GROWTH HACKING. It’s a term that has grabbed some people’s attention; it is buzzing all around businesses and various marketing fields.
It is a marketing technique developed by technology startups.
Growth hackers use their analytical thinking, creativity, and social metrics to sell products. It is a new approach to the product promotion. Think of growth hacking as a part of the digital marketing ecosystem because in the most cases, growth hackers use web tools. They have a deep knowledge of search engine optimization, content marketing, website analytics, and A/B testing.
Growth hackers focus on finding low-cost and innovative alternatives for traditional marketing. Instead of buying ads through media such as television, newspaper or radio, they use social media and online marketing. This is particularly important for startups, with the primary focus on growth followed by budgets.
Companies that use growth hacking techniques are not doing anything illegal, or immoral. They are just finding new ways to market and putting them into action. Hacking here means using the cracks and holes as an opportunity. For example, Airbnb succeeded partly because they hacked Craigslist. It was there for everybody to see and use, so they sent emails to people who placed rental listings there. They saw the opportunity and grabbed it – it is a great example of growth hacking. Now they earn millions of dollars per year.
It is a perfect marketing model for start-ups that don’t have big budgets for advertising campaigns. Also, someone doing growth hacking is thinking long-term. The individual is using the technique into a self-perpetuating marketing machine that can earn millions by its self.
Although a growth hack for each business is unique, there are some growth tricks to incorporate into your company. When you get a grip of growth hacking, you will come up with ideas of your own. Unique ideas are the ones that get you into the big league and fatten you bank account significantly.
WHAT IN THE WORLD DOES A GROWTH HACKER DO?
“Growth hacker” is a new job and a new word for most. Because print and mass media are fading away, there is a demand for a new approach to marketing. With the onslaught of mass customization and niching on the web, classic marketing techniques are not working anymore. That is a fact. We are awash with the mound of data and marketing fatigue is at an all-time high.
The number one problem every product and startup face these days is distribution. So growth hacking appeared as a new and modern way to reach markets and distribute an idea on the Internet.
Growth hackers use cracks within the system and implement new ideas instead of classic marketing. They also learn the behavior of potential clients; they learn it and use it to convince them to buy a product they are selling. They use subtle techniques, such as nuero linguistic programming (NLP), to wrap messaging into thoughts of users. To be a growth hacker is to swim successfully among disciplines – from economics to psychology and find a right message to attract clients.
The word “growth hacker” implies that coding ability should be a requirement to become one. However, when Sean Ellis coined the phrase, he had a different intention.
— Sean Ellis, founder and CEO of Qualaroo on the original intention of the word
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It is not a coincidence that there are several growth hackers that have engineering backgrounds. This correlation is needed to apply engineer-like precision to marketing or growth. A crucial characteristic of every growth hacker is creativity. The mind is the best tool in the marketing wars.
— Blake Commagere, founder of MediaSpike.
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The use of the word hacking relates to the question “how can we solve the problem differently”.
5 WAYS TO GROWTH HACK FOR REAL
Yeah, how did companies like Facebook, Twitter, Airbnb, StumbleUpon, Zynga, Dropbox, Reddit and LinkedIn pull it off? What’s their secret? How does growth hacking work?
We’ll give you 5 steps to help you use growth hacking wisely. So also remember – it does not need to be complicated. This is how you can apply growth hacker method easily.
1. IT BEGINS WITH PRODUCT MARKET FIT
Old marketing used to be applied after the product was finished. In that way, marketers were often forced to promote products that don’t resonate and do not work. They did not contribute to product development because they did not have the interest or skills to do so.
This is where growth hacking comes in. It recognizes that when you focus on understanding your users, you can build features that help you acquire and retain more clients. Growth hackers know how customers discover and adopt products rather than just spending the marketing money.
Today it is not enough to just market. It is about building a product that is easy to market. A good example for that are companies Zappos and AirBnB. They have unique solutions to the problem; they are great and therefore mostly market themselves.
Growth hackers always try to achieve “Product Market Fit.” In other words, a product perfectly designed to fit a concrete and critical need for a well-defined audience.
What’s one of the crucial signs? Word-of-mouth is not high. To put it simply – it is the product’s fault, not the marketer’s. Growth hacking, as most growth hackers will tell you, is pointless without product market fit. So do not rush the idea, tweak and re-tweak your idea until you get there. Run surveys, test, iterate and improve. Then the magic starts.
