Growth hacking is a process of rapid experimentation, coupled with the understanding of the whole funnel, where marketing, product, data analysis, and engineering work together to achieve rapid growth. The growth hacking process goes through four key stages: analyzing, ideating, prioritizing, and testing.
It is critical to integrate growth hacking within your business model experimentation to develop the full potential for your business.
Aspect Explanation Growth Hacking Growth hacking is a marketing and business strategy that focuses on rapid and scalable growth. It emerged in the tech startup world and is characterized by using creative and innovative methods to acquire and retain customers. Growth hackers aim to achieve exponential growth quickly. Origins The term “growth hacking” was popularized by Sean Ellis in 2010 when he coined it in a blog post. Ellis, a marketing expert, defined a growth hacker as someone with a singular focus on growth, distinguishing them from traditional marketers. Key Principles Data-Driven: Growth hacking relies heavily on data and analytics to identify opportunities for growth and measure the success of tactics. Experimentation: Growth hackers use a process of constant experimentation and testing to find strategies and tactics that work effectively. This involves A/B testing, rapid iterations, and learning from failures. Tactics Growth hacking employs various tactics, such as viral marketing, content marketing, social media optimization, search engine optimization (SEO), email marketing, referral programs, and product optimization. Viral marketing aims to create content or products that users want to share, leading to organic growth. Social media optimization focuses on optimizing social media platforms to reach and engage a broader audience. Target Growth hacking is often associated with startups and tech companies aiming for rapid growth in their early stages. However, the principles of growth hacking can be applied to businesses of all sizes looking to boost customer acquisition and retention. Challenges – While growth hacking can yield significant results, it requires a creative and data-driven mindset, and not all tactics will work for every business. There is also a risk of focusing solely on short-term growth at the expense of long-term sustainability. Ethical Considerations – Some growth hacking tactics may push ethical boundaries, such as deceptive clickbait or aggressive user acquisition strategies. Balancing growth with ethics is a challenge for growth hackers and businesses. Success Stories – Airbnb’s growth through its innovative Craigslist integration and Dropbox’s referral program are often cited as successful examples of growth hacking. However, the effectiveness of growth hacking varies depending on the industry and target audience. Conclusion – Growth hacking is a dynamic and data-centric approach to achieving rapid business growth. It involves continuous experimentation and optimization of marketing and product strategies. When used ethically and effectively, it can be a powerful tool for startups and established businesses alike.
|Growth Hacking||Growth hacking is a marketing and business strategy that focuses on rapid and scalable growth. It emerged in the tech startup world and is characterized by using creative and innovative methods to acquire and retain customers. Growth hackers aim to achieve exponential growth quickly.|
|Origins||The term “growth hacking” was popularized by Sean Ellis in 2010 when he coined it in a blog post. Ellis, a marketing expert, defined a growth hacker as someone with a singular focus on growth, distinguishing them from traditional marketers.|
|Key Principles||Data-Driven: Growth hacking relies heavily on data and analytics to identify opportunities for growth and measure the success of tactics.|
|Experimentation: Growth hackers use a process of constant experimentation and testing to find strategies and tactics that work effectively. This involves A/B testing, rapid iterations, and learning from failures.|
|Tactics||Growth hacking employs various tactics, such as viral marketing, content marketing, social media optimization, search engine optimization (SEO), email marketing, referral programs, and product optimization.|
|Viral marketing aims to create content or products that users want to share, leading to organic growth. Social media optimization focuses on optimizing social media platforms to reach and engage a broader audience.|
|Target||Growth hacking is often associated with startups and tech companies aiming for rapid growth in their early stages. However, the principles of growth hacking can be applied to businesses of all sizes looking to boost customer acquisition and retention.|
|Challenges||– While growth hacking can yield significant results, it requires a creative and data-driven mindset, and not all tactics will work for every business. There is also a risk of focusing solely on short-term growth at the expense of long-term sustainability.|
|Ethical Considerations||– Some growth hacking tactics may push ethical boundaries, such as deceptive clickbait or aggressive user acquisition strategies. Balancing growth with ethics is a challenge for growth hackers and businesses.|
|Success Stories||– Airbnb’s growth through its innovative Craigslist integration and Dropbox’s referral program are often cited as successful examples of growth hacking. However, the effectiveness of growth hacking varies depending on the industry and target audience.|
|Conclusion||– Growth hacking is a dynamic and data-centric approach to achieving rapid business growth. It involves continuous experimentation and optimization of marketing and product strategies. When used ethically and effectively, it can be a powerful tool for startups and established businesses alike.|
What happens when you use Growth Hacking?
