What is Growth Hacking?

Growth hacking is acutely focused on one thing - growth!

Growth hacking concentrates on creating a viral loop naturally built into the on-boarding process (@AndrewChen). New customers typically hear about the product or service through their network and by using the product or service, share it with their connections. This loop of awareness, use, and sharing can result in exponential growth for the company.

Airbnb, Dropbox, Instagram, Facebook. LinkedIn, Quora and Craigslist have all leveraged growth hacking to achieve growth.

  • Growth hacking appeared as the modern way in the age of Web 2.0 to reach a market and distribute an idea. Instead of classic marketing which typically interrupts your day, a growth hacker uses “pull”; he or she understands user behavior provides value immediately to persuade. A growth hacker wraps messaging into the fabric of the lives and thoughts of users. A growth hacker will leverage across disciplines, pulling in insights from behavioral economics and gamification, to find the right message to pull in users. (Aaron Ginn)

Definitions

  • Growth hacking is a marketing technique developed by technology startups which uses creativity, analytical thinking, and social metrics to sell products and gain exposure. (Wikipedia)

  • Most traditional marketers spend the majority of their time trying to buy the attention of prospects in the marketplace to drive awareness and interest in their product. Growth hacking tends to be more “experience” focused. This includes driving engagement and sharing within a product or spreading a product experience across networks. Generally this requires significant engineering knowhow or involvement and/or tools that empower non-engineers. Effective growth hackers are relentless about running creative experiments and optimizing the components of the experiment until finding something that works. (@SeanEllis)

  • A new process for acquiring and engaging users combining traditional marketing and analytical skills with product development skills. (@joshelman)

Insights

  1. Think of growth hacking as a beachhead, not a long term marketing strategy - you will need to evolve your strategy in order to succeed in addressing and staying current with the changing user base and needs of your brand. 

  2. Growth hackers do not replace marketers. A growth hacker has an obsession with growth and focusing on a much narrower scope. The growth hacker does not build and manage the marketing team, manage vendors or own and develop the marketing plan and objectives.

  3. Experimentation is key to growth hacking and represents a low cost, innovative way to connect with your customers through "pull" methodologies - search engine optimization, website analytics, content marketing and A/B testing are commonly used methods, as examples.