2. FIND YOUR GROWTH HACK
What is the next step once your product has been tested and developed for a particular audience?
Hacking is all about taking advantage of loopholes and underappreciated opportunities. Integration of Facebook was what American Spotify used. AirBnB did something really bold – they used Craigslist to get new users and high traffic. At Zynga, they were also prepared for everything, so they used cheap online advertising and Facebook alerts. Their CEO later admitted they were willing to do anything to get users early on.
Tim Ferriss, a legendary author, and entrepreneur gave parts of his book away on BitTorrent. As a result, he sold around 250,000 copies.
There’s no universal growth hack strategy. Every business or product has its own peculiarities and needs a unique approach. How do you get a growth hacker’s mindset? Forget press releases or advertisements.
Try to think about something that has never been done before. Something that is designed particularly to leverage the strengths of your product!
Paul Rosania, a Twitter product manager, says that the job of a growth hacker is to try “many ideas, ruthlessly optimizing successes and quickly discarding dead ends.” There is no only one thing they do to achieve growth.
The key is always to be prepared for the next step.
3. THE VIRAL LIFT
Once you attract your first users, ask yourself: “How do I get more?” The most ascendable approach is to get those initial users to do the job for you.
If you look at Hotmail, you will find, perhaps the best (and earliest), example of online marketing.
Tim Draper, a first investor of Hotmail, suggested adding “PS I Love You. Get Free Email” to the bottom of every email. What happened? They reached one million users within six months and within a year, 10 million!
Be aware that not every product is going to go “viral” like a YouTube video. However, its success will always depend on word-of-mouth. Good growth hacker should develop a product that people will like so much they would want to get on board with it. They should also encourage that process to happen rapidly and self-sustainably. Take Dropbox for example. You get extra storage space by referring friends. On LinkedIn, your resume will look better if you ask former bosses and employees to provide testimonials for you.
You should improve your product until the rate of sharing goes up. You cannot just build something and hope it goes viral. You cannot just bolt on viral features after the fact. Something that goes viral, is not the result of a couple well placed “like” and “tweet” buttons.
4. RETAINING AND OPTIMIZING
Growth hacker Ken Zi Wan from Buzzstarter says growth hackers can have two sides to their approach. They can be very creative in finding new ways to get users, or they can choose to be very scientific in looking into metrics very carefully.
Also, if you drive a million new users, but none of them stick around, what is the point? If you have users leaving, most probably the imperfections in your product are the result.
Sean Ellis, who introduced the term “growth hacker,” claims that it is necessary to “obsess over every element of the customer experience.”
Founder of Udemy, Gagan Biyani, explains that the way to fix a user maintenance problem is to “interview existing users (both active and dormant) to understand why they are not coming back”. After that figure out what to change or build to get them to re-engage.
Yes, it is the marketer’s job to take market feedback and improve the project — not just to pitch harder.
The thing is, it is not just retaining users that matters. Optimizing and upselling the ones who have stuck around is also important. Archie Abrams, the Director of Growth at Udemy, aims a philosophy at sustainable growth, increasing the long-term value of customers.
— said Archie Abrams” show_quote_icon=”yes” text_color=”#ffffff” background_color=”#ff9900″ quote_icon_color=”#ffffff”]
Instead of going out chasing new customers, you can focus on understanding your users. Figure out how they discover and adopt your products. You can build features that help you acquire and retain more users, rather than just spending marketing dollars.
That is why this is the final step in the growth hacker. Instead of spending more, it is designed to get more out of what you already spent your time, money and resources on.
5. START ALL OVER
Maybe now you begin to see why the growth hacker approach not only lends itself to the iterative world of startups, but also how it contributes to their tremendous success as well.
The important thing is not to promote a half-baked idea, instead get intimately involved in a development of a product. That is what every good hacker would do.
He also does not chase vague notions like branding or awareness but drives clients and users.
Growth hackers are also always on a look out for a scalable growth from viral factors and social sharing instead of spending big bucks. They optimize and optimize and ruthlessly improve efforts based on data instead of just sitting around and hoping these things magically happen and customers organically stick around.
All of this happens not once, but countless times, a continuous loop that makes the startup and its promotional efforts more efficient each time.
No one is saying traditional marketing cannot be successful. However, it is incredibly expensive. Plus failure is often catastrophic – remember massive flops from New Coke to Google Wave? The question is who wants to spend millions only to find out it was all for nothing?