Back in 2018, my blog was dead. I managed to build some traction back in 2015, as I used external channels like Quora to bring quite some referral traffic back to my blog.
But I’ve never managed to build enough traction with SEO.
Things got worse when at the end of 2016, I focused my efforts on developing the business for a high-tech startup.
The blog tumbled to the point where I was organically reaching just a couple of dozen of people per day.
Don’t get me wrong, that isn’t a bad result. However, it wasn’t either the kind of result you would get excited about.
And that was fine to me as I wasn’t using my blog anymore as a channel to sell my courses and ebooks.
Yet, in 2018 I decided things needed to change.
Thus, I started to iterate on a process that I later called SEO Hacking, which is simply the transposition of the concept of growth hacking around SEO.
Below you see the results I got:
I don’t mean to say that things happened overnight.
It took me a few months before the strategy started to pay off.
Also, it wasn’t a magic thing or a simple tactic that worked.
It was a process of rapid experimentation, enhanced by a continuous stream of ideas, tested repeatedly.
And it wasn’t effortless. Quite the opposite.
The kind of effort to make this flywheel gain momentum was insane and required trust that things would work out.
That the growth process would eventually pay off.
Thus, beyond the buzz around the growth hacking discipline, growth is a critical element of any digital business.
Thus, growth hacking offers a solid framework for achieving growth.
To really appreciate this discipline, we’ll look at three key aspects of growth hacking:
More specifically, we’ll look at why Growth Hacking looks at the whole funnel.
What’s the critical process around it?
Why does it matter to have a must-have product or service before being able to “growth hack it?”
And what’s mindset critical to enable sustainable growth?
Before going all-in with a growth strategy, what’s an aha experience!
This is a critical element to manufacture within your product, to make it possible for it to be easily distributed.
What is Growth Hacking and what is not
As the story goes, in 2007, Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia couldn’t afford the rent on their San Francisco apartment, which is why they decided to transform their loft into a lodging space.
Yet instead of relying on Craiglist, they built their site, which they called Airbed & Breakfast, and leveraged Craigslist to drive users back to their website,
I wish I could tell you that this is how that idea turned into a multi-billion company, known under the name Airbnb.
Airbnb didn’t grow into a multi-billion business from one day to the next with a single magic trick.
Instead, they had to undertake several experiments before seeing their listings grow.
More importantly, they had to master a process of continuous iteration that spanned across product features to marketing channels which eventually spurred an impressive growth track for the company.
Sean Ellis, one of the fathers of the discipline, called this process of continuous experimentation to achieve exponential growth: growth hacking.
Let me further define what’s not Growth Hacking so we can avoid falling into the trap of a few myths surrounding the discipline; appreciate its full potential.
Growth hacking is not a one-time marketing trick
One of the biggest misconceptions around growth hacking is that is a trick, a tactic, or a technique that all of a sudden spurs incredible growth for an organization.
While some companies might have stumbled upon a trick that gave them short-term traction.
Growth hacking is, first of all, a process. It’s not a one-time thing or trick. It requires continuous analysis, ideation, prioritization, and experimentation.
The classic growth hacking process is more like a loop, which needs to be run over and over again.
Growth hacking is not a single-person endeavor (unless you run a solo business)
Another common belief is that growth hacking is usually performed by this mythological figure, called the growth hacker.
In reality, in general, there is no such thing as a growth hacker.
There is, instead, a growth team led by a growth lead, which is in charge of coordinating the work of several people.
As we’ll see, this is usually the rule of thumb because growth hacking requires several disciplines that span from marketing, product, and engineering to run successful experiments.
The only exception might be if you’re running a solo business where in fact, you have a bunch of capabilities that go from marketing to development which indeed enable you to follow a sort of growth hacking process.
