“The end goal of every growth hacker is to build a self-perpetuating marketing machine that reaches millions by itself.” – Aaron Ginn
Another one of those gooey terms that digital gurus like to bandy about.
Once upon a time, growth hacking was just a hype-riddled name for customer acquisition or user engagement. Done really, really quickly.
Because things move just so darn fast and there’s so much noise in the marketplace, it makes sense that speed is at the heart of sprouting your customer and audience base. Especially for a startup.
And since we’re talking about startups it means we’re also operating on a shoestring budget, right?
So what happens when you need results fast – as in RIGHT NOW – and cheap?
You need to go guerilla!
Jerry-rig all those bits and bobs you can get a hold of.
It means you need to get down-n-dirty with creative ideas that don’t need wads of cash to execute.
Get ‘Em Talking And Sharing
And how we’ve always done this – even when traditional marketing was still in nappies – was mostly just cranking out the buzz. But of course we want this to happen at the speed of kerosene air-dumped on wildfire.
So all this “going viral” stuff was the heart and soul of early growth hacking.
You may have heard the classic growth-hacking tale about how Hotmail grew its signups insanely fast?
They added the tagline “PS: I love you. Get your free e-mail at Hotmail” at the bottom. 18 months later, they mushroomed to 12 million users.
Email was changed forever.
It’s the stuff of legend, really.
Dropbox is also part of the dusty ol’ history of Growth Hackery.
Each friend referral netted the original user a shiny-new 25OMB to their account. Dropbox’s signup rate increased by 60%.
Genius as far as referral strategies go.
So go on – drum up some clever ways to get ’em noticing and sharing your offering.
“You need the kind of objectivity that makes you forget everything you’ve heard, clear the table, and do a factual study like a scientist would.” – Steve Wozniak, Apple co-founder.
But growth hacking has evolved far beyond just virality. To be truly effective, growth hacking must be a mindset and a process. One which can be replicated and improved.
So you’ve got visitors landing on your company page. And maybe you’re getting those sign-ups.
Awesome. Then what?
Modern growth hacking is partly about that mode of question asking. Of keen curiosity, and probing for answers. It needs to know the “why” behind the “what”. It’s goal-oriented and data-driven. So targets and analytics to measure how close you are getting to them, need to be in a consummate growth hacking bag o’tricks.
But solid growth hacking also has an eye on scaling. See, that’s the funny thing. Growth hacking may seem – on the surface – to be like a scrappy, ad hoc improvisation hastily thrown together with spit and duct tape.
But paradoxically, effective growth hacking means you are looking at how your tactics will scale gracefully, over time.
Hack the Success of Other Networks
Another thing that successful growth hacking companies do is piggy-back onto the success of other platforms.
YouTube did this with MySpace in 2005 with embedded videos.
And PayPal built itself on eBay.
Each startup needs a unique growth hacking mix. But here’s a recap of the core approaches:
1. Virality / Referrals
Word-of-mouth will never go out of style. Nor will a clever referral strategy.
2. Data and Iteration
Have clear growth targets. Measure your results. Adjust. Repeat.
Growth hacking means, hopefully, a mushrooming engagement pattern. So your framework needs to be able to keep up with all that delicious growth you’re creating.
4. Capitalize on Existing Networks
Leverage all that juicy goodness from popular platforms.
Yep. Growth hacking. It’s strategy. It’s marketing. It’s technology.
A whole lot of blood, guts and guile too. Sit back, and watch it work its magic.
Comments? Let’s hear ’em!