As marketers, consultants, and startups have long ago learned - any company's growth strategy depends hugely on the selected marketing approach. Still, it's like nothing compares to growth hacking - a sort of revolution in growth strategy. Growth hacking brings key people to the table to run smart experimentation, inspired by data-driven insights creating a competitive advantage that cannot be overstated.
In this whitepaper, we will take you on a step-by-step guide to mastering growth hacking to truly expand your company, customers, influence, and revenue.
What is Growth Hacking
Growth hacking is a data-driven marketing approach that provides companies with the ability to experiment freely with low-budget tactics, attracting new business and retaining more customers strategically.
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Beyond everything, growth hacking helps companies in all fields and of all types to answer the WHYs that determine their performance. Using this method they can truly dig into any individual questions they might have about why something is working well or not, performance or products that are not successful, etc. With growth hacking, experimental ideas from different personas are brought into the equation and your product can be adjusted while it’s still in development.
Growth hacking strategies can be applied to almost everything point and channel in the customer journey. From content marketing to product development, major events, social media, and more. The enablement of growth hacking means tactically choosing where to run experiments that map to critical points in your customer journey. Critical points for different companies may vary since different metrics prove more important at different times or during specific campaigns. However, with growth hacking, you always stay focused on objectives being accomplished quickly and with minimal cost.
The fundamental parts of the growth hacking process are:
- Objective definition – clearly defining the goal of this method with a metric
- Developing hypothesis – planning based on the idea of experimentation the team is reviewing
- Experiment – execute on testing the different approaches based on the hypothesis
- Use tools – choose apps for analytics, automation, and testing, to make sure you follow the right metrics and stay on the right path
Importance of Growth Hacking: Why Should You Do It
To delve deeper into the importance of growth hacking, let’s first take a look at who benefits most from this method. Growth hacking is most useful for:
- Companies that need to “restart” their growth after a setback
- Startups and entrepreneurs
- Marketers that need to boost their organizational strategy
- Product developing companies
- Organizations that need to keep their marketing strategy low-cost but still effective
The significance of growth hacking is connected strongly to creativity and cost-efficiency in gaining new clients and growing the business. When applied correctly, growth hacking can help with things such as:
- Organizing events
- Social media presence
- Gaining an advantage over competitors
- Better collaboration with clients and partners
- Email marketing
- Generating sales and driving traffic
Growth hacking is not only revolutionary but a safer solution for companies, since it relies on data analysis before driving decisions forward. A growth hacking strategy can make businesses more scalable and sustainable, with a wider range of possibilities coming from the untraditional ways of action growth hackers choose. The good news is – although some of them might seem unconventional, they are supported with data, and therefore, mistakes are limited and outcomes – better evaluated.
Growth hacking vs. Тraditional Мarketing
It’s not a secret that growth hacking is born out of the oversaturation of marketing strategies and the high strain of the startup environment, with companies that have limited budgets. Still, even as a novel approach, it is a one that deals with marketing, sales cycles, product development and experience among others. So how can we differentiate traditional marketing from growth hacking? Here are some pointers.
Growth Hacking Is All About the Growth
Growth hackers focus mainly on growth factors and it’s their most important metric (it’s in the name, after all). Traditional marketers look more at the big picture and take into account several capacities to bring their budget into.
Strong Data Mindset
Growth hacking always comes back to data and analytics. Every action and decision made with this method is based on data analysis and facts informing the direction of the next step. In traditional marketing, even though data is still used in some instances, the focus on data is embedded into the growth hacking process.
Focus on Experimenting
Growth hacking looks outside the box much more often than traditional marketing and readily experiments, exploring new potential routes, product testing, or experimenting with strategies. Again, it’s data that brings the confidence to experiment here, so it’s what drives the strong experimenting forward, and much more so than in traditional marketing.
Traditional marketing tends to be and stay expensive, while growth hacking uses resources much more smartly and therefore is more cost-effective. The use of big budgets in traditional marketing is not the course growth hacking takes – the approach here is to get maximum results with minimal cost.
Smaller Vs. Larger Audience
Growth hacking focuses on a smaller segment of customers while traditional marketing usually seeks more extensive audiences and more customers. Traditional marketers operate with larger industries and larger pools to apply their strategies. Growth hacking depends on digital savviness and data more than anything to judge where to put effort and even small audiences are effective in the set goals.
With traditional marketing, there is often a sort of disconnect or separate operating for the team, while growth hacking offers a more holistic approach to teamwork. Cross-department collaboration and very close communication with a lot of sharing in any project or campaign is an essential tactic for growth hackers and a process that sets them apart from traditional marketing.