But if you’re building a startup or company made of a few people, growth hacking becomes a group process.
Growth hacking is not marketing without a budget
A dangerous misconception is that growth hacking is marketing without a budget.
Indeed, growth hacking does require thinking outside the box to find marketing channels, product features, or data that enable us to have a massive ROI on our investment.
However, a growth hacking team usually comprises people with extensive expertise.
And it might require advanced tools for analysis and experimentation, which might be expensive.
What’s matters here, again, is not the budget itself but the mindset behind it.
A growth hacking team looks for an untapped opportunity.
However, in the short term, having competent growth hacking might be expensive but might result in an ROI that a conventional marketing team won’t be able to achieve.
Now that we clarified some of the myths, we can go to the definition of growth hacking.
The Growth Hacking Mindset
If you look at a traditional sales, funnel you can realize right away how that creates silos within the organization.
In short, it makes people think in terms of departments.
Thus, in a traditional funnel, for example, marketing and sales will be in charge of acquisition.
And for instance, engineers and product managers might be in charge of retention (by adding product features, updating the product code, enabling more functionalities, and so on).
Yet in growth hacking, the whole funnel is in the hands of the growth hacking team, led by a growth lead who is all aligned around a North Start (we’ll see that).
In the meanwhile, it is essential to start emphasizing the process.
Emphasizing growth as a process
Mindset change is not about picking up a few pointers here and there. It’s about seeing things in a new way. When people…change to a growth mindset, they change from a judge-and-be-judged framework to a learn-and-help-learn framework. Their commitment is to growth, and growth take plenty of time, effort, and mutual support.
by Carol S. Dweck from
To build a solid growth mindset, it is important to stress the process to avoid falling into the trap of believing that growth can only be achieved by a few individuals that have it as a gift.
That implies aligning your growth team around this simple fact: growth is a process.
A few ways to make sure your team internalizes growth as a process consists of:
- Praising the process and making sure your team knows the process is what matters.
- Reward effort, strategy, and process, not individual intelligence.
- Learn and teach to push outside the comfort zone so that failure becomes a normal aspect of the growth process.
Once aligned with your team around the fact that growth hacking is a process, you can make sure they follow the growth hacking methodology and cycle in a continuous pattern.
The Growth Hacking method
Sean Ellis in Hacking Growth shows the growth hacking methodology as follows,
The process is simple yet powerful. From data analysis to testing and back to that analysis, the growth loop must be followed consistently.
We start with data analysis and insights to gather and generate as many ideas as possible.
It is essential to highlight that ideas can come from anywhere and from anyone on the team.
There isn’t a single department or person within the organization in charge of generating ideas.
In addition, often, good ideas might come from what seem completely disconnected domains.
So it’s essential to keep the idea-generation process as open as possible.
Once those ideas have been brainstormed, it is possible to evaluate each idea’s impact and how hard it might be to experiment.
For instance, changing a landing page color might be simple to implement, with a potentially high impact if you have many users.
However, if you have a few users, the problem is not optimizing the conversion process.
But instead focusing on acquiring users in the first place. Thus, other ideas might have a priority.
Once experiments have been designed and weighed against potential outcomes and difficulty of implementation (specific experiments might require a few resources, others might require extensive resources), it is possible to start testing those who have a priority.
Then you can go back and measure what experiments had the most impact.
Only then to proceed with a full roll-out.
For instance, if changing the landing page color didn’t affect the conversion, it makes sense to revert it.
Thus, it is essential that those experiments are reversible, rolled out gradually, and evaluated against other options.
This I like to call asymmetric bets!
Those are experiments with large potential upsides, very limited downsides, and cheap/fast to experiment.
However, you must speed up the iteration process to stumble upon these asymmetric bets.
In many cases, those asymmetric bets result from random tinkering.
Since asymmetric bets are usually rolled out at a small scale, they carry a limited downside.
And often times they flip upside down your understanding of a discipline as they bust best practices.
Those are real gems that make you find new real-world truths, also randomly, which completely make your previous assumptions irrelevant.
Thus, fast iteration, an idea pipeline, and a prioritization framework, make you find these asymmetric bets.
While they are cheap (once you find them), the iteration process is expensive, as it requires a continuous loop built into your experimental business framework.
