Whilst there has been a lot of buzz surrounding ‘growth hackers’ since the term was first coined by Sean Ellis in 2010, particularly in the tech startup field, mainstream use and implementation of growth hacking is only just beginning to come to the forefront.
What is growth hacking?
Quite simply, growth hacking refers to growing a business; engaging end-users, bringing in more cash, increasing revenue etc. Whilst this doesn’t sound too different from traditional sales and marketing objectives, growth hacking goes about achieving this in very different ways.
Startup budgets for marketing are often minimal, or non-existent; combine this with the proliferation of social media, data and analytics and social CRM, and young businesses have new ways of growing without necessarily following the more traditional (expensive and time consuming) methods.
Using growth hacking in marketing
Whilst budgets might be the first thing you think of when addressing your marketing strategy, growth hacking turns this idea completely on its head by focussing on activities to drive growth at minimal or no cost. Innovation becomes more important and growth hackers look for cost effective channels to reach and engage customers.
Examples might include low-cost social marketing and pay-per-click online advertisements that provide useful market data instead of spending significant amounts of money on traditional media (TV, newspapers, radio) that provide little proof of returns.
Maximising the spread of a product is key to the growth hacking concept; embedding an easy way for customers to share your product on their social platforms can lead to viral campaigns, often at little or no cost. Examples of this in startups include Dropbox who increase your free cloud storage allowance when you encourage your personal connections to sign up for their own Dropbox account.
Data-driven analytics is becoming the bedrock of marketing activities for innovative companies seeking to maximise every single marketing dollar whilst also providing customers with unique and meaningful interactions.
Every single marketing activity can now be measured, analysed and capitalised; anything that doesn’t grow the consumer base needs to be eliminated, and whatever does work should drive the rest of your marketing. Traditional methods are no longer able to stand up against user-based facts and analysis.
Embedding growth hacking into your product development
Growth hackers are not sat waiting for a product to be developed within their organisation and then thinking of new ways to market it; instead, they are part of the product development team, providing user-based insights into the product throughout the development phase. Their role is pivotal from day one.
With this in mind, it’s important that changes, improvements and constant iterations to the product are encouraged. Things change rapidly; consumer trends, competitors, prices, availability etc. – and growth hacking relies on your company’s speed and ability to not only change with them, but before them.
Weaving growth hacking into your culture
Ensuring growth is a part of your company culture is not just hoping that your employees all want the organisation to grow so they can keep their jobs; growth needs to be a healthy part of the culture from the top down, and there to benefit (and encourage) everyone.
For many startups, growth hackers are coders or engineers who begin in the product development team and, due to their knowledge and skills, become part of the marketing function whilst still retaining their valued input to the core product. Due to this, a culture of growth, and constant improvement forms and needs to be retained as the company expands and often leads to the formation of a specialised growth team.
In the early days of a company, growth hackers provide their unique input to the future success, while growth teams, with their inherent differences, propel the organisation forward in ways that could not have been imagined without the initial growth hack.
As a final piece of insight in this introduction to growth hacking, it’s also worth remembering the importance of failing on the success of growth. Failing provides the single greatest lesson for growth, at all stages of a business, and can lead to the innovation of the best product your company can develop.
If you’re a startup, or an established SME, seeking ways to gain relevant data-driven insights, speak to the team of ERP consultants at Blue Ocean Systems who can work with your team to execute your growth plans.
Note: This story has also been adapted for publication in Steemit.