Focus on Lifetime Customers
While traditional marketing is more about attracting new customers, the growth hacking method places more emphasis on customer retention. Meaning, they opt to optimize the customer journey better and keep their customers satisfied and not only concentrate on the next win.
How Growth Hacking Works: Phases
As we said, growth hacking is about experimenting, but it’s not at all a chaotic process. In fact, several phases need to be present for the process of growth hacking to be executed successfully.
Phase 1: Fit a Market Need
Whether you are starting with a product or a service, your company needs to satisfy a market need. Creating the alignment between need and offering by understanding the market, the customers, the needs – is the first phase or step in growth hacking.
Phase 2: Finding Your North Star Metric
For every company trying to achieve growth, finding the north star metric is of utmost importance. It’s the number that represents the main goal of the entire organization, bringing focus on long-term growth and is within your control, measurable and of course, time-bound. This number, whether it’s “downloads per month” or something else, also reflects the bond of your company with its customers.
Phase 3: Identify Your Levers
This is the phase you need to make sure you invest in the right direction by identifying your levers, or what metrics of the growth hacking funnel to take into account at this point (acquisition, activation, retention, referral, and revenue = AARRR).
Phase 4: Maintain the Growth Hacking Cycle
Once you kick off your growth hacking cycle, you must keep the loop of the process going forward and make sure you apply it to all of the areas of business where you need to experiment, get results, analyze and determine success.
Growth hacking is a continuous process that demands improvements along the way and the best way to optimize and adjust it is through data and close collaboration of your team.
Benefits of Growth Hacking
Besides cost-effectiveness, growth hacking brings a lot of other important benefits to organizations adopting it. Here are some of the most important ones.
Building Better Products
With growth hacking, you can measurably improve your product design and experience, by relying on data analytics and bringing the approach of customer analysis, acting and reacting according to facts, analyzing competition and potential risks, etc.
Building Better Brand Identity
With growth hacking, it’s much easier to achieve, build and maintain brand identity and reputation. That happens by identifying your ideal customer’s pain points early on and getting one step ahead of your competitors, by data analysis, and then, of course, solving these problems.
One of the best things about growth hacking as a method is that it uses data-driven strategies that can suit any goal and objective – be it a campaign, a project, ROI improvement, product development, etc.
New Business Models Discovery
In an eternally dynamic world, finding new loopholes in strategy as well as discovering new business models is essential to staying ahead of the competition. With growth hacking and usage of data, this is something your organization can depend on.
Improving Messaging & Results
Growth hacking brings better-customized messages and campaigns through getting a better understanding of your customers and tailoring specific features and approaches that resonate with them.
Key Growth Hacking Strategies to Apply
If you want to achieve good growth hacking strategy that works, you will need to solidify clear processes and follow them on every step. Here are the 7 best practices to accomplish this.
Build a Growth Hacking Team
The people your growth hacking team consists of tech-savvy people with a data-driven mindset. Here are the roles that your growth-hacking team cannot do without:
- Growth Lead – The person responsible for implementing the growth hacking principles and leading the growth hacking team forward
- Product Manager – Responsible for the product planning, marketing of the product, and prioritization of customer requirements, always up to test new theories around the product evolution
- Software Engineer – Responsible for executing the vision around the product feature- and code-wise
- Marketing Specialist – Responsible for overseeing the marketing campaigns and promotions of the product, following the growth hacking method
- Data Analytics – Responsible for following the metrics along with all campaigns and experiments, creating reports, and helping the team adjust the course if needed
- Product Designer – Responsible for defining and refining the product design, following the trends and user testing, etc.
and track everything you do while it’s still in progress, to review how the performance goes and adjust simultaneously if needed.
Listen to the Market
To keep up with everything, the current trends, competitors’ choices, and every new potential opportunity, you need to listen to the market. The best way to do so is through your customers, building a social media community, creating events for your brand, and creating valuable partnerships.
A big part of growth hacking is referral marketing or turning your customers into brand ambassadors. This type of marketing promotes word-of-mouth distribution of knowledge for your brand (PayPal was a pioneer in this) and by this, reduces customer acquisition costs while boosting the company’s growth at the same time.
A leading strategy, when it comes to growth hacking, content marketing helps with rapid growth and boost of traffic. That means optimizing SEO for your blogs, filling them with good content, and increasing your content views by promoting it strategically.
Since growth hacking depends on experimentation, testing is of utmost importance here – email messages, A/B tests of any material that defines your product, etc. The only requirement is that future decisions must be based on data.