And asymmetric bets might come out as a result of that.
Before we can push at full speed on a growth strategy, we must make sure that all the pieces come together. Let’s see how.
What are some of the prerequisites of an effective growth hacking strategy?
Before realizing the full potential of a growth hacking strategy, it is essential to understand its foundations.
A multidisciplinary team is the rule of thumb
Unless you are a solopreneur who has a deep competence in multiple disciplines.
A growth hacking team has to be also comprised of individuals whose competence goes from marketing to development, data analysis, product management, and more.
This is a crucial ingredient as your growth team will be aligned around the same objective.
Usually, a good fit for a growth team is called, in HR lingo, a T-shaped profile:
Thus, a person with deep competence and expertise in a field and a broader competence spans several business areas.
Must-have product or service
The foundation of a successful growth hacking strategy, as highlighted in the book Hacking Growth by Sean Ellis, it’s a must-have product or service.
In short, if you were to survey your existing customer base, announce to them how disappointed they would be if you shut down your product or service.
If the answer is “very disappointed, ” you have a must-have product.
If you’re not there yet, you need to work a bit more on the product and service to understand why it’s not a must-have.
There are several ways to understand whether your customers or users are close to perceiving your product or service as a must-have.
For instance, if you were to survey them to ask what makes your product unique to them.
Suppose you got a lot of conflicting answers.
It might mean there is not yet a clear value proposition that makes your product unique and sticky.
So you need to manufacture the so-called “aha experience.”
Manufacturing the aha experience
An “aha experience” might be defined as the moment in which your users or customers appreciate your product’s or service’s full potential.
It’s that moment when they realize what makes your product unique and special. So much so that they want to tell others.
When you do have that aha experience, your product might be on the way to becoming a must-have.
Of course, the aha experience will depend on your product or service.
Or if you offer an email list software, that might happen when the newsletter becomes big enough for your customer to appreciate the full potential of your software.
Thus, once you have identified that aha experience, it is essential to align your product feature to enable users or customers to reach that moment.
So that you can make your product sticky.
And when that happens, it becomes the right time to push as much as possible on growth.
Thus, speeding up the process of experimentation!
Finding your North Star!
As growth hacking enables you to unlock data not available before (in your team, you might have a data scientist or someone very good with data), that might cause you and your team to fall into the trap of looking at too many metrics to assess the success of a growth strategy.
While each experiment might have its own metrics.
It is important to find your North Star, or these 2-to 3 metrics which might impact your business.
In this way, you have the compass to understand whether the growth process is moving in the right direction.
Switching on the engines of growth
When you align your team around the growth hacking mindset, process, and method.
When you’ve built a team of T-shaped profiles aligned around growth.
And you’ve built a must-have product or service, which produced the aha experience for its users or customers. That is when growth can be unlocked at its full potential.
For that matter, you’ll have three engines of growth:
- Paid engine.
- Sticky engine.
- And viral engine.
From there, you’ll be able to experiment with several marketing channels and find the ones that fit most of your growth stage, industry, and product.
Iteration and continuous discovery, and innovation
When dealing with the growth of a digital business or with a physical business transitioning more and more into the digital space, it’s important to understand this is a process of continuous discovery.
In short, growth hacking in the context of continuous innovation (see the FourWeekMBA interview with Ash Maurya) can be extremely powerful because it enables companies to experiment quickly while keeping in mind their long-term mission.
In that context, growth hacking becomes a robust process to follow, especially in the growth stage of an organization.
Growth channels are mediums in which an organization acquires and retains customers.
Understanding growth channels
Today, businesses have never had more opportunities to grow their customer base. There are now a bewildering array of potential growth channels which are simply defined as any specific means of acquiring and retaining customers.
For a business to determine which channels it should use, some important questions need to be answered:
- Who are the customers and how can they be reached? Surveying and market research can help teams become ultra-specific on these points.
- What is a typical customer pathway and how can they be attracted? Flow charts can detail exactly how a customer reaches a business. One customer may attend a trade show, speak with a company representative at a booth, and then use a referral code to purchase a product. Another may listen to the podcast of a social media influencer and then respond to a marketing message.
