Growth Hacking 101

What is growth hacking?

You might have never heard of ‘growth hacking’ before, but it is getting very popular in the online SaaS (Software as a Service) business.

Growth Hacking is all about – you got it – growth. It’s a marketing tactic that is being used to rapidly build a business. It doesn’t have to be a SaaS business but that is where it’s used the most.

Things we are going to cover in this growth hacking 101 article:

  • What is growth hacking?
  • How is it different from traditional marketing?
  • What are some examples of growth hacking?
  • How can I find my growth hack?

Where does Growth Hacking come from?

Sean Ellis

Sean Ellis (Picture from Twitter)

Growth Hacking got phrased by Sean Ellis back in 2010. You can learn more about him on his blog. 

Sean is the guy people turn to in the valley if they want to grow their user base. He is a one-stop shop for setting up systems, processes, and mindsets, that could be maintained after he left.

Sean noticed that after his work is done, someone needed to replace him. While searching for a replacement he often received resumes that were qualified but not relevant. They all had marketing degrees and experience – but they were all missing something.

See, here is the thing. Traditional marketers are very broad. Their skills are very valuable but are not needed in the early startup of a company. You don’t need someone to manage or build a marketing team or achieve corporate goals. There is only one thing a startup needs. Guess what it is? You bet – it’s growth.

A growth hacker is not a replacement for a marketer. A growth hacker is not better than a marketer. A growth hacker is just different from a marketer.

To use the most succinct definition from Sean’s post, “A growth hacker is a person whose true north is growth.”

You might not even know it but you have probably been a victim of a ‘growth hack’. Or even better – you have used a growth hack in your marketing strategies with realizing you were doing it.

How is it different from traditional marketing?

Let’s go back a few years. In 2010 if I told you I am launching a new product, you would think it’s physical, you can touch it & you can feel it in your hands. The definition of ‘products’ has changed over the years. Products used to be objects like cars, planes, TV Screens, shampoo, couches etc. Nowadays products can be things you can’t hold in your hands. Facebook is a product. Twitter is a product. The internet has given the world new kinds of products, and it needs a new kind of thinking.

Growth hacking is not just about marketing. It includes everything that drives traffic or word of mouth on a website – or simply put, growth. It could be a feature on the website that users just love and motivates them to come back or share it with their friends.

Marketing is  about getting the word out, promoting a brand in different ways (content, advertisements, events, etc.)

GH is about looking for free or low-cost solutions to grow the business which is very important in a startup meanwhile traditional marketers use paid services to promote the product. GH think outside the box.

Here is an infographic from Digital Sparks.

traditional marketing vs growth hacking (infographic)

Growth vs Traditional Marketing

Growth Hacking Examples

I can talk about Growth Hacking all day if I need to but I think we have covered enough. We learned the definition of growth hacking, bit of the history and how it is different from traditional marketing – let’s get to the examples.

One of my favorite case studies is from Slack. I hope by now you have heard of the popular team communication platform. Growth

Slack Case Study

Airbnb Case Study

Whatsapp Case Study

Spotify Case Study

Another example, the creators of the email organizer Mailbox App made a public waiting list for their product, which soon had over 1 million people on it. This is great if you have a revolutionary product.

In 2012, the online marketplace Etsy added the “Pin it” button to its site so people could easily pin and share images on Pinterest. This helped Etsy promote their shop and blew their growth out of the water in just a couple of weeks! How did they come up with that simple idea? They noticed that many of their members were active on Pinterest, and would pin items they found on Etsy to their boards. This inspired them to add the “Pint it” button, helping people to share items with just one click.

How can I find my growth hack?

Growth hacking is really about having the right mindset. It’s not about the structured set of rules and steps. Instead, you need to think about growth. All the time..

The sooner you think about growing the better because you can find low-cost loopholes that can help you get more customers.

I have categorized some ideas by Traditional Marketing and Growth Hacking so you get a better idea how you can find your growth hack!

Traditional Marketing:

  • Commercial & Print Ads
  • Media Planning
  • Press Releases

Growth Hacking:

  • Data Analysis
  • Blogs, Content Marketing
  • Platform API’s
  • Search Engine Marketing
  • Referral Programs

Traditional marketing strategies often require more planning and a larger budget. The growth hacking strategies are low-cost and usually fairly flexible.

Here is a list with some ideas to get you going:

  • Add a referral code to emails that give customers discounts for referrals.
  • Create rewards to get your customers to sign up for your email list.
  • Give customers a discount if they share your business on social media.
  • Add a share button by your products.
  • Live blog the event for people who couldn’t attend.

What you learned

  • Growth hacking is a low-cost alternative to traditional marketing.
  • It’s a strategy to stay focused on growing your customer base quickly and effectively.
  • There are a lot of different approaches to growth hacking. Some are creative, some are more technical.

Questions, comments or want more information? Let me know in the comment section below!

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