Growth hacking is a leading-edge term in marketing focused on all aspects of business growth. A growth team lives within the plane made up by the business’s sectors and the customer lifecycle, or put in another way, growth hacking considers all aspects of a business and encompasses the customers’ entire journey with the business. With the sole objective of growth for the business, growth hacking takes a systematic and scientific approach to what was, for many generations, guesswork.
Coined by Sean Ellis in 2010, the term growth hacker is “a person whose true north is growth.” Hacking growth has played an instrumental role in the success of Dropbox and Airbnb, names we may have never known if it weren’t for their experimental creativity and systematic approach to finding growth.
Growth hacking is rapid experimentation across sectors of the business to identify growth opportunities.
Growth hacking is rapid experimentation across sectors of the business to identify growth opportunities. Using A/B testing, new metrics, and a creative tolerance for new strategies, business growth can be discovered in surprising places. And it lives across 6 phases of the customer lifecycle. (Sidenote: feel free to replace “#customer” here with the appropriate term for your own profession, eg. client, patient, viewer, user, etc.)
While most businesses stumble accidentally on the occasional growth opportunity, or fail before its found, other businesses with a solid growth strategy actively pursue and discover ways to scale and even 10x the business model. The two useful skills here are flexibility and creativity, with a scientist’s approach to experimentation. Sometimes a solution can be as simple as adjusting or revamping a tired sales message; or engineering a system to continually improve products; or discovering that a subscription model is more valuable than chasing down commissions from clients.
Some Examples of Growth Hacking
Here are some historic examples of ground-breaking growth hacks:
- LogMeIn added a “Buy Paid Version” button next to the freemium version so users would know that “free” really means free. This alone tripled the freemium conversion rate.
- Dropbox created a generous referral program, offering free storage to those who referred others.
- Airbnb struggled to scale until it built software that auto-created a new Craigslist post each time a user created a new listing on the Airbnb website.
Now it’s important to recognize that every example of great growth hacks are by nature historical. And like all things creative, models can be applied but each new idea must be original. In other words, real success in growth hacking is found in new ideas that no one else has tried before. This likely explains why growth hacking seems to be shrouded in mystery. It’s really not mysterious, it’s more that growth hackers are all learning from past successes, applying proven models and experimenting with new strategies and ideas that have never been tried before. The best growth hacks will always be original, unique ideas.
What Makes Up a Growth Team
A healthy growth hacking team will have representation from each sector of the business. So, while a marketing associate may not be equipped for the engineering aspect to product development, they might understand how a product can be tweaked to serve its customer better or longer, giving a company a serious advantage over competition.
Large corporations have discovered the value in having a designated growth team, a collection of people from different sectors of the business who work together, each bringing their own, unique perspective, talents and understanding of business growth. But it’s not to say small businesses cannot leverage the advantage of growth hacking; they can, and should experiment with new strategies, creative change-thinking and metrics that haven’t yet been tested. Hiring a growth team can give your business leverage and compounding results that no other service provider can offer.
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