Growth Hacking: Explained

Posted by on January 26, 2016

Growth Hacking by Shishir Gupta

Growth Hacking is a buzzword that emerged in Silicon Valley around 2011 and quickly spread globally. It describes the use of technical skills hybridized with creativity to develop and implement marketing strategies that generates real users. Some people regard the term as a meaningless meme, but the truth is that Growth Hacking has earned a permanent place in tech startups terminology. It is often said that ‘Growth Hacking’ is just another way of saying ‘online marketing.’ It’s true that it does include some of the same techniques, however it's different from online marketing, it's much more than that. Growth hackers are a unique hybrid of coder and marketer, they don’t have to beg engineering to implement javascript tracking and testing tools or pull up the latest data from the datastore. With the freedom of being able to do the whole process without barriers and obstacles in the way, successful growth hackers can try a lot of different things really fast. And with good tools, they can measure and analyze what’s working and not working. growth hacking 1
Growth hacking is a mindset, not a tool for marketing Shishir Gupta, CEO of Landtrust.in
Mattan Griffel, CEO of One Month has defined growth hacking as follows: The best way to understand growth hacking and what growth hackers do is to first understand what is meant by the term hacker. A hacker is someone who is more concerned with achieving an objective than following a prescribed process. In other words, hackers care more about what needs to get done than how it should get done. As a result, hackers often come up with innovative ways to get things done. For example, a hacker may be trying to get unauthorized access to a computer system. It doesn’t really matter how he does it (and there often isn’t one specifically prescribed method) so long as whatever he’s doing gets him access. Because hackers are more concerned with what needs to get done than how it should get done, they tend to be pretty anti-authoritarian and also not do so well at bigger companies where they are expected to do things a certain way. A growth hacker is a hacker whose objective is to grow the number of users for a specific product. While lots of people consider user growth to be a marketing function, this assumes that there’s only one way to get users (namely, marketing). But this isn’t true. In fact, more and more over the last few years we’ve seen new products grow from zero to millions of users with little to no marketing at all. There are lots of non-marketing decisions that affect user growth. Building viral product features is the most obvious, but there are many others. As a result, it doesn’t make sense to place growth hacking within a particular department like marketing or engineering. Instead, it ends up being a cross-functional role. growth hacking 2 A growth hacker is someone who throws out traditional thinking and replaces it with what is; testable, track-able and scale-able. Growth hackers pursue sustainable growth. There are many examples of successful Growth Hackers (Facebook, Hotmail, Twitter, Instagram etc.). Four Phases of Growth Hacking
  1. Product-Market Fit
  2. Growth is Hacked
  3. Virality
  4. Retention & Optimization
Product-Market Fit The single biggest mistake is that a company starts with a crappy product. Therefore, Growth Hackers make stuff people want and continuously incorporate customer feedback into the process. Instagram is a good example of this phenomenon. Their product is their marketing. It's important to find the right 'early adopters' cheaply and quickly because Growth Hackers don't have the budget or marketing departments etc. and they have had to look for tricks and the shortcuts. Virality A product that sucks will never go viral. It will also never go viral because there is not a reason for it to go viral 'built into the product'. Virality is about building share-ability and publicness into products. The goal of every Growth Hacker is to build a self-perpetuating marketing machine. Retention and Optimization From a Growth Hacker perspective it's all about retention and optimization. Retention is easier because the users are already there (vs. acquisition of new customers). Employing Growth Hacker Tactics Growth Hacking principles can be employed in any business. However, one must keep in mind that the tactics change over time. Furthermore, the methods used by others (or even again by a company) may not always be employed. This is because Growth Hacking is about finding the under-exploited and missed opportunities and taking advantage of them. Growth Hacking is a Mindset  Growth Hacking is a way of thinking and asking 'am I doing this because others do it, or am I doing this because it's going to drive users? You may please write your feedback in comments.
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