Growth Hacking for Startups is most effective when the pursuit of a colossal user base is paired with a superb product and user-experience. Two different, but critical growth factors! “There are really great growth hackers out there,” says Justin Caldbeck— “people like Andy Johns, who helped Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Quora all reach record user numbers.
Growth Hacking was originally coined in 2010 by Sean Ellis, who is known for helping Dropbox (among others) grow in the early days. But it wasn’t until a blogger named Andrew Chen wrote a piece called “Growth Hacker is the New VP Marketing” in 2012 that the idea of growth hacking went big.
What’s Growth Hacking?
“Startups live and die by their ability to drive customer acquisition growth. Startups are under extreme resource constraints and need to figure out how to break through the noise to let their target customers know they have a superior solution for a critical problem. Instead of using traditional advertising to “buy” each new customer, it’s possible to use growth hacks to acquire customers in ways that scale.
For meaningful growth, startups must completely change the rules of traditional channels or innovate outside of those growth channels. They have to dig deep creatively, and relentlessly test new ideas. If they don’t figure it out quickly, they will go out of business. Some people would just call this marketing. I call it growth hacking. And the best growth hacks take advantage of the unique opportunities available in a connected world where digital experiences can spread rapidly. It was in this face of desperation that I was part of the team that invented the first viral embeddable widget.” From Sean Ellis in his blog, Growth Hacking Is For Smart Marketers–Not Just Startups
Value of Growth Hacking
Ellis believes, “The right growth hacker will have a burning desire to connect your target market with your must-have solution. They must have the creativity to figure out unique ways of driving growth in addition to testing/evolving the techniques proven by other companies. An effective growth hacker needs to be disciplined to follow a process of prioritizing ideas (their own and others in the company), testing the ideas, and being analytical enough to know which tested growth drivers to keep and which ones to cut. The faster this process can be repeated, the more likely they’ll find scalable, repeatable ways to grow the business.”
Problems with Growth Hacking
“There’s no inherent problem with growth hacking, of course,” Justin Caldbeck says. “Growth is great and ultimately can be a big driver of enterprise value. The problem is that right now, far too many entrepreneurs are focused more on that, than they are on what I believe to be the most important thing of all and, ultimately a more successful driver of sustained growth: When a user touches a product, do they love it? Do they come back and use it again? And, overall, do they have a good experience with it?
Many companies seem to be operating under the total misconception that growth fixes all. That leads them to bring on self-proclaimed “growth hackers” who rapidly acquire more customers through spammy viral techniques, but when those customers don’t engage, or — worse — have bad experiences and tell their friends about it, that growth curve crashes. By that point your growth hacker is on to his or her next gig, and you’re left with what you had to begin with: a product that either hasn’t found its audience yet or hasn’t yet given people a reason to engage with it.”
Understand growth hacking and use it wisely to grow your startup.
Online Resources about Growth Hacking