Growth Hacking, Growth Hacking, Growth Hacking!

What it means, what it does, and examples…

Photo by Taha Mazandarani on Unsplash

If you’re familiar with the world of Digital Marketing, you would have come across the term ‘Growth Hacking’ or ‘Growth Marketing’. This term is used by many LinkedIN gurus and by popular bloggers in the space.

What exactly does Growth Hacking mean?

In very simple terms, Growth Hacking refers to a series of experiments that are conducted to test, optimise, and improve a target area of an organisation.

The difference compared to traditional marketing is that, in traditional marketing the primary focus is on the upper funnel (such as brand marketing) where only brand awareness or informing the customer about the product is in focus. Whereas, in Growth Hacking, the entire funnel is in focus.

Growth marketers rely on scientific methods and work in the following ways:

  1. Determining areas where improvement is needed
  2. Developing and designing experiments optmize the identified processes
  3. Conducting experiments to test the hypothesis
  4. Analyzing results and preparing for additional experimentation if needed

Growth Marketing requires a lot of analytical thinking and relies majorly on the data available from experiments to plan the next steps.

The important concept to note is that they don’t rely on a single experiment to test a specific theory. They will work on multiple experiments because it helps them to tackle the problem from all sides and also if one experiment doesn’t work, another one can supplement it.

Examples of Growth Marketing

As you may be aware, Growth Marketing is not a new term. Many companies have used it over the years to accelerate their growth and also to step up their game in the market.

a) Airbnb

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All of us are aware of the popular room/house rental service today but did you know they had applied very smart growth marketing strategies back in 2013–2015?

Back in the day, Craigslist was a prime service to list properties for rent in the US. Airbnb gave their users the option to post their Airbnb listing on Craigslist. Craigslist didn’t allow any public API integration back in the day so this wasn’t going to be easy.

Airbnb’s engineers quickly reverse engineered the forms on Craigslist without gaining any access to their code. Once they successfully implemented this and customers were able to post their Airbnb listing on Craigslist, Airbnb got a lot of traffic from Craigslist.

The main reason for this increased traffic was that the listings by Airbnb were more personal, looked better, and provided more information than a typical Craigslist listing.

Eventually, Craigslist didn’t discover this loophole and did the needful to put an end to it. But by then, Airbnb had raked in millions of dollars in revenue.

2013 — $200 million

2014 — $500 million

2015 — $900 million

b) Dropbox

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Dropbox is undoubtedly the most popular cloud storage service in the world today. Everyone may not use it, but everyone is aware of its existence.

Did they reach where they are just because their service is useful? Absolutely not. There are plenty of cloud storage services out there but Dropbox has the maximum customers.

They had applied growth marketing strategies in the initial stages of the company to reach where they are today.

When Dropbox first launched, they created a referral program where each user would get additional storage space for every person they referred.

Dropbox Basic customers got an additional 500 MB for each user they recommended. The maximum limit was 16 GB. Dropbox Plus and Professional account holders got 1 GB for every successful recommendation with an upper limit of 32 GB.

With this referral program, Dropbox grew from 100k users to over 4 million users in under 15 months.

This is a prime example of accelerated growth from Growth Marketing practices.

P.S — Dropbox was also able to save on traditional marketing spends of acquiring customers through this method.

c) YouTube

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The most popular video sharing platform on planet Earth also utilised growth hacking strategies even before the term was coined.

Back in the day, when internet speeds were as slow as a tortoise trying to cross a hypothetical road, it was a herculean task to upload a video to a website.

Also, including heavy video files on a website reduced it’s speed multifold.

Then came the embed video option from YouTube. Where YouTube did all the heavy lifting and allowed the users to take advantage of it.

Users could easily embed the video on their website and the audience could easily watch it directly on the website itself.

YouTube single handedly simplified the process of watching a video on a website and became a household name.

How to become a Growth Marketer?

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If you’re fascinated and interested in the field of Growth Marketing, there are a few steps that you can follow to be a part of the community:

a) Channel expertise

You need not be the best in a specific field but you need to understand the basics of a particular platform and have the hunger to learn and explore more about it.

b) Analytics

A major portion of Growth Marketing relies on analytics. Hence, it is important that you understand analytics and can successfully analyse the required data.

c) Teamwork

Growth marketing involves working with multiple teams to achieve the desired goal. Hence, it is vital that you are able to work with others seamlessly and be a team player.

One important trait about Growth Marketing is that there isn’t a single silver bullet that can solve the problems for every company out there. It’s also not necessary that the Growth Marketing strategies that worked for one company should work for another one.

The primary agenda is to run a series of experiments and learn what works best for your organisation. Running, documenting, and analysing a series of experiments will help you reach your end goal faster.

Remember — you only need to get it right once!

These lessons are explained in detail in CXL Institute’s Growth Marketing Minidegree. The lessons are crafted nicely with tons of additional reading material that enabled me to understand the concepts in depth.

Digital Marketer, Traveler, Photographer, Dreamer.