Growth Hacking Examples
Let’s take a look at some of the examples of growth hacks made by companies that have been thriving with their results thanks to it.
We already mentioned PayPal as one of the companies whose success is tied to growth hacking. Their legendary use of their referral program catapulted their user base to over 100 million and they experiences up to 10% daily growth. The strategy to give $10 to each referring user and $10 to each user they gain brought forth their booming triumph.
If you are wondering who the first free email provider was – it was Hotmail. Their “P.S. I love you” trick, having the phrase automatically placed at the bottom of users’ emails together with a link to their website led to a booming surge of new users.
Dropbox grew from 100 000 to around 4 million users thanks to a growth hack with a referral program strategy. They offered users 250 MB of extra storage to invite other users in through social media or with automatic email invites.
With their cross-posting listings on Craigslist, Airbnb managed to raise $100 million at a $1 billion valuation over a weekend. The strategy included sending automated mailings to people who placed rental listings on Craigslist.
The growth hacking examples here show that any potential of a product becomes greater when a strategy of sharing and social interaction is involved, as well as experimenting beyond traditional marketing methods.
Growth Hacking Tools: What to Look for
Technology is what makes growth hacking possible and you need to choose them according to your strategy, as well as their dependability. Still, there are some truly great ones to choose from depending on your goal – and what experiments you wish to execute – so we’ve created a wide selection for you below.
Having the option to automate your marketing activities is one of the most important growth hacker skills that bring better results. Tools like Hootsuite, to automate your social media marketing (integrated with over 35 platforms) or Traffic Booster, allowing you to automate your Google AdWords campaigns, can save time and allow you to execute your vision faster and with minimal effort.
Email Marketing Tools
One of the proven growth hacking tools for entrepreneurs is email marketing tools – they let you reach a mass of potential new customers and current customers and explore different approaches in your mailings. Among the best email marketing tools, today are MailChimp, MailGenius, GetResponse, and HubSpot.
A/B Testing Tools
Split or A/B testing is an important part of a growth hacking mindset. You can create the best optimization when testing different versions of content, product promotion, etc. Hotjar , Statisig, and CrazyEgg are good options to use here.
Prototyping in growth hacking is a great way to test concepts and to make sure your company’s products are developed smartly as far as the customer’s needs go, and see if the design is more effective “in the real world”. А great tool for prototyping is Indigo.Design, appropriate for prototyping in the MVP stage and getting built-in UI packs, design libraries, user testing, app building, and code generation.
Low-code Development Tools
These are very useful for marketers who don’t code but still need to keep a technical mindset and an understanding of technology, to execute their vision of a product, service, website, etc. The good news is, there are low-code development tools like App Builder – a cloud-based WYSIWYG drag & drop tool that helps, for example, to start your app with pre-built design templates, and kick start your digital product.
When running campaigns and always seeking the right approach in your growth hacking method, you need to stay on top of your data. Analytics tools like Google Analytics, Facebook Analytics, Google Ads, and cloud CRM systems can help you keep an eye on the important metrics for your company.
All-in-One Tool for Growth Hacking: Meet Slingshot
Slingshot is an all-in-one digital workspace and a cost-effective solution that can drive your growth hacking forward. It brings forward the power of team collaboration, data analytics, data visualizations, task tracking, and discussions in context, to help you with your growth goals. Here’s what Slingshot can offer:
Quick Customer Data Insights
As a business intelligence tool, Slingshot provides you with dashboards, and analytics can quickly connect you to your different data sources and create dashboards within minutes. With dashboards, you can follow your customer data and answer any questions about them you might have through analysis.
Collaboration & Project Management
Slingshot is a project management software that provides a great way to plan and track projects from beginning to end but also lets your team collaborate on hypotheses for your growth hacking experiments. Discussions and chat in Slingshot happen in context, so everyone is aware of any new idea, blocker, or feedback in specific projects and workspaces.
All Your Data and Assets in One Hub
Slingshot unites all your content in one place, so everyone in your startup can collaborate efficiently across all time zones and always have access to the most updated files. It’s the only online hub your team needs for bringing all their needed content together – from any cloud storage like Google Drive, OneDrive, Sharepoint, Box, DropBox (see the whole list here).
User Testing & Experiment Tracking
In Slingshot, you can simplify your user testing process and unite it with the development process by mapping out a clear process, pin the results you get, and turn insights into action in seconds. Tasks in Slingshot are also a great way to track running experiments and follow their progress, blockers, and completion, organized with due dates, assigned responsibilities, and transparency.