The term “growth hacker” was coined by Sean Ellis back in 2010. He created the name while he was looking for a new job title to describe the consulting services he provided at the time to startups like Dropbox.
Growth hacking describes a specific type of marketing where the marketer acts as an analyzer of which strategies and devices work to stimulate growth.
How is Growth Hacking Different from Conventional Marketing?
Conventional advertising and growth hacking aren’t entirely different. Often, they share the same metrics. Traditional ads can focus on broader goals like generating more meaningful product engagement, increasing the number of users, promoting new products, etc. whereas growth hacking sets specific goals for a company’s growth. A growth hacker might formulate their marketing goals, for example, increasing user engagement by 50%.
This tunnel vision approach to growth is especially important when a company first starts up, as they have neither the budget nor the need for broad advertisement.
The growth hacker’s only goal is growth—it’s that simple and straightforward. But, other than that, it’s very flexible in its approach. Growth hacking is also not removed from digital marketing—the two often go hand in hand, with growth hacking only approaching the numbers with greater focus.
How Does Growth Hacking Work?
Growth hackers tend to approach marketing from a stance of innovation, scalability, and usability. It doesn’t separate product design and effectiveness from marketing. Instead, it includes growth strategies within the product. Namely, by adding user acquisition, onboarding, monetization, retention, and virality into the merchandise itself.
To the growth hacker, the only metric of importance is growth. It remains, however, a somewhat elusive concept as growth hacking varies from company to company and product to product.
Strategies could include links in your email campaigns, offering prospects free access to your products or services for a period of time, or perhaps referral links that encourage users to get others to sign up in exchange for a benefit for themselves.
Growth hacking can also refer to popups that ask website visitors to participate in surveys or to subscribe to your email list. This might display once a visitor has been on your site for a short time.
As the “hacker” part of the term suggests, it’s all about digging into the available information to find a way of creatively and intelligently changing the products and processes for further growth. The key is innovation, trial, and error and the repeated analysis of your results.