Growth hackers are analytical and creative. They see opportunities for the business to perform better and devise strategies to make it do so quickly. Growth hackers are a product of startups because new businesses have to grow fast.
But why should they have all the fun? How can established businesses hack for growth?
Growth hacking is really just a modern approach to growing a business. Don’t be afraid to shake up your strategy. Here are six ways growth hackers work that will benefit a business of any size or age.
Live by the data
Challenge the status quo
Prioritise UX for growth of product
Data and analytics are the bread and butter of the growth hacker. They’re analytical, always measuring effort against results.
Forget having an idea of your strengths and weaknesses, by acting like a growth hacker you’ll be able to reel off the numbers. This is where you’ll find the secret to big success. Knowing your weaknesses allows you to work on the worst areas first for the biggest lifts.
Start with the low hanging fruit, the route that will create a boom in attention. By analysing the performance of a strategy throughout its lifecycle you’ll be quicker to adapt to the best performing solution. In this way the data steers the strategy.
Growth hackers never accept a way of doing things just because it’s the established way. Just as they query the success of a campaign they also question ‘best practices’.
Take a leaf out of their book by challenging the way you do things. Ask ‘Why are we doing this?’ and ‘Is this still the best solution?’ on a regular basis.
If you settle into established ‘best practices’, to be followed forever more, you’ll always be behind. Rather than overhauling your processes every few years you should always be open to better ways of doing things, continually optimising.
Working lean means launching a minimal viable product i.e. it works but it’s not perfect, and then improving it based on its reception by the market. The purpose of working this way is to ship faster, which is, of course, very important for startups.
Additionally it means identifying what’s not working very quickly and making a change to improve it. This is exactly what I’ve discussed in the previous point; that growth hackers are quick to try something new and see if it works better.
I’ve seen growth hacking described as lean marketing, which is a pretty good explanation. It’s about finding a minimal viable marketing strategy.
Established companies rarely want to risk such a strategy, after all, you hold yourself to certain standards. However, by optimising based on user feedback you serve the interest of your users better.
Sean Ellis, founder of GrowthHackers.com, recently wrote an article answering the question How Important is UX to Your Product’s Growth? In it he said, “growth teams often report into the product team, not the marketing team”, this is because they recognise “the critical need for the product to create lasting growth”.
A product with a great user experience (UX):
- Reduces friction and allows flow through the conversion funnel.
- Understands customers better due to extensive user research.
- Is more likely to spark viral loops because it
- Gets more user referrals.
- Inspires delight in users.
Ellis also warns against manipulating the UX to trick users into helping the product achieve a viral loop. Elements that purposefully mislead users are known as dark patterns. Such patterns might trick users into spending more or unintentionally sharing updates about you on social media. These might achieve growth but it will be short-lived and break the trust of your users.
You can read more about dark patterns in our recent teardown of airline booking sites.
Break down departmental boundaries
Andrew Chen says, “growth hackers are a hybrid of marketer and coder”. Quicksprout say, “growth hackers are T-shaped”; they have good knowledge on a lot of topics and are very strong in a couple of areas. If you want to emulate hacker-style success you have to cross departmental boundaries.
Traditional company structures have a person for everything. I’m not suggesting that you double up roles, rather that you foster a culture that allows your teams to stretch beyond their designated roles.
I like this explanation:
“Growth hackers have to be able to implement their own tracking code, put up their own landing pages, integrate with other APIs, and the like, otherwise they’re taking valuable time away from other developers.”
An added benefit of broader ranging knowledge is more dynamic thinkers. Understanding each others’ roles will help the team identify effective routes for growth more quickly.
Big companies need to learn to wield the power of people on the ground aka industry influencers. Top Rank cited it as one of the best content marketing practices that businesses aren’t doing.
Startups need to build their audience from zero and get their name out there when no one has ever heard of them. They do this by identifying people who hold sway over the audience they’re trying to attract. By getting an influencer excited about your product, you’ll have access to their audience, which is far larger.
Established businesses also need to reach out. Finding influencers isn’t a new concept. Celebrity endorsements are a good example of how it’s been done before. However, today’s influencers are ordinary consumers or respected professionals whose enthusiasm is more genuine than that of a celebrity.
Finding a true influencer can be tricky. It’s more than simply an active Twitter user. KISSmetrics have an excellent guide to influencer targeting. Take advantage of the golden advice that your fellow marketeers haven’t yet picked up on. The guide will help you understand who your ideal influencer is and how to find them.