What the (growth) hack? Growth Hacking explained!

Even today, many traditional marketers and managers think about growth hacking or growth marketing as some sort of fluffy trend that belongs to the startup world. What we see from such conversations is that people still have many misconceptions around the topic of  growth marketing.
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Even today, so many traditional marketers and managers still think about growth hacking or growth marketing as some sort of fluffy trend that belongs to the startup world. What we see from such conversations is that people still have many misconceptions about the topic of growth marketing.

Actually, companies all over the world have been choosing this approach for almost 10 years now. That’s why we’ve decided to pick this topic up again and go back to the basics. This article answers the question of what growth hacking actually is while explaining the core principles.

But please, some storytelling first!

It was in 2010 when Sean Ellis published a blog article explaining that a growth hacker “is a person whose true north is growth. Everything they do is scrutinized by its potential impact on scalable growth.” And so, the term growth hacking was born and many people within the startup scene positively responded to the concept.

A huge number of articles, books, experts, and companies successfully dedicated themselves to the topic in the following years. You may have come across names like Eric Ries and Neil Patel, who contributed to spreading the idea on an international scale. Eric Ries mainly made efforts in the field of entrepreneurship, while Neil Patel developed himself as an online marketing icon, especially for SEO.

Well-known and established companies like Dropbox and Airbnb applied the growth hacking technique to their business back in their early days, and still do so. Some may say that this approach played a vital role in becoming one of the highly valued tech unicorns. So, as you can see, it’s not only a success story of specific people or companies. It is also one of the business concepts.

Okay, okay, enough of this history lesson. let’s look into what it’s all about!

Basically, growth hacking is a marketing technique that is used to generate growth for your business. To do this, it combines various disciplines ranging from IT to marketing to controlling. It’s a data-driven process of rapid experimentation along the whole marketing funnel and across all channels to identify the most efficient ways to grow.

🙆 You have one job – or, well, one goal.

Ideally, every company has at least one goal that it strives to reach. All functions and processes within the organization should be aligned in contributing to this goal. This is also true for growth hacking. Its only purpose is to contribute to this goal – AKA North Star. Growth hackers identify related metrics and build an agile strategy around it that aims to enable them to succeed.

🔍 It’s about understanding the world, so it imitates science.

Companies and their managers do have a certain understanding of their customers and the market they operate in. Sometimes these understandings are valid knowledge that was gained with great effort and experience. Other times, these understandings are simple assumptions that have never been proven. And sometimes the world we operate in changes and valid knowledge becomes obsolete.

In science, we try to understand the world better. Scientists dedicate their lives to exploring our reality, finding patterns, and proving them. Thereby, hypothesis-driven testing is key. In growth hacking, we choose a similar approach as we try to understand customers and markets better. Furthermore, we also want to find efficient ways to grow our business. So, a growth hacker formulates hypotheses about possible causes and effects and then designs experiments in which to test them. The decision of validating or rejecting a hypothesis is always data-driven and evidence-based. Just like back in science class.

❤️ It’s actually a love-story between marketing and product development.

As mentioned before, growth hacking is an interdisciplinary field and not exclusive to marketers. It often interlocks marketing and product development with the goal of finding the perfect product-market-fit. In doing so, the marketer and the product developer work closely together. They use growth hacking techniques to validate whether what is built or developed is actually useful to the end-user. Developing, marketing and user feedback go hand in hand. This helps to constantly receive feedback that confirms or rejects hypotheses and enables the product to be adapted to the market strategy accordingly.

🎨 Stay curious, stay creative.

Successful growth hackers are constantly on the lookout for new ways on how to reach their target audience. Thereby, staying up to date on the latest developments and innovations in tech and marketing is crucial. Additionally, the ability to creatively combine elements is key. Simple techniques as brainstorming with the team are used to come up with ideas that can then be tested. The key here is to think about ideas along the entire funnel, not just awareness or acquisition.

🎉 Work your way through the funnel!

At the core of growth hacking lies the marketing funnel. It describes the customer journey from the first contact point through the conversion and all the way to the referral of a new customer. Growth hackers think along the whole funnel and understand that customer behavior changes throughout the sales process. This is also why growth initiatives are always set according to the stage of the funnel the target audience is currently in.

There are several funnel concepts out there, which all have the same direction but slightly differ from each other. Moreover, not all address the requirements for growth marketing. At TheVentury we prefer working with the AAARRR Pirate Metrics by Dave McClure that goes beyond the simple process of awareness and conversion. It also includes stages like retention and referral, which are also on the growth marketer’s checklist.

📉 Yes, it’s all about data and metrics.

To prove your assumptions right or wrong, and to be able to evaluate your initiatives as accurately as possible, it is important to track them. Tracking and analyzing user paths is the only way to understand user behavior and take the right steps. If it’s not worth measuring, it’s not worth doing. That’s why a big part of growth hacking involves collecting, organizing, and taking action based on all kinds of data.

💥 Experiment, measure, optimize fast and often.

The last crucial thing of growth hacking is to get into the so-called growth process or cycle. This means that growth teams begin by brainstorming as many ideas as possible. They then assess effectiveness and efficiency by looking at the gathered data and adapting their initiatives accordingly. Failures are as much a part of this process as successes. The more you test, the more learnings you will gather, and this ensures a higher probability of finding the sweet spot for growing your business.

Watch out for more!

As you can see, growth marketing is simply a mindset or approach to choosing how to do marketing, which maximizes growth in an efficient way. At TheVentury, we think that it is the best technique to reach your company goal and to stay ahead of your competition in this fast-changing world. Feel free to directly reach out to us or sign up for our newsletter to stay updated within the community! We will be publishing further in-depth articles about different aspects of growth hacking regularly!

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