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Have you ever heard of growth hacking? Well that was me just a short time ago! The whole point of growth hacking is to hack your growth. I know, I know, duh! Growth hacking is merging engineering, product management, and marketing into a focused effort to grow a customers user base organically. This means taking advantage of opportunities that others haven’t. Growth hacking is using unconventional tactics to acquire customers faster. This differs from inbound marketing as inbound marketing is creating content that brings customers to you which is just a small piece of growth hacking.

A growth hackers lives, breathes, and sleeps with “growth” in mind. This is a growth hacker’s only goal: to grow. Startup’s are mostly looking for growth, and therefore use growth hacking, however; this will eventually be found in larger organizations as well. Some things to keep in mind include:

  • Growth hackers don’t need to be programmers
  • Growth hackers can be marketers
  • Hacking doesn’t imply anything unethical (I know that you were worried)
  • Growth Hackers are very analytical- analytics will give you the TRUTH and for growth hacking knowing the truth is vital for success and to shift the focus of the growth hacker
  • Growth Hackers are also right-brained as they must be curious, and creative
  • Growth hackers are obsessive. That’s right, obsessive. This means they keep trying and don’t give up. Over and over again. So yes in this case: obsession = 🙂

Let’s talk about growth hacking…the quick version:

  1. Growth Hacking starts out with a product market fit which means a product that is designed to fit a specific and critical need for a well-defined audience.
  2. After you have your product market fit you need to find your growth hack. Hacking means taking advantage of loopholes. This is definitely a new and quite interesting idea. Tim Ferris is given as an example of someone who used growth hacking by putting parts of his book on Bit Torrent which in return helped him sell 250,000 copies of his book. On a little side note, Tim Ferris is awesome- my little brother and I read his book and incorporated some of his crazy tips into our lives (and by crazy I mean intriguing). This means that growth hackers try tons of ideas, and discard ones that don’t work right away.
  3. A growth hackers job is to develop a product that people want and therefore people jumping on-board should be pretty easy. Testing, and data-based creativity helps a product go viral.
  4. You need users to stick around. In order to retain users, the best way to get honest answers is to interview your existing users. Your existing users will tell you what they want to be more engaged and who knows better than the source themselves? By reducing turnover, you save lots of time and money that would be spent to attract new customers.
  5. Keep improving efforts using your data!

The growth hacker’s funnel consists of 3 phases: get visitors, activate members, and retain users. This funnel allows you to allocate your energy into places where you have weak conversion ratios.

There are 3 P’s of getting visitors:

1. Pull- Give them a reason to come to you.

2. Push- Push them towards your product. Ad’s are an example of this.

3. Product-Have a damn good product. The end.

To activate members you need to get their email, get them to create an account, get them to read something, get them to buy something, get them to comment on something, basically get them to do something having to do with your product/site.

To retain users KEEPING your users happy is really the bottom line. There are all kinds of ways to do this.

Okay, okay, okay… I’m getting to the part where we talk about more specific ways to do growth hacking. Different growth hacks include:

  • Site speed- If your site isn’t loading quickly, then you have a problem. Personally, if a site doesn’t load I hit the back button. In this busy world, who has time for a slow site speed? The answer is no one.
  • Social proof. Social proof. Social proof. (I thought if I said it three times you would get the hint 😉 ) We are only human and this means that we need reassurance, convincing, and all that other stuff that people look to other people for.  Social proof can be:
  1. Testimonials- I could go on and on about testimonials. I am truly a shopper at heart and I am always looking at testimonials to see what other people are saying. After all if other like something, it must mean I will too!
  2. Logos- Using logos of your biggest clients. This always works… not to bring up my shopping habits again, but I must say that when a site has logos at the top of the page, of all these shows and magazines that says the product has been mentioned on air or won awards in magazines, I think to myself, dang this really must be legit. You can also use logos of products or services that your product works with.
  3. Customer statistics- By showing others that people have been signing up right and left, you are convincing others to sign up. You can also display the number of twitter followers, email subscribers, or Facebook fans you have. Humans are actually such simple creatures, we just want to know others are doing the exact same thing to feel okay about it.
  4. Case studies-Tell your customer’s stories.Remember the key to case studies to to state the customer’s problem and how your product was the answer to that problem!
  • On Ramp Programs- You need to turn a new customer into a loyal customer.
  1. New User Experience-Give new users a unique experience that helps them start using your product. Give them a step by step process to get started, or a quick tour. Make your product less foreign to them, it will help. Trust me.
  2. Email Drip Campaigns- When you get someones email you should send them a series of emails that get sent to them on a defined schedule. This allows you to build trust between you and your customers and you can introduce them to features of your product.
  3. Barebones Home Page- Make your home page simple and just leave the essential elements. Too much clutter will turn people away, and the home page is where all users will eventually land when deciding whether or not to use your product. The quote for my life is “Go big, or go home.” Basically don’t do anything half-ass… but sometimes simple is better and I am willing to admit that for a home page. Too much clutter turns me away… It’s just too much!
  • Product Integrations-This is where the GENIUSES outsmart everyone. Airbnb integrated with Craigslist fantastically. Integrating your product into an existing and successful product helps jump start things for you. There are still problems such as maybe your integration works today but that doesn’t mean tomorrow that it still will, and what if the integration doesn’t work as well as you thought it would, it might be too late to back out.
  • Viral Loops- A viral loop is when you start with 10 customers, and then they bring more than 10 customers to you, and it just keeps getting bigger and bigger. Building a viral loop that actually works is extremely hard. Actually let me rephrase that… Building a viral loop that a actually works is nearly impossible. For it to work, virality has to be a fundamental part of your product. A good example of a product that has virality built into it is Groupon.

