The term ‘growth hacking’ is already 12 years old and it all started with this blog post.
Since then, however, tons have changed.
I just googled “growth hack your” and it brought back 46,500 results.
I’m pretty sure that if I google “growth hack your relationship” I’m going to get a result for that, too. Never mind, I just did – and, yes, I did find a result.
And, most significantly, what does ‘growth hacking’ mean for the digital marketing industry today?
What is Growth Hacking?
Growth hacking is data-driven marketing that uses rapid experimentation and low-budget tactics to work out the foremost effective ways to grow a business.
A growth hacker may be a person whose true north is growth.
Everything they are doing is scrutinized by its potential impact on scalable growth, consistent with Sean Ellis, GrowthHackers CEO.
According to Chad Riddersen & Raymond Fong, authors of the expansion Hacking book, a growth hacker may be a highly resourceful and artistic marketer singularly focused on high leverage growth.
What is a Growth Hacker?
What is often described as ‘growth hacker’ existed before 2010, the term was coined for a practical reason: to differentiate the normal marketer from the type of marketer the startup and tech world needed.
A growth hacker is liable for creating cost-effective strategies to grow its customer base and, ultimately, its profits.
It’s no wonder that a lot of growth hackers don’t have a background in marketing, business, or maybe economics.
Many top growth hackers come from engineering.
Classic Growth Hacking Case Studies
The word “classic” and “10 years shouldn’t probably exist within the same sentence. But this is often digital marketing we are talking about and that’s exactly how we roll.
You probably know a number of the classic growth hacking cases and the way small companies managed to create brand awareness with $0 ad spend.
Companies like Dropbox, Airbnb, and even pre-Microsoft Hotmail. All of them can mean growth hacking as a basic component of their success.
Dropbox had a 3,900% growth within 15 months. during this famous growth hacking case study, Dropbox went from 100k users to 4M,
because of its referral program.
For each referred friend, Dropbox was making a gift of 500MB of space for both users.
Airbnb is another classic example.
The favored rental platform gave a simple choice to everyone who was posting their apartment on Airbnb to also post it on Craigslist.
If the user opted-in, then the post was automatically posted on Craigslist also.
And therein post, there was a link that was redirecting back to the first post on Airbnb.
As if this wasn’t enough, Airbnb scraped craiglist.com and contacted each user who was looking to rent their place.
Then, they sent a pleasant email saying “Hey, nice place you’ve got there, why don’t you furthermore may post in on Airbnb?” BOOM!
And then there’s the case of Hotmail, which within the mid-’90s went from 0 to 12M users in 18 months.
And this number becomes even more impressive once we consider the entire internet population of the age. So how did Hotmail pull that off?
What Growth Hacking isn’t About
Last year, we ran the now-semi-famous LinkedIn experiment where we proved that the place you insert a link on a LinkedIn post affects the entire reach of the post and therefore the total clicks it’ll get – almost by 3X.
So why didn’t we, as a growth hacking agency that sells growth hacking services keep that a secret and then added a “LinkedIn Growth Hack” service?
That’s because we don’t sell growth hacks – we sell growth hacking.
Let me make an analogy here and compare growth hacking to well-being.
There is no hack to well-being.
Indeed, exercising and eating well help, an honest night’s sleep and meditation also help, then do finding a way of purpose in your life and a community of individuals to surround you.
But who can say that they did one thing that completely changed their life for the better? Well-being isn’t that one life hack that will transform you.
To achieve a particular level of well-being, most people have to follow a process, create a system, experiment, and make mistakes.
That’s what growth hacking is all about.
So, whenever you read or hear about “The X growth tactics to rework your business”, just run away.
What Growth Hacking is basically About
Now that we all know what growth hacking isn’t, let’s see what it stands for.
Growth hacking is the branch of digital marketing where data matters quite a hierarchy, and ROI is more important than brand awareness.
Growth may be a mindset – it’s not about implementing a particular tactic. It’s about seeing what works and what doesn’t – and why. Accordingly, growth hacking is about documentation and leaving something behind.
For example, we recently documented reasonably successful automation that helped us fill a whole class for our Growth Hacking University, and made it public.
