Digital MarketingMar 21, 2022

What is Growth Hacking? (Simple and Detailed Guide)

Boran Özgül
Content Marketing Specialist
Wooden blocks with "Growth Hacking" written on them are standing on top of a wooden floor.

You have probably heard the “growth hacking” buzzword being thrown around a lot, and most of the time it is incorrectly used. Now, most companies or individuals consider the work they perform as growth hacking, but it is mostly just usual digital marketing.

This term was first coined by Sean Ellis, the founder and CEO of GrowthHackers, in 2010. It refers to numerous strategies that are used to acquire massive amounts of growth with a small budget.

Everyone wants to grow as fast as possible, with as little money as possible, so every start-up is looking for a growth hacker that can achieve these goals.

What Is A Growth Hacker?

The only mission of a growth hacker is to grow the company as fast as possible. Growth is usually the most important metric for startups, and those that can’t grow fast enough will most likely fail.

Normal marketers usually follow long-term plans with set budgets and expected results. Growth hackers on the other hand do what it takes to achieve their goal. Sometimes, the goal is not even defined, only described as “massive growth”.

Growth teams can use certain shortcuts or adaptive techniques. But they are not only defined by that. Growth teams also familiarize themselves with the data and conversion funnel of the given company, spot the points of friction and remove them effectively.

How Does Growth Hacking Work?

The way growth hacking works will depend on the product and the market. To implement it successfully it is necessary to understand the data and conversion process of each company.

Many early-stage start-ups use the “pirate funnel” described by Dave McClure to fuel their growth. This funnel includes five stages: acquisition, activation, retention, referral, and revenue (AARRR).

The main point is to get as much traffic and visitors as possible, turn those visitors into users, and retain your users as regular customers. Any type of awareness campaign or funnel that achieves this goal can be considered as a growth marketing method.

Post it notes with different hand drawn business graphs are on a board.

How Can I Start Growth Hacking?

Before a company starts hacking their growth, it will need a product that can grow. A subpar product without growth potential will not respond to the strategies implemented by a growth hacker. If nobody is willing to pay for it, a fast-growth process might not be possible.

Test your product and only move on with it if you can find a market for it. Use this test to gather data regarding the customers’ journey. Understanding who your customers are is an essential process of growth marketing.

Keep getting as much customer feedback as possible and do not forget to implement them. Update and upgrade your product depending on the feedback you receive. Keep on marketing and foster growth, if a growth strategy is not taking hold then stop for a moment and optimize it. Optimizing techniques like A/B testing are essential for growth hacking.

Related Article: Digital Skills

Growth Hacking Strategies

We can divide these strategies into three main categories, 

  • Content marketing
  • Product marketing
  • Paid advertising

Content marketing can be a low-cost strategy to create awareness for your product. Typical activities can include the following:

  • Creating a blog 
  • Focusing on social media content
  • Writing ebooks
  • Organizing webinars
  • Creating events and contests
  • Creating and managing a community 
  • Using influencer marketing methods
A person is working in front of a laptop. New Product is written on the top of the laptop screen, with Research, Analysis, Ideas and Function headers.

Product marketing is the technique used for building a user base around the product. Typical techniques can include:

  • Affiliate marketing synchronized with content marketing tactics
  • Creative on-boarding processes
  • Referral systems with incentives for the customer base

Paid advertising on the other hand focuses on paid digital marketing methods such as:

  • Search engine marketing
  • Paid social media advertising
  • Display and video ads

Other marketing methods, such as email marketing can be used at every step of growth hacking. As long as it results in growth, there is no defined limit on the strategies you can use.

Benefits Of Growth Hacking

Growth hacking processes can provide a lot of benefits for companies, especially start-ups looking to grow as fast as they can. The main benefits of choosing growth hacking instead of usual digital marketing approaches are as follows:

  • Data driven and adaptable: Growth hacking strategies follow the available data closely and they can always pivot depending on what works and what does not.
  • Low-cost: Growth hacking is focused on creating the most impact with the least amount of investment. A solid growth hacking strategy will come much cheaper than a traditional marketing strategy.
  • Less resources: A growth hacking strategy can be performed by a single individual or a small group, resulting in less resources being used.

Final Remarks

A well-implemented growth hacking strategy can be a great boon for a start-up, but in the long term, they can’t replace a solid marketing strategy.

Long-term success comes from long-term investments. Use growth hacking to get your business on its feet, but never ignore to make plans for the long run.

We hope that our article was able to answer your questions.

Related Article: What is Video Marketing?

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