What is Growth Hacking & How to Implement It

14 December 2022

Usually, early-stage start-ups are concerned with growth hacking due to its cost-effectiveness.

advice : Strategy, Tech and Trends

What is Growth Hacking?

Growth hacking is an umbrella term for strategies that completely focus on growth. It primarily focuses on growing the customer base, effectively utilising data and implementing creativity for as little money as possible while trying to increase revenue quickly. It’s usually early stage start ups that are concerned with growth hacking, which is why the strategies must be as cost-effective as possible. Start ups don’t always have the kind of money needed to create long-winded marketing and advertising campaigns to acquire customers, but they can usually spare money to test things out.

Where did the term ‘growth hacking’ come from?

Although it might seem like the term ‘growth hacking’ has come out of the woodworks in the past few years, it was actually first coined in 2010. Sean Ellis was the first to use the term after finding that looking for a marketing professional wasn’t cutting it – he needed to find people that were entirely focused on growth. While marketers have a wealth of skills and knowledge, most of those skills would go unused when implementing a ‘growth hacking’ directive. There’s almost an obsession over the one goal, which of course, is growth.

How do start ups achieve growth hacking without a massive budget?

While in some cases you can get away with a decent product if you put enough marketing power behind it, that won’t work with growth hacking on a start up’s budget. In order to grow quickly and successfully, you must create a scalable product that people want. That involves finding your product-market fit, which essentially means meticulously understanding your target customer and your market, and the product in relation to them. Only then can you make strategic decisions about the direction of your business that will garner the rapid growth you want, as well as high user retention.

There are two golden rules when it comes to product-market fit:

  • The businesses with the best product-market fit will solve problems that the customer didn’t even know they had.
  • If you survey your database and find that 40% of respondents would be upset if your product was taking off the shelves (physical or metaphorical), then you have a good product-market fit.

When has growth hacking gone right?

Dropbox is a great example of growth hacking done well. The cloud system made the enormous jump from 100k users to 4 million in 15 months, thanks to its referral program – that’s a growth of 3,900%. Essentially, they rewarded their existing customer base with additional cloud storage space if they successfully referred a friend.

Airbnb is another classic case study for growth hacking going right. The people at Airbnb used Craigslist (the American equivalent of Gumtree) to find people searching for accommodation or renting out their own accommodation and marketed to them. They also cleverly gave the option to everyone posting their listing on Airbnb to automatically post it on Craigslist – where most of the customers were – and the Craigslist link would then redirect back to the Airbnb site.

Perhaps the most impressive of them all is Hotmail. Considering this was during the mid-1990s when most households didn’t have a computer, it’s a tremendous feat. In 18 months, the amount of people using Hotmail jumped from 0 to 12 million! All the people at Hotmail did, was input this signature at the bottle of every email sent:

What are growth hacking strategies?

There are three main types of growth hacking strategies – content marketing, product marketing, and advertising.

  • Content marketing – using content to promote your product/business
  • Product marketing – promoting your product
  • Advertising – paid promotion

All three strategies aim to optimise the growth hacking funnel, which is:

  • Acquisition – find the channel that will introduce your product to your target audience
  • Activation – how you’re getting your audience to try your product
  • Retention – engaging with your audience to create and maintain a longstanding relationship
  • Referral – utilise your customer base by asking them to tell their friends or family for something in return
  • Revenue – build a consistent revenue stream that will sustain the business

What are some growth hacking techniques that will boost conversions?

  • Optimise your website for conversions – your landing page layout must be relevant to your target audience and make getting in touch/requesting a demo/purchasing a product as easy as possible
  • Build your email list with a lead magnet and send regular, targeted email campaigns
  • Use urgency in your content and leveraging other people’s FOMO (fear of missing out) by introducing time restrictive deals or sales – adding a countdown timer on your site or in an email campaign is a great way to do this
  • Give something away for free – it can be a free tool that’s actually useful or a free snack when a customer purchase something from you
  • Run a social media competition
  • Ask bloggers/influencers to give your company or product a review
  • Start a blog and create valuable, sharable content – ask a notable guest in your field to do a guest piece
  • Offer a freemium option – this works especially well for software companies, the ‘free’ model might not do much, but it’ll get people through the door

Growth hacking is a term that often causes confusion, with people often mistaking it to be the same thing as lead generation or conversion marketing. Hopefully this article has cleared up some questions about what growth marketing is and how it can help your start up.

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