So why growth hacking? Well its cheap, effective, and practical. Who doesn’t want all that? If you aren’t a business looking to growth well it still pays to be informed. This is going to be the era of growth hacking and as a consumer, you will start to see applications and products that have products really designed towards the customers. This is because with growth hacking, marketers are involved with the creation of the products from the very start. Growth Hackers aren’t hoping for the best with the product, but busy looking at analytics and making changes accordingly. For marketers, knowing about growth hacking is extremely vital. This is good news for those just entering the field (such as myself). Marketers who have gotten extremely comfortable with traditional forms of marketing, are either going to have to move over, for people who are well informed about growth hacking, or learn these tactics. That’s right y’all,  traditional forms of marketing are quickly becoming more and more obsolete. I always say get ready for a wild ride. And I always mean it. But with a name like growth hacking, you better believe it’s going to be even more of a wild ride. So throw everything you know before about traditional marketing (well maybe not everything) out the window, bring your creativity and lets get to this growth hacking stuff.

 

References

@andrewchen. (n.d.). andrewchen RSS. Retrieved November 19, 2013, from http://andrewchen.co/2012/04/27/how-to-be-a-growth-hacker-an-airbnbcraigslist-case-study/#

Aaron Ginn’s Thoughts. (n.d.). What is a growth hacker?. Retrieved November 19, 2013, from http://www.aginnt.com/growth-hacker#.Uou-cuKCWSo

Growth Hack Your Way To Success, Like Facebook, Twitter, And LinkedIn Did | Fast Company | Business + Innovation. (n.d.). Fast Company. Retrieved November 19, 2013, from http://www.fastcompany.com/3020363/dialed/growth-hack-your-way-to-success-just-like-facebook-twitter-and-linkedin-have

Mashable. (n.d.). Mashable. Retrieved November 19, 2013, from http://mashable.com/2013/09/02/growth-hacking/

RIP: Here Lies Traditional Marketing, Here Comes Growth Hacking. (n.d.). Business 2 Community  RIP Here Lies Traditional Marketing Here Comes Growth Hacking Comments. Retrieved November 19, 2013, from http://www.business2community.com/marketing/rip-lies-traditional-marketing-comes-growth-hacking-0655860

The 6 Best Growth Hacks to Get Customers Without Having to Pay for Them. (n.d.). The 6 Best Growth Hacks to Get Customers Without Having to Pay for Them. Retrieved November 19, 2013, from http://blog.kissmetrics.com/the-6-best-growth-hacks/

The Definitive Guide to Growth Hacking. (n.d.). Quick Sprout. Retrieved November 19, 2013, from http://www.quicksprout.com/the-definitive-guide-to-growth-hacking/

hypebot. (n.d.). ‘hypebot’. Retrieved November 19, 2013, from http://www.hypebot.com/hypebot/2013/10/ryan-holiday-on-traditional-marketing-growth-hacking-and-music.html

Growth Hacking is BS…Its All Just Marketing. (n.d.). Layered Thoughts. Retrieved November 19, 2013, from http://www.layeredthoughts.com/startups/growth-hacking-is-bsits-all-just-marketing

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