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The growth hacking approach (also referred to as ‘agile marketing’ and ‘growth marketing’) has generated a lot of excitement as a dynamic approach to boost awareness, lead generation and conversion.
Sean Ellis, a marketer and entrepreneur who has worked for companies such as Dropbox and Eventbrite, devised the term ‘Growth Hacking’ in 2010. Originating from Silicon Valley, growth hacking has successfully been used to build high-growth companies such as Hotmail, PayPal, Twitter, Airbnb, Instagram and Uber. Ellis says:
“Startups live and die by their ability to drive customer acquisition growth…[they] 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…the best growth hacks take advantage of the unique opportunities available in a connected world where digital experiences can spread rapidly.”
Growth hacking is now gaining traction in the UK and has recently been termed ‘the next big thing for marketing’ by Advertising Age. Even well-established organisations such as The Guardian have recently advertised related job roles, such as ‘Head of Growth Hacking’, which has further raised its profile.
Although the term ‘hacking’ has technology connotations, more traditional companies such as Regus and Penguin Books are also using the principles of growth hacking. This indicates that the concept is not just relevant to technology start-ups and this movement has wider implications. Think of it as ‘marketing digital disruption’ because technology is an enabler for marketers to understand and respond to user behaviour more rapidly.
The core principle behind growth hacking is to quickly and cheaply test a marketing idea, use data to analyse the outcomes, and to iterate, optimise, implement or change the experiment. Running A/B tests and checking data with analytical software such as Google Analytics, Mixpanel and Optimizely are essential components to this process.
Despite the high data analysis element of growth hacking, it is an extremely creative process that requires people to “swim against the flow” and spot emerging opportunities before anyone else does. This dichotomy of ‘intuition and rigor’ and ‘art and science’ makes it very difficult to find people with the right skill-set; which is why building a growth hacking team is so important (or finding an agency with this type of team already in place).
Although digital marketing is a key element of growth hacking (because of the analytical part of obtaining quantitative user data and gaining insights from it), it is also important to use traditional marketing methods to bridge the gap between the physical and digital world.
Growth hacking is an approach, rather than a set of tools.
To illustrate this, we are going to tell you about a brilliant growth hack that has nothing to do with either marketing or business. Instead, it tells the story of a winning mind-set…
In 1996 Britain’s cycling team was ranked 17th in the world and had won just 2 bronze medals at the Atlanta Olympic Games. By 2012 they ranked first in the World and British riders had won 12 medals (8 gold) at the London Olympic Games.
Its success was largely down to the coaching of Sir David Brailsford. His approach was to breakdown everything that went into riding a bike and improve it by 1%. Putting all of the 1% margins together meant that in 2012 British Team Sky had won 70% of the gold medals in cycling at the Olympics.
There wasn’t a magic silver bullet but a series of micro, cost effective and human-centred optimisations that could be effectively scaled. This demonstrates what a growth hacking mind set looks like.
To be a good growth hacker:
The team element is very important as one individual person is unlikely to have all of the skills needed for growth-focused marketing.
The ResearchXL framework has been produced by Peep Laja. Visit his blog to find out more about each area of the framework.
The information gained from this type of analysis can then be used to test hypotheses’ relating to user growth and validate ideas. This process is essential to finding ‘non-norm’ solutions to achieve growth in a short amount of time.
This approach is basically using structured testing to improve website effectiveness. Growth optimisation is moving from data, to insight, and then to money. User data analysis is needed throughout this CRO process, so that activity can be prioritised.
Generally, a company should use a minimum sample size of 250 to test changes for CRO. You also need to think about business cycles - e.g. if your weekend traffic is very different, ending a test by excluding that segment would make your sample unrepresentative.
There are a few essential elements needed to be an effective growth hacker – these can be seen in the diagram below.
Investor Dave McClure of 500 Hats has often spoken about the marketing funnel and start up metrics for Pirates (AAARR). This is a useful tool for all types of organisation.
By Tanya Hemphill
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