Growth hacking is a buzz word in the startup community. If you’re in the startup world you might be rolling your eyes just seeing the word, and if you’re not you may be scratching your head and asking “what is growth hacking?”
As the first marketer at Dropbox, Sean Ellis used innovative marketing to propel growth. When it came time to replace himself, he realized he was looking for more than a marketer. He was looking for someone whose sole focus was on growth… a growth hacker. Though growth hacking was born in the startup world, enterprise businesses have started to employ growth hacks to their more traditional business models.
Growth hacking is different than traditional marketing because it focuses on a single goal: growth. Although many of the tools are the same, growth hackers go beyond push marketing and move to pulling customers in. They use technology in unconventional ways to achieve growth. Perhaps the simplest definition of a growth hacker comes from Aaron Ginn who says, “A growth hacker lives at the intersection of data, product, and marketing.”
So, how is growth hacking disrupting the technology world?
- Big Data is Actually Being Used
Big data has been a buzz term for years. While everyone knew there was potential in big data, no one seemed to know what to do with all of the information. Growth hackers are using the data for on the fly A/B testing, creating highly targeted marketing campaigns on a level we haven’t seen before and drastically increasing customer retention.
Beyond startups, many tech-savvy companies are using similar techniques to drive the growth of their business. For example, eHarmony, a long-time player in the online dating space, is actively improving their customer experience by offering better recommendations. How? By using data analytics in surprising new ways.
The innovative use of big data isn’t just for growth hackers. As enterprise companies catch on to the agility offered by growth hacking with big data, new industry leaders will emerge.
- Word of Mouth is Back in a Big Way
Word of mouth advertising has always been present and successful. Since technology has allowed us to spread our thoughts, ideas and preferences well beyond our social circles, growth hackers have taken notice. For example, Dropbox and Pinterest used social media to quickly grow their user based by requiring an invite from a friend in order to have access. Friends on the platforms suddenly became quite popular with their peers as they begged for invitations.
Growth hackers know the power of word of mouth and know how to use it in inventive ways. By getting customer and potential customers talking about their product or service even before launch, they are opening the floodgates of growth.
Because technology has given us quick access to feedback, growth hackers are sharing early iterations of products and ideas then going back to the drawing board with real feedback and releasing another iteration. By listening to potential customers along the development trail, they are releasing more relevant products and services to an audience who is excited to start using their offering.
- Silos are Crumbling
In traditional organizations the marketers market, developers develop and sales sell. With growth hacking, silos are no more. Those in charge of growth for organizations are having to become multidisciplined in a hurry. Organizations are rethinking the way they look at growth and weaving it into their core.
While it is easier for a startup to make growth their heartbeat, more established organizations can do the same thing. Technology used to mean certain silos held certain cards within an organization and often held them close. As growth hackers come onto the scene, they aren’t willing to sit at the table without seeing each department’s hand. They know technology can be used in better ways and, when they are allowed to do so, everyone wins.
Growth hacking is transforming organizations of all sizes and using technology in unexpected ways to do it. In an article for QuickSprout, entrepreneur, angel investor, and analytics expert, Neil Patel says, “For now growth hacking is relegated to startups, but eventually, growth hacking will be a part of fortune 500 companies.” Organizations need to sit up and pay attention. If they aren’t pursuing growth hacking, they can be sure their competitors are.