Growth Hacking: An Introductory Guide

Growth Hacking: An Introductory Guide

Despite being a fairly new concept (Sean Ellis coined the term “growth hacker” in 2010), Growth Hacking is becoming more and more familiar – and not only in the startup world. Today, big companies are fostering a “startup mentality”, as a new way to look at old problems. Thinking outside the box, not being afraid to fail and quickly finding solutions for unexpected problems, are some of the characteristics of this mentality – and growth hacking fits perfectly in it as well.

To be a growth hacker

The beauty of Growth Hacking is that every decision and outcome has some kind of analytics supporting it. It’s the combination of creativity and analytical thinking that makes growth hackers so unique.

So, what does it mean to be a growth hacker? Putting it simply, it means to think differently, to push the boundaries, with a simple purpose in mind: growth. Growth hackers are risk takers, tech-savvy problem solvers. They’re not afraid to fail and rely on metrics to define their failures – and to quickly move on to the next tactic.

The Process

Everything in growth hacking has to do with one of two things: the main goal (growth) and metrics. Neil Patel and Bronson Taylor, in The Definitive Guide to Growth Hacking, lay out a 6 step process:

Define Actionable Goals

Even though the main goal is clear – growth – it is far too vague and difficult to measure objectively. By defining smaller goals, it is easier to focus and to prioritize tasks. Smaller goals also mean that, if your tactics fail, you’ll know why and you can move on to the next quickly.

Implement Analytics to Trace Your Goals

“Without analytics, goals are empty”. Analytics are crucial in growth hacking (well, anywhere really). They don’t lie – either you meet the goal or not. By keeping track of your progress with objective metrics, there is no room for opinions or guesses.

Leverage Your Existing Strengths

Knowing your strengths is essential in business. However, the real challenge lies in understanding how you can use those strengths to create the biggest impact for your company. Using what is already available will allow you to save a lot of precious time.

Execute the Experiment

This step is almost a scientific experiment. It involves stating what you want to achieve (hypothesis), conducting the experiment and analyzing the results in the end. The most likely outcome is a failure. “Most things fail”. However, the good thing about working with data is that there is always information to learn from – even if the experiment didn’t go as planned. Learn and move on to the next try.

Optimize the Experiments

Just like in science, it is important to have mechanisms to compare your results. Control groups allow accounting for environmental changes and A/B testing gives you a chance to objectively compare your results.


Why Should You Start Growth Hacking?

OptinMonster summarizes Growth Hacking quite well:

“Growth hacking is a process of rapidly experimenting with and implementing marketing and promotional strategies that are solely focused on efficient and rapid business growth. Growth hacking achieves results FAST, with minimal expenditure. The “hacking” part is about finding clever shortcuts that bring big results.”

When it comes to growth, the freedom of experimenting (and failing sometimes) is extremely important. There is no room for self-doubt since all hypothesis are documented and all answers are backed up by data.

It is a fast-paced job, no question. However, it opens up so many possibilities it is hard not to get excited about it. If you’re looking for a way to boost your business, growth hacking may be the way.