus is unsurprisingly as the name suggests governed by growth, whilst their strategies and tactics are all aligned to spur this on. It goes with saying that online marketers have similar interests in growth, but their tactics and vision is a much broader one. Typically growth hackers are fixated on one particular goal and will do whatever they must to effectively achieve this target, meaning they disregard the traditional methods of a normal online marketer. This has led to a new set of tools and practices that continue to grow, meaning the gap between growth hackers and traditional marketers is forever expanding.
Below is a brief summary of a step-by-step guide to the growth hacking process. For a more detailed analysis, Neil Patel gives some good advice and insight into the mechanics of the process here.
1. Define Actionable Goals
Focus, focus and focus. By narrowing down your goal you will be able to measure results that are meaningful and actionable. If you choose a goal that is too broad, then the experiment loses value and the results become diluted, making it difficult to analyse effectively.
2. Implement Analytics to Track Your Goals
If you don´t analyse your goals then what´s the point? Making sure you clearly define and analyse your goals, so that you have clear evidence as to what is working and not, validates your action but also over time provides you with valuable data that you can refer back to.
3. Leverage Your Existing Strengths
If you already have a sizeable email list for example, it would make sense to leverage this rather than spending valuable time and resources planning something else. The idea is to play to your strengths and use what you already have at your fingertips.
4. Execute the Experiment
Once you have the previous steps in place then you need to execute your experiment. However, beforehand be sure to write down your hypothesis so that you can reflect on what your assumptions were and whether you are right or not. This will help you understand and learn about your strategy and also maintain a degree of honesty when reporting and analysing. If your initial assumptions are wrong, then don´t be disheartened by this, even negative results provide insight into a process and will help you the next time around improve your experiments.
5. Optimise the Experiment
Experiments are an on-going process that should be refined, as you go along – not binned once it doesn´t work. A good way to go about this is to use A/B split testing, as this will allow you to select a method that is working and then refine it further improving your overall results.
Once you have been through the above steps then it is time to move on with a new experiment or to continue optimising.
1. Use Built-In Sharing
One of the most important ways to use growth hacks to grow your startup is by incorporating social sharing into your platform. Allowing your users to be able to easily and quickly share your content, is an effective and relatively easy strategy that means your users are marketing your startup on your behalf. This distribution method is widely used and that is simply because it is proven and tested and an effective and low-cost method to implement.
2. Reward Distributions
Since you want people to share your site, one common method of distribution is “forced virality”. In simple terms, this means restricting a certain section or area of your site until they have shared it. Alternatively, you may want to offer something for free such as an e-Book, discount etc. Personally, I have had much better results with this approach as after all, we live in a sharing economy and giving before taking is a good mind-set to have when it comes to online marketing.
3. Get People to Share Your Product
If your company sells a product you should strongly consider a mechanism that encourages sharing it. By spreading its popularity you can naturally attract potential new customers. This can be done using simple “Call To Actions” or a polite request to share this with others if they were satisfied or thought highly of the product.
4. Find Out Where Your Target Audience are Congregating
One critical way to discover new users is to find out where they are. It is often the case that if you have a particular target niche, that they will congregate in a particular place on the Internet. Therefore, it makes sense to spend some time finding out where they are so that you can tap into this niche and grow your customer base further.
5. Offer Free Products that be Converted into Paid Products
By offering free services or products, you have the chance to impress your customers and show them that you know your industry well. If you do this carefully enough, then the chances of the customer paying for the extra service you are offering, is much greater.
Piggybacking a company that already has an extensive user base, can leverage huge results when done correctly. If you’ve created a service that goes well with an existing service or site, it makes sense to appeal to the already existing customer base. As the company grows that you are piggybacking, your startup can also reap the benefits in parallel.
7. Get Endorsed
Endorsements provide an effective means of getting your company to grow virally, especially if it is a company that the public respects and trusts. Endorsements are normally paid relationships between your company and well-known or reputable experts, who will link to your product or website, through social media or a blogging platform.
As with all new trends and marketing methods, you will never fully understand the process until you actually put things into practice. Reading extensively before you embark on your mission will put you in good stead, but the real experience will come from getting your hands dirty. Growth hacking is here to stay and will become increasingly popular as more tech startups emerge around the world and people become smarter, more creative and quicker in seizing opportunities.
To compete in an already aggressive and fast paced environment, you need to give yourself the best opportunity you can – growth hacking should become part of your artillery. Good luck!