- Which are the best performing pathways? Each should be ranked on metrics such as volume, conversion rate, repeatability, level of effort, and so forth. Then, it’s important to determine the ROI for each channel and seek to maximize it.
When we talk about growth channels, it’s also worth making the distinction between traction and scale. Traction involves a business finding its first customers by experimenting with various growth channels and determining future profitability. Growth can then be scaled once product-market fit has been created, but certain channels are better than others. Email, for example, is not considered to be a scalable growth strategy.
With that said, we have detailed some of the more suitable scalable channels in the next section.
Scalable growth channel examples
Growth hacker Brian Balfour argues there are only five scalable growth channels that the most successful startups have utilized over the past decade. In fact, Balfour noted that most companies were able to scale to millions of users with just one or two channels.
The five scalable growth channels are:
Search engine marketing (SEM) and display advertising
Such as TripAdvisor, Amazon, Booking.com, and other online comparison sites with high lifetime value (LTV).
Most of these sites are from industries such as financial services, tech, and healthcare.
The social media platform is a scalable growth channel in its own right. Companies that have profited from this potential include Zynga and Instagram.
However, it is more difficult to scale using Facebook than it once was. LinkedIn and to a lesser extent Pinterest may be taking its place.
Sales and partnerships
This is a versatile channel that comes in many forms. The most successful companies in this space are PayPal, Oracle, IBM, Salesforce, and Apple.
Viral (word of mouth)
While some growth channels become saturated and less effective over time, word of mouth is an evergreen strategy that relies on a positive feedback loop.
However, it can also be more difficult to replicate. Companies that have cracked the code include Uber, Evernote, and Groupon.
Search engine optimization (SEO)
SEO is another more traditional strategy that is still a viable growth channel today. HubSpot, Quora, and Medium are prime examples.
Recap on growth channels
- Growth channels are mediums in which an organization acquires and retains customers.
- Modern businesses are spoilt for choice in terms of the channels they can use, so it is important to choose wisely. Before moving forward, the company should define where its customers reside and identify several customer pathways. It should then choose the most effective pathway based on metrics such as conversion rate, level of effort, etc.
- There are only five scalable growth channels that the most successful startups have utilized over the past decade: SEM and advertising, Facebook, sales and partnerships, viral (word of mouth), and SEO.
Growth Channels Case Studies
|Growth Hacking Channel||Description||Examples||When to Use|
|Content Marketing||Creating and promoting high-quality content to attract and engage a target audience.||Blog posts, ebooks, videos, infographics||Use when building brand authority and educating users.|
|Email Marketing||Leveraging email campaigns to nurture leads, drive conversions, and retain customers.||Newsletters, drip campaigns, product updates||Effective for customer retention and lead nurturing.|
|Social Media Marketing||Utilizing social platforms for brand awareness, engagement, and viral marketing.||Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn||Ideal for creating buzz, interacting with audiences, and virality.|
|Search Engine Optimization (SEO)||Optimizing web content to rank higher in search engine results, driving organic traffic.||Keyword optimization, on-page SEO, backlinks||Best for long-term visibility and organic traffic growth.|
|Paid Advertising||Running targeted ads on platforms like Google Ads, Facebook Ads, and others to acquire users.||Google Ads, Facebook Ads, display ads||Use for quick user acquisition and targeting specific demographics.|
|Referral Marketing||Encouraging existing customers to refer new customers, often through incentives or rewards.||Referral programs, referral links||Effective when aiming for low-cost user acquisition.|
|Influencer Marketing||Collaborating with industry influencers to promote products or services to their followers.||Sponsored posts, influencer partnerships||Effective for reaching niche audiences and building trust.|
|Viral Marketing||Creating content or campaigns designed to spread rapidly through social sharing and word-of-mouth.||Viral videos, challenges, social sharing buttons||Use when aiming for rapid, organic growth through sharing.|
|Product-Led Growth||Building a product that drives its own user adoption through user experience and value delivery.||Freemium models, trial versions, self-service onboarding||Ideal for SaaS and digital products aiming for user adoption.|
|A/B Testing||Experimenting with different variations of webpages, emails, or features to optimize performance.||A/B tests for headlines, CTAs, design changes||Use to refine and improve conversion rates systematically.|
|Community Building||Fostering a loyal user community through forums, discussion boards, and social groups.||Online forums, social media groups, chat platforms||Effective when creating a user-driven community around your product.|
|User-generated Content||Encouraging users to create and share content related to the product or brand.||User reviews, testimonials, user-generated videos||Use when aiming to build social proof and trust.|
|Growth Hacking Tools||Using software and tools to automate, analyze, and optimize growth strategies.||Analytics tools, marketing automation platforms||Ideal for streamlining growth efforts and data-driven decisions.|
|App Store Optimization (ASO)||Optimizing mobile app listings to improve discoverability and downloads.||Keyword optimization, compelling app descriptions||Best for mobile app developers aiming for app store visibility.|
|Partnerships and Alliances||Collaborating with complementary businesses to expand reach and customer base.||Co-marketing campaigns, affiliate partnerships||Effective for leveraging partner networks and mutual benefits.|
|Events and Webinars||Hosting or participating in events and webinars to showcase expertise and engage with prospects.||Webinar series, industry conferences, virtual events||Use to demonstrate thought leadership and engage with a live audience.|
|Landing Page Optimization||Optimizing landing pages to improve conversion rates and user sign-ups.||A/B testing of landing page elements, clear CTAs||Effective when driving traffic to specific conversion points.|
|Content Syndication||Distributing content on multiple platforms and publications to reach wider audiences.||Guest posting, content partnerships||Ideal for expanding content reach and building backlinks.|
|Gamification||Incorporating game-like elements and rewards into products or apps to increase user engagement.||Loyalty programs, badges, points systems||Use when enhancing user engagement and loyalty is crucial.|
|Chatbots and AI||Implementing chatbots and AI-driven interactions to enhance user experience and support.||Customer support chatbots, AI-driven recommendations||Effective for providing 24/7 support and personalized experiences.|
|Crowdfunding||Using platforms like Kickstarter or Indiegogo to raise funds and build a user base for new products.||Crowdfunding campaigns, backer rewards||Ideal for startups and innovative product launches.|
Applications of Growth Hacking – Case Studies
|Company||Industry||Case Study Description||Growth Hacking Tactic|
|Dropbox||Cloud Storage||Achieved rapid user growth through its referral program, offering extra storage space for referring friends.||Referral Program|
|Airbnb||Short-Term Rentals||Host referral program incentivized hosts to invite new hosts, expanding property listings on the platform.||Referral Program|
|Tinder||Online Dating||Introduced the “Swipe Right” feature for quick matches, resulting in engaging user interactions and rapid growth.||User Interface Enhancement|
|Quora||Q&A Platform||Sent email notifications about relevant topics and questions, encouraging user engagement and growth.||Email Marketing|
|Social Media||Implemented the “Pin It” button for easy content sharing, driving user-generated content and platform growth.||Social Sharing Feature|
|Uber||Ride-Sharing||Utilized a driver referral program that rewarded drivers for referring new drivers, expanding the driver network.||Referral Program|
|Lyft||Ride-Sharing||Employed creative marketing stunts like “Taco Mode” with Taco Bell to attract user attention and achieve growth.||Viral Marketing Campaign|
|Duolingo||Language Learning||Incorporated gamification elements and competitive features to keep users engaged and motivated to learn.||Gamification|
|LinkedIn’s “People You May Know”||Professional Networking||Suggested connections based on existing connections, encouraging users to expand their networks.||User Suggestion Feature|
|Candy Crush Saga||Mobile Gaming||Encouraged social sharing and friend invites, fostering user engagement and fueling growth.||Social Sharing Feature|
|Mailchimp||Email Marketing||Offered a “Free Forever” plan for small businesses, attracting users who later upgraded to paid plans.||Freemium Model|
|Airtable||Collaborative Database||Built a community of power users who shared templates and solutions, expanding the user base.||User-Generated Content|
|Snapchat Streaks||Social Media||Introduced streaks to encourage daily interactions between users, driving engagement and retention.||Gamification|
|BuzzFeed||Media and Entertainment||Produced viral quizzes and listicles that encouraged social media sharing, attracting a large online audience.||Viral Content Creation|
|Refinery29||Media and Fashion||Leveraged social media influencers and partnerships to reach a wider audience and grow readership.||Influencer Marketing|
|PayPal||Online Payments||Offered referral bonuses for users who referred friends, contributing to rapid growth of its user base.||Referral Program|
|Duolingo’s Language Incubator||Language Learning||Crowdsourced course creation, allowing users to contribute to new language courses and expand the user base.||User-Generated Content|
|Slack’s Integration Directory||Team Collaboration||Maintained a directory of integrations and apps that encouraged developers to build for the platform.||Developer Ecosystem|
|Dropbox’s Campus Ambassador Program||Cloud Storage||Recruited college students as ambassadors to promote the service on campuses, driving user sign-ups.||Campus Ambassador Program|
|Spotify’s Personalized Playlists||Music Streaming||Curated playlists and offered personalized recommendations, keeping users engaged and returning for more music.||Personalization and Recommendation|
|TikTok||Social Media||Encouraged user-generated content with easy-to-use video creation tools, fostering viral trends and user growth.||User-Generated Content|
|Yelp||Reviews and Ratings||Built a strong online community by encouraging users to write reviews, attracting more businesses and users.||User-Generated Content|
|Groupon||Deals and Discounts||Leverage the “Group Buying” concept, offering discounts that required a certain number of people to purchase.||Group Buying Model|
|Messaging||Focused on providing a simple and reliable messaging experience, leading to organic word-of-mouth growth.||User Experience Design|
|Dropbox’s “Get Space” Campaign||Cloud Storage||Incentivized user engagement with actions like referring friends and connecting social media accounts.||Incentive Marketing|
|Robinhood||Fintech||Offered a referral program with free stock rewards, encouraging users to refer friends and grow the user base.||Referral Program|
|Tinder’s “Swipe Night”||Online Dating||Launched an interactive video series within the app, driving user engagement and fostering connections.||Interactive Content|
|Twitter “Follow Suggestions”||Social Media||Introduced the “Follow Suggestions” feature, recommending users to follow based on their interests.||User Suggestion Feature|
|Canva||Graphic Design||Provided a simple and intuitive design platform, resulting in organic sharing and growth among users.||User Experience Design|
|Mint.com||Personal Finance||Leveraged blog content and infographics to educate users about personal finance, attracting a large user base.||Content Marketing|
|HubSpot||Inbound Marketing||Created valuable, educational content to attract and engage users, building a large audience of marketers.||Content Marketing|
|Zillow||Real Estate||Developed home value estimation tools that encouraged user engagement and repeat visits to the platform.||Valuable Tools and Calculators|
|Medium||Publishing||Implemented a paywall and premium content, enticing readers to subscribe for access to exclusive articles.||Subscription Model|
|Fitbit||Fitness and Wearables||Leveraged partnerships with corporate wellness programs to offer Fitbit devices to employees, driving sales.||B2B Partnership|
|Pinterest’s “Related Pins”||Social Media||Introduced the “Related Pins” feature, suggesting additional content to users, increasing engagement and sharing.||Personalized Content Recommendations|
|Yelp’s “Review Solicitation”||Reviews and Ratings||Encouraged users to write reviews by providing incentives and reminders, increasing user-generated content.||User Engagement Strategies|
|Uber Eats||Food Delivery||Utilized limited-time promotions and discounts to incentivize users to place orders and try the service.||Limited-Time Offers|
|Harry’s||Men’s Grooming||Launched a viral marketing campaign called “The Truman Show” to create buzz and attract new customers.||Viral Marketing Campaign|
|Buffer||Social Media||Utilized transparency and educational content to attract and retain users, building a loyal user base.||Content Marketing|
|Dropbox’s Public Launch||Cloud Storage||Announced the public launch of Dropbox with a simple video demonstration, generating widespread interest.||Video Marketing|
|Yelp’s “Elite Squad”||Reviews and Ratings||Created an “Elite Squad” of active reviewers who received special recognition and events, encouraging engagement.||User Community Building|
|Hootsuite||Social Media||Offered a free plan with limited features, enticing users to upgrade to paid plans for advanced functionality.||Freemium Model|
|Evernote||Note-Taking||Launched an early version of its product and offered free accounts with limited storage, driving early user adoption.||Early Product Release|
- Definition & Process:
- Growth hacking is a blend of marketing, product, data analysis, and engineering aimed at rapid business growth.
- It involves a cyclical process of analyzing, ideating, prioritizing, and testing.
- The technique can revitalize stagnant platforms, as illustrated by a blog that leveraged ‘SEO Hacking’ to regain traction.
- Growth hacking emphasizes a systematic approach over isolated tactics or tricks.
- Essential Aspects:
- Growth hacking focuses on the entire funnel, not just acquisition.
- It requires a product or service to be a ‘must-have’ before it can be effectively ‘growth hacked’.
- A growth mindset is crucial for sustainable growth.
- Growth Hacking Mindset:
- The strategy breaks down traditional departmental silos and focuses on the entire sales funnel.
- Growth is viewed as a continuous process, emphasizing iteration and experimentation.
- The growth hacking method involves continuous loops of data analysis, ideation, prioritization, testing, and revisiting data.
- Teams are encouraged to identify ‘asymmetric bets’ – high-reward, low-risk experiments.
- Teams need to be multidisciplinary, often with T-shaped profiles (broad knowledge with deep expertise in one area).
- Pre-requisites for Growth Hacking:
- A must-have product or service is essential.
- Teams should aim to identify and foster an ‘aha experience’ for users, making the product indispensable.
- Key metrics, or a ‘North Star’, should guide the growth process.
- Growth Channels:
- Growth channels are mediums through which organizations acquire and retain customers.
- Important questions include identifying who the customers are, how they can be reached, and the most effective pathways to them.
- Brian Balfour identifies five primary scalable growth channels: Search Engine Marketing (SEM) and advertising, Facebook, sales and partnerships, viral (word of mouth), and SEO.
- Companies like TripAdvisor and Amazon use SEM and advertising, while Airbnb and others have leveraged the viral channel.
- SEO remains a viable strategy with companies like HubSpot and Quora exemplifying its success.
- Growth hacking is not a marketing trick but a mindset, methodology, and discipline followed by growth teams.
- Usually, growth hacking goes through a process of analysis, ideation, prioritization, and testing. It’s not a one-time thing but a continuous process.
- A growth hacking team is usually comprised of T-shaped individuals with core expertise and competence, and a broader understanding of several disciplines.
- Growth hacking requires a solid product or service, which is a must-have for users and customers. That also requires the so-called aha experience, when users and customers perceive the value of the product and service in full.
- When you reach that must-have status, you can push and prioritize the speed of experimentation, as you’ll get the most results from your growth efforts!
- Growth Hacking Definition: Growth hacking is a process of rapid experimentation, involving marketing, product, data analysis, and engineering working together to achieve rapid growth.
- Growth Hacking Process: The growth hacking process consists of four key stages: analyzing, ideating, prioritizing, and testing.
- Integration in Business Model: Integrating growth hacking within your business model experimentation is critical to unlock the full potential of your business.
- Not a One-Time Trick: Growth hacking is not a one-time marketing trick; it’s a continuous process that requires analysis, ideation, and experimentation.
- Multidisciplinary Team: A growth hacking team is usually a multidisciplinary group of individuals with core expertise in various fields, working together to achieve growth.
- Must-Have Product or Service: A must-have product or service that creates an “aha experience” for users is foundational to a successful growth hacking strategy.
- Scalable Growth Channels: Growth hacking involves finding and leveraging scalable growth channels such as search engine marketing, Facebook, sales and partnerships, viral marketing, and search engine optimization.
- Growth Hacking Mindset: The growth hacking mindset emphasizes a learn-and-help-learn framework, where failure is considered part of the growth process.
- Continuous Iteration and Innovation: Continuous iteration, innovation, and experimentation are crucial elements of growth hacking to unlock its full potential.
- North Star Metric: Growth hacking requires finding a North Star metric to align the team’s efforts and track progress toward growth goals.
- Three Engines of Growth: Once a must-have product and growth channels are identified, three engines of growth are unlocked: paid engine, sticky engine, and viral engine.
- Team Effort: Growth hacking is not a single-person endeavor; it requires a team effort and collaboration to be successful.
Related Growth Concepts
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