From the PDF creation to the testings and therefore the man-hours needed for each step, you’ll take a glance at the whole process here:
How one Automation Helped Us refill a whole Class.
In practice, growth hacking is usually about three things: the funnel, the method, and therefore the skillset.
Let’s take a fast check out all of those.
On the one hand, digital marketing primarily focuses on the way to get customers.
On the opposite hand, growth hacking’s concern goes beyond acquisition and it examines the remainder growth funnel, too.
The growth funnel is formed of 5 stages. a customer goes through. Each stage focuses on its metric. Accordingly, these phases are:
As Activation is additionally a part of the merchandise in many cases, growth hacking blurs the road between marketing and merchandise.
For more about the expansion funnel, how it works in practice and the way you’ll make your own, you’ll read this next: AARRR Framework: 10 Steps to putting together a Growth Funnel
Growth hacking involves a process.
That process is about
Growth Tribe, the tech-related academy from the Netherlands, describes has built a growth hacking process framework called G.R.O.W.S. (of course it might have its sassy acronym).
This framework is formed of basic steps:
Hopefully, the infographic at the start of this post probably gave you an honest idea of what a growth hacker is meant to be.
A growth hacker is additionally usually identified with the T-Shaped marketer, also referred to as the Π-shaped marketer.
A T-shaped marketer is the sort of marketer who covers a good range of the digital marketing spectrum and focuses on one or two areas.
In our agency, and other growth hacking agencies also, another important aspect of what makes a growth hacker is that of labor ownership.
In digital marketing agencies, it’s not uncommon to ascertain managers and departments, and what we call a proper hierarchical data structure. permanently or for bad, in growth hacking, there’s usually none of that.
Most growth hacking agencies are flat organizations.
We are to ad/ digital marketing agencies what startups are to enterprises. More or less.
So let’s see what this whole T-shaped thing means in practice.
What growth hacking means for somebody like me (a content marketer)
Excuse me for the primary person singular I’m getting to use for this particular part, but I’m the professional I do know the foremost, so that’s where I can get the foremost insight from (makes sense, right?).
So I’m the copy/content guy here.
Let’s put copywriting aside for now and specialize in content writing.
Do you want to understand what my content marketing process seemed like a couple of years ago before I found growth hacking?
To begin with, if I wanted to write down a bit of content I might do some research.
By googling. Then I might write that piece of content and would post it on social media.
And the truth is that this is often what content writing seems like for several marketers.
Unless you create viral content that’s rarely enough.
Unless you write for an enormous media publisher, otherwise you are a well-established name in your industry or niche, the above actions won’t get you far.
Because you’ll never get an ongoing organic traffic source, you can’t rank your content on Google. And thus, your content has little to no value.
Now enter the T-shaped (content) marketer.
When I write a bit of content now, I do research but also keyword research, too. Usually, I often spy on our competitors also. When I’m through with the writing part, I do an on-page SEO.
I also make the thumbnail and therefore the OG. It’s nothing fancy, really, but it’s good for what it’s.
Furthermore, once I want to distribute the post, I’m going beyond social media and communities. I also do email marketing (newsletter and outreach), and until recently, we were also broadcasting our blog posts via chatbot.
Then comes the off-page SEO which is as important because the writing intrinsically, is less important.
A few days after the post goes live, I will be able to even have a glance at our Analytics and Ahrefs to ascertain what worked and what didn’t’.
Also, many of our posts are a part of our inbound marketing strategy. I shouldn’t just “bring people to our blog”.
Our traffic should be supported by search intent. I acknowledge that acquisition is merely at the highest of the funnel.
If the reader is additionally a marketing/ sales lead, and not i.e. another fellow marketer who wants to find out more about a few certain topics, we’ve to seek out ways to bring said lead further down the funnel.
My work doesn’t happen during a silo. It’s connected to the business.
Growth hacking remains a strong tool and a mindset within the hands of startups and businesses with limited budgets, including agencies that provide employment for them, like startup marketing agencies and SaaS marketing agencies.
If I wanted to compress this whole article into one sentence it might be:
Growth hacks are out, growth hacking is in.
So, until next time, happy growth hacking!