What is Growth Hacking?
Every decade in the world of tech, a new innovation erupts. A new way of disrupting businesses and condemning the status quo into an unexpected abyss.
Silicon Valley, the headquarters of technology has always led this tradition. From the Dotcom Boom to Social Media to Virtual Reality.
Now, something new seems to be in the offing. In fact when have we not had something in the offing? Since the days of UNIX, there has never been a dull moment.
Time to kill the suspense.
Yea, Growth Hacking.
For those who are at the nexus of the latest tech innovation, I’m referring to all startups, technopreneurs, this is not the first time you will be hearing this.
Growth Hacking is the latest fad in the startup ecosystem. Everyone in Silicon Valley seems to be crazy about it.
What then is Growth Hacking? Let me break it down for you.
For those who love fashion, Growth Hacking is the act of changing your fashion taste till you get your crush to like you. Translating this into the tech world, it simply means trying & leveraging as many methods & techniques as possible to attract users; essentially growing your business to a critical mass sufficient for virality.
A more technical definition entails the use of marketing, engineering and product management techniques to facilitate the growth of a business. Therefore a Growth Hacker is someone whose objective is to grow the number of users for a specific product or service.
Here is the catch. Unlike traditional marketing which has a general approach, Growth hacking is different or should we say unconventional.
In fact, it is better referred to as Digital Marketing 2.0. It simply starts where digital marketing stops. It’s all about hacking traditional marketing techniques till we unlock the growth code. It’s like a jackpot we keep playing. The only difference is there are fewer permutations which guarantees a win if we are patient enough.
A perfect example of growth hacking can be found in AirBnB. When AirBnB was in its initial growth phase, they realized they needed an X factor to take off or attain that critical mass required for virality. They devised many known marketing techniques. Online Ads, Social Media, Email Marketing. In short, they exhausted a big bucket list of techniques at their disposal. At this point, they have no option but to think outside the box.
Then it occurred to them , why not leverage a platform that has already attained that critical mass. If our product is great, there is a greater chance customers will try us out.
Now the difference is they are possibly going to be trying us out in large numbers. Exactly the kind of growth they were seeking.
To do this, they had to leverage some of their programming skills. Using an API, they were able to establish a symbiotic relationship with Craigslist.
Just like a ship clinging to its mother ship, AirBnB sought shelter in Craigslist and they took off from there. The important point is that Growth Hacking is not just about marketing. There is more to it.
It involves as much programming as we can possibly imagine. It’s more of the convergence point between marketing and programming. When the product doesn’t gain as much traction as expected, we have to go back to the drawing board.
Making product revisions is not just a programmer’s job, moreover, most programmers have to rely on the feedback from the analytics output provided by the Growth Hacker. A lot of testing (A/B), experiments and analytics generation is involved.
For you to be a growth hacker, you need to be willing to learn the required analytics skills. This might entail a little bit of programming as well. Provided you are passionate about data analysis and experimentation, you will find the job fun.
The following skills are common among most growth hackers:
As mentioned earlier, a growth hacker should be able to use tools like Google Analytics. Data analysis and interpretation should be second nature. They must have a strong passion for gathering insights and making decisions based on their findings. This makes a growth hacker akin to a Data Scientist.
- Problem Solving
A growth hacker is a problem solver. For every problem solver, the end goal is to ensure the problem is no more, regardless of the problem solving approach. Therefore a growth hacker should have the engineering mindset to tackling problems and proffering solutions using the problem solving tools and techniques at their disposal.
The ability to think outside of the conventional box is something that sets every growth hacker apart. Creativity is a skill that every growth hacker should possess. This means both left and right brain thinking is always engaged for problem solving.
A/B test, and all forms of experimentation are things that excite a growth hacker. Consistent test to determine what works is the norm. A growth hacker keeps iterating until they find a solution to a given problem.
It has been said that the primary goal of a Growth Hacker is to build a self-perpetuating marketing machine. In the future, there will be more demand for growth hackers as traditional marketers will lose ground due to the changing consumer landscape.
Here are a few insights from industry influencers about growth hacking.
A growth hacker is a person whose true north is growth. Everything they do is scrutinized by its potential impact on scalable growth – Sean Ellis
Growth hackers embody the hybrid between marketer and coder needed to thrive in the age of platforms – Andrew Chen
Have you ever considered Hiring a growth hacker to your marketing team?
Share your thoughts on Growth Hacking with